Ever wondered why there is a celebration during the Summer Solstice? Or why this is called Litha or Midsummer? What’s the history & folklore? Is it celebrated elsewhere in the world? Here’s everything you need to know about the celebration of Litha.
What is Litha?
Litha, also known as Midsummer or Summer Solstice (between June 20th and June 23rd each year)marks the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere (for those in the southern hemisphere, it’s your Winter Solstice), it also marks an important transition point in Earth’s seasonal cycle. It’s a time when fertile energy is at its peak, and all around us, new life is rapidly growing.
On the Wheel of the Year, this marks the time when the seeds have been sown and begin to grow in abundance until Lughnasadh on August 1st(the first harvest).
From Litha, the days become gradually shorter until Yule when the days begin to grow steadily longer again.
Litha is typically a bright and exciting celebration. It celebrates the growing crops, the Sun, abundance, and the first day of Summer!
Today, I encourage you to celebrate Litha as a way of honoring nature’s incredible fertile energy at this time of year, and as a way to connect with our natural world on a deeper, more meaningful level. I truly believe that by recognizing and celebrating the little shifts in Earth’s natural rhythms, we can become more attuned to nature and feel more grounded in our everyday lives it.
I hope you enjoy reading this guide!
Where does Litha come from?
There is some debate regarding the origins of Litha. There is however evidence to support the practice of a Midsummer ritual in many cultures.
The Celtics held bonfires on high hilltops to celebrate the distance between the earth and the Sun(since it is at its highest point). They would gather around these fires and sing and dance. The Celts also used this time to recognize the Goddess Aine, the goddess of love, summer, sovereignty, and fertility.
The Romans used this time to celebrate Juno – the wife of Jupiter. She was recognized as the goddess of women, childbirth, and fertility. Vesta was also worshiped popularly at this time, being as she was the goddess of hearth, home, and family. Because of course, what could be more abundant and bright than large families back then?
The Early Europeans took a more symbolic approach to their midsummer rituals. They set alight large wheels and rolled them downhill. At the bottom of the hill, the wheel would roll into a body of water. There is much speculation as to the purposes behind this tradition, but the winning theory of course is that the wheel is representative of the Sun. The wheel turns down the hill and is extinguished at the end, just as Litha is marking the now dark half of the year.
The Egyptians, to our speculations and that of theologists, positioned the pyramids so that on the Solstice the sun could set exactly between them.
We see a similar occurrence with another mysterious structure, Stonehenge. At Stonehenge, the light falls directly onto the center stone on the solstice. The Mayans also had similar structures underground that only had light filtered through in a certain way on the solstice.
As you can see, ancient cultures were not strangers to the mysterious, the mystical.
And they certainly were no strangers to a Midsummer celebration!
What is the folklore behind Litha?
In modern times, Midsummer is often looked at through the lens of Wicca or other Neo-pagan paths. In the past, folklore was often related to very specific Gods and Goddesses and myths that may have been lost to time.
Today the folklore revolves around the Oak King and the Holly King.
In some Neo-pagan paths, the Oak King and the Holly King are the rulers of the Earth each in their own half of the year. From Yule to Litha, it is said that the Oak King rules. On Litha, the two battled for the crown and it is then that the Holly King triumphs. The Holly King will rule through fall until Yule, and the cycle will begin again.
In the Wiccan practice, it’s a bit deeper. The Oak King(The God) and The Goddess are at the height of their power, and the Goddess is heavily pregnant. She is filled with the life of her coming son just as the earth is sown with seeds that will soon come to harvest.
On Litha, the authority of the Oak King is challenged as the Sun begins to wane. This is when the Holly King will begin his rule.
Aside from the God and Goddess at this time, those who work with the fae have folklore too.
It is said that on Litha night the fae come out to play tricks on humans. Litha to them means a battle of dark and light and some of them seem to feel a bit more mischievous as a result. Folklore says that they’ve even dragged a human or two into their world on Litha night. So if you work with the fae, be sure to work safely and protect yourself.
Who practices Litha?
Given that Litha is the first day of summer and marks an important part of the earth’s cycle, it can be practiced by anyone really.
The festival of Litha is a way of honoring the fertile energy of nature and celebrating the beauty and magic of our natural world. Litha is also called Sun Moon Summer Solstice, which means that the day of the full moon is at its longest length while the days grow shorter.
It is not necessary that the person believes in the folklore behind Litha or in Gods and Goddesses at all.
The important thing with Litha is being grateful for the abundance in your life. As long as whoever wishes to celebrate is able to be grateful and appreciate the sun and moon, growing plants, or their plentiful group of friends and family, welcome them!
What are some correspondences of Litha?
The colors commonly associated with Litha are: gold, green, orange, red, white and yellow. These are all colors associated with the sun, and the Earth at this time.
Gold – energy, power, prosperity, solar deities, strength, success, the god, the sun, wisdom
Green – abundance, calming, fertility, growth, new beginnings, prosperity
Orange – adaptability, communication, courage, creativity, energy, optimism, success
Red – anger, courage, creativity, desire, energy, fire, lust, passion, sexual love, strength, willpower
White – cleansing, divination, healing, innocence, peace, protection, truth
Yellow – communication, creativity, dream work, happiness, intelligence, learning, protection, psychic ability, the sun, willpower
Bonfire, sunwheels, flowers
The deities you might find worshiped at Litha include: Freya, Flora, Aine, Habondia, Lugh, Green Man, Bast, Brigit, Pan. Essentially, deities associated with the Earth, the Sun, fertility, hearth, the woodlands, animals, and the fae are all really great deities to recognize and worship at this time.
Herbs and Plants:
For Herbs, there are many that could be used at Litha such as Mugwort, vervain, chamomile, lily, oak, lavender, fern, thyme, daisy, and honeysuckle. St. Johns wort is also quite popular at Litha due to it being at the height of its flowering (and the sun-like flowers!). Also at Litha (and any sabbat really), find out what plants and herbs are safe and available, growing naturally in your area. Litha is an excellent time for foraging, so do your research and see what is on hand.
*Note: Do additional research for any herb you intend to eat as some herbs and plants are poisonous.
Birds are a really popular animal at Litha, as are snakes, and pollinator animals. Think bees and butterflies! Just like with the herbs, look around. You may find that certain animals and insects are really active at this time, identify them, and pay respect to them as well.
This is a great time for any stones that have sun energy. Also look for crystals that are orange, gold, brown, red, green, and yellow. Just like the color correspondences, these are great crystals to use. You might try emerald, aventurine, jade, citrine, topaz, amber, or tiger’s eye. There are plenty more, and you probably already have some great ones on hand.
Trees like birch, oak, elder, laurel, and linden correspond with Litha. Remember also that trees are more than just their trunk, they are their bark, leaves, twigs, and animal inhabitants too.
Litha is a great time for empowering spell work. Spells for healing, self-growth, self-love, and protection are all great choices. If you believe in love spells, this is a good time for those as well.
Any fire magick is great at this time too. Be that candle magick, purifying your tools in flames, or fire manifestation spells, give them a try at Litha.
Around this time, consider what is important to you at this time of year, or what it is that you appreciate. Is it the Wisteria growing on the trees? The scent of honeysuckle on the breeze? Long naps in a backyard hammock? What is it about this time of the year that brings you joy and makes you feel grateful?
Incorporate these things in your Litha Celebrations.
Setting Intentions at Litha
Litha, a sabbat in the Wheel of the Year, marks the height of summer. During this time, it is a good idea to align yourself with the powerful energies of the sun and the bounty of summertime. Try new things, expand your ideas, and begin or continue projects that will bring you success.You should also use this time to give thanks for all that you have and show gratitude to Mother Earth for her bounty. Upon completion of rites and celebrations honoring Litha, you should acknowledge your successes thus far in the Wheel of the Year.
How can Litha be celebrated?
Just like with any holiday, the way one chooses to celebrate it is totally up to them. Although, as with all of the major sabbats there are some popular celebration trends with Litha.
The most popular way to celebrate Litha is of course, a bonfire. As stated before this is a well dated practice. Gather your closest friends or family hold a bonfire party. Offer drinks, food, and music! It’s simple and fun for everyone!
Another common practice is watching the sun both rise and set on Litha. Since this is the longest day of the year, and the peak of the Sun God’s(Oak King)power, this is an excellent opportunity to pay your respects as he both arrives and departs. Get up early and greet the sunrise. Sip coffee and say hi to the sun OR practice some yoga sun salutations. Breathe in the sunshine.
The last common one to note is performing a Litha ritual. This might include casting a circle, invoking spirit, calling the elements, having cakes and ale, performing spell work, leaving offerings, or whatever else your rituals might consist of.
We celebrate the warmth of the sun’s glow and its nourishing effect on the earth—on the plants, trees, and even the waters. Here are 20 ways you can celebrate Litha this summer.
1. Spend Time Outdoors
Be sure to take time out to participate in your favorite outdoor activity. Whether you love long bike rides, going to the beach to lounge in the sun, or hiking up the side of a mountain, get outside and enjoy the sun. Pay attention to how it makes you feel when it touches your skin.
2. Wand Making
Litha is an excellent time for wand making. Use twigs or small branches from the corresponding trees listed above. Preferably, use pieces that have already fallen to the ground. If this is not possible, clip them cleanly with sheers and leave an offering for the tree. Or simply thank it!
Once you have your base, you can add acorn tops, leaves, crystals, herbs, twine, beads, glass, seeds, or whatever you want!
Then, charge it in the sunlight for the remainder of the day. Use this wand throughout the year when you are casting to get a little help from the Sun God, even in his absence.
3. Doll Making
Doll making is a common pastime for kids at many sabbots using corresponding materials, but it doesn’t have to just be for children! Gather twigs or branches that fork and dress them with leaves and grass, and other foraged items. Keep it on your altar when you need a little help from
the Sun, or add a protection spell to it and allow it to sit somewhere in your home for the year. Be creative with this one. Use a mixture of manmade and natural items to create your doll if you’d like. Give it a try!
Both solstices are a great opportunity for Divination. Since we are entering a new phase of our year, and approaching the harvest season – this is a great time for divination.
Tea leaf reading would be great at this time, and you could make tea from foraged dandelions and nettles that are growing at this time.
Of course, if you are on any medications ask a doctor first, and do your research!
You also might try rune reading, or scrying in a river or stream.
Whatever divination technique it is you prefer, this is the time to do it.
5. Picking up Trash
Although this may not seem very “celebratory,” at Litha you are giving your gratitude to the Earth’s abundance. Picking up litter is a great way to pay your respects to both the Earth, and the Gods. As you pick up trash, you might try chanting softly something like “I’ll be a light in the darkness until your return.” Being a good person is a lot like being a light. So, be the light!
6. Burning Candles
Just as the early Europeans spun a wheel down a hill to extinguish it, you might do the same with candles. Light candles at dawn on Litha, and extinguish them at Dusk, thanking them for their light. This is a simple act,
but you could amplify it by carving sigils for your intentions or goals for the next half of the year.
This one should be a bit more obvious, the harvest is coming! This is the last real chance to sow summer seeds. Don’t be afraid to involve kids in this too! This is a great time to sow seeds in small containers to keep on the porch or window sill so that they may be intentionally cared for until harvest. Select your favorite weeds, herbs, or spices and plant them if they are still viable in your region. This is good for the Earth, good for your family, and a satisfying process.
Nurture something to harvest just as the Mother Goddess is doing.
8. Make Floral Wreaths
At this time, there are still plenty of wildflowers about. Pick some of your favorites and create a wreath for your door, mailbox, or your head! This is also really cute garb for that bonfire later!
9. Protection Charms, Spells, and Amulets
Litha is the perfect time to retire old spells and protections. This is an opportunity to disassemble any jars that are no longer effective or sachets(if these are spells that can be deconstructed that is). Offer up any natural ingredients like herbs back to the Earth on Litha.
Any non-natural items like physical charms or necklaces, simply cleanse them, give thanks, and let them soak in the sun. You may want to donate them or recycle them once you’ve done this, or simply store them away.
This is a great time to create new charms, spells, amulets, and even sigils for yourself.
10. Make Sun Catchers
You can buy suncatchers online if you’d like and hang them on Litha. There are some great ones for kids online that they can color! However, you can make them yourself using recycled glass, recycled plastic, sugar, and lots of things. Hang them in the window and let the sun shine through.
11. Fae Offerings
If you do work with the fae, make an offering on Litha, but be careful. They may be up to no good on Litha, so practice with Caution. Nature Walk
Go for a walk mid-day when the sun is at its peak. Enjoy its warmth and take this time for personal reflection.
12. Build a Fairy House
Litha, a time of fertility and celebration among humans, is also a time when the fair folk will come out to play. Honor the fair folk by making fairy houses for your yard or garden. Fashion your house from bright-painted wood or purchase one from a crafts store. Hang or place your fairy house around your garden or among the trees. Be mindful of your location: Don’t place it too close to your home, as the fair folk can be mischievous and you might not want to invite extra mischief into your home on Midsummer (especially if you already have active pets or kids!)!
13. Donate Food or Clothes
Litha is about growth and abundance. Be grateful for what you have, and be honest with yourself about what you don’t need. Someone else may be in need of things that no longer serve you. A great way to have an abundant crop is to get rid of any pests along the way, and that’s just what these unneeded things are. Share your abundance, and it will still remain yours. Seriously!
14. Pick Wildflowers
Go outside and pick wildflowers. Be sure to take your time! Smell the flowers and give thanks to nature for its beauty. Take some flowers home to place on your altar.
15. Try a New Practice
As mentioned, Litha is about growth. What better opportunity to create a plan for yourself to finally read tea leaves or give new things a try. Perhaps you’ve been meaning to learn more about runes, get started on Litha!
16. Charge your Crystals
The Sun is at peak power, use this chance to charge your crystals and other tools in the Sun. (for crystals, just make sure they are Sun safe!)
17. Decorate your Altar
Decorate your altar, home, and self with the scents, colors, and imagery of Litha!
While you are out and about, try to gather a few meaningful items to bring inside to decorate your altar. Sunflowers, mint, basil, lavender and sage are all wonderful herbs and flowers for Litha. Remember only to harvest things from plants that have already fallen or grow more yourself. Use bright citrus-colored fabric and ribbons to cover your altar. Light candles in these colors as well. Burn fruity or floral incense. Crystals for Litha include high-energy stones like citrine, sunstone, garnet, and carnelian.(You can charge these crystals in the midsummer sunlight).
18. Make Litha Inspired Food
Get creative in the kitchen! Make lavender and lemon shortbread cookies, focaccia bread decorated with edible flowers and herbs, and make some summer wine! Do your best to incorporate colors (like using red and yellow and orange bell peppers), or flavors (lavender, thyme, rosemary) in your recipes.
Here are a few recipes just perfect for a Litha feast:
19. Gather Herbs
Gather and dry herbs to use throughout the coming year. You can use them later in many ways such as making sachets, and tea blends, cooking or infusing in oils to make salves.
20. Go to the Beach
During Summer Solstice, go to the beach and celebrate Litha. The sun will warm your body while the water will cool your skin. This is a magical time of year, when the sun moves into Cancer, a water sign. Fire and water together make summer the best season to go to the beach. Build a sandcastle near the water, and watch as it is washed away with the tide. This is an easy and magical way to celebrate Midsummer.
As you can see, Litha is for everyone and can be practiced in so many ways. Even if you have never celebrated Litha before, I hope you will give it a try this year. It is an important part of our natural cycles, and that shouldn’t be overlooked or forgotten.
That is what Litha is all about!
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