Litha (pronounced "LITH-ah") is one of the Lesser Wiccan Sabbats and is usually celebrated on June 21st, but varies somewhat from the 20th to the 23rd, dependant upon the Earth's rotation around the Sun (check the calendar). According to the old folklore calendar, Summer begins on Beltane (May 1st) and ends on Lughnassadh (August 1st), with the Summer Solstice midway between the two, marking MID-Summer. This makes more logical sense than suggesting that Summer begins on the day when the Sun's power begins to wane and the days grow shorter... (Images to the left and below are by Anthony Meadows and from Llewellyn's 1998 and 1999 Witches' Calendars. Click on either image to go directly to Llewellyn's Web Site.)
The most common other names for this holiday are the Summer Solstice or Midsummer, and it celebrates the arrival of Summer, when the hours of daylight are longest. The Sun is now at the highest point before beginning its slide into darkness. Other names for this time in the Wheel of the Year include Alban Heruin, (Caledonii or the Druids), Alban Hefin (Anglo-Saxon Tradition), Sun Blessing, Gathering Day (Welsh), Whit Sunday, Whitsuntide, Vestalia (Ancient Roman), the Feast of Epona (Ancient Gaulish), All-Couple's Day (Greek), and St. John's Day. Scottish Pecti-Witans celebrate Feill-Sheathain on July 5th. In the Italian tradition of Aridian Strega, this Sabbat (Strega Witches call them Treguendas rather than Sabbats) is known as Summer Fest - La Festa dell'Estate. Scandinavians celebrate this holiday at a later date and call it Thing-Tide. In England, June 21st is "The Day of Cerridwen and Her Cauldron". And in Ireland, this day is dedicated to the faery goddess Aine of Knockaine. And finally, in Northern Europe - June 21st is "The Day of the Green Man".
The Litha Sabbat is a time to celebrate both work and leisure, it is a time for children and childlike play. It is a time to celebrate the ending of the waxing year and the beginning of the waning year, in preparation for the harvest to come. Midsummer is a time to absorb the Sun's warming rays and it is another fertility Sabbat, not only for humans, but also for crops and animals. Wiccans consider the Goddess to be heavy with pregnancy from the mating at Beltane - honor is given to Her. The Sun God is celebrated as the Sun is at its peak in the sky and we celebrate His approaching fatherhood - honor is also given to Him. The faeries abound at this time and it is customary to leave offerings - such as food or herbs - for them in the evening.
Symbols to represent the Litha Sabbat are such things as fire, the Sun, blades, mistletoe, oak trees, balefires, Sun wheels and faeries. Altar decorations might include Summertime flowers - especially sunflowers - love amulets, seashells, aromatic potpourri and Summer fruits. If you made Sun wheels at Imbolc, you should now display them prominently. Hang them from the ceiling or place them on trees in your yard. You may also want to decorate them with yellow and gold ribbons and Summer herbs.
Deities associated with Litha include all Father Gods and Mother Goddesses, Pregnant Goddesses and Sun Deities. Particular emphasis might be placed on the Goddesses Aphrodite, Astarte, Freya, Hathor, Ishtar, Venus and other Goddesses who preside over love, passion and beauty. Other Litha deities include Athena, Artemis, Dana, Kali, Isis, Juno, Apollo, Dagda, Gwydion, Helios, Llew, Oak/Holly King, Lugh, Ra, Sol, Zeus, Prometheus, Ares, and Thor.
The cycle of fertility has been expressed in many god-forms. One pair of these - which has persisted from early Pagan times to modern folklore - is that of the Oak King and the Holly King, Gods respectively of the Waxing Year and the Waning Year. The Oak King rules from Midwinter to Midsummer - the period of Fertility, Expansion and Growth; while the Holly King reigns from Midsummer to Midwinter - the period of Harvest, Withdrawal and Wisdom. They are the light and dark twins, each being the other's alternate self, thus being one. Each represents a necessary phase in the natural rhythm, therefore both are good. At the two changeover points, they symbolically meet in combat. The incoming twin - the Oak King at Midwinter, the Holly King at Midsummer - "slays" the outgoing one. But the defeated twin is not actually considered dead - he has merely withdrawn during the six months of his brother's rule.
On Midsummer Night, field and forest elves, sprites, and fairies abound in great numbers - making this a great time to commune with them. Litha is considered one of the best times to perform magicks of all kinds, for it is considered a time of great magickal power. Especially effective magick and spells at this time include the performance of those for love, healing and prosperity. A wreath can be made for your door with yellow feathers for prosperity and red feathers for sexuality - intertwined and tied together with ivy. This is also a very good time to perform blessings and protection spells for your pets or other animals. You may want to choose to include your pet within your cast Circle at this Sabbat celebration, and even present him or her with a special gift (such as a tiny pentacle to attach to his or her collar). I have done this and found it very rewarding and heartwarming.
Nurturing and love are key actions related to Midsummer. If you haven't yet done so, Litha is a good time to perform your Self-Dedication Ceremony... or - if you have been practicing Wicca for a while - you may choose to perform a simple Re-dedication/Affirmation as a part of your Sabbat celebration. Ritual actions for Litha might include placing a flower-ringed cauldron upon your altar, plunging of the sword (or athame) into the cauldron, balefire leaping (outdoors) and the gathering and drying of herbs. Herbs can be dried over the ritual fire if you're celebrating outdoors. Leap the bonfire for purification and renewed energy. Ritually, use mirrors to capture the light of the Sun or the flames of the fire. Some things that are considered taboo on this holiday are giving away fire, sleeping away from home, and neglecting animals.
Colors associated with the Summer Solstice include white, red, maize yellow or golden yellow, green, blue and tan. Altar candles could be either a combination of blue, green, and yellow --- or red and gold. Stones to use during Litha include all green gemstones, especially emerald and jade. Other appropriate gemstones are tiger's eye, lapus lazuli and diamonds. Animals associated with this Sabbat include robins, wrens, all Summer birds, horses and cattle. Mythical creatures include satyrs, faeries, firebirds, dragons, thunderbirds and manticores.
Plants associated with Midsummer are oak, mistletoe, frankincense, lemon, sandalwood, heliotrope, copal, saffron, galangal, laurel and ylang-ylang. Herbs associated with this Sabbat are chamomile, cinquefoil, elder, fennel, hemp, larkspur, lavender, male fern, mugwort, pine, roses, Saint John's wort, wild thyme, wisteria and verbena. Traditionally, herbs gathered on this day are extremely powerful. Incense for the Litha Sabbat Ritual might be a combination of any of the following or simply one of them by itself... frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, lemon, pine, jasmine, rose, lotus, or wysteria.
Traditional Pagan foods for Litha include fresh vegetables of all kinds and fresh fruits such as lemons and oranges. Other standard fare may be pumpernickel bread as well as Summer squash and any yellow or orange colored foods. Flaming foods are also appropriate. Traditional drinks are ale, mead, and fresh fruit juice of any kind.
May the Lord and Lady bless you all with lots of love, prosperity, health, and well-being!
Next I will list several recipes appropriate for the Litha turn in the Wheel of the Year. I have gathered these from various places, noted on each...
Fruit Salad with Love Spell
Make a salad of the below-listed ingredients, concentrating on the love you wish to share. Chant the Spell Incantation as you chop and slice.
Fruit Salad Ingredients:
1 cup Mango
1/2 cup Pine Nuts (optional)
1 cup Pineapple, to be cut into bite-size chunks
1 cup Apple, to be cut into bite-size chunks
1 cup Peaches, to be cut into bite-size chunks
2 or 3 Bananas, to be sliced (depending on personal preference)
1 small jar Red Cherries
1/2 cup Coconut (if desired)
"Fruit of mango, fruit of pine,
Let the one I love be mine.
Fruit of apple, fruit of peach,
Bring him (her) close within my reach.
Fruit of banana, fruit of cherry,
Let his (her) love for me not vary.
As I work my magick spell,
Warmly in his (her) heart I dwell.
I now invoke the Law of Three:
This is my will, so mote it be!"
Mingle the fruits and place your hands on either side of the bowl, while visualizing you and your loved one building a life together. Then serve the salad.
(The above recipe for "Fruit Salad with Love Spell" is adapted from Morgana of Hawaii's recipe in Scott Cunningham's book "The Magic in Food: Legends, Lore & Spells", page 243, Llewellyn Publications, 1990.)
3/4 cup softened butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 cups flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Cream the butter in a large cast-iron cauldron (or mixing bowl). Gradually add the brown sugar, beating well. Add the eggs, lemon juice, and rind, and then beat by hand or with an electric mixer until the mixture is well blended. The next step is to stir in the flour and pecans.
Cover the cauldron with a lid, aluminum foil, or plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
When ready, shape the dough into one-inch balls and place them about three inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake in a 375-degree preheated oven for approximately eight minutes. Remove from the oven and place on wire racks until completely cool.
This recipe yields about 36 cookies which can be served at any of the eight Sabbats, as well as at Esbats and all other Witchy get-togethers.
(The above recipe for "Cauldron Cookies" is quoted directly from Gerina Dunwich's book "The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch's Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions and Recipes", page 167, A Citadel Press Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1994/1995)
Midsummer Ritual Mead
2-1/2 gallons water (preferably fresh rainwater
blessed by a Wiccan priestess or priest)
1 cup meadowsweet herb
1 cup woodruff sprigs
1 cup heather flowers
1 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup barley malt
1 oz. brewer's yeast
Pour the water into a large cauldron or kettle. Bring to a boil and add the meadowsweet herb, woodruff sprigs, heather flowers, and cloves. Boil for one hour and the add the honey, brown sugar, and barley malt. Stir thirteen times in a clockwise direction and then remove from heat.
Strain through a cheesecloth and allow the mead to cool to room temperature. Stir in the brewer's yeast. Cover with a clean towel and let it stand for one day and one night. Strain again, bottle, and then store in a cool place until ready to serve.
Midsummer Ritual Mead is an ideal drink to serve at Summer Solstice Sabbats, as well as during all Cakes and Ale Ceremonies and Esbats.
(The above recipe for "Midsummer Ritual Mead" is quoted directly from Gerina Dunwich's book "The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch's Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions and Recipes", page 172, A Citadel Press Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1994/1995)
Summer Solstice Ritual Potpourri
45 drops lemon or lavender oil
1 cup oak moss
2 cups dried lavender
2 cups dried wisteria
2 cups dried verbena
Mix the lemon or lavender oil with the oak moss, and then add the remaining ingredients. Stir the potpourri well and store in a tightly covered ceramic or glass container.
(The above recipe for "Summer Solstice Ritual Potpourri" is quoted directly from Gerina Dunwich's book "The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch's Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions and Recipes", page 162, A Citadel Press Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1994/1995)
2 parts Sandalwood
1 part Mugwort
1 part Chamomile
1 part Gardenia petals
a few drops Rose oil
a few drops Lavender oil
a few drops Yarrow oil
Burn at Wiccan rituals at the Summer Solstice (circa June 21st) or at that time to attune with the seasons and the Sun.
3 parts Frankincense
2 parts Benzoin
1 part Dragon's Blood
1 part Thyme
1 part Rosemary
1 pinch Vervain
a few drops Red Wine
Another like the above.
(The above recipe for "Midsummer Incense" is quoted directly from Scott Cunningham's book "The Complete Book of Incenses, Oils & Brews", page 80, Llewellyn Publications, 1989/1992.)
And now here is a verse and some poetry, along with a
very nice invocation, and a bit more Summer lore, with proper
credit given to each author...
Enjoy and May Ye Blessed Be!
Summer Solstice, the longest day, represents a turning point from Spring to Summer during which the Sun God directs the ripening and blossoming of the grain and fruit. Here in the heat of the Summer, the crops are transformed as are our actions, thoughts and plans. All things are tempered by the heat of the Sun. Blossoming and ripening of our works are manifested, or they shrivel and die in the heat. All the while, sexual energy is growing. The Sun God impregnates the Earth Goddess in a sweet "petit mort"---as the cup is to the Goddess, so too is the athame to the God.
The world within
Echoes the world without
Lush foliage, leaves unfurled
Soft springy grass dotted with
Brightly colored flowers peeping through
The earth is green and bright
With warm sunny days
Clear velvety blue skies
Gentle cool breezes
Nature in glory
Our hopes blossom
With the season
The seeds of the fruit
Our desires will bear
Can be seen
On the stems
Of our dreams
Fireflies and summer sun
in circles round
we become as one.
Singing songs at magick's hour
we bring the winds
and timeless powers.
Turning inward, hand in hand
we dance the hearth
to heal the land.
Standing silent, beneath the sky
we catch the fire
from out God's eye.
Swaying breathless, beside the sea
we call the Goddess
so mote it be!
(This can be used as a chant, part of a spiral dance, or to invoke quarters.)
Standing midst the Circle
I look at faces ---
all searching for that special spark
that sense of connection
which spans all words
We come together
to know the same magic
that moved the great stones
birthed the dragons
and touched even the stars
with its mighty song.
to sense the power
rising within us
like the glory of a summer sun
until we too sing
its timeless ballad.
until our souls dance hand in hand
with the Lady of Light
and Lord of the Fires
(The above "Summer" poem is quoted directly from Llewellyn's 1994 Magical Almanac, page 169, Llewellyn Worldwide Publications, 1993.)
Summer Lucky Days
July is the month of prosperity, resolution to difficult situations, and legal successes. As the Sun warms the air, let it warm your heart; if necessary, ask the universe for insight. Focus on these dates when planning authorized activities, magic for financial stability, or to bring peace and accord.
Release worries and burdens to a Summer wind and let them move away! These are excellent days for contemplation, peacefulness, and meditation in natural settings. Reclaim your center and be at rest.
A month of changeable weather and joyous adventures. These are the best days to consider travel, puttering around the home, a picnic with loved ones, or asking for a promotion. The Sun is slowly starting to wane, so our outdoor pleasures should be filled to overflowing.
(The above "Summer Lucky Days" is quoted directly from Llewellyn's 1994 Magical Almanac, page 170, Llewellyn Worldwide Publications, 1993.)
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These pages have been created and are maintained by StormWing
Please feel free to use the information contained on my Wiccan Web Pages for your own personal use or for the teaching of others... remembering the Wiccan Rede... and harming none... Blessed Be, StormWing...
Portions of the Poetry section are reprinted from various issues of "Circle Network News"