Litha, The Summer Solstice

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Time: Three days beginning from sunset around 20 June (20 December in the southern hemisphere)
Focus: Full potency, illumination, mysteries revealed; healing, the height of joy, fulfilment, the need to
seize the moment.
The summer solstice has been celebrated in cultures as far apart as Russia and North America, where
Sun dances were an assertion of power and courage and in a new form still bring healing to the nations
and the Earth.
The height of the festival is the first light falling on the morning of the solstice, like a shaft of gold
across standing stones and stone circles, linking the dimensions. Many circles throughout Europe and
Scandinavia, such as Stonehenge in Wiltshire, are aligned to the summer solstice sunrise, as are a
number of stone medicine wheels in America and Canada.
These places, built on centres of great power, have accumulated not only the power of the thousands of
midsummer suns that have shone on this day since their creation, but the hopes and prayers of those
who have and still gather at such places. These include priests, Druids, healers, warriors, monarchs and
ordinary men and women who connect with fusion of Sky and Earth energies, the sacred and
ceremonial marriage of god and goddess on this most magical of days.
There is a long-standing pagan tradition of lighting bonfires on beacon hills to strengthen the power of
the Sun before it began its decline. On Midsummer Day, fire wheels were rolled down the hillsides,
flaming tar barrels were swung on chains and blazing torches tossed in the air. In Sweden, they still
hold a midsummer weekend with a midsummer tree, or pole, decorated with greenery and flowers
forming the centrepiece of music and revels. There is feasting in towns as well as the countryside in
what is a national event and thousands of people gather as they have for centuries at focal points such
as the Island of Oland on the Stockholm archipelago.
St John’s wort, the golden herb of midsummer and symbol of the summer solstice, was said to offer
fertility and powers to attract love if picked at midnight on 23 June, the eve of St John’s Day, or the eve
of the actual solstice. Hopeful lovers would carry it or place it under a pillow.
The power of the summer solstice can be harnessed for tackling seemingly insoluble problems and
bringing light and life and hope to those who are depressed or who have been unable through
circumstances such as poverty to fulfil their potential. It can help to tackle global warming, famine and
disease, and to prevent oppression of people and cruelty in intensive farming methods where livestock
suffer for human greed.
On a personal level, summer solstice rituals are for courage, male potency and fertility, for
achievement, success, confidence, health and happiness, for fulfilling potential and providing everexpanding
opportunities both physical, mental and spiritual. These spells are especially potent for
maturing adults approaching middle age.
Associations
Candle colours: Gold, orange or red to mirror the Sun at its height
Symbols: Brightly-coloured flowers, oak boughs, golden fern pollen that is said to reveal buried
treasure wherever it falls
Crystals: Amber, carnelian, citrine, golden beryl, sunstone
Flowers, herbs, oils and incenses: Chamomile, dill, elder, fennel, frankincense, lavender, St John’s wort
and vervain
A Summer Solstice Stone Ritual
This ritual can be used to absorb the courage, power and joy of the season. You can carry out this ritual
at any time during the three-day period. You might like to perform it at dusk on the eve of the solstice
or at one of the other traditional times, such as midnight, the dawn of the solstice day or noon.
Alternatively, you may prefer to watch the actual solstice sunrise from a hill or an open place or even
close to one of the sacred sites at dawn.
* Take eight large, long, rounded stones, one for each spoke on the Wheel of the Year.
* Arrange them around the edges of a circle. The eight points correspond with the mid-winter solstice
in the North, Imbolc in the North-east, the spring equinox in the East, Beltain in the South-east, the
summer solstice in the South, Lughnassadh in the South-west, the autumn equinox in the West, and
Samhain in the North-west. (In the southern hemisphere, they will all move six months so that the
summer solstice is in the North, etc.)
* In front of each stone, place a yellow beeswax or gold candle and set a large gold candle in the centre
of the circle. If you have a cauldron or large pot, you can set the central candle in that. Surround the
central candle with flowers and herbs of midsummer, if possible freshly picked from an outside source,
and any greenery.
* If you are working in a group, members can stand around the circle, one at each of the points of the
year, with the rest of the coven standing in the North, in a line, facing the South. If you are alone, you
may wish to adapt the ritual so the stones and candles are smaller. Place the central candle on your
altar, which will on this occasion be standing in the North, facing the South, and move round the altar
in a circle.
* Enter the circle at the mid-winter solstice (North), the position of the birth of the Sun, and light the
central candle, saying:
Sun, sacred centre of warmth, light, light and fertility, I greet you on this your time of glory.
* Behind the candle, light a semicircle of frankincense sticks, saying:
Sun who has been from the beginning, King, God, Father, orb of inspiration, I greet you now at this
your time of glory.
* Face the North and light the mid-winter candle, saying:
The Sun is born anew, see light grows, light flames to illuminate the darkness and promises renewal as
the Wheel turns too.
* Move round the Wheel to face the North-east. Light the Imbolc candle, saying:
The Sun increases and the maiden flames the white fields. You claim her as your own and so the year
turns and life and light wax as day returns.
* Move next to the East and, facing this direction, light the spring equinox candle, saying:
Once more you overcome the darkness; the throne of light is yours to ascend and longer days are won.
* Move to the South-east and, facing this direction, light the Beltain candle, saying:
Your warmth brings green growth once more to the barren Earth. I kindle fires to draw your healing
strength and the corn will grow high.
* Move to the South, face the direction of the summer solstice, light the candle and say:
The Sun is at its height and all nature filled with power. The Lord and Lady of the Universe, Sky and
Earth, are joined on this day.
* Around the summer solstice candle, scatter a circle of dried or fresh dill, St John’s wort, vervain and
clover (trefoil) – these are the herbs that bloom at this time and were used to exorcise harm and bring
protection to home and people. If you cannot get any of them, use rosemary or any of the herbs of the
Sun.
* As you scatter the herbs, say one of the variations of the old midsummer chant that can be found in
folk legend in Europe. My favourite is:
Trefoil, vervain, John’s wort, dill,
Drive off darkness at your will.
Trefoil, vervain, John’s wort, dill,
May the summer sunshine fill
All with life and hope – and keep
Hearth and home safe while I sleep.
Scoop up some of the herbs in a tiny purse or drawstring bag. Keep it and place it beneath your pillow
before sleep. You will, it is said, dream of the person who can make you happy and also, if you add
some golden pollen to the sachet, of ways of increasing your wealth.
* Light the final three candles in turn, saying:
Wheel turn, though light from henceforth falls,
Turn year, till spring and new life calls.
* Leave your solstice wheel of candles to burn down.
* The following day, when daylight comes again, plant golden flowers and spend the day in the open
air if at all possible, enjoying every moment of light until you witness the Sun setting in the West.

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