Celebrating Litha – The Wiccan Summer Solstice

summer solstice - litha - stonehenge

Honouring the longest day of the year, Summer Solstice is a widely celebrated ritual where energies of the sun, fertility, bounty and abundance are in full force. The term solstice means ‘sun stands still,’ which is a reflection of how during the summer and winter solstices the sun appears unchanged in its position in the sky.

Of all the Sabbats, Summer Solstice is probably the most well known, thanks in part to the yearly gatherings at ancient sites such as Stonehenge in the UK, where people of many different faiths and spiritual leanings come together to celebrate.  Stonehenge itself was aligned so that it highlights how the sun rises during Summer Solstice.

In keeping with energies of nature and natural mysticism, Summer Solstice has many roots in agriculturally related celebrations and rituals. Burning of balefires took place to ritually strengthen the power of the sun, as well as torchlight processions and rolling flaming wheels down hillsides. These rituals helped to drive out negative forces and invite fertility and prosperity to people, crops and animals.

Saxons marked midsummer with bonfires symbolising the power of light over darkness. The Romans dedicated this holiday period to the goddess Juno, who was the goddess of women and childbirth, and was married to Jupiter. The goddess of the hearth, Vesta, was also revered during this time.

summer solstice - maiden2

Pagan and Wiccan traditions dedicate the festival of Litha to the bounty of the sun, beauty, fertility and energies of plenty. It follows from the Beltane celebrations, where the young maiden sewed seeds of intention, and speaks of the growth and maturity in emotions and sexuality that occurs as the year progresses.

Summer Solstice is for many pagans a time to connect with the Sun King, in the form of his expression as the Oak King, the light side of the coin which melds light and dark energies. For many pagans this is a time to reflect on how without darkness there is no light and vice versa, and a reminder about celebrating and balancing these energies within ourselves.

It is also a time to celebrate the feminine attributes of fertility, creativity nurturance and abundance. Many connect with Mother Earth and the relationship between our natural Mother and mothering energies in our own lives, celebrating and appreciating the bounty we give and receive.

The energies of earth and fire are particularly potent at this time of year, as well as themes of celebrating our hard work and reflecting on all we have achieved so far. Because Summer Solstice marks the point at which the seasons begin to turn towards the darker side of the year now is time to take stock of what has been stored and if anything still needs to be released. However this is work which can take place in the run up to the Solstice – a reflecting and accounting, before celebrating with friends, lovers, children and family.

summer solstice - sunflower

How to Celebrate Litha/Summer Solstice – Solo Practice

As with many other major events in the Pagan / Wiccan year, it’s possible to join one of many group celebrations and rituals which take place via covens or pagan and other spiritual groups who align with the natural energies present in these times.

However for many of us it’s not possible to join one of these celebrations, especially on Summer Solstice itself, which often falls on a weekday. Work, family or other commitments may mean that it’s not realistic for some to join group rituals, whereas others are solitary practitioners or are unable to attend group rituals for other reasons.

This doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate though! One of the best ways to connect with the energies of Summer Solstice is to honour the rising of the solstice sun. This short ritual can be done in your back garden, or even at a window if you don’t have access to a garden. It’s best to try to be outdoors, but connecting with the energy of renewal, growth and abundance and celebrating the healing power of the sun is far more important.

summer solstice litha - solitary ritual

A Solo Litha Ritual

  1. If possible, set your alarm early so you are awake before the sun begins to rise. In the UK this is just before 5am. This is very early so try to make space in your day later on for a short nap.
  2.  Before your ritual gather some flowers either wild or from the shop and choose an array of colours that speak to you. Orange and yellow are excellent for connecting with the fiery energy of the sun. Dandelions can be a powerful choice. Take your flowers and arrange when in a circle on the ground around you. If necessary create your circle using petals.
  3. In the centre of your circle place some crystals that resonate with you and the energies of the Solstice. Citrine and Tigers Eye are fantastic for empowering fire-led energy. If you don’t have either of these you can program Clear Quartz by cleansing it and speaking your intention to it.
  4. Meditate within your circle, holding the crystals of your choice as the sun begins to rise. If possible align your circle so the first rays of the sunlight move into the circle. If you can’t do this make sure you can see where the sun is rising (remembering to be safe and not look directly at the sun).
  5. Feel the energies of fire, fertility, bounty and abundance flowing into your body, and welcome in the energy, adding it to the power of your own actions over the last few months for your highest good. Give thanks for all you have been rewarded with, and allow any lingering negativity from things which have not gone your way to be cleansed by the healing energies of renewal and growth.
  6. When you have meditated, it’s time to celebrate! One way to do this is to use ritual dance and movement. Let yourself go and allow your body to move around your circle. Do some sun salutations, or put on some energising music and dance. Connect with the energy of joy and with the nurturing love of Mother Earth. Allow yourself to feel the lightness and the power of this time and let joy wash through you.

Emily Rai is a writer who lives in the Welsh Valleys with her son and two feline familiars – Zach and Sofia. Her magical interests include Jungian Shadow Work, Feminine Empowerment and integrating the psyche for healing and wellbeing.

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