The Pagan Midsummer festival, celebrated by many Witches, Wiccans and Druids takes place on or around 20th June. The Midsummer festival is in honour of the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and an acknowledgement of the Sun at the peak of its strength. Litha is the heart of the Summer, after Litha, the days start to shorten once again until Yule – the longest night of the year. In the Midsummer, light has pushed back the darkness and Litha rejoices in a time of hope and positivity.
Litha celebrates nature at its peak. The fertility of the earlier celebrations has been realized and pagans can now enjoy the bounties of the earth. Many magical practitioners believe that herbs and plants gathered during the Midsummer festival have greater potency than those gathered at any other time of the year. Witches will store these herbs, infused with the sunlight for use later in the year when the growing season has ended.
For those who worship deity, Midsummer represents the Sun God at the height of his powers. As the wheel turns, the Sun God will become weaker through the dark half of the year, returning to life at Yule and slowly gaining in strength until once again reaching full power at Litha the following year. The Goddess is now pregnant with the Sun God – conceived at Ostara – and ready to begin the cycle of renewal again.
The Summer solstice is a time to celebrate love and union and many pagan weddings – handfastings – take place at this time of year. It is also a time for community and sharing and the only day of the year when the pagan monument Stonehenge is opened to the public with many alternative religions and pagans coming together to watch the rising of the sun for the longest day of the year.
Traditionally, Litha starts the transition from cultivation to harvest, the crops are in the fields and flourishing under the summer sunshine. Although it is not yet time to reap what has been sown, the promise of the harvest is in evidence and a good harvesting season can be predicted by the strength of the growing crops. To a modern pagan, Litha brings a spirit of altruism. Just as the Sun God is at the height of his strength, so is each individual. Nourished by the warmth of the season and the welcome sunshine, people are at their happiest and doing their best to share and spread their joy among others.
The Midsummer reminds the modern pagan to look ahead. Just as our ancestors would have evaluated and anticipated the growing of their crops, ensuring they had the food to sustain themselves and their families through the winter, Litha is a good time to look ahead and make plans for sustenance through the dark half of the year. It is a good time to make changes that will bring positivity during the darker days ahead – an ideal opportunity to take up exercise, perhaps develop a closer relationship with nature. It is not too late to do some planting, either indoors or outdoors – a chance to bring the beauty of the summer flowers into the home for cheer when the light days are behind us. Litha reminds the modern pagan to count their blessings and to be grateful for what they have. Carpe Diem witches!
Modern celebrations include the decorating of trees, especially the Oak which, as a symbol of strength and transition is closely associated with the spirit of the Midsummer. Bonfires are lit and summer herbs, particularly St John’s Wort are burned to banish sickness (and the Deguwitch recommends the burning of this herb for the banishing of depression as well.)
Perhaps in the modern age of uncertain weather and limited sunshine (certainly for us UK witches!) Litha is an opportunity to make the most of the outdoors and to get out there with some real hands on celebrating. So have a bonfire, invite the family round and make the most of those you love this Summer. Seize the day x
Image http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=1404830 (Krappweiss)
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