Litha, Summer Solstice, or Midsummer
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. 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 sabbath (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 sabbath, 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.
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 sabbath 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 sabbath include robins, wrens, all Summer birds, horses and cattle. Mythical creatures include satyrs, faeries, firebirds, dragons and thunderbirds.