The Sabbats

Pagan Recipe For Solstice Herb Bread

Pagan Recipe For Solstice Herb Bread

Ingredients:

3 C. flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. dry active yeast
2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 1/4 C. hot water
2 tbsp. Crisco

Mix 2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add herbs, water, and Crisco. Beat slowly, stirring in remaining cup of flour until smooth. Scrape batter from sides of bowl and let rise in a warm place for 35 minutes or until it doubles in bulk. Punch down and beat with a spoon for about 15 seconds. Place dough in a greased loaf pan, patting down and forming a loaf shape with your hands. Cover and let rise again for about 30 minutes or until it again doubles in bulk. Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes. Brush top with butter or margarine and remove from pan to cool.

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Pagan Recipe For Midsummer Ritual Mead

Pagan Recipe For Midsummer Ritual Mead

2 1/2 gallons water (preferably fresh rainwater blessed by a priest or priestess)
1 cup each: meadowsweet herb, woodruff sprigs, heather flowers
3 cloves
1 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup barley malt
1 oz brewer’s yeast
Pour water into a large cauldron. Bring to a boil and add herbs and cloves. Boil for an hour and add honey, brown sugar, and barley malt. Stir thirteen times in a clockwise direction and remove from heat. Strain through a cheesecloth and allow the mead to cool. Stir in brewer’s yeast. Cover with a towel and let stand for one day and night. Strain, bottle, and store in a cool place until ready to serve. This is an ideal drink to serve at Summer Solstice.

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Pagan Recipe for Soft Mead

Pagan Recipe For Soft Mead

1 quart water, preferably spring water
1 cup honey
1 sliced lemon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Boil together all ingredients in a non-metallic pot. While boiling, scrape off the rising “scum” with a wooden spoon. When no more rises add the following:

pinch salt
juice of 1/2 lemon

Strain and cool. Drink in place of alcoholic mead or wine during the Simple Feast.

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Finally, Setting Up Your Litha Altar


Litha Comments & Graphics

Setting Up Your Litha Altar

What to Include for the Summer Solstice

 

It’s Litha, and that means the sun is at its highest point in the sky. Midsummer is the time when we can celebrate the growing of crops, and take heart in knowing that the seeds we planted in the spring are now in full bloom. It’s a time of celebrating the sun, and spending as much time as you can outdoors. Try to set up your Midsummer altar outside if at all possible. If you can’t, that’s okay — but try to find a spot near a window where the sun will shine in and brighten your altar setup with its rays.

Colors of the Season

This sabbat is all about the sun celebration, so think of solar colors. Yellows, oranges, fiery reds and golds are all appropriate this time of year. Use candles in bright sunny colors, or cover your altar with cloths that represent the solar aspect of the season.

Solar Symbols

Litha is when the sun is at its highest point above us. In some traditions, the sun rolls across the sky like a great wheel – consider using pinwheels or some other disc to represent the sun. Circles and discs are the most basic sun symbol of all, and are seen as far back as the tombs of ancient Egypt. Use equal-armed crosses, such as the Brighid’s Cross, or even the swastika – remember, it was originally a good luck symbol to both the Hindus and Scandinavians before it became associated with the Nazis.

A Time of Light and Dark

The solstice is also a time seen as a battle between light and dark. Although the sun is strong now, in just six months the days will be short again. Much like the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King, light and dark must battle for supremacy. At this sabbat, darkness wins, and the days will begin to grow shorter once more. Decorate your altar with symbols of the triumph of darkness over light – and that includes using other opposites, such as fire and water, night and day, etc.

Other Symbols of Litha

  • Midsummer flowers, fruits and vegetables from your garden
  • Gods Eyes in sunny colors
  • Sunflowers, roses
  • Oak trees and acorns
  • Sandalwood, saffron, frankincense, laurel

 

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Celebrating Litha: Hold a Sun Ritual for Midsummer


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Hold a Sun Ritual for Midsummer

 

Midsummer is the time of the summer solstice, the Litha sabbat, and it’s the longest day of the year. Falling around June 21 in the northern hemisphere, and around December 21 below the equator, this is a time to celebrate the warmth and power of the sun. It’s a great time of year to get outside, enjoy the extra hours of daylight, and celebrate the season with family and friends. You can do this ritual as a group or adapt it to perform as a solitary practitioner.

You’ll need the following items:

  • A larger candle to represent the sun
  • An individual candle for each participant to hold

Also, be sure to decorate your altar with symbols of the season – solar symbols, fresh flowers, in-season summer produce and crops that you’ve harvested. You should do this ritual outside if at all possible, so you can take advantage of the sun’s light and energy.

If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, go ahead and do that first.

Take a moment to ground and center, and get yourself focused. Bask in the rays of the sun, feeling its warmth on your face, and welcoming its power into you.

The person who is leading the ritual – for ease of purpose, we’ll call that person the HPs – should stand at the altar.

HPs: We are here today to celebrate the power and energy of the sun. The sun is the source of warmth and light around the world. Today, at Litha, the summer solstice, we mark the longest day of the year. From Yule until this day, the sun has been moving ever closer to the earth. Flowers are blooming, crops are growing, and life has returned once more. Today we honor the gods and goddesses of the sun.

The HPs lights the sun candle on the altar.

HPs: The sun is the ultimate source of fire and light. Like all sources of light, the sun shines brightly and spreads around the world. Even as it gives its light and power to each of us, it is never diminished by the sharing of that energy. The sun passes over us each day, in the never-ending circle of light. Today, we share that light with each other, passing it around the circle, forming a ring of light.

Using the sun candle, the HPs lights her own candle, and turns to the next person in the circle. As she lights the next person’s candle, she says: May you be warmed and rejuvenated by the light of the sun.

The second person turns to the third, lighting their candle, and passing along the blessing. Continue until the last candle in the circle has been lit, returning back to the HPs.

Remember, this is a joyous celebration – feel free to include dancing, clapping, music or even a drum circle as you enjoy the power of the sun!

As each person in the group holds their lit candle, the HPs calls upon the gods and goddesses of the sun. Feel free to add or substitute different solar deities as your tradition or needs require.

HPs: Gods who bring us light, we honor you!
Hail, Ra, whose mighty chariot brings us light each morning!
Hail, Ra!
Hail, Apollo, who brings us the healing energies of the sun!
Hail, Apollo!
Hail, Saule, whose fertility blooms as the sun gains in strength!
Hail, Saule!
Hail, Helios, whose great steeds race the flames across the sky!
Hail, Helios!
Hail, Hestia, whose sacred flame lights our way in the darkness!
Hail, Hestia!
Hail, Sunna, who is sister of the moon, and bringer of light!
Hail, Sunna!
We call upon you today, thanking you for your blessings, accepting your gifts. We draw upon your strength, your energy, your healing light, and your life giving power!
Hail to you, mighty gods and goddesses of the sun!

Each member of the group should now place their candles on the altar, surrounding the sun candle.

HPS: The sun radiates out, never dying, never fading. The light and warmth of today will stay with us, even as the days begin to grow shorter, and the nights grow cold once more. Hail, gods of the sun!

Invite everyone to take in the warmth of the sun once more, and when you are done, end the ritual as you normally would.

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Celebrating Litha – Holding a Midsummer Night’s Fire Ritual


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Holding a Midsummer Night’s Fire Ritual

 

The Summer Solstice, known to some as Litha, Midsummer, or Alban Heruin, is the longest day of the year. It’s the time when the sun is most powerful, and new life has begun to grow within the earth. After today, the nights will once more begin to grow longer, and the sun will move further away in the sky.

If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, consecrate a space, or call the quarters, now is the time to do so. This ritual is a great one to perform outside, so if you have the opportunity to do this without scaring the neighbors, take advantage of it.

Begin this ritual by preparing the wood for a fire, without lighting it yet. While the ideal situation would have you setting a huge bonfire alight, realistically not everyone can do that. If you’re limited, use a table top brazier or fire-safe pot, and light your fire there instead.

Say either to yourself or out loud:

Today, to celebrate Midsummer, I honor the Earth itself. I am surrounded by tall trees. There is a clear sky above me and cool dirt beneath me, and I am connected to all three. I light this fire as the Ancients did so long ago.

At this point, start your fire. Say:

The Wheel of the Year has turned once more
The light has grown for six long months
Until today.

Today is Litha, called Alban Heruin by my ancestors.
A time for celebration.
Tomorrow the light will begin to fade
As the Wheel of the Year
Turns on and ever on.

Turn to the East, and say:

From the east comes the wind,
Cool and clear.
It brings new seeds to the garden
Bees to the pollen
And birds to the trees.

Turn to Face South, and say:

The sun rises high in the summer sky
And lights our way even into the night
Today the sun casts three rays
The light of fire upon the land, the sea, and the heavens

Turn to face West, saying:

From the west, the mist rolls in
Bringing rain and fog
The life-giving water without which
We would cease to be.

Finally, turn to the North, and say:

Beneath my feet is the Earth,
Soil dark and fertile
The womb in which life begins
And will later die, then return anew.

Build up the fire even more, so that you have a good strong blaze going.

If you wish to make an offering to the gods, now is the time to do it. For this sample, we’re including the use of a triple goddess in the invocation, but this is where you should substitute the names of the deities of your personal tradition.

Say:

Alban Heruin is a time of rededication
To the gods.
The triple goddess watches over me.
She is known by many names.
She is the Morrighan, Brighid, and Cerridwen.
She is the washer at the ford,
She is the guardian of the hearth,
She is the one who stirs the cauldron of inspiration.

I give honor to You, O mighty ones,
By all your names, known and unknown.
Bless me with Your wisdom
And give life and abundance to me
As the sun gives life and abundance to the Earth.

I make this offering to you
To show my allegiance
To show my honor
To show my dedication
To You.

Cast your offering into fire. Conclude the ritual by saying:

Today, at Litha, I celebrate the life
And love of the gods
And of the Earth and Sun.

Take a few moments to reflect upon what you have offered, and what the gifts of the gods mean to you. When you are ready, if you have cast a circle, dismantle it or dismiss the quarters at this time. Allow your fire to go out on its own.

 

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Litha Legends and Lore: Myths and Mysteries of the Midsummer Solstice


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Litha Legends and Lore

Myths and Mysteries of the Midsummer Solstice

 

Litha, or Midsummer, is a celebration that has been observed for centuries, in one form or another. It is no surprise, then, that there are plenty of myths and legends associated with this time of year!

  • In England, rural villagers built a big bonfire on Midsummer’s Eve. This was called “setting the watch,” and it was known that the fire would keep evil spirits out of the town. Some farmers would light a fire on their land, and people would wander about, holding torches and lanterns, from one bonfire to another. If you jumped over a bonfire — presumably without lighting your pants on fire — you were guaranteed to have good luck for the coming year.
  • After your Litha fire has burned out and the ashes gone cold, use them to make a protective amulet. You can do this by carrying them in a small pouch, or kneading them into some soft clay and forming a talisman. In some traditions of Wicca, it is believed that the Midsummer ashes will protect you from misfortune. You can also sow the ashes from your bonfire into your garden, and your crops will be bountiful for the rest of the summer growing season.
  • It is believed in parts of England that if you stay up all night on Midsummer’s Eve, sitting in the middle of a stone circle, you will see the Fae. But be careful – carry a bit of rue in your pocket to keep them from harassing you, or turn your jacket inside out to confuse them. If you have to escape the Fae, follow a ley line, and it will lead you to safety.
  • Residents of some areas of Ireland say that if you have something you wish to happen, you “give it to the pebble.” Carry a stone in your hand as you circle the Litha bonfire, and whisper your request to the stone — “heal my mother” or “help me be more courageous”, for example. After your third turn around the fire, toss the stone into the flames.

  • Astrologically, the sun is entering Cancer, which is a water sign. Midsummer is not only a time of fire magic, but of water as well. Now is a good time to work magic involving sacred streams and holy wells. If you visit one, be sure to go just before sunrise on Litha, and approach the water from the east, with the rising sun. Circle the well or spring three times, walking deosil, and then make an offering of silver coins or pins.
  • Sun wheels were used to celebrate Midsummer in some early Pagan cultures. A wheel — or sometimes a really big ball of straw — was lit on fire and rolled down a hill into a river. The burned remnants were taken to the local temple and put on display. In Wales, it was believed that if the fire went out before the wheel hit the water, a good crop was guaranteed for the season.
  • In Egypt, the Midsummer season was associated with the flooding of the Nile River delta. In South America, paper boats are filled with flowers, and then set on fire. They are then sailed down the river, carrying prayers to the gods. In some traditions of modern Paganism, you can get rid of problems by writing them on a piece of paper and dropping them into a moving body of water on Litha.
  • William Shakespeare associated Midsummer with witchcraft in at least three of his plays. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, and The Tempest all contain references to magic on the night of the summer solstice.

 

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Litha History – Celebrating the Summer Solstice


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Litha History

Celebrating the Summer Solstice

 

An Ancient Solar Celebration:

Nearly every agricultural society has marked the high point of summer in some way, shape or form. On this date – usually around June 21 or 22 (or December 21/22 in the southern hemisphere) – the sun reaches its zenith in the sky. It is the longest day of the year, and the point at which the sun seems to just hang there without moving – in fact, the word “solstice” is from the Latin word solstitium, which literally translates to “sun stands still.” The travels of the sun were marked and recorded. Stone circles such as Stonehenge were oriented to highlight the rising of the sun on the day of the summer solstice.

Traveling the Heavens:

Although few primary sources are available detailing the practices of the ancient Celts, some information can be found in the chronicles kept by early Christian monks. Some of these writings, combined with surviving folklore, indicate that Midsummer was celebrated with hilltop bonfires and that it was a time to honor the space between earth and the heavens.

Fire and Water:

In addition to the polarity between land and sky, Litha is a time to find a balance between fire and water. According to Ceisiwr Serith, in his book The Pagan Family, European traditions celebrated this time of year by setting large wheels on fire and then rolling them down a hill into a body of water. He suggests that this may be because this is when the sun is at its strongest yet also the day at which it begins to weaken. Another possibility is that the water mitigates the heat of the sun, and subordinating the sun wheel to water may prevent drought.

Saxon Traditions:

When they arrived in the British Isles, the Saxon invaders brought with them the tradition of calling the month of June Aerra Litha. They marked Midsummer with huge bonfires that celebrated the power of the sun over darkness. For people in Scandinavian countries and in the farther reaches of the Northern hemisphere, Midsummer was very important. The nearly endless hours of light in June are a happy contrast to the constant darkness found six months later in the middle of winter.

Roman Festivals :

The Romans, who had a festival for anything and everything, celebrated this time as sacred to Juno, the wife of Jupiter and goddess of women and childbirth. She is also called Juno Luna and blesses women with the privilege of menstruation. The month of June was named for her, and because Juno was the patroness of marriage, her month remains an ever-popular time for weddings. This time of year was also sacred to Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The matrons of Rome entered her temple on Midsummer and made offerings of salted meal for eight days, in hopes that she would confer her blessings upon their homes.

Midsummer for Modern Pagans:

Litha has often been a source of contention among modern Pagan and Wiccan groups, because there’s always been a question about whether or not Midsummer was truly celebrated by the ancients. While there’s scholarly evidence to indicate that it was indeed observed, there were suggestions made by Gerald Gardner, the founder of modern Wicca, that the solar festivals (the solstices and equinoxes) were actually added later and imported from the Middle East. Regardless of the origins, many modern Wiccans and Pagans do choose to celebrate Litha every year in June.

In some traditions, Litha is a time at which there is a battle between light and dark. The Oak King is seen as the ruler of the year between winter solstice and summer solstice, and the Holly King from summer to winter. At each solstice they battle for power, and while the Oak King may be in charge of things at the beginning of June, by the end of Midsummer he is defeated by the Holly King.

This is a time of year of brightness and warmth. Crops are growing in their fields with the heat of the sun, but may require water to keep them alive. The power of the sun at Midsummer is at its most potent, and the earth is fertile with the bounty of growing life.

For contemporary Pagans, this is a day of inner power and brightness. Find yourself a quiet spot and meditate on the darkness and the light both in the world and in your personal life. Celebrate the turning of the Wheel of the Year with fire and water, night and day, and other symbols of the opposition of light and dark.

Litha is a great time to celebrate outdoors if you have children. Take them swimming or just turn on the sprinkler to run through, and then have a bonfire or barbeque at the end of the day. Let them stay up late to say goodnight to the sun, and celebrate nightfall with sparklers, storytelling, and music. This is also an ideal Sabbat to do some love magic or celebrate a handfasting, since June is the month of marriages and family.

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