Solstice Day, Chasing the Clouds Away!

by Andy

Litha is the time of the sun. While  the sun was ascending at Beltaine, it  is in its full glory now. In the northern  latitudes, which we share with the  Northern European peasants who created many of our traditions, it doesn’t  even get dark until 10 o’clock. All  around the world, sun gods and goddesses from different mythologies  have Their special rites on this, the  longest day. They come in Their various guises, fighting the dark and bringing fertile, healing light. Today is the  day of Their greatest victories.

In ancient Greece, Helios was the  God of the Sun. Every day, He rode  across the sky in a chariot pulled by  four wild, flaming steeds. Every day  the horses fought Helios, but every day  He was their master. Helios had a son  named Phaëthon. He was a mortal and  with pride did he watch his father ride  across the sky. Phaëthon loved his  father and wanted to know more  about him and be like him. In short, he  wanted to drive the chariot for a day.

Phaëthon begged his father to  grant him his fondest wish. Helios, loving his son, agreed. Then the son revealed that his wish was to drive the  chariot, and Helios had to grant it.  Phaëthon put on the crown of golden  rays, mounted the chariot, and off he  went. Across the heavens he rode,  lighting the sky. The horses began their  daily struggle, but Phaëthon could not  master them. The horses rode wild.  They towed the chariot at the zodiac  animals who became enraged and  drove the it from the sky. When  Phaëthon neared the earth, it dried and  cracked. Lakes boiled away. Then he  rode up high again and the earth froze.

Zeus saw all this and knew He had  to step in. To prevent Phaëthon from  destroying the earth, He hurled his  great thunderbolts, slaying Phaëthon  and destroying the chariot. Helios’ grief  was terrible, and he vowed that no one  but He would ever drive His chariot  again.

The gods are at the height of their  power and majesty at Litha and now  is the time to meet them up close, but  not too close. It is dangerous to for  mortals to meet and interact with the  divine. As Phaëthon wanted to know  the Sun God, so do we go to the God  or Goddess. Let us hope that we don’t  get burned.

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