“Even before I could speak,
I remember crawling through blueberry patches in the wild meadows on our hillsides.
I quickly discovered Nature was filled with Spirit;
I never saw any separation between Spirit and Nature.
Much later I discovered our culture taught there was supposed to be some kind of
separation – that God, Spirit and Nature were supposed to be divided and different.
However, at my early age it seemed absolutely obvious that the church of the Earth was the
greatest church of all; that the temple of the forest was the supreme temple.
When I went to the sanctuary of the mountain,
I found Earth’s natural altar – Great Spirit’s real shrine.
Years later I discovered that this path of going into Nature,
bonding deeply with it, and seeing Spirit within Nature
– God, Goddess, and Great Spirit –
was humanity’s most ancient, most primordial path of spiritual cultivation and realization.”
– John P. Milton, Sky Above, Earth Below
JUNE ~ THE STRONG SUN MOON
June is the sixth month of the year. Its astrological sign is Gemini, the twins (May 21 – June 21), a mutable air sign ruled by Mercury. It is named for Juno, the principal goddess of the Roman pantheon and wife of Jupiter. She is the patroness of marriage and the well-being of women. This is one reason June is the most popular month for weddings. June is a month of plenty. Mother Earth is young and fresh. The air is sweet with the age old scent of freshly cut hay. Honeysuckle covers old fences and fills June afternoons with its perfume. In the fields, corn and wheat reach for the Sun. In the garden, bees dance among the roses and larkspur. In June, the ancients prepared for the return of the Sun on the main holiday of the month the Summer Solstice, or Midsummer. Wooden hoops were set ablaze, through which livestock and humans would pass as an act of purification. Herbs such as vervain and rue were cut on Midsummer and hung over doors and barn stalls to provide protection. The wild white daisies that bloom now along country lanes and in meadows were considered magic, for they represented the Sun. By mid-month the heat of summer begins, which gives June’s Full Moon its name: the Strong Sun Moon. The beauty of summer’s first Full Moon is rivaled only by another glowing token of June, the twinkling firefly.
With the coming of the magic of Midsummer–the Summer Solstice the longest day of the year, various cultures pay homage to Sun Gods this time of year. In some places summer is just getting started and the hottest months are yet to come, yet after the solstice we don’t even notice the days beginning to get slightly shorter. This is the time for enjoying the splendor of summer, playful picnics and hikes through the woods, long nights beneath the stars, tending gardens and flower bed. Roadsides are a riot of color, and herbs such as St. John’s wort, vervain and yarrow can be used in herbal amulets. This is the time of year to honor the faeries—leave offerings for them of ale, milk, fruit or bread before cutting flowers or herbs, and they may help your garden grow.
—Excerpt from Llewellyn’s 2018 Witches’ Spell-A-Day Almanac
Article Entitled “June” by Ginger Grant
The Strong Sun Moon
In June, the sun has taken over and the fields are growing. This is the month named for Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage, and it’s the time when we welcome Litha, the summer solstice. The full moon this month is called the Strong Sun Moon in many folkloric traditions, but it’s also known as the Lover’s Moon, the Honey Moon, or the Strawberry Moon. In some Native American belief systems, this time of year is associated with the woodpecker.
Flowers have bloomed, we’re beginning to see some early summer fruits and vegetables (a great time for strawberry crops!), and the days are getting longer and longer. It’s a far cry from the darkness of winter, and we typically try to spend as much time outside as possible. It’s a time for bonding with friends and family, and forging what connections we can. Nurture your relationships, your garden, your career, and your soul this month.
Colors: Sun colors — gold, yellow, orange
Gemstones: Topaz, agate
Trees: Oak, maple
Gods: Isis, Cerridwen, Persephone
Herbs: Parsley, mosses, skullcap, mugwort
Strong Sun Moon Magic
Because the nights are short, June is also a good time to tap into solar energy, and it’s not uncommon for the full moon to be visible in the sky before the sun has actually set. Take advantage of this, stay outside later than normal, and embrace the power of the sun and the moon at the same time.
It’s a perfect blend of opposites and balance – sun and moon, masculine and feminine, day and night.
This is the month where magical workings are well suited to maintaining and enhancing things you already have.
Try one or more of these to welcome the magic of the Strong Sun Moon into your life:
- Weed your garden, prune the bushes, give your lawn all the tender loving care it needs. If you’re growing fruit or vegetables, begin harvesting those that are ready to be gathered. Early herb and flower blossoms can be collected as well, and hung up to dry for later use.
- Take time to let your personal life blossom as well — focus on things that improve your job or education, as well as your relationships with family and friends. It’s okay to do nice things for yourself! Go on a short vacation, cut off the cell phone and your email for a few days, and spend time with family – or with yourself!
- Another name for the Strong Sun Moon is the Honey Moon, and during the late summer and early fall, honey is a staple crop in many parts of the world. Honey has a number of magical properties, so why not find a way to tie it into your spellwork this month?
- Focus on the power of the sun to help with spells and rituals related to strengthening yourself mentally and spiritually. You’ve got more hours of daylight now than any other time of the year, so tap into it! Spend as much time outdoors as possible – it’s not only good for your emotional well being, it also can help you feel better physically!
- Use sun energy to charge your tools by leaving them out on a bright warm day to absorb the sun’s rays. You can also consecrate water for rituals by placing a jar of it out in the sunlight – use this for workings related to strength and power, as well as personal growth.
- If you’ve been dealing with issues in your personal life that are rooted in indecision or uncertainty, this is a good time to fix them. Take a long hard look at your possible choices, and make one. Ask for advice from others if you need to, but in the long, it’s okay to trust your intuition.
- Remember this is also called the Lovers’ Moon – and no wonder, since so many people get married in June! Allow yourself to welcome love into your life – and if you’ve already got it, then let yourself appreciate it even more! Do things that make you feel sensual and sexy, affectionate and abundant, and in addition to loving other people, and allowing them to love you in return, know that you’re allowed to love yourself as well.
Festival: Summer solstice (Litha). Symbols include the sun, fire, sunflowers, vegetables and oak leaves.
Moon Names: Strawberry Moon, because it’s the height of the strawberry-picking season. Other names include Planting Moon, Green Corn Moon and The Strong Sun Moon.
Astrological signs: Gemini, May 21– June 20; Cancer, June 21– July 20.
Birthstones: Pearl and moonstone.
Nature spirits: Fire spirits and water nymphs.
Animals: Bees, butterflies, and squirrels.
Birds: Goldfinch and house martin.
Flowers: Dog roses, ox-eyed daisies, wild orchid.
Herbs: Yarrow, fennel, and St. John’s wort.
Scents: Honeysuckle, rose, and lavender.
Colors: Red, orange, gold, and yellow.
Powers: Strength and energy from the sun; blossoming confidence and beauty; dediation.
Other: The Queen’s birthday trooping of the colors, the longest day, Environment Day, and the beginning of exams.
—Hedgewitch Book of Days: Spells, Rituals, and Recipes for the Magical Year
Symbols for the Month of June
June’s Festivals: Summer solstice (Litha).
Symbols include the sun, fire, sunflowers, vegetables and oak leaves.
June’s Sign of the Zodiac
Gemini (May 21– June 21)
Cancer (June 21– July 20)
June’s Celtic Tree Astrology
Huath (Hawthorn) (May 13 – June 9)
Duir (Oak) (June 10 – July 7)
June’s Runic Half Months
Odal (May 29 – June 13)
Dag (June 14 – June 28)
Feoh (June 29 – July 3)
Pearl and moonstone
June’s Birth Flower
Dog roses, ox-eyed daisies, wild orchid.
“A calm June puts the farmer in tune.”
“June damp and warm does the farmer no harm.”
“Summer doesn’t start till the elder is in flower.”
Folklore Courtesy – Hedgewitch Book of Days: Spells, Rituals, and Recipes for the Magical Year
Calendar of Events for June
- 1: England’s Witchcraft Act of 1563 goes into effect
- 7–15: Roman Festival of Vestalia, honoring the vestal virgins
- 9: Celtic Tree Month of Hawthorn ends
- 10: Celtic Tree Month of Oak begins
- 10: Hanging of Bridget Bishop, first of twenty victims to be executed in the Salem Witch Trials.
- 13: Birthday of Gerald Gardner, founder of modern Wiccan, in 1884
- 17: Birthday of Wiccan author Starhawk
- 17: Father’s Day
- 21: Litha, the summer solstice
- 21: Yule (Southern Hemisphere), the winter solstice
- 22: England’s last Witchcraft Law is repealed in 1951
- 27: Birthday of author Scott Cunningham in 1956
- 28: Full moon–Strong Sun Moon at 12:53 am. June is full of long, light-filled days, and the nights are short and warm. This month’s magical workings are perfect for maintaining and enhancing things you already have.
Midsummer – Summer Solstice – Litha
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.
Angela at A Silver Voice says, “Midsummer, or St. John’s Eve (Oiche Fheile Eoin) was traditionally celebrated in Ireland by the lighting of bonfires. (The word ‘bonfire’, according to my Etymology dictionary is a word from the 1550s meaning a fire in the open air in which bones were burned). This custom is rooted in ancient history when the Celts lit fires in honour of the Celtic goddess Queen of Munster Áine.
Festivals in her honour took place in the village of Knockainey, County Limerick (Cnoc Aine = Hill of Aine ). Áine was the Celtic equivalent of Aphrodite and Venus and as is often the case, the festival was ‘christianised’ and continued to be celebrated down the ages. It was the custom for the cinders from the fires to be thrown on fields as an ‘offering’ to protect the crops.”
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.
Jason Mankey says, over at Patheos, “Christians have chronicled the rolling of flaming (solar) wheels since the Fourth Century of the Common Era. By the 1400’s the custom was specifically associated with the Summer Solstice, and there it has resided ever since (and most likely long before)… The custom was apparently common throughout Northern Europe and was practiced in many places until the beginning of the Twentieth Century.”
When they arrived in the British Isles, the Saxon invaders brought with them the tradition of calling the month of June. 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.
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 other 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 barbecue 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.
Ten Great Ways to Celebrate Litha
Get Out and Enjoy the Summer Solstice!
It’s Litha, the longest day of the year! The sun will shine more today than any other day of the year, and it’s a day to get outdoors and celebrate. Spend the day in the sun with your family. Play outdoors, go for a hike, and enjoy all the delights the earth has to offer.
Here are some ideas for ways to celebrate the summer solstice. Admittedly, not all of them are For Pagans Only, but they’re a good way to mark the turn of the Wheel of the Year.
Host a Bonfire
Litha is all about the fiery aspect of the sun, so why not celebrate the fertility of the gods with a blazing, roaring fire in your back yard? It’s the longest day of the year, so stay up late and host a bonfire for your friends and family. Get sparklers too, and light them after dark. Make an offering to the gods of your tradition. Be sure to follow basic Bonfire Safety Rules, so no one gets hurt at your celebration. You can even incorporate your bonfire into a Litha rite, with the Midsummer Night Fire Ritual.
Get Back to Nature
Go for a hike in the woods with your family. Enjoy the sounds and sights of nature. Take lots of pictures, or plan a scavenger hunt — have each of the kids bring a “nature bag” to fill up. Remember, don’t pick any live plants, unless you’re deliberately wildcrafting. Before you head out, grab a field guide to local plants, and turn it into a teaching exercise — learn to identify what you see out there in the woods. If you take your hike in a public park, bring along a plastic sack to help pick up garbage on your way. If you get the chance to do this alone, try a Nature Meditation in a quiet spot somewhere on your journey.
Get Your Body Moving
Litha is a magical, mystical time of year. Why not host a drum circle or Spiral Dance? You’ll need a large group for this, but it’s a lot of fun once you get everyone moving. In addition to being entertaining (and a great stress reliever), a drum circle or a ritualized dance serves another purpose – that of raising energy. The more you build, the more people will feed off of it. Invite a group of friends over, let them know there will be music and dance, and see what happens. Be sure to provide refreshments for afterwards — drumming and dancing can be draining for some people.
Do Something For Others
Do something for charity. Organize a yard sale and donate the proceeds to a local homeless shelter. Collect gently used summer clothing and give to a local children’s hospital. Host a dog-wash for your favorite shelter, and ask customers to either donate cash or pet food. Plan a neighborhood cleanup, and trim and weed common areas in your community. If you don’t have time to coordinate a big project — and not everyone does — do things on a smaller scale. Visit an elderly neighbor and help with her housekeeping. Offer to do grocery shopping for an ill relative. If you know a mom with a brand-new baby, help out with childcare so she can get a few hours of rest. There are any number of things you can do to help others, and with the days being longer, there’s plenty of time to get things done!
Read a Good Book
Summer can be a hectic and chaotic time of year. Maybe you’re someone who needs to slow down and take a break. Litha is a good time to rejuvenate, so why not sit out in the sunshine and immerse yourself in a good book? Keep reading material handy all the time, so when you need a little down time, you can work through few pages. If your local library has a summer reading program, sign up. Many bookstores offer summer incentives for both children and adults to read during the off-school months. Not sure what to read? Why not check out some of the titles on our About Pagan/Wiccan Reading Lists? If you’re more partial to fiction and “beach reading,” be sure to see what our readers recommend with our Summer Witchy Fiction.
Turn off the phone, step away from the computer and television, and spend time just having fun with the people who love you most. Take the day off work if possible and spend it any way you like — go to the zoo, a museum, a ball game, etc. Make this a day that you can do anything you want, and put the schedules away just for one day. If you’re worried that money might hold you back, there’s plenty of stuff you can do for free: check your local metro parks for activity schedules, go fishing at a nearby lake or river, and watch the local newspaper for free admission deals at nearby attractions. If getting away for a day isn’t possible for you, spend the afternoon at home — play board games, do jigsaw puzzles, and cook a meal together.
Clean Things Up
Clean your house. Take advantage of the warm weather to have a garage sale and get rid of all those things you don’t want. You can also organize a swap with your friends, or donate all your stuff to charities like Goodwill or Salvation Army. You’ve got plenty of daylight at Litha, so you can accomplish a lot in just a short period of time. If your house is a bit daunting, select one room to work on at a time — preferably the one that needs the most help! Wash windows, wipe down baseboards, get rid of stuff you know you’ll never use. Organize as you clean, putting donatable items into one pile, and trash in another, so you don’t have to sort it later. Turn the project into a ritual with a House Cleaning Rite.
Host a Barbeque for Friends and Family
Have a barbecue, and invite all your family and friends over. Decorate with colors of the sun — yellows, reds, and oranges. Feast on lots of summery food, like watermelons, strawberries, and fresh green salads. Add outdoor games like horseshoes, ladder golf, and backyard volleyball. While you’re at it, set up some kind of water activities — water balloons, super soakers, a pool to splash in. All of these are great outside activities in the heat of summer, and help celebrate the balance between fire and water, as well as welcoming friends and family to celebrate the season.
Learn and Grow
Spend some time on spiritual growth. Use this time of year to learn something new about your tradition, develop a new skill, or take a class in Tarot, Reiki, yoga, or whatever appeals to you. Create a daily plan of study to help you focus on what it is you want to do next. You’ve got plenty of extra hours of daylight this time of year, so there are no excuses!
Honor the Season
Many ancient cultures marked the summer solstice with rites and rituals honoring the sun. Celebrate the significance of Midsummer with ritual and prayers that recognize the sun and its magnificent power. Set up your Litha altar with symbols of the season — solar symbols, candles, midsummer fruits and vegetables, and more.
We walk the path of the Old Gods
From this moment forth
We will not walk alone
Together, we will worship
Together, we will practice our Craft
Together, we will learn and grow
We vow to work, from this day forward
In perfect love and perfect trust
According to the free will of all
And for the good of all
Creating only beauty
Singing in harmony
Our song upon the Earth
Love is the law and love is the bond
In the name of the Goddess and the God
So do we vow, and so mote it be.
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