The History Of Litha
The celebration of Midsummer’s Eve (St. John’s Eve among Christians) was from ancient times a festival of the summer solstice. Some people believed that golden-flowered mid-summer plants, especially Calendula, and St. John’s Wort, had miraculous healing powers and they therefore picked them on this night. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southwards again. In later years, witches were also thought to be on their way to meetings with other powerful beings.
In Sweden, Mid-summer celebration originates from the time before Christianity; it was celebrated as a sacrifice time in the sign of the fertility.
The solstice itself has remained a special moment of the annual cycle of the year since Neolithic times. The concentration of the observance is not on the day as we reckon it, commencing at midnight or at dawn, as it is customary for cultures following lunar calendars to place the beginning of the day on the previous eve at dusk at the moment when the Sun has set. In Sweden, Finland and Estonia, Midsummer’s Eve is the greatest festival of the year, comparable only with Walpurgis Night, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve.
In the 7th century, Saint Eligius (died 659/60) warned the recently converted inhabitants of Flanders against the age-old pagan solstice celebrations. According to the Vita by his companion Ouen, he’d say: “No Christian on the feast of Saint John or the solemnity of any other saint performs solestitia [summer solstice rites] or dancing or leaping or diabolical chants.”
As Christianity entered pagan areas, MidSummer celebrations came to be often borrowed and transferred into new Christian holidays, often resulting in celebrations that mixed Christian traditions with traditions derived from pagan Midsummer festivities. The 13th-century monk of Winchcomb, Gloucestershire, who compiled a book of sermons for the feast days, recorded how St. John’s Eve was celebrated in his time:
Let us speak of the revels which are accustomed to be made on St. John’s Eve, of which there are three kinds. On St. John’s Eve in certain regions the boys collect bones and certain other rubbish, and burn them, and therefrom a smoke is produced on the air. They also make brands and go about the fields with the brands. Thirdly, the wheel which they roll.
The fires, explained the monk of Winchcombe, were to drive away dragons, which were abroad on St. John’s Eve, poisoning springs and wells. The wheel that was rolled downhill he gave its explicitly solstitial explanation:
The wheel is rolled to signify that the sun then rises to the highest point of its circle and at once turns back; thence it comes that the wheel is rolled.
On St John’s Day 1333 Petrarch watched women at Cologne rinsing their hands and arms in the Rhine “so that the threatening calamities of the coming year might be washed away by bathing in the river.”
Midsummer or Litha, is a celebration of light. This is a solar/ fire festival that marks the astrological day of the summer solstice, which occurs on or around June 21, when the sun enters the sign of Cancer, the crab. Cancer is the only astrological sign that is associated with the moon. If you combine that lunar influence with the ultimate strength of the sun, you have quite the magickal wallop.
The day of the summer solstice has the longest daylight hours and the shortest nighttime hours of the year. As the sun reaches its highest position in the sky, we are at the climax of the sun’s power. This is the greatest day of the sun’s magick, even though it is bittersweet— for as soon as the day after the summer solstice, the sun’s power gradually begins to decline, with nighttime hours slowly and inexorably increasing. After today, we are in the dark half of the Wheel of the Year, which may seem confusing, but truly the daylight hours are decreasing now, and the sun will start to reach its zenith at a lower point in the sky from now until December and the winter solstice.
The sabbat of Midsummer is a potent and magickal date. This is a great time for fire magick, bonfires, garden witchery, herbal and green magicks, and the best night of the year to commune with the elemental kingdom and the faeries.
This is a time of celebration in nature: everything is green and growing. Nature is celebrating her achievement!
Fire festivals and fireworks are complementary; it all goes with that theme of fire magick for summer. At this time of year, your spellworking themes may include asking for the blessing and assistance of the faeries or working green magick with the garden. Prosperity, health, and abundance spells are appropriate at this point in time as well, since the light is at its peak and all of nature is at its most lush, vibrant, and green.
If you like to work with the more traditional fire theme of this sabbat, consider building a small ritual fire in your outdoor fire pit or chiminea. Bonfires on Midsummer have been lit by people from all over the world, from many magickal customs, for centuries. The bonfires were classically lit at sundown on Midsummer’s Eve. So set up your fire and get ready to go! If you like, you can toss a few herbs or oak leaves into the flames as an offering to the Old Gods.
If you are unable to safely have an outdoor fire, then light several bright yellow candles and group them together inside of a cauldron, and enjoy the effect that several flickering flames make inside of that cauldron. Another idea that I started with my coven years ago was to pass out sparklers; after our rituals are complete, we light up the sparklers and dance around the gardens with the lightning bugs. When the sparklers are finished, we drop them into a bucket of water. Celebrate the summer solstice and put your own personal spin on things!
Seasons of Witchery: Celebrating the Sabbats with the Garden Witch
Fireflies and summer sun
in circles round
we become as one.
Singing songs at magic’s hour
we bring the winds
and timeless powers.
Turning inward, hand in hand
we dance the hearth
to heal the land.
Standing silent, beneath the sky
we catch the fire
from out God’s eye.
Swaying breathless, beside the sea
we call the Goddess
so mote it be!
(This can be used as a chant, part of a spiral dance, or to invoke quarters.)
by Trish Telesco, ThoughtCo
Despite what appears to be a wealth of information available on neo-Pagan traditions, one section of the community seems to be grossly under-represented and that is those of us who reside in the Southern Hemisphere – Australia, New Zealand and even South Africa, to name but three countries. The majority of authors residing in the Northern Hemisphere seem to have little or no knowledge at all of the differences between the hemispheres. And if such a difference is acknowledged, it is usually limited to only the Sabbats. It is no wonder that endless debates occur on how to “do things” down under.
The following is a suggestion based on my own personal observances as both a Wytch and magickian who resides in the Southern Hemisphere, which may be of assistance to others.
There are at least four major differences between the Hemispheres. The first is the obvious six-month difference in the seasons. When it is Midsummer in the Northern Hemisphere, we in the South are celebrating Midwinter (the “Christmas in July” theme is becoming a popular event even amongst non-Pagans). The dates, according to general consensus, of the Southern Sabbats are:
- Samhain – 30 April
- Midwinter Solstice (Yule) – 21 June
- Imbolg – 1 August
- Spring or Vernal Equinox (Eostre) – 21 September
- Bealtaine – 1 November
- Midsummer Solstice (Litha) – 21 December
- Lughnasadh – 1 February
- Autumn Equinox (Mabon) – 21 March
If we use the astrological signs in which the Sun moves into to determine each Sabbat date as opposed to actual calendar dates, then this too is changed by six months:
- Samhain – 15 deg Taurus
- Midwinter Solstice – 0 deg Cancer
- Imbolg – 15 deg Leo
- Spring Equinox – 0 deg Libra
- Bealtaine – 15 deg Scorpio
- Midsummer Solstice – 0 deg Capricorn
- Lughnasadh – 15 deg Aquarius
- Autumn Equinox – 0 deg Aries
This means that Northern Hemisphere-based festivals appear largely out of place in the Southern Hemisphere. Our Morris Dances however still celebrate “May Day” on 1 May regardless of the fact that it marks the beginning of Winter; likewise the Christian Easter falls in Autumn as opposed to Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. However, there are specific events that do align – in particular specific Southern Hemisphere-based public holidays. One good example is ANZAC Day, the day on which we remember Australian and New Zealand service men and women that died at war. This day of remembrance occurs on 25 April, close to the Southern Samhain on 30 April.
The next major difference between the Hemispheres is the direction in which the Sun moves across the sky. As in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun still rises in the East and sets in the West, however on its journey across the sky in the Southern Hemisphere, it travels via the North because of the tilt of the Earth’s axis. For this reason, most Pagans in the Southern Hemisphere cast their circles in this direction, via the North or in an anti-clockwise direction.
It irks me when authors refer to deosil as meaning “clockwise” and widdershins as meaning “anticlockwise.” Not only does this not apply to the Southern Hemisphere, but also it is etymologically incorrect. According to the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary, the word deosil comes from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning “sunwise” or “in the direction of the (apparent) motion of the sun,” and in the Southern Hemisphere this is anticlockwise. The term widdershins comes from the Middle High Germanic word “widersinnes” meaning “against the sun.” In the Southern Hemisphere, this is clockwise, representing the direction for banishing, winding down energies or even for darker workings. Of course, as English – as well as other European languages incorporated into the English language – stem from the Northern Hemisphere as opposed to the Southern Hemisphere, Northern associations are more dominant. For example, deosil is also said to come from the Irish word “cor deiseil” which means “auspicious right hand turn,” while widdershins is akin to the Irish “cor tuathal” meaning “the mundane left-hand turn.” To save confusion, however, for Southern Hemispheric Pagans, I prefer and recommend the first definition with respect to the Sun.
A further observance is that the energy flow of the Earth between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres is also reversed. Prior to spending time in England I was told to observe the direction in which the water drained down the plughole. In the Northern Hemisphere, energy moves in a clockwise direction, whereas in the Southern Hemisphere, it is anti-clockwise.
If we take the above information into consideration when placing the elements around our magickal circle, it then seems logical for the placement of Fire to be in the North, while Earth is placed in the South. Environmentally, to the North is the Equator and from the North come the scorching Summer winds. North is also the placement in the sky of the Noonday Sun. In the South however, where the Sun never appears in the Southern Hemisphere, are the bitter cold Winter winds, as well as the frozen mass we refer to as Antarctica. However, this goes against the directional placements of the elements in more traditional Pagan groups.
I know a number of traditional Crafters who continue to place their altars in the North because according to their tradition (despite it being Northern Hemispheric-based) this is the “dark quarter.” One reasoning behind this is that on the astral the directional placements of the elements do not matter. If this is the case, then when I operate between the worlds, it should not matter if my physical altar and circle casting reflects the land in which I reside. Surely, if the founders of Earth-based traditions such as the Craft and Wicca (for example, Gerald Gardner, Alex Sanders or even Aleister Crowley) were based, or had spent some time, in the Southern Hemisphere, would they not have taken the differences into consideration?
Some Pagans living in the eastern states of Australia not only swap the elemental directions of Fire and Earth around, but also Water and Air. When you take the environment into consideration, it is easy to see why they do this. East of Australia is the Tasman Sea or even the Pacific Ocean – large bodies of water. In the Southern Hemisphere our weather patterns move largely from the West (therefore the placement of Air).
Another difference between the hemispheres, which is often overlooked, is the direction in which the crescents of the Waxing and Waning Moons point. In the Southern Hemisphere, the Waxing Moon in the sky actually points to the right, while the Waning Moon points to the left. Therefore the symbol of the Triple Moon Goddess (the maiden, mother and crone) reflects an introverted appearance opposed to the extroverted appearance in the Northern Hemisphere. But there are times where the Moon decides to really throw the spanner into the works and the Waxing Moon can be observed lying on her back pointing upwards, and the corresponding Waning Moon pointing downwards.
For us Southern Pagan practitioners, there is more to take into consideration when we work our magick and our circles than simply swapping the Sabbat dates around. And with the varying opinions and reasons behind even basic circle casting, it is little wonder newcomers to the various Pagan traditions in the Southern Hemisphere find it all very confusing. Maybe Pagan book publishers should take this into consideration, and if anyone is interested in issuing a contract for such a book, I would be interested in writing one (shameless plug, but I couldn’t resist).
In the Southern Hemisphere not only do we appear to do things standing on our heads but also working backwards as well – or maybe it is you Northern Hemispheric Pagans who have got it wrong!
Old vs. New Magic
|The nature of spirituality and magic has changed substantially in the last few centuries. In medieval times, people felt themselves surrounded by hostile forces beyond their control, and they developed spells and other rituals to protect themselves. Today we are also surrounded by hostile forces beyond our control, but the spells and rituals have changed to meet modern needs.
Herewith a list of medieval spells, items, and spiritual concepts, and their current equivalents:
Full Moon 22 December 2018 – Pleasant Surprises
The full moon on Saturday December 22, 2018 at 0° Cancer makes a helpful aspect to Uranus. So the Full Moon December 2018 astrology is about excitement, positive change and pleasant surprises. This is a welcome change to the last two moon phases that were both square Mars. The December 22 full moon sextile Uranus makes it easy to quickly change direction, away from the anger and hostility of recent weeks.
The December 2018 full moon joins the supergiant red star Betelgeuse in Orion, associated with great power, honor and wealth. So follow your intuition and be open-minded about any unexpected opportunities that arise. New people or even a new attitude could lead to pleasant surprises with your career, finances or love life this Christmas. Venus trine Neptune is another strong influence on the full moon and is a good omen for romance.
Full Moon Meaning
A full moon occurs when the Sun is opposite the Moon. This highlights opposing forces or polarities in your life such as your work versus home, or what you need versus what you want. Inner tension and external pressures can lead to personal conflict and crises that drain your energy. Your home, family and intimate relationships comes into sharper focus following a full moon.
The lunar qualities of emotions and instincts reach their peak at a full moon. Use you increased emotional strength and intuition to overcome any relationship challenges. Subconscious awareness allows for an impartial and balanced look at your personal relationships. You will clearly see any relationship dynamics or negative feelings causing disharmony.
A full moon has a relationship to the previous new moon. Your December 7 new moon goals can now be fine-tuned or completed, it is harvest time. You can make emotional adjustments in response to those new goals. Full moon November 2018 lasts for two weeks up to the 5 January 2019 Solar Eclipse.
Full Moon December 2018 Astrology
The December 22 full moon makes just one planetary aspect and it is a good one. Moon sextile Uranus brings stimulating personal encounters and exciting events. You will feel more open to change in your life and may actively seek it out. This is a good full moon for trying something new in your domestic routine or personal life. Your stronger than normal intuition can guide you in making quick decisions on which way to go. Follow your instincts and make the most of any opportunities that come your way.
This is a good full moon to find original ways of doing things because of your inquisitive and inventive nature. You might receive flashes of insight to solve lingering problems in an instant. Chance encounters can also provide valuable information. You are more likely to stumble upon some critical piece of information while surfing the net. Chance encounters may lead to instant attraction and new friendships.
Your mood may become changeable and somewhat odd. However, you should feel comfortable expressing a more unique side of your personality. The lowering of your inhibitions is what facilitates the change and excitement. Importantly, this also makes it easier to share your feelings with loved ones, especially after the anger and hostility or recent weeks. This is also a good full moon to break old habits and replace them with something new.
Full Moon in Orion
The closest fixed star the full moon December 2018 is Menkalinan in the left shoulder of Auriga the Charioteer. Betelgeuse is not as close but is a more significant influence. Overall, these fixed stars have a positive influence on the full moon.
Fixed star Menkalinan (00 ♋ 10) is unhelpful when badly positioned. But the sextile to Uranus means it should have little effect and be overpowered Betelgeuse.
Fixed star Betelgeuse (29 ♊ 01) is a supergiant red star in Orion the Hunter. Robson said it gives martial honor, preferment and wealth.  Noonan adds great fortune and ‘kingly’ attributes.  Moon conjunct Betelgeuse: Active mind, strong will, turbulent, rebellious under restraint, military success but suffering through quarrels with superiors, likelihood of great power, honor and wealth. 
Full Moon Romance
Venus trine Neptune is the strongest aspect in the full moon December 2018 astrology chart besides the full moon itself. It is exact only 24 hours before the full moon. Venus trine Neptune is perfect for romance, relaxation and daydreaming. Besides finding your ideal lover, you could put your hand to any creative project but especially singing.
Your love life will benefit from increased tenderness and compassion. While not particularly an indicator of steamy sex, this aspect encourages tender touch and smooching. Connecting to a companion at the spiritual level is more important, though tantric sex would be most enjoyable.
The December 2018 full moon is the last moon phase in the current eclipse phase which began with the July 2018 Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse. It is a good time to look back over the last five months to check how well you have progressed with your personal goals. That lunar eclipse was at 4° Aquarius. You can look back to the August 2018 solar eclipse at 18° Leo which might apply more to your professional goals.
Full Moon December 2018 Times and Dates
- Los Angeles – 22 December, 9:48 am
- New York – 22 December, 12:48 pm
- London – 22 December, 5:48 pm
- Delhi – 22 December, 11:18 pm
- Sydney – 22 December, 4:48 am
- Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology, Vivian E. Robson, 1923, p.147.
- Fixed Stars and Judicial Astrology, George Noonan, 1990, p.59.
You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.
Your Animal Spirit Guide for December 19
Your Animal Spirit Guide for December 20
Your Ogham Reading for December 19
The ivy is a sneaky plant that will first use another tree for growth, but overtime it will potentially take away vital nutrients and water from the tree itself. Ivy can be a symbiotic helper bringing birds and wildlife or it can destroy the one it is with, drawing this letter is a sign of warning to pay attention to those in life with potential ill intentions. Ideas associated with Gort are restrictions, warnings, bindings, and potential deceit.
Fortune – Be wary of those in life who like the Ivy may be draining you of life energy. Be sure they are helpful to your soul and not harmful!
Your Ogham Reading for December 20
This thorny tree is known for it’s negative uses over the years. It has been used for cattle proofing with its thorns, the berries have been turned into alcohol, and the thorns were once dipped in poison as a weapon. Drawing this letter brings forth ideas of pain, negativity, pessimism, and potential conflict. If Straif comes up in your reading it is very wise to pay attention to any warnings.
Fortune – This Ogham can denote very bad signs ahead. Pay very close attention to matters in life that way you can avoid the warning that you were given.
The Witches Rune for December 19
The Ear Of Corn
Keywords: Good luck, success.
Meanings: This rune represents abundance, success and happiness. This is considered a lucky rune and if leading, it is very positive about your query, whether the query is about finance, business, friendship, partnership or spirituality. In conjunction with the Rings, it indicates a happy and prosperous marriage. With the Sun, it means success in your career, and with Waves, success abroad.
The Witches Rune for December 20
Keywords: Friends, family, travel.
Meanings: This rune symbolizes your friends and family and their influence upon you. Its meaning is usually derived from the other stones closest to it. This rune is also associated with travel. A journey abroad is indicated especially if the Sun rune is nearby, but a journey for someone close to you if the Moon stone is closest. If it is near to the Rings it foretells a holiday or long distance relationship.