Litha History – Celebrating the Summer Solstice

Litha Comments & GraphicsLitha 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.

Source:
Author: Patti Wigington
Source: Article found on & owned by About.com

Litha History – Celebrating the Summer Solstice

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 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 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

 

Source:

Let’s Talk Witch – Modern Paganism and Ancient Gods

WitchMODERN PAGANISM AND ANCIENT GODS

Some modern Pagans have a devotion to a particular Goddess or God; others choose to venerate the Divine through the Gods and Goddesses of one particular pantheon. Often, however, Pagans honour the Gods under a number of different names. This can seem somewhat bewildering but it is perhaps less so if the Gods are thought of as different personalities through which the Divine has chosen to manifest Itself at different times and to different peoples.

Although modern Pagans worship the Gods using their ancient names, this does not mean that we think of our Gods in exactly the same way as ancient Pagans did. If a modern Irish woman chooses to call the Great Goddess Isis, this does not mean that her concept of Isis is exactly the same as that of an Egyptian woman 4,000 years ago. Over time, our ideas about the Gods and the nature of the Divine have changed. We are not seeking to restore our Paganism to exactly the same practices as those of our ancestors, even if this were possible. Much has been lost to us; much of our religious thinking has evolved. We must examine the ancient myths and legends in order to find a new way forward for the future. Paganism can be considered a lost knowledge which has now been rediscovered and must be reinterpreted in ways which meet the needs of people today.

Some aspects of our ancestors’ Pagan practice would not find favour today. Like Judaism and other religions of the pre- Christian period, many types of Paganism practised animal sacrifice. This is not acceptable to modern Pagans and indeed there were many ancient Pagans who practised vegetarianism. Other ancient Pagan ideas would seem bizarre nowadays. Our ancestors thought it perfectly normal to honour a Deity, make requests and then to threaten to take their worship elsewhere if their requests were not carried out. When the Gods are seen as different personalities, it is logical for people to switch allegiance if they feel they can get a ‘better deal’ elsewhere – as indeed people did with Christianity. Modern Pagans would not consider this an appropriate way in which to treat their Gods.

Today, Pagans worship the Divine as Goddess, God and also as the Great Spirit or One who is beyond all these. Some Pagans honour the Gods in their Norse form, others in Celtic form, Egyptian form or according to the ways of Native American ancestors. A distinctive feature of Paganism, however, is the emphasis it places on the Divine in female form – the Goddess.

Paganism: A Beginners Guide to Paganism
Sarah Owen

Celtic Tree Month – Reed (October 28th – November 23)

It is Now The Celtic Tree Month – Reed

Reed Moon

October 28 – November 23

Reed is typically used to make wind instruments and this time of year, its haunting sounds are sometimes heard when the souls of the dead are being summoned to the Underworld. The Reed Moon was called Negetal, pronounced by the Celtics and is some times referred to as the Elm Moon by modern Pagans. This is a time for divination and scrying. If you’re going to have a seance, this is an excellent month to do it. This month, do magickal workings related to spirit guides, energy work, meditation, celebration of death and honoroing the cycle of life and rebirth