Blessings upon the Summer Solstice – Litha – to those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, may we be safe in these days of intense heat and keep us safe from the fires that are burning.
Litha (Summer Solstice)
Litha, or Midsummer, is celebrated at the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the Year, and the shortest night.
Litha celebrates the very height of the powers of the Sun and of Life. But it also acknowledges that after this date the Sun will begin to weaken and the days to grow shorter. Litha is a time of purification. An Example of a purification Litha spell is to take a small herbal bag filled with Litha herbs/flowers, put all your problems, worries etc. into the bag, and drop it into the Litha fire to burn all those worries away.
Litha is also a time to pay attention to your dreams, as these could contain messages for the future. This Sabbat is a good time to perform any Magikal workings, and jumping over a Litha balefire will increase the Magikal energy and give purification Herbs and plants for ritual use can be harvested at Litha to make use of the high level of Magik power at this time.
Litha is also a time to make protection amulets, and bless people or animals.
Plants for Litha: Mugwort, Vervain, Chamomile, Rose, lily, Oak, Lavender, Ivy, Yarrow, Fern, Elder, Wild thyme, Daisy, Carnation, St John’s Wort.
Stones: Moonstone, Quartz, Pearl.
Colours: Green, Orange, Yellow, Gold.
Pagan Beliefs: The Goddess is mature. The God prepares for his death. Some traditions have the Holly King and the Oak King fighting again, but this time the Holly King wins, and rules until Yule.
Litha Goddesses: Athena, Bona Dea, Freya, Hathor, Isis, Juno, Nuit, Artemis, Dana, Eos, Kali, Sekhmet, Vesta.
Litha Gods: Apollo, Baal, Dagda, Balder, Helios, lugh, Oak king, Holly King, Prometheus, Ra, Thor, Sol, Zeus.
Yule Northern Hemisphere
To all in the Northern Hemisphere, I wish you a blessed Yule, Winter Solstice, may you stay safe and warm as the snows fall around you.
Also known as Jul, Yuletide, Feill Fionnain, Alban Arthan.
Deities: Frey, Nerthus, Woden, Herne, Oak King, Holly King, Sul, Amaterasu, Isis, Osiris, Apollo.
Colours: Red, green, silver, gold, white.
Incense: Pine, cedar, frankincense and myrrh, cinnamon, orange.
Traditional Motifs: Evergreens, mistletoe, ivy, snowflakes, yule log, gifts, bells, solar disks, candles.
Yule comes from a Nordic word “Iul” meaning “wheel” and is a turning point, a point of change, where the tides of the year turn and begin to flow in the opposite direction. It is the darkest time of the year, the time of the longest night, but there is the promise of the return of light. Holly and mistletoe are often thought of at this time as they symbolise fertility – the mistletoe berries are white, representing the semen of the Horned God, and the holly berries are blood red, symbolising both the menstrual blood of the Goddess.
Evergreen trees also represent youth and freshness, and are symbols of the promise of spring. A Yule custom, still practised at Christmas (the time of Yule in the Northern Hemisphere) is to dress an evergreen tree, and make offerings. Pagans honour the spirit of the tree, and what it represents. The tree may be decorated with appropriate offerings such as fruit, pine cones, jewellery, symbols of the sun, symbols of fertility, etc. The star is put on the top of the tree as a sign of hope, the Goddess rising as the Star of the Sea, such as Isis, Ishtar, Aphrodite.
The God represents the Sun who passed away at Samhain, and will now be reborn after this long night to bring warmth and fertility to the land. The night belongs to the Goddess, and is a night of waiting, through Her pregnancy, for the Child of Promise. The Goddess turns the Wheel of the Year to its starting point for the morning after the longest night, Pagans greet the new Sun and celebrate the waxing year. The rising Sun brings the promise of Spring. It is still along time before the Sun will be strong. The Sun is now the Child of Promise, the young hero God. It is a time of making wishes and hopes for the coming year, and of setting resolutions. From the darkness comes light.
A popular custom at this time is the burning of the Yule log where a portion is saved for protection of the home during the coming year. The log is often decorated with holly and evergreens to symbolise the intertwining of the God and Goddess who are reunited on this day. The traditional roast pig served with an apple in its mouth represents the Goddess in Her dark aspect of Cerridwen, Freya, Astarte or Demeter to whom the pig is a sacred animal. The apple is sacred for it contains life itself, the essence of being, the soul which can be passed from one body to the other when eaten, the Goddess magik of immortality.