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Litha, or

summer solstice

Just as we in Australia celebrate Christmas and the festive season with our own summertime adaptation of the ritual heavy cold-weather feasts, many Southern pagans celebrate the Midsummer Solstice rather than the traditional Midwinter Solstice in December.  The Summer Solstice is celebrated in the Northern hemisphere on 22 June; so the corresponding time south of the equator is 22 December (but this will depend on your own belief system).

Summer solstice was called Alban Heruin by the Druids and the traditional Druidic Songs of Cycle give “Dalen Gwyr” as the Englyn for Midsummer.  This fertility song literally means “green leaves” and has over the centuries become the well known “Greensleeves” which most of us learned at school.

Cassandra Carter in her book “Every Day Magic” says about Midsummer…..

Litha - Summer Solstice - is the festival of the Sun’s power, the longest day of the year.  After this point, however, the year begins to wane.  A good time to look at what brings light to your life and to think how you can nurture it, and yourself, as the darkness approaches.”

 

Cassandra also gives a recipe for a Summer Solstice Delight pudding which sounds ideal for an Australian midsummer feast. And talking of feasts, Paddy Slade offers three beautiful Midsummer rites in her book “Natural Magic”. The dawn ceremony asks Bel, the Sun God, to bless the Earth with warmth and light so the crops will make a good harvest. 

When Summer’s ripe and days are full

And Sun comes early to claim his throne

Walk before dawn to a silent height

And set three stones in an eastern line.

Stand behind them while his light

Is rising over the distant land

When he is in the Eastern sky

Offer these words and understand.

Sun of the Year

I move the Earth

To greet thy sign

And set myself

To honour thee

In Earth’s design

Perfect the stones to mark his face

Follow their shadow twelve short paces

Pluck some leaf for an amulet

And wear on your coat, lest you forget.

You will have noticed that most Celtic charms and spells are written in rhyme.  This was to help people remember the teachings, as the Celts (like the North American Indians and the Australian Aborigines) followed an oral rather than a written tradition. 

The midday rite blesses the Sun in his height.  The sunset ceremony is the customary revelry, celebrating the longest day when the Sun has reached his full strength. 

Paddy Slade’s sunset ritual invites everyone to bring flowers and fruit, preferably red and preferably native to the area in which you live.  Her ritual uses honey cake and golden wine and every participant is given a ribbon from the ceremony and two pieces of fruit - one to eat and one to return to the earth as a thank offering.

If you prefer ceremonial magic, DJ Conway believes the Summer Solstice is the time for rededication to the Goddess and God, when the Sun casts three rays to light the world.  She offers a rededication ceremony in her book “Celtic Magic”.  If you decide to follow this ritual for Midsummer you will need a red candle (set to the right of the cauldron), a cup of fresh water set in the cauldron with a green or a blue candle on the left.  The green or blue candle is used to welcome the Goddess in the form of the Green Forest Mother, while the red candle is used to invoke the God in the form of the Mighty Sun God.  When you have lit both candles, you may pass your arms between both to make wishes for the coming season.

Whatever ritual you choose to follow, and however you celebrate the Summer Solstice, the main purpose, as Cassandra Carter reminds us, is …..

” to look at what brings light to your life and to think how you can nurture it, and yourself, as the darkness approaches”.

Surely one of the greatest joys of following a Nature religion is the opportunity we are given to nurture ourselves and to feast regularly with our friends as part of our celebration - or as part of our ritual says

“Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again”.

Blessed be.

 


 


Solstice superstitions

When gnats dance up and down good weather is on the way, but if they rush about and sting, a prolonged period of rain is coming.

On Midsummer Day, decorate the house with birch twigs and roses.

If the first butterfly you see on Midsummer Day is white, you will eat white bread for the rest of the year.  If brown, you will have to survive on inferior brown bread.  Of course, this was written when white bread was a luxury few could afford - and no-one realised the healthy qualities of the brown variety.

Paddy Slade

Natural Magic

 

 

A Solstice Prayer

Midsummer 2013

 

Today is a new beginning. I now choose to walk in a new way on planet Earth, to attune to her as I remember truth and become who I am meant to be, without fear. I forgive myself and others and open my heart to receive the infinite blessings that flow through my world and surge through my body. I joyfully claim my destiny as a force for positive change at this time in Earth's history.

 

As I become one with the Earth, the Moon, the planets and the stars in the heavens, I breathe with the universal forces of creation. Energy enters me, filling the cells and spaces of my being with pure love and light. I am healed, whole, and renewed. May I be gentle with myself and with others as pain, fear and suffering are released. I bless all I encounter and embrace my fellow beings, all situations and circumstances, all thoughts, feelings and emotions, as reflections of who I am today.

 

Bright blessings, and it harm none.