11 Modern Ways to Celebrate Litha
Falling between June 19-23 in 2021, Litha celebrates the longest day and shortest night of the year. Also known as the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere (December 20-24 in the southern hemisphere) it's the beginning of hot and steamy days when Mother Earth is full of life and fueled by the Sun.
Yet another moniker for Litha is Midsummer, particularly in the traditions of Nordic and Slavic peoples. This is a Sabbat of positive vibes if there ever was one. This is further reflected through the corresponding colors, herbs, plants, incense, crystals, food and drink.
A BRIEF HISTORY
One of eight Sabbats, Litha is a pagan holiday that is part of The Wheel of the Year. The Wheel of the Year is an annual cycle of seasonal festivities that consist of the year's principal solstices and equinoxes and the events that occur between them.
Litha traditions, like many other Sabbats, are borrowed from multiple cultures. For instance, the Celts built bonfires and danced ceremoniously around them. People would also try to jump over the fire for good luck.
Other traditions from Europe included setting fire to huge wheels and then rolling them down a hill into a lake or river.
Some practitioners believe that Litha is the time of year when the battle between the Holly King and the Oak King occurs. In this fray, the two Kings fight for control. It happens each solstice, summer and winter, where they battle for power and the balance transfers from one King to the other.
Representing daylight, the Oak King governs from Yule (winter solstice) to Litha. Over the course of his reign, the days grow longer while the opposite is true for the Holly King's rule - the days steadily get darker until Yule.
Litha corresponds directly with fire as the element is represented by the summer solstice and its association with the sun. As such, it makes sense that bonfires are the go-to activity to host or participate in. Just be sure everyone follows basic fire safety rules so no one gets harmed and the party can go all night.
Another way to incorporate this element for younger folk is to get sparklers and light them after dark. Dance around the fire, let the sparklers elicit 'oohs' and 'ahhs', and then perform a Midsummer Fire Ritual.
Rituals vary from practitioner to practitioner, but here are some ways you could perform your own, with or without others:
a) Grab a bay leaf for each participant and instruct everyone to write down the things they wish to let go of, be it guilt, shame, a person, a dead-end job, etc. Offer the bay leaves to the fire and watch in silence as they burn up. Take a moment to feel their release from you and then dance the night away!
b) Another option to rid yourself of self-doubt and negativity is to make or use a pouch and fill it with these emotions written on paper and then burned as a whole.
c) Take any old wood charms or amulets you may have that are no longer of service to you. You may also wish to take ones that have been imbued with negativity or bad memories. Burn each, with reverence, and focus on positive energy you wish to instill in their place.
d) It's customary in certain circles to hang onto Yule wreaths from the past season. Now is the perfect time to burn these.
e) In the same vein as burning bay leaves to rid one of their vices and such, conversely petitions may be charged and empowered through fire. Write the things you're grateful for from past seasons and burn with gratitude. You may also write petitions or wishes for the coming season and burn for manifestation.
BBQs AND COOKOUTS
Think of every cookout you've ever been to and there are traces of Litha all over it. In fact, you've probably been celebrating Midsummer for years and didn't even know it!
Summer palettes scream of Litha with bright yellows, sun golds, citrusy oranges, and true reds - almost always trending from June to August without fail. Snacking on fresh fruit of the same colors along with inspired salads make us feel alive inside. Outdoor pool and water games promote community and help us to balance fire and water elements.
Host your own or plan a communal BBQ and the only thing you'll have left to do is celebrate!
One of my favorite aspects of the solstice is how Mother Nature swells and breathes with life. She invites us to feel her energy, her gift to us, by getting outside. A hike, a walk, scavenger hunt, a clean-up initiative, boat ride, a visit to the park - all of these are great ways to honor her and the Sabbat.
Be mindful of the things you see and the smells you inhale. Invite yourself and others to be in the moment - really give yourselves permission to marinate in nature. This is the time of year to welcome summer with open arms and an open heart.
CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN!
I personally subscribe to the habit of cleaning at every turn of The Wheel of the Year. I have my own rites and rituals and I relish in every chance I'm given to celebrate. I pair the physical cleaning of my home with cleansing rituals to keep both clutter and energy in check.
Purge your space of things you no longer use or need. Have a garage sale or donate items to folks who could really use them. Check women and children's shelters to see if you may have anything of use you could offer. You could even start a swap meet tradition between friends and neighbors.
Having said all of this, clean your damn house. Cleanse your space. It's time. You will feel all the better for it.
MOVE IT, SHAKE IT
There's just something so mystical about Midsummer, it's hard not to want to move about. So why not plan or host a drum circle? It's the perfect example of raising energy between people and quite magickal all in itself. The more it is built, the more others feed off of it while also contributing their own energy to it.
If a drum circle is a little too hippy dippy for your taste, a regular dance party works just as well. I'm looking forward to one this year, especially after social distancing and not being able to celebrate Litha in any traditional manner.
ALTER YOUR ALTAR
Another ritual I subscribe to (along with cleaning at every turn of the The Wheel of the Year) is to change my altar to reflect and honor the season.
Things to remember when changing your altar:
-Remove any offerings that have spoiled and dispose of them with reverence
-Be sure to clean altar cloths and other washable items right away to keep residual energy from hanging about
-Use a cleaning agent to cleanse the surface of your altar, even if it has been covered by a cloth
Themes and items to set up your Litha altar:
-Herbs and Plants
-Food and Drink
Take a page out of a flower's book and grow! Read a book on your path or tradition, take a class, develop your skills as a practitioner, subscribe to your own magickal routine - whatever you find yourself drawn to. Celebrate the Sabbat through celebrating yourself.
HERE COMES THE SUN
Who doesn't love simple and easy? This activity is just that! All you have to do is get up and watch the sunrise. Get a special coffee, wear your favorite shirt or something that makes you feel powerful, and just take it in. Be still, be silent, be besties with the sun.
LOVE IS IN THE AIR
There's a reason they call June Wedding Season! First off, whomever was in charge of naming months chose the Roman Goddess Juno as June's namesake. Okay, but why? Turns out Juno's job was protecting women at every crossroad in life, but especially in marriage and childbirth. So anyone who got married in June was said to have a favorable and blessed marriage.
Juno was also considered the equivalent of Hera, the Greek goddess of love and marriage, further perpetuating the theme. But there's more. For Wiccans (a subset of Paganism) the union between the Goddess and the God takes place during this time. Even flowers associated with l'amour grow their best in this season.
Having said this, it's no wonder that Litha is a very popular time to practice love spells, handfasting ceremonies, and augury methods to foretell future partners. For example, women used to drop silver down wells so that the resident faeries would help them see their future mate's reflection. They would also put flowers under their pillow so that the faeries would aid in prophetic dreams about their destined husband.
HUG A TREE OR THREE
According to British fairy folklore, there are three major magickal tree types: Oak, Ash, and Hawthorn. Also known as the Faerie Triad, it's common practice to use these three tree genera to make solar crosses.
Another activity you could do in support of Litha is to just go visit these trees. If you don't have access to Oak, Ash, or Hawthorn, you've also got the option of Laurel, Linden, Holly, and Elder trees, too.
DRESS TO IMPRESS
If you're not using color magick on the daily, now is the perfect time to start. So how would you use this to celebrate Litha?
What's the desired outcome here?
-To celebrate and encompass the energy of Midsummer
How can you use color magick to achieve this?
-Pick out a coordinating color and wear it.
Like I said - simple. When I use color magick in this way I really like to lean in and feel the color(s) projecting both in and out. I visualize and interpret how I believe yellow would feel so when I don the shirt or shoes or paint my nails in BananaRama, it's also oozing from my aura.
What's really cool about this is it can be applied to any occasion. Pretty neat, huh?
Read about what each color means in this post about Candle Magick!
Hopefully you've learned a new way or two to celebrate Litha this year. And as things are beginning to open back up again, now is the perfect time to throw that BBQ, dance party, nature walk, house cleaning extravaganza or anything else you come up with!
Your turn. How do YOU celebrate Litha?