Litha The Summer Solstice
The Festival of Growth
Litha is the season of expansion, when the crops burgeon forth. We forget winters cares and spend our days basking under the brilliant light. The Summer Solstice brings us the longest day of the year – the zenith of the Sun King, and also His death as the Holly King dethrones him and takes reign over the now waning year. From now until Yule, the light will fade into darkness.
This is the time of lovers and gardeners. The rutting fervor of Beltane has deepened into the passionate eroticism that grows when partners become familiar with one another rhythms and moods. It is the love between those committed by heart as well as body. It is also the love of parents for their children (be they two- or four-legged!). Everywhere we look, ripeness spills out from field and forest.
Litha is the height of the Divine Marriage, then the Oak King falls, His vigor and prime giving way to the sagacity of the Holly King, even as the Goddess prepares Herself for harvest and Cronehood
The Goddess at Litha
At the Summer Solstice, the Goddess is the Generous Mother, Freya, Flora, Habondia, she who gives life and fruitfulness to all her children. Everything in nature is generous – otherwise we could not live. The apple tree makes hundreds of apples every year, when only one seed in one apple would be enough to reproduce the tree. Bees make honey so that the hive can survive the winter, but they keep on working all summer long, storing enough to share. Life could exist without climbing roses, striped butterflies, songbirds, raspberries, or wildflowers, but the Goddess keeps making new forms of beauty for us to enjoy.
The Goddess at Summer Solstice gives us not just what we need, but extra. We can feel close to her by being generous, giving more than were asked to give, and doing more than just our fair share. That way, we make abundance for all.
The rose is the Goddess symbol at this time of year. Roses bloom abundantly in June, and we can take joy in their sweet scent and the lovely colors of their petals.
The God at Litha
All through the first half of the year, since his birth at the Winter Solstice, the God has been growing into this life in the visible, tangible world. Now, at the Summer Solstice, he transforms. The daylight is longest and strongest at this time, but now the power of night must begin to grow again. Everything and everyone who fulfills their purpose must change. The God dies in this world in order to be born into the Other-world. Before, he was awake in this world and asleep in the Dreamworld. Now he becomes the Dreamer, asleep in this world but awake in the world of dreams and visions, the seed of what will come to be in this world. He becomes the Messenger, carrying our hopes and prayers to the spirit realms.
The God is also the partner of the Goddess, bringing abundance to all of nature. He is Lugh, the Sun God, and he is the ancient power of life who was known simply as the Good God, Keeper of the Crops, provider for his people.
At the Summer Solstice, the family altar can be covered with flowers, especially roses. On or around the altar, you might also place things you have completed and let go of, or are trying to let go of. Add any fist fruits of the season and, of course, images of the sun, sunflowers, and other symbols of the holiday.
You might have a special section on the altar for things to give away. Take one thing off your won altar and bring it to the family altar, or find something special to contribute. Let the things stay during the holiday season to soak up blessings, then give them away before Lughnasadh rolls around!
The Colors of Litha
Gold and green are two of the most Prevalent colors of this time of year. Not only do they represent the sun and the verdant forest, but they represent the colors of Faerie Fire Magic. Other color accents include sea green and red (especially when red roses are added to the altar).
Incense, Herbs and Woods
Incense should be full and robust – rose, violet, fir, and cedar are good. Tangerine, frankincense, and frangipani also work.
If you want to work with herbs at this time, St. Johns wort is one of the most popular associated with Litha. Also connected with the holiday: basil, parsley, mint, thyme, violet, dragons blood, fern, vervain, and lavender.
Woods of Midsummer include oak, fir, mistletoe, and holly.
Instead of nine sacred woods being used, these are kindled of oak and fir. The midsummer fires were used much like the bale fires, to hex the cattle for health and safety, to drive away baneful influences and they also represented the power of the sun at its zenith.