From: “The Witches Year” ~ by Lucy Cavendish
Litha, the high summer solstice will be with us in the southern hemisphere on December 22 — a time of joy tinged with regret as we greet the sun at its peak. Joy because it is the ultimate expression of sun power, and regret, as this peak signifies the sun will soon begin to turn its face away from us as the days shorten and the night’s lengthen again — but not until we have celebrated Litha’s triumphant light.
Both symbolically and literally, the summer solstice is a time of celebration, ripeness, warmth, joy, heat and lust. It is a time for the God and the Goddess, represented by the Queen and the King of the wheel of the year myth, to reach fulfillment and perfect companionship. It is also bittersweet because this is the time when the King is wounded, and the wound will see his strength ebb over the coming months.
How Litha affects you
Think of how you’ve felt recently — like work is almost an irrelevant distraction, that being indoors is wrong, maybe you’ve been finding it hard to concentrate on important issues, and have felt compelled to be social with friends as much as possible. You may also have been feeling a growing optimism, as though dreams and wishes can come true. Your rightful place has been with friends outside, on the beach, in the fields, eating the fruits of the land and sharing good times, talk, and love. Summer romance is likely to have been on the agenda, as midsummer magic makes us feel warm and predisposed to love. You may, literally, have been burning the candle at both ends.
That time of midsummer magic, of things reaching their peak, of ripeness, is going to change — from now on you’ll begin to feel the a little more introspective, your energy will begin to change, and you’ll begin to turn your attention to work and serious matters over the next month. A feeling of completion and fulfillment may give way to feelings of nostalgia or a sweet regret — you may find yourself looking back over the last two months, since Beltane, and wishing that all times could be so carefree and spontaneous. It is important not to judge yourself for any out of character activities or wild behaviour that may have resulted — this is the spirit of Beltane and Litha, and now as its energy peaks, you will soon focus on responsibilities once again.
You may feel a need to cleanse, detox, rest, take some time out from large gatherings after Litha. You’ll need to do this too – otherwise you can run the risk of actually impairing your physical and mental health, so slow down a little, take some time out, refresh and re-energise as the sun begins to shorten its rays.
This, by the way, is why Midsummer is so strange in terms of the timing of Christmas. Christmas has become a time of mad office parties, people who are normally straight-laced let their hair down – in fact, more baby’s are born at October than at any other time. Why? Hot nights, dancing, staying out all night, uninhibited sexual behaviour, alcohol, hangovers and plenty of sex — Beltane and Litha, indeed. Although technically December 22nd and the midsummer tradition was actually cloaked by the Church by John the Baptist’s day, you can see how the midsummer energy has freed and expressed itself even if you have no idea of what time. Relationships may have reached a peak over the past two months, and now can grow into maturity. Issues may come up over the next month as feel your High Priestess energy start to flow anew.
Using the energy of Litha
To really make the most of the solstice’s powerful influence, try these simple, satisfying rituals. This is a superb time for rising early and gazing at the early morning rays — because they’re going to be departing from now on. Turning your face to the sun means that you are farewelling the new life it has brought to you. Be prepared for changes after solstice time. Bad habits, jobs and relationships have a weird way of becoming difficult to deal with after this time — it’s like some of the bloom has gone off the romance, and the hard work of getting to know each other intimately can begin.
However, if you’re in the right place and with the right person, the trust and love you have built up during summer’s days will sustain you in the more difficult times. It’s all about moving through life’s test with a heart full of hope. Litha is definitely a fine time to gather what you need to, while it is still there — which is why it is traditionally the harvesting time.
Symbolically this solstice represents the power of the dark returning to triumph over the light, and in reality it means the brightest days of the year are soon to be over. As you begin to contemplate the days of summer leaving, and feel the cool morning air and see flowers begin to fall and growth begin to slow, you will see that the time for gathering, preparing, contemplation and cleansing has begun. But you can really benefit from its radiant energy with a little magical effort.
A Litha ceremony
On the God and Goddess: This is a Sun ceremony, and as such, some witches consider it to be primarily masculine in feel. The God and Goddess can always be represented symbolically in ceremony, for this ritual you may wish to emphasise the God more than you would at Samhain, for example. This is very much an individual choice, however, and all practitioners will have to think this issue through for themselves. Some spellcasters who feel very strongly that this is an Appollonion festival may choose the exclude the Goddess altogether. For others who feel that without the goddess there is no life, take heart at the Goddess Kupala, a Slavonic Goddess who is associated with fire, and whose festival, Kupula’s night, falls on the summer solstice.
Her holy fires on this night have the power to cleanse both body and soul, and her followers formed chanting rings around her bonfires,. Similar to Beltane, many would leap through the fires, enjoying the great fires for cleansing this time, rather than to stimulate the urge to mate and breed.
For your altar
• a golden altar cloth
• Summertime herbs – choose from whatever is growing vigorously in your region. The sunflower is a great flower to include, as its shape mirrors that of the Sun, which this ceremony worships. Choose also a blooming night flower to honour the Goddess, if you wish (Kupala is said to the mistress of a mysterious night flower that blooms once a year – to pick it is to dispel lower energetic life forms from your auric field.)
• (water) A cup of fresh spring water
• (air) Incense – choose one that evokes the fullness of summer
• (fire) your cauldron, or a golden candle
• (earth) sea salt – perfect for coastal dwellers.
• golden candles
Flowers could include rose, wisteria, frangipani, or, if you live in an arid climate, even the smallest green thing that pushes its way through the earth. The Australian climate varies enormously, and as so much of the country is in drought, some people will find fresh growing herbs impossible to find. I probably do not need to remind you to take great care with your cauldron or candle, especially if working out doors. Bushfires are a terrible thing for wildlife and the earth, so please, do not work anything more than symbolically out of doors – working on the beach is acceptable, however, you must take great care in the bush, as the merest spark can alight an enormous raging fire. Remember, we are working symbolically — so whatever you choose must work for the Sabbat, and for you on a personal level. If a flower or object speaks to you, then use it. So, if you prefer sand or earth to sea salt, please substitute. If you wish to use grevillea, instead of wisteria, feel free, again, to choose what works for you.
Nothing that grows from this earth is too humble to be recognised as sacred.
• Prior to this ceremony, please smudge your home, or your altar’s surroundings with a smudge stick (these are easily purchased from health and/or new age outlets.) This will allow you to focus, as the energy of this time of year can be quite scattered. • Emotionally, this can be a great ceremony for really realising a great deal of energy. This is a very passionate and expressive time of year, so you can really benefit by letting go and expressing your energy. However, whispering is just as appropriate as making a lot of noise. Follow your heartsong.
Hold your bowl of spring water aloft and say:
– I welcome the spirits of the water
Hold your bowl of sea salt/earth/sand and say:
– I welcome the spirits of the earth
Hold your incense stick, alight, aloft and say
– I welcome the spirits of the air
Hold your candle, aflame, aloft and say:
– I welcome and rejoice in the spirits of the fire
Say three times
– Apollo’s fires Kupala’s nights
The sun is highest I see the night
Is coming fast and coming near
The summer’s flames I do draw near
The beach, the sand, the sea, the earth
The growing time that gave me birth
I worship life at its full bloom
The wheel of life turns with the moon
The Horned God, the Midsummer King
The blessings of summer that you bring
Raise you athame towards the sun, and say
Great God and Goddess united now, I draw down your strength and warmth to me
We are one
Replace your athame on the altar
Standing, close your eyes and feel, without judgement, any areas of your life that may have caused you or others harm. Allow the sun’s healing energy to dissolve the dark spots in your own auric field, and breathe deeply.
Visualise the energy of the sun at its peak flowing into you, though you, around you. Talk with the God and the Goddess if you wish. Thank them for good times, and release to them your fears and worries.
Once you have finished reflecting, you may open your eyes, and cast a spell which you wish to see come to fruition over the coming months.
Be aware this Litha that the moon will be in the sign of Cancer, making this an emotional time for letting go. Home, family and relationship issues may come up for you at this time.
This is as it should be, and incorporating any troubles or wishes you may have into your ritual will help you release or realise their power.
Balance your energies
After Litha, make a special effort to drink a little fresh lemon juice in warm water each morning, and do twenty minutes of cleansing, stretching yoga or another physical discipline. This will help to battle the midsummer madness that may have taken its toll over the last two months.
Litha sacred objects
Symbols of the summer solstice can include…
Lemon and water for purification
Sacred trees, flowers and herbs: whatever is growing best at this time Finding herbs on the summer solstice night will render them even more magical. Pick them on the solstice eve, and leave two thirds of the bush (if it is your own) for regeneration, and use what you have picked through the coming months.