Today is the Summer Solstice also known as Litha. It is the longest day of the year, it won’t get dark until very late into the night, there will be at least 16/17 hours of daylight. Litha means a stopping or standing still of the sun, in Latin Solstice means ‘Sun Still’ it is one of the 8 Pagan solar holidays throughout the year called a Sabbat. This may be the longest day of the year but after today the days will start to get shorter and nights longer.
This is a day of celebrations, the Goddess is heavily pregnant with the harvest to come. The Lord of light The Oak King is at the height of his power. But this is also a day of sadness because today the Sun God The Oak King (God of the waxing Sun) battles with the Lord Of Darkness (God of the waning Sun) The Holly King and the Holly King will win and start to take over the skies. After today the Sun slowly starts to lose its strength, the days will get shorter and the nights longer, as we look to Autumn and Winter. The Oak King (The Lord Of Light) is born on Yule (the Winter Solstice) and he shines so brightly for 6 months of the year but this weakens him. The Holly King (The Lord Of Darkness) lays in wait until Litha for the Oak King to use his last ounce of strength to make sure the earth has enough power for the harvest to come. The Oak King (The Lord Of Light) will slowly descends into the underworld his journey will not be complete until Samhain (Halloween) When the Holly King (The Lord Of Darkness) will take over the skies.
In ancient times, the Summer Solstice was a fire festival of great importance when the burning of balefires ritually strengthened the sun and would ensure a good harvest. It was often marked with torchlight processions, by flaming tar barrels or by wheels bound with straw, which were set alight and rolled down steep hillsides. The Norse especially loved lengthy processions and would gather together their animals, families and light torches and parade through the towns and villages blessing people with prosperity and fertility.
The use of fires, as well as providing magical aid to the sun, were also used to drive out evil and to bring fertility and prosperity to men, crops and herds. Blazing gorse or furze was carried around cattle to prevent disease and misfortune, while people would dance around the balefires or leap through the flames as a purifying or strengthening rite. The Celts would light balefires all over their lands from sunset the night before Midsummer until sunset the next day. Around these flames the festivities would take place.
Litha is a time of light, purification and of healing. Its a time to reflect on the light and dark that are both within each of us and within the world around us. It is a time to appreciate everything we have in our lives and to give thanks for it, to appreciate nature and all that it gives us.
Pick some flowers and put them on your altar to honour the season and to offer them to the Sun God and the Goddess and thank them for their sacrifices. Oak leaves and branches will honour the Oak King. Adorn your altar with fruit and anything gold, yellow or shiny to honour the Sun. Build a bonfire or a small fire or light a candle. A fire lit on Litha is said to be very powerful and magical.
“Write down your hopes dreams and burn them in the fire, to do this on Litha night will bring you your desire”
This is the height of summer it is one of the most celebratory days of the year, enjoy it, have family round for dinner, invite friends and party, go for long walks and appreciate the beauty of the Summer and nature, dance and be merry.
Have a Blessed Summer Solstice. May the God and Goddess watch over you.