While it may be starting to feel like summer, summer doesn't officially begin until the summer solstice. When is the summer solstice? It typically ranges from the 20th-22nd depending on the year and the alignment in the sky. It is when the earth is closest to the sun, marking the longest day of the year. Traditionally, this day has been honored and celebrated throughout the world with festivals that give thanks to the sun and the blessings it bestowed for the harvests of that year.
For modern pagans, it is the festival of Litha that is celebrated. This year, not only is the summer solstice taking place on this day, but a full moon as well, making it a very magical time!
To partake in this grand occasion, here are 9 ways you can celebrate Litha.
Have a Bonfire
It seems like no pagan holiday would be complete without a bonfire. Fires were very significant traditionally, as pagans would throw offerings into the fire for the gods and goddesses, asking for prosperity, power, and protection. They were also a source of fire energy, connecting to the sun.
As the summer solstice is a time to celebrate the sun, having your own bonfire is a perfect way to do that. You can even throw in your own offerings of almond, cinnamon, ginger, clove and chamomile that connect to the sun’s energy.
Make an Amulet
Traditionally, the cold ashes from the bonfire of Litha were used to make an amulet of protection. If you decide to have a bonfire, you can sweep up the ashes into a small vial and wear as a necklace or store and use for future protection spells.
Visit a Sacred Creek or Well
The Summer Solstice falls halfway between the year. Reflecting this, Litha is a balance of energy, so while pagans celebrate the sun and the element of fire, they also honor the element of water. At this time, the sun transitions into the zodiac sign of Cancer, whose element is water. To honor the water element, visit a stream, creek, or other body of water that you resonate with. Sit by it, meditate, and offer your blessings.
Honor the Nature Spirits
At this time, the fertility of nature is in full bloom. Everything is lush and green, and it is a time of abundance for all living things. To give thanks for the success of the harvest and vegetation, people would honor the nature spirits such as the Greenman. Give thanks and take a walk in nature, through a forest, to be in the presence of the nature spirits.
Make Yourself a Flower Crown
Crowns made of flowers were a symbol of the fertility and prosperity of the summer solstice. Make your own flower crown and use traditional flowers like St. Johnson’s Wart or gladioli.
Make a Stone Circle
In England, it was believed that if you stay up all night on Midsummer’s Eve in a stone circle, you will see the Fae. Gather some good sized stones and make your own circle!
Throw a Party
The Summer Solstice is a time of merriment, joy, and abundance. It is a time of celebration, so throwing a special gathering with friends and family is a perfect way to celebrate. Decorate with solar colors like reds, oranges and golds, as well as deep leafy greens for the nature deities. Put on some lively music for dancing, and serve summer foods like squash, zucchini, and corn.
Decorate Your Altar for Summer
It is a great time to switch out your altar to honor the summer energies. Use solar colors and leafy greens, and decorate with summer flowers such as sunflowers. Candles connect to the sun’s energy as well. Crystals of solar energy are Citrine, Tiger’s Eye and Fire Agate, while Aventurine, Moss Agate, and Peridot will connect to the nature spirits.
In pagan lore, the Summer Solstice is seen with the battle of the Oak King and the Holly King. The Oak King rules the time of Yule till Litha, being solar and summer energy, while the Holly King rules the time of Litha till Yule, being lunar and winter energy. This is the time where the Holly King defeats the Oak King, marking the descent into the upcoming Winter months and shorter days. It is where we see the balance of energies yet again, summer and winter, lunar and solar.
To honor both Kings in your altar, use elements of both fire and water energy. Items that connect to the Oak King are oak, acorns and gold/yellow candles, while items that connect to the Holly King are holly, pine, and green/black candles.
For more ways to celebrate Midsummer, check out my summer ebook for recipes, rituals, and more.