Litha (21st June)
At Litha or Summer Solstice, the Sun is at it's highest and brightest and the day is at it's longest. The Holly King, God of the Waning Year, vanquishes the Oak King, God of the Waxing Year. The Goddess shows her Death-In-Life aspect, the Earth is fertile, and all is in bloom, the Goddess reasches out to the fertilizing Sun God at the height of his powers. At the same time She presides over the death of the God.
Celebrate passion and success. Litha is a time of fulfilment of love. This is a night of powerful magick. June was considered by some to be the luckiest time to be married and its also the time of the "mead moon'" or the "honey moon". A tradition was for newly weds to drink mead daily for a month after their wedding, hence the post wedding holiday being named the honeymoon. The element of fire is an important component of Litha, possibly because the sun is blazing in the sky and the heat generates thunder and lightning.
"The tradition of hurling fire wheels into the air or down from atop a sacred hill was a common practice throughout Europe up until the 19th century or even later." As at Beltane, herds were driven through the embers of Litha fires to purge them of disease. Rubbing the ashes from the Beltane fire on our foreheads at Litha heightens our magickal powers. At this time of the year, our physical energy is generally at its peak, and we are active and strong. This is a time of beauty, love, strength, and energy.
Litha is a good time to seek protection and to purify space against negative or harmful energy. It's also a good time to divine in matters of fertility and love. In ancient times on Midsummer's Eve, young women galloped through fields of growing crops on broomsticks to ensure a bountiful harvest and personal fertility.
Protection rituals are appropriate at Litha. Some make protection amulets, charge them, use throughout the year and burn in the Litha fire -- making and charging a new one for the next year.
At Litha, nine different herbs are thrown into the blaze -- mistletoe, vervain, St. John's Wort, heartsease and lavender are usually among the nine chosen, but the nine can be chosen from this list :
sage, mint, basil, fennel, chive, chervil, tarragon, parsley, rosemary,thyme, hyssop, honeysuckle, red heather, white heather, rue, sunflower, lavender, fern, mistletoe, St. John's Wort, mugwort, vervain, meadowsweet, heartsease, feverfew, iris, rowan, oak, fir, pine, aniseed, hazelnut.
Make a small pouch out of white cloth. Fill it with any combination of midsummer herbs you wish. (Be sure to add them in threes). Tie the pouch with a red string. Hold the pouch in your hand. Concentrate on any problems, pain or illness you wish to be rid of. Picture these things going into the bag. Throw the bag into the Midsummer fire.
Litha is a great time for a re-dedication.
Altar candles should be blue, yellow-gold candle to represent the sun. Orange, gold, and green
Incense that can be used lavender, musk, violet, tangerine, rose
Oils used at Litha can be violet, rose, orange, lime, thyme, citronella
Decorate with summer flowers and fruit, place sprigs of oak and holly on the altar to represent the Oak and Holly kings. Milk is often substituted for wine in ritual.
Altar cloth: red or gold
Burn the nine herbs in the Litha fire or in a cauldron on your altar: betony wood (or basil), chamomile, fennel (or lavender), lemon balm (or dianthus), mullein, rue, St. John's wort, thyme, and vervain.
Burn a red candle in cauldron (to be half-filled with water during the ritual)
Ruby, garnet, diamond, seashell, Herkimer diamond, clear quartz crystal, amber, citrine, cat's-eye, yellow topaz, yellow tourmaline, gold, silver, peridot, carnelian, calcite
Since the longest day of the year is tied to fire festivals, love, beauty, passion and energy, cook spicy main dishes and fresh fruits deserts. Drink blueberry mead. Eat juicy fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and dishes with fresh herbs instead of dried (make sure to charge the herbs while cooking). Pork, as it is sacred to Cerridwen, a goddess associated with the season.
Things You Can Do On Litha
Faery magick, protection, purification, love/sex spells. Fire magick. Animal blessings or magick. A good time for scrying and divination. Traditionally the Great Rite, symbolic or actual, is enacted.
Jump the balefire, cauldron or candle. Burn the Yule wreath now. If you made Sun Wheels at Imbolc, they should be displayed prominently.
Paint witches runes (the hagalaz rune), hex signs or other six-pointed figures on wood, paper, or what have you for protection. Hang indoors or out .
Midsummer is Gathering Day. Gather plants in the wild, being careful that they don't touch the ground after being cut (their magickal energy will drain into the earth). Perform herbal magick.
The Teutons gathered ash sticks at Litha for wands, walking sticks, staffs, stangs and staves. Decorate with magickal symbols, feathers, sigils, words, fabric, ribbon, or whatever you want.
Make Gods Eyes to be used as a protective talisman or for decoration, or gather buckeye's (horse chestnuts), which was sacred to some Native Americans and used protective amulets. Talismans for our animals' collars should be blessed and given at this time.
Make a solar wheel. Wind palm or grape vine into a circle, twisting as you go. Cut two short lengths of stem to be just a bit larger than the diameter of the circle and place one across the back horizontally and one vertically. Decorate with symbols of the elementals -- stones, feathers, shells, etc. and festoon with yellow ribbons. Hang in a tree or inside as a reminder of the God/dess' protection.
Commune in the garden at daybreak. (The flower faeries are powerful at this time.) Light votive candles and leave offerings, libations, and gifts for the faeries -- cookies or cakes, fruit, a chalice with spring water (covered to keep bugs out), honey, butter, wine or milk. Bring the water indoors later if it is needed in the ritual. Use it to attract faery power or in magick, as it heightens psychic ability and energy. Cut any herbs that are ready for harvest on this day. Look for the faery folk under the elder tree. Gallop through garden on Midsummer's Eve on a broomstick to ensure a bountiful harvest and personal fertility.
Celebrate the day outside hiking, bike riding, swimming, and participating in other summertime activities.