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Litha, the Rituals of Midsommer

Updated on May 15, 2016
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Raye gardens organically, harvests rainwater, strives to eat locally, and honors the gods from her home in the Pacific Northwest.

Some History of the Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice was observed and celebrated by a wide-range of communities and cultures around the world. Some of the names given to this day include Litha, Midsommer and Midsummer's Eve. On this day, the Northern Hemisphere experiences the most hours of daylight in one day. This is the opposite of the Winter Solstice, when the shortest hours of daylight in a day occur. Although in modern parlance, this date is considered the start of the summer season, on a Pagan/Wiccan calendar, summer spans three holidays, from Beltane through Lughnasadh, hence this spot marks the "midsummer" point.

Harvesting of herbs and plants for medicinal use was often one of the activities that happened on this day, as it was believed the vitality of the plants and their energies would be at their most potent. This is also considered an auspicious day for weddings. June is still a very popular month for weddings in modern Western culture. In J.R.R. Tolkein's last book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Return of the King , Aragorn and Arwen wed on the summer solstice.

This is one of the nights of the year that Pagans and Wiccans consider the veil between the regular and spirit world to be thinner than usual, making contact with the ancients and faeries easier. Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is set on this night, and features two pair of star-crossed lovers. One set are humans, and the others are Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the Faeries.

Summer's Full Flowering

Solstice is sometimes seen as celebrating the full flowering of summer.  Plants are in mid-growth, covered in blossoms, or making tiny fruit.
Solstice is sometimes seen as celebrating the full flowering of summer. Plants are in mid-growth, covered in blossoms, or making tiny fruit. | Source

Getting Out on Longest Day of the Year

Rituals for the summer solstice can be as formal or informal as you desire. The main point is to honor the season in some way that is significant for you, your family and friends. If you don't want to mark the event at home, there are fun things to do in public with others.

Midsummer Bonfire - Keep the solar energy going late into the night with a festive bonfire. Decide ahead of time if the fire is a casual or formal symbol so you don't have people suddenly throwing trash into a fire meant for the gods.

Solstice Picnic - Feast with friends and family on the best that your garden and farmer's market can offer! Fresh fruits or local honey are great flavors to honor the sweet summer season. Get outside under an umbrella and enjoy lots of seasonal treats.

Garden Tour - Visit a local arboretum or flower farm and take some time to enjoy the colorful bounty of the season. Be sure to bring home a bouquet of fresh flowers to brighten up your home.

Beach or Shore Clean-up - Get a group together and spend some time just picking up trash at your favorite beach, lake shore or pond. A little devoted effort is a great way to honor Mother Earth as she goes into her most productive season.

Learn About the Modern Summer Solstice

Midsummer: Magical Celebrations of the Summer Solstice (Holiday Series)
Midsummer: Magical Celebrations of the Summer Solstice (Holiday Series)

This is a broad spectrum, Wiccanish/Paganesque guide to the modern solar holiday. History and myths, seasonal and traditional foods, and suggested rituals and crafts make is an excellent resource for anyone new to the holiday or overseeing a larger group's activities for the day. If you are a beginner, don't let all your options overwhelm you. Picking just one or two significant activities or gestures is a great way to mark a holiday.


Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

Throwing Your Own Solstice Celebration

If honoring the season is something you would rather do at home, by all means, stay right where you are!

You can simply freshen up your home, have a few friends over and just keep it simple and significant. Or you might prefer a full-throttle bash with lots of kids and dogs and men in kilts getting sunburned.

Having a simple backyard gathering for the summer solstice is totally appropriate. At this time of year, traditional agrarian cultures had all their summer crops planted, and this was a time of watching plants grow and waiting to see how the next six weeks of weather turned out.

Serve your guests the freshest of whatever foods are in-season where you live. Whether fruits or vegetables, everything should be light-feeling and just-picked. Strawberries and raspberries are both favorites for this season, as are the first honeys of the season. These will be lighter in flavor and color than honey which comes from crops pollinating now.

Cooking outside or having a backyard fire are part of modern Solstice observations, in recollection of the larger, community bonfires that tend to be part of older and more established holiday celebrations. If you have the zoning space or good neighbor relations, consider getting together some friends, having a backyard and drumming down the sun!

Sugared Rose Petals for the Solstice

My roses bloom at this time of year, so I like to make crystallized rose petals.  Some are given as treats for the holiday, and some get stored in the freezer for later in the year.
My roses bloom at this time of year, so I like to make crystallized rose petals. Some are given as treats for the holiday, and some get stored in the freezer for later in the year. | Source

Wishing You A Bountiful Summer Solstice!

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      Lea Williams 6 years ago

      I enjoyed this article. I am quite looking forward to celebrating Midsummer!

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      alberich 7 years ago

      Nice to read about Midsummer Eve, as I am from the North of Europe I celebrated midsummer since I was born. Nowadays most people just get drunk and party a lot, but the real midsummer are magical and are emphasized by the midnight sun or the light nights in the northern hemisphere. Just walk in the forest or in a groove or over the meadows, any bright night in June and you will perceive all the flowers and trees in a newly bloom and you can sense the presence of fairies, wights and all other magical creatures that live near the worldly released potential in nature. Wiccans and pagans, Oberon and good fellow well I know them all, but what is important is to do your own experience, use your own senses and passion mixed with the inspiring urge to be and live in the present near everything.

      Take Care and Be as astonishing magnificent as you possible can be!