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Pagan Holidays - Summer Solstice, Midsummer, Litha, June 21

Updated on June 21, 2018
PatriciaJoy profile image

Previous writer and editor at BellaOnline. I love sharing articles on many topics.

Sunlit forest, the perfect place for a summer solstice rite.
Sunlit forest, the perfect place for a summer solstice rite. | Source

A Midsummer Celebration

It is the time of Midsummer, the point between May Day and Lammas, when many modern Pagans celebrate the sun god in all his glory. Yet, as he shines brightly, we know that his light will begin to dim. The sunlight begins to give way to darkness until the winter solstice when he will rise again.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice is when the sun reaches it farthest point north of the celestial equator. This day has the greatest amount of time between sunrise and sunset making it the longest day and shortest night of the year. It falls around June 21st every year. In the Southern Hemisphere, this is the time of the winter solstice.

Do you celebrate the summer solstice?

See results
Stonehenge, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stonehenge_Closeup.jpg
Stonehenge, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stonehenge_Closeup.jpg | Source

Old Midsummer Traditions

Ancient monuments around the world such as Stonehenge are believed to mark heavenly events including summer solstice. Another name for this holiday is Litha, although there is debate as to the historical origin of the term.

There is evidence of bonfires marking Midsummer Eve going back centuries. Though there isn't evidence that the Celts celebrated the actual solstice, agricultural traditions have carried over into the modern solstice celebrations. The crops were planted and now was the time to relax and unwind before the work of the harvest. One tradition from Wales was to roll straw-stuffed wheels set aflame down a hill. There would be a rich harvest if the wheel stayed lit when it reached the bottom.

Norse God, Balder the Good
Norse God, Balder the Good | Source

Cycles of Birth and Death

Wiccans and other Pagans incorporate the dying vegetation god theme into their rites. At this time the Oak King, god of the waxing year gives way to the Holly King, god of the waning year. In this tradition, the two sides of nature and ourselves are honored, the light and the dark shadow self. The Goddess is her most fertile, and this is indeed a passionate season. Handfasting ceremonies are common events for this is a time to celebrate love.

In Norse traditions, this time of year is as sacred as Yule. The sun goddess Sunna is celebrated as she drives the sun-bearing chariot across the sky. Balder, the god of light, is honored and sacrificed only to be reborn again at Yule. Many traditions that we associate with May Day such as the maypole were practiced at this time in Scandinavian countries.

Ways to Make the Holiday Your Own

Modern Pagans celebrate this life-giving warmth and brightness with rituals of much frivolity and lightheartedness. Another tradition is to jump the bonfire much as you would at Beltane for good luck and ridding yourself of negativity. It is summer after all when the beauty of the flourishing earth is most evident. Here are some other ways to make this holiday your own.

  • One way to bring the energy of this holiday into your life is to get outside, have a picnic and enjoy the sunlight on your face.
  • Celebrate all that you have accomplished the first half of the year gaining energy from the sun's strength to meet your goals for the rest of the year. That's right; take a break and give yourself a pat on the back.
  • For a more inward approach, you can also work with the light and shadow aspects of this holiday. Focus on which part of yourself you believe needs more attention and development. Honor those aspects that you feel are negative for even they can bring lessons you need to learn.

"I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,

With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine."

- William Shakespeare, from A Midsummer Night's Dream

Find Summer Solstice Celebrations Near You

The Witches' Voice is one of the largest networking sites for Pagans in the world. There are celebrations going on all year round. Find a group or event near you on their circles and events index page.

Solstice Music

Sources

  • Ellison, Robert Lee. The Solitary Druid: Walking the Path of Wisdom and Spirit. Citadel Press, 2005.
  • Farrar, Janet and Stewart Farrar. A Witches' Bible: The Complete Witches' Handbook. Phoenix Publishing Inc., 1981.

© 2009 PatriciaJoy

How Do You Celebrate Summer Solstice?

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    • adragast24 profile image

      adragast24 

      6 years ago

      I am not used to celebrating this event and was actually a bit surprised to see how popular it is here (I am from France where this is mostly and live now in Norway where it is a big thing).

    • Monika Weise profile image

      Monika Weise 

      6 years ago from Indianapolis, IN USA

      Great lens on the solstice!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      Another brilliant lens.. :)

    • MSBeltran1 profile image

      MSBeltran1 

      8 years ago

      Beautiful lens, love the video. I am lensrolling this to my Midsummer lens. Great job, great info.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      10 years ago from USA

      Congratulations NEW Giant!

    • GhostWalker LM profile image

      GhostWalker LM 

      10 years ago

      Great lens...Rated it a 5

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 

      10 years ago

      Great start. to make it better you can ask for feedback at the squidu forum http://www.squidu.com/ , where you can also make friends and find interesting lenses. It's a community here and we'd like you to be part of it.

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