The Summer Solstice marks the longest day of summer, the point at which the life-giving sun is at its strongest over the powers of darkness.
Litha or Summer Solstice-also is known as Midsummer’s Day-falls at the time of year when the sun is at its highest point in the sky resulting in the longest day and the shortest night. Celebrations are generally held on 21 June, although the solstice covers a period of about four days either side.
Litha is about celebrating life. By Summer Solstice, all the seeds have been planted; it is the lull between the early crops of leaves, such as lettuce and nettles, and the harvest of fruit, root vegetables, and grain.
In agricultural communities, the Summer Solstice is a time for people to get together and celebrate life. Traditional festivities have included lighting bonfires on hilltops and rolling burning wheels down hillsides to represent the decline of the sun.
Many people gather at a sacred site, where it is usual to leave an offering of summer flowers, a stone or crystal as a thank you to the sun.
The solstices are celebrated mainly in Northern European temperate countries where the difference between light and dark gives marked seasonal alternation.
In England, the Summer Solstice is marked by the Glastonbury Festival.
In Sweden, the land of the Midnight Sun, a maypole is dressed with leaves and flowers. There is dancing and singing and feasts of pickled herrings, new potatoes, meatballs, and eggs.
In Finland, the celebrations take place in Helsinki, on the island of Seurasaari, and open-air museum, and comprise a huge bonfire, dancing, and rowing races.
You don’t need to find an organized celebration to enjoy the Summer Solstice- you can celebrate Midsummer just as easily in your own home.
Summer folklore has it that if you pick seven or nine types of wildflower in the evening, in silence, and place them under you pillow, you will dream of your future spouse. But you mustn’t reveal whom you dream about to anyone!
Midsummer is the time to cut magical wands as the trees hold their greatest amount of light at this time.
Northern Europe tradition believes that washing your face in the morning Midsummer dew; with give you a clear complexion and equally clear eyesight.
Flowers of herbs picked at Midsummer are thought to be doubly potent. St John’s Wort is so named because it traditionally flowers on Midsummer’s Day (or St John’s Eve). If it is harvested at this time, it can be kept until the winter and made into an antidepressant tea with the qualities it has absorbed fro the sun.
In Wiccan lore, Midwinter to Midsummer is ruled by the Oak King, who represents the powers of light. The dark Holly King governs Midsummer to Midwinter.
A battle ensues between the Oak and the Holly King at Summer Solstice; there is no winner, but the Holly King does weaken the power of the Oak King. This story serves as a reminder that at the time of full light, the forces of darkness begin to grow. The Holly King will gain in strength until he reaches his full power at Winter Solstice.
Summer Solstice in your Home
One way of marking the Summer Solstice in your own home is to bake round cakes covered in yellow icing. These traditionally represent the Sun wheel-a symbol used to represent the sun in many ancient cultures- and should be eaten for breakfast.
Ideally, you should get up before dawn and sit on a hilltop eating the cakes and watching the golden sunrise above the horizon.
*Take any sponge or fairy cake recipe and add saffron for the yellow color in the cake, or to color the icing. Add some honey to taste. Garnish the mix with sunflower seeds to add Midsummer ambiance.
*Once you’ve baked your Sun wheel cake, prepare a flask of mead-a traditional honey liqueur-to wash down a slice at sunrise.
Make a Midsummer incense to harness the magic of a Summer Solstice love spell:
*Mix a handful each of fresh or dried rose petals and lavender flowers in a non-metallic bowl.
*Add half a stick of crumbled cinnamon and two pods of star anise.
*Add six drops of rose oil to the mix.
*Now grind the ingredients together.
*If you don’t intend to use the incense immediately, keep it fresh in a sealed jar.
*Now you are ready to do your spell. Facing east, burn a teaspoonful of the incense on a charcoal block and, without holding a particular person in mind, ask for new love to come into your life.
*Close with the words, “May this be for the highest good of all”.