from the website of Wendy Andrew – artist extraordinaire:
Dana, young expectant Mother, is the sweetness of the ripening fruits. Dragon energy protects the warm earth. The Oak King surrenders to the Holly King and the nights begin to lengthen and the wheel turns…
“On this day we gather to celebrate the Sabbat of Litha, also known as Midsummer, the celebration of the Summer Solstice. We come together on this longest day to praise the bountiful Mother Goddess and the benevolent Sun God who rides high above us at the peak of his power.
The Oak King, God of the Waxing Year, does battle and falls to his brother, the Holly King, God of the Waning Year, who on this day shall take the throne to reign through the months until midwinter, when he shall die at the hands of the reborn Oak King. Thus turns the Wheel of the Year.
On this day, the length of daylight is at its maximum. This is a time to relish the long daylight hours while we can, knowing that beginning the next day the nights will get longer and winter will come again. We get together with friends to enjoy the bounty of the embracing warmth of the earth and universe, and to enjoy a feast of fruits and crops from the spring planting.
So Mote It Be!”
the above are the words of Ocean,
signed & spoken at last year’s Litha ritual
Litha falls at the precise moment when the Sun’s power is at its zenith. It is the time of year when the noon sun appears to be farthest north from the celestial equator. “Solstice” is derived from two words: “sol” meaning sun, and “sistere,” to cause to stand still.
Summer was a joyous time of the year for ancient peoples. The snow had disappeared; the ground had thawed out; warm temperatures had returned; flowers were blooming; leaves had returned to the deciduous trees. Some herbs could be harvested, for medicinal and other uses. Food was easier to find. The crops had been planted and would be harvested in the months to come. It is the longest day and shortest night of the year.
This time of year, between planting and harvesting, was the traditional month for weddings. This is because the “grand [sexual] union” of the Goddess and God occurred in early May at Beltane. Since it was unlucky to compete with the deities, couples delayed their weddings until June, and June remains a favorite month for marriage today.
The cycle of fertility has been expressed in many god-forms. One of these is the Oak King and the Holly King, Gods respectively of the Waxing Year and the Waning Year. The Oak King rules from Midwinter to Midsummer – the period of Fertility, Expansion and Growth; while the Holly King reigns from Midsummer to Midwinter – the period of Harvest, Withdrawal and Wisdom. They are the light and dark twins, each being the other’s alternate self, thus being one. Each represents a necessary phase in the natural rhythm therefore both are good. At the two changeover points, they symbolically meet in combat. The incoming twin “slays” the outgoing one. But the defeated twin is not actually considered dead – he has merely withdrawn during the six months of his brother’s rule. This is the day when the Holly King slays his brother and begins his six-month-long reign, returning us to the “bottom” of the wheel.
Some believe that the Goddess, who wed her consort the God at Beltane, is now heavy with the fruits of that union, the infant year, the God to be born at Yule. The Goddess manifests as Mother Earth and the God as the Sun King. The youthful energy of Beltane has mellowed into maturity. The God is in his prime. His marriage with Goddess now makes the God Her protector as well as lover. As the God was predominant at winter solstice, so the Goddess is predominant at the summer. This is Mother Nature is at Her finest, and most abundant.
Regardless of which mythology that warms you (pun intended), the essence of Litha is a sense of having reached the point of no return, of moving forward from potential into actuality. This is a time of rest. The gardens are planted, everything grows.
Water is the other important aspect of Midsummer. In times past folks swam in waters that flowed towards the rising sun as it climbed in Midsummer morning sky. Bathing in springs and rivers (and the ocean!) on Midsummer brings healing, cleansing and protection.
This is a time to meditate upon your goals and how you wish to manifest them into action.
Make a pledge to Mother Earth of something that you will do to improve the environment and then begin carrying it out. Have a magical gift exchange with friends. Burn your Yule wreath in a Summer Solstice bonfire. Exchange songs, chants, and stories with others in person or through the mail. Do ecstatic dancing to drums around a blazing bonfire.
But most importantly…laugh, love, and celebrate life at this Sabbat of Litha.
Special thanks to SpiritWolf,
whose explanation of Litha was used at our ritual back in 2001!