Occurring on or about June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere, Litha (or Midsummer/Summer Solstice) is a time when the Sun is at its height of power. This is the longest day and shortest night of the year when we celebrate the Earth in its peak of abundance. With this holiday we see the full influence of the Goddess manifest in every way as all Nature blossoms forth in wondrous beauty.
Our friends who live in the Southern Hemisphere at this time are welcoming mid-winter and celebrating Yule.
The wheel is the central symbol of Midsummer; it represents the turning of the year, and water symbolizes the life forces and the balance of fire, as even the Sun, the Lord of Life, arises in his strength in the watery sign of Cancer. The wheel is decorated with flowers and herbs and turned, for the Lord is a triumphant warrior and symbolically marries the Lady, Mother of All Earth. The joining of the two brings harmony and balance to our world.
Astrological Date: Sun at 0º Cancer
Summer Solstice (approximately June 21st) marks the transition from communicative Gemini into the deep emotions of Cancer. The first of the Water signs, home-loving Cancer begins to look inward toward our emotional landscape as the days grow shorter. The Waning of the Solar Year begins and every day that follows will have a longer and longer night.
Find this year’s exact date >>HERE<<
Seasonal Focus: Energizing and Growth
The peak of the Sun marks a vital time of energizing and growth. With all of the heat and abundance of June at hand, we feel the world of creation and life at its peak. Spending time in nature now will reveal to us the height of summer – vine-ripened fruits and vegetables, fresh herbs, and the lush greenery of trees.
- Altar Decorations & Symbols: All of the earth’s flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables are at their peak now, Mirrors for reflecting the sun, Earth circles of stone energy, Solar cross or Sun Symbols, Seashells
- Animals: Bee, Butterfly, Cattle, Horses, Robin, Sea Creatures, Snake, Wren
- Colors & Candles: Blue, Gold, Green, Red, White, Yellow
- Crystals & Stones: Amber, Carnelian, Citrine, Diamond, Jade, Lapis, Tigers Eye,
- Incense & Oils: Cedar, Clove, Frankincense, Lavender, Lemon, Mint, Myrrh, Orange, Pine, Rose, Sage
- Herbs & Flowers: Basil, Calendula, Chamomile, Daisy, Heather, Lavender, Meadowsweet, Mugwort, Mistletoe, Peony, Roses, Vervain, St. John’s Wort, Sunflower, Wild Thyme
- Trees: Elder, Oak, Pine, Rowan, Fir
Customs & Celebrations
The longest day of the year is a dedication to fire festivals, love, beauty, passion, and energy! Traditionally this is a time when people stay up all night to welcome the rising of the Sun. Midsummer celebrations at Stonehenge and magical spots around the world still occur today. Other customs include:
- Gathering medicinal and magical plants to dry and store for the winter
- Renewal of wedding vows
- Divination related to romance and love
- Singing and dancing around a bonfire
- Outdoor picnics and feasts
- Creating flower crowns
- Floating paper boats with a blessing on a river or stream. This brings luck and love to whoever finds it.
Foods & Recipes
Celebrate in the kitchen with seasonal foods that include spicy main dishes and fresh summer fruit desserts or honey cakes. Drinks include ale and mead, red wine and sun tea.
I love these delicious recipes (can you tell ginger is a favorite?) both adapted from A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook by Patricia Telesco:
This is a hearty Indian breakfast food, recommended only for people with a solid early day constitution ; )
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup lentils
- 1 cup of rice
- 4 cups of water
In a medium-sized saucepan, saute the garlic and onion in oil until lightly browned. Add ginger and saute another minute. Add the clove, cardamom, salt, and pepper. Then add the lentils and rice; stir until well coated with the spiced oil. Add the water and bring to a boil Cover; simmer until the rice and lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Yield: 6 servings.
CANDIED CITRUS RINDS
In the time of Queen Elizabeth I, candied citrus rinds was considered a wonderful and rather expensive treat. To make about 8 cups you will need:
- Rind from 3 large oranges
- Rind from 1 large grapefruit
- 2 cups honey (for a wonderful vegan honee alternative check out this recipe)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Scrape out the inside of the fruit rind to remove as much of the white pith as possible. Slice the rind into narrow, even sized strips. Bring to a boil in a large pan of water. Simmer for 5 minutes and drain. Repeat the boiling procedure 4 more times to remove the bitterness from the fruit rind.
Combine honey, ginger, cinnamon and 1 cup of water in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir until the honey is dissolved (the heavy feeling at the bottom of the pan will disappear). Add the rinds; cook over low heat for about 60 minutes or until all the syrup is absorbed and the peels are soft.
Spread on waxed paper; dust with sugar. Cover with cheesecloth; let sit until well dried. Store in an airtight jar. These will keep indefinitely. Candied citrus rinds make a nice garnish and refresh the breath.
How do you celebrate the season? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook by Patricia Telesco
My personal Book of Shadows and the traditions of Clan Ravynmyst
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