Litha is usually celebrated between 20th and 23rd of June. It is the Midsummer festival, celebrating the longest day of the year. The specific solar event of the Summer Solstice happens in a moment of time and this year 2020, it falls on Saturday 20th June at 22:43 BST. That is the precise time that the hours of daylight and night-time are equal. After that we in the northern hemisphere begin a slow descent into shorter days and longer nights, although the hottest part of the year is still to come.
The Solstice is a pivotal time of stillness and balance, when day and night, sun and moon, the physical and spiritual blend together and is one of three ‘Spirit Nights’ (with Beltane, Samhain). The boundaries are blurred; otherworld beings, spirits and the fae visit; leave offerings of milk and honey to prevent mischief!
Agriculturally, crops are in full growth. They are reaching the pinnacles of maturity and coming closer to the harvest time. Most wild herbs are fully mature by Midsummer and this is the traditional time for gathering magickal and medicinal plants to dry and store for winter use. In Wales, Midsummer is called Gathering Day in honour of this practice.
How can you have better balance in your life? Do you have clear or blurred boundaries? How are you enjoying the peak of your powers? What have you grown to maturity?
The God, in his solar aspect is at the pinnacle of his powers before he too, begins a slow descent through dying at Mabon, his death and later rebirth at Yule, and so the wheel keeps turning. Yet, for now, he still has much to do. Before that, he is crowned as the Sun God and assumes his responsibility to the land, as consort to the Earth Goddess. Both deities are at the peak of their young, vigorous strength, creativity and fertility and bring joy, abundance and celebration.
The dual nature of the God battles to gain power. Now the mature Oak King battles with his twin, the Holly King, who presides over winter. At Midsummer, the Holly King wins the battle and gradually takes the year into the darker, waning, cold and decaying half. They battle again at Yule, when the Oak King wins to rule the bring light, life and brightness into the world. Although others may see this fight as being held at Mabon and Ostara, the two equinoxes.
The Sun leaves Gemini (mutable Air) and enters Cancer (cardinal Water) the sign of the crab and of the dark devouring Mother/Goddess, who starts the journey of the defeated King into the Underworld to await rebirth.
Even as the earth ripens its bounty, the Goddess is now pregnant with the God Child who will be born at Yule. There are no breaks in the wheel of the year as it continually turns through, birth, maturity, dying, death, decay and birth again.
What responsibilities are you answerable for? Where on the turning wheel do you see yourself? What is within you, waiting to show itself later? What do you need to grow and protect to bring forth later?
You might like to use Litha to do any of these to improve your life:
You might like to add these, or their representations to your seasonal sacred space:
Elderflower Champagne Recipe
Collect the flowers as near to Midsummer’s Day as you can. Elder is sacred to the Mother Goddess and is protective healing, as well as aiding transformation, change and renewal. Ideal for this time of the year.
Ingredients: 8 litres water, 1.25 kg sugar, 8 large elderflower heads (cleaned), 4 lemons, 4 tablespoons mild white wine vinegar
Midsummer Honey Cake
Bees and their honey reflect the life-giving energy of the Sun. Honey has many medicinal properties. When you make this cake give thanks to the sun, earth and the bees for providing the honey.
Ingredients: 225g Butter, 250g Honey, 100g Dark Muscovado Sugar, 3 Eggs, beaten, 300g Self-Raising Flour
Cut the butter into pieces and heat them slowly, adding the honey and the sugar. When they are all fully melted, turn up the heat and boil the mixture for one minute. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. (If too hot the eggs will curdle when added and if too cold the mixture will solidify.)
Add the beaten eggs to the cooled mixture. Sift the flour into a large bowl and beat the liquid mixture into it until you have a smooth batter.
Pour the batter into a round lined sponge tin and bake in a preheated oven at 160C for about 50 mins, or until the cake is well-risen and springs back to the touch.
Cool on a rack and glaze with a few tablespoons of warm honey. Enjoy and give thanks to the bees, the grains and the hens and the God and Goddess for their bounty.