Tales of a Southern Pagan Mom

Summer Solstice 2012

I have a confession to make – Midsummer has not been one of my favorite Sabbats in the past. I have several Sabbats that I feel a connection to and others that I just don’t for whatever reason. This year though, I have been making an effort to try to connect more with each Sabbat – even the ones that I don’t ‘feel’ as deeply.

It’s odd to me that Litha isn’t as meaningful for me since Yule is very meaningful; Litha (Summer Solstice) being the counterpoint to Yule (Winter Solstice). Litha/Midsummer is the birth of the Holly King – The Oak King/Holly King mythos is one that I celebrate; on the morning after the Winter Solstice, my kids and I greet the newborn Sun at dawn… but the death of the Sun King is not something that I feel compelled to celebrate.

I thought I would share some of the things that I have been focusing on for Litha this year, and talk about our group Ritual a bit.
Some of the deities associated with Litha that I have tried to connect to are:
  • Hestia (Greek): This goddess watched over domesticity and the family. She was given the first offering at any sacrifice made in the home. On a public level, the local town hall served as a shrine for her — any time a new settlement was formed, a flame from the public hearth was taken to the new village from the old one.
I don’t follow Helenic Paganism, but there are a couple of Gods and Goddesses that have been popping up in my view over the past little while. Ares has always been around, though I don’t consider myself a devotee of his, and lately, Hestia has been appearing in my periphery. As a ‘stay at home mom’, I think her presence is timely, and welcome, so devoting some time to her has felt right.
  • Horus (Egyptian): Horus was one of the solar deities of the ancient Egyptians. He rose and set every day, and is often associated with Nut, the sky god. Horus later became connected with another sun god, Ra.

In Tameran Wicca, the myth of the Oak King and Holly King can be played out with Horus and Set; YouTube use Pagypstian’s video explains the correlation – Horus is defeated at the Summer Solstice by Set (with Nepthys as the Goddess for the waning part of the year).

  • Sunna or Sol (Germanic): Little is known about this Norse goddess of the sun, but she appears in the poetic eddas as the sister of the moon god.
  • Other Gods and goddesses: All father gods and mother goddesses, pregnant goddesses and sun deities. Particular emphasis might be placed on the goddesses Aphrodite, Astarte, Freya, Hathor, Ishtar and Venus and other goddesses who preside over love, passion and beauty. Other Litha deities include the goddesses Athena, Artemis, Dana, Kali, Isis and Juno and the gods Apollo, Ares, Dagda, Gwydion, Helios, Llew, Oak/Holly King, Lugh, Ra, Sol, Zeus, Prometheus and Thor.

I thought this was a good, albeit brief, description of the Oak/Holly King myth if you’re not familiar with it, as well as some other common customs for Litha:

Customs and myths: One way to express the cycle of the Earth’s fertility that has persisted from early pagan to modern times is the myth of the Oak King and the Holly King, gods respectively of the waxing and waning year. The Oak King rules from Midwinter to Midsummer, the period of fertility, expansion and growth, and the Holly King reigns from Midsummer to Midwinter, the period of harvest, withdrawal and wisdom. They are 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 — the Oak King at Midwinter, the Holly King at Midsummer — “slays” the outgoing one. But the defeated twin is not considered dead — he has merely withdrawn during the six months of his brother’s rule.

On Midsummer Night, it is said that field and forest elves, sprites and faeries abound in great numbers, making this a great time to commune with them. Litha is considered a time of great magickal power, one of the best times to perform magicks of all kinds. Spells and magick for love, healing and prosperity are especially effective now. Wreaths can be made for your door with yellow feathers for prosperity and red feathers for sexuality, intertwined and tied together with

ivy. This is also a very good time to perform blessings and protection spells for pets or other
Nurturing and love are key actions related to Midsummer. Litha is a good time to perform a ceremony of self-dedication or rededication to your spiritual path as a part of your sabbat celebration. Ritual actions for Litha include placing a flower-ringed cauldron on your altar, gathering and drying herbs, plunging the sword (or athamé) into the cauldron and leaping the balefire (bonfire) for purification and renewed energy. Giving away fire, sleeping away from home and neglecting animals are considered taboo on this holiday.animals.

http://www.widdershins.org/vol9iss2/03.htm

Our local group celebrated Litha on Wednesday, the day before the actual solstice, this year. I like having group ritual on a day other than the actual Sabbat because it leaves the day of for me to practice on my own. I have been meaning to get back in the habit of doing spellwork on the Sabbats, but haven’t managed to make that happen yet.
For our group’s Sabbat celebration, rather than being a traditional ‘Wiccan’ style ritual, our leaders brought elements from Buddhism and Native American spirituality to the format. We had a drum circle and a lovely guided meditation/story. Our leaders also encouraged us to dance with abandon around the fire and jump it if we chose. I chose to jump! We also were asked to look into the fire and find a word that means ‘Litha’ to us. The word that came to me was ‘drum’, and I wrote about the rhythm of life played out in the heartbeat, from birth through death.

In our teaching circle the week before Ritual, we had a Litha Crafting day – we all made Litha besoms and a variety of other little trinkets. Our Litha besoms were used to decorate the ritual space, which, due to inclement weather, was held indoors. Our ‘fire’ was a large container filled with sand and a hundred flickering candles – it wasn’t quite the same as a bonfire, but it certainly served the same purpose!

I also made a necklace and earrings to go with my Litha Ritual outfit – I love making jewelry and it was fun to make something that will hold special meaning for years to come.

I hope that your Litha was filled with love and light!

Brightest Blessings,

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One response

  1. Mesha

    I can understand that certain sabbets just don’t have the pull others do. For me it is Ostra. I just can’t seem to connect to the meaning behind it. Even before I started walking my pagan path we did not celebrate it’s Christian counterpart bcse of painful memories of past Easter events.

    June 28, 2012 at 1:21 AM

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