Summer Solstice 2012
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!