Litha, or Midsummer, is the mid-point of the year – the Summer Solstice – a time of balance and transition from the light half of the year to the dark. One of my favorite myths is that of the Oak King and the Holly King, and Midsummer is the counterpart to Yule (or Midwinter). At Litha, the Oak King is slain and the Holly King rises up to lay claim to the latter half of the year. That’s not really relevant to this post, because although I love the retelling of that story at the vital points during the year, this Litha is all about housekeeping.
I have been remiss in my home-blessing duties; however much I try to re-frame ‘chores’ into ‘home blessings’ or ‘creating sacred space’, the fact is that I am just not a great housekeeper. There are always more interesting things to do than scrub the cabinet fronts or clean the ceiling fans… and so every once in a while it gets so bad that to not take the time to do some deep cleaning is just… well it’s just time to clean. And so this is where I have found myself now,coming up on Litha.
I really felt the need to ‘brighten’ things up – it felt dark and gloomy, and I know it’s my lack of attention to the space that’s allowing those energies to pile up, so I started in our living room. I went through an intense decluttering phase a few months ago, and though I did very well with cleaning the stuff out of the places it was cluttering up, I never got so far as to actually take the things out of my house. So they’ve been sitting in a corner, sucking up space and energy. Much of that’s actually, truly gone now, either out into the proper closet/storage spaces or tossed out into the rubbish bins. A few things made their way into the car to be taken to new homes, but the end result is amazing – so much brighter and cleaner and ‘light’ feeling! Sadly, even knowing how amazing ‘clean’ feels doesn’t help motivate me to be a better housekeeper much of the time… but I digress.
I also spent some time in the kitchen, enlisting the kids’ help in deep cleaning everything from the ceiling (and fan) down; cabinets, appliances, counters, organizing drawers, floors… all of it. Our table sits in a corner, and the actual corner tends to be a catch-all spot (for my things, especially) but even that’s now clean and tidy. There’s a little left to do; we’re supposed to clear out the living room and get a new sofa and coffee table soon, and I have a feeling paint will soon follow, depending on the colors of the new furniture, but even just those few changes have really shifted the feel of the space.
Litha and the Full Strawberry Moon both fell on Monday, so I did a simple ritual with the kids. I bought new Goddess and God candles and a new working candle for my altar, and changed the decor to reflect the warmer colors of summer. We also did something new; we set up a family altar in the living room. We have had a shelf with a smaller, less conspicuous altar space in there, and directional candles have always been at the cardinal points of the room, but now there’s an actual, dedicated altar there too, and set for Litha with deity candles and a family offering bowl. After our morning routine, we tidied things up, then smudged the house inside and out and laid new salt barriers on the windows and doors, walked the boundaries and left offerings for the border spirits. Afterwards, we spent a little time on Intentions and spellwork for the waning half of the year, celebrated the Moon, and had strawberry shortcake with sweet red wine.
How are you celebrating Midsummer this year?
March is the month of the Chaste Moon, the Windy Moon, the Fish Moon. Depending on your culture or path, you may call the moon by something else this month, but whatever you call it, last night was full of magic.
Something I was reading a while back was talking about how the moon affects water on earth, and how, since humans are made of mostly water, it is logical to assume that we are affected by the pull of the moon as well. I’d never thought about it in those terms before, but that works for me.
For practical purposes, I consider the full moon to last 3 nights; the day before, the day of, and the day after. We have an incredibly busy schedule, and rather than try to pack in a quickie Esbat ritual, I prefer to give myself a window to work within, that way I am not stressed out over missing the night of the full moon. My friend Bridey mentioned that it’s like a pyramid – the night leading up to the full moon, the night of, and then the night afterwards is on the downward slope; each day of the full moon can be tailored to tap into the last remaining waxing/full energy, or tap into the both the full and waning energies, but all three days are good for full moon working. That’s pretty accurate, I think.
That said though, there is something about the night of the full moon that makes it just that much more special, and the full moon falling on a regularly scheduled Teaching Circle night? Oh, even better. Since the new year began, our Circle group has been meeting occasionally for Esbat Rites in addition to Teaching Circle and Sabbat Rituals. In this case, we got a double dose – a Teaching Circle class on Moon Magic, and ritual. We talked about moon basics – what types of working that each moon phase is suited to, lunar deities, and some of the history of moon worship.
As a parent, it’s been interesting to me to see the progression of interest from my children. One of my sons came with me to this class, and whereas before they both have been more interested in hanging out in the playroom, my son decided to join in ritual this evening. This is the second or third time he has come out to participate. He’s a child still, so his interest level comes and goes, even within the context of circle – and he’s young enough yet that his entry into and out of ritual space isn’t an issue. Now, to be honest, his interest in being in circle may be that he just wants to stoke the fire; and/or may have something to do with the fact that last night, he was the only child there, and staying inside would have meant being alone inside while the rest of us were outside – but I like to think that having the option to participate without obligation has created some interest for him.
It also helps that we have men active in our circle. I think that goes a long way towards illustrating the (for lack of a better term) viability of this belief system for my sons. I respect the men who practice with us on a regular basis, and value their example as Pagan men for my children to emulate. Of course, they may ultimately decide that my path is not for them, and that’s fine – but having positive role models in their lives other than their father, regardless of religious flavor – is a good thing.
If you’re new to Paganism, or new to having children participate in your practice, there are many ways to get the kids involved. Keep in mind that a ‘ritual’ doesn’t need to be a full-on, quarter-calling ritual. You can keep things simple and casual; something that works better for some children than having a big formal to-do. Get the kids involved as much as their age and interest allows. Have a job for each child, and incorporate movement (dancing, singing, playing instruments) to help them release pent-up energy (and so as not to be a distraction if it is a group ritual). Some simple kid-friendly ideas include:
- if you call the Quarters, make spirit jars to call/use at the corners (instead of or in addition to candles). Fill a small jar (Mason/Ball) with mineral oil or diluted corn syrup and glitter for the kids to shake as they call each Quarter. Use white/silver for air, red/orange for fire, blue/turquoise for water, green/yellow/lime for earth and we made one for spirit with gold and purple glitter that sits in the center of the circle or on the altar (if there’s a fire in the center).
- if you walk the Circle, use a white rope to define the circle. Kids need/like visual reminders – letting them walk the circle with sage and salt can help cement for them where the Circle is at.
- make saged salt – my kids love putting herbs through the grinder. We made saged sea salt for ritual use a few months ago by grinding sea salt and sage together. The result is a powdery smooth salt with sage throughout. It’s wonderful for protection and cleansing.
- make moon-blessed water – full a container with filtered water and set it out at sunset. Leave it overnight to charge under the light of the full moon. Bring your jar in at moonset (or sunrise) and keep it for things like cleansing, blessings, filling your water element dish, watering your herb garden, etc. You can also put items into your water to charge – amulets, herbs, jewelry, etc.
- charge your statuary – bring your gods and goddesses out into the moonlight to cleanse and charge them. Kids can bring their own, or make their own from clay, salt dough or cold porcelain clay and charge them under the moon. Stones, gems, rocks – these things can also be charged under the moon.
- listen to and sing Anne Hill’s Full Moon song (from Circle Round and Sing)
- use the energy of the full moon to draw and send out healing energy to friends and family who are ailing
- make dream pillows
- incorporate the Moon Names into your theme for your ritual – March is the Chaste or Windy Moon, among others. Use feathers, fans, make a wind sock, wear white, talk about the Maiden aspect of the Goddess, etc.
- talk about things that you want to banish in the waning moon
- Visit PookaPages.com’s Moon Page and Raven Rin’s Pagan Nest: Including Children in Esbat Ritualsfor more ideas
If you have ideas to share, I’d love to read them. If you’re a pagan parent blogger, please feel free to link to your website and let me know – I’ll add you to my sidebar.
Brightest Full Moon Blessings,