Summer Solstice

By LaVonne (LaVonne) on June 20, 2011

We have reached the mid-summer of the seasonal wheel and here is some reasons for celebrating the occasion.

 

2011-06-20/LaVonne/3d78ec

Celebrating the Summer Solstice

Litha’s Day

History: 

Also known as Alban Hefin, Sun Blessing, Gathering Day, Feill-Sheathain, Whit Sunday, Whitsuntide, Vestalia, Thing-tide, St. John's Day

An Ancient Solar Celebration:

      Nearly every agricultural society has marked the high point of summer in some way, shape or form. On this date – usually around June 21 or 22 – the sun reaches its zenith in the sky. It is the longest day of the year, and the point at which the sun seems to just hang there without moving – in fact, the word “solstice” is from the Latin word solstitium, which literally translates to “sun stands still.” The travels of the sun were marked and recorded. Stone circles such as Stonehenge were oriented to highlight the rising of the sun on the day of the summer solstice.

http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/lithathesummersolstice/p/Litha_History.htm

      Solstice celebrations still center around the day of the astronomical summer solstice. Some choose to hold the rite on the 21st of June, even when this is not the longest day of the year, and some celebrate June 24, the day of the solstice in Roman times.

      Although Midsummer is originally a pagan holiday, in Christianity it is associated with the nativity of John the Baptist, which is observed on the same day, June 24, in the Catholic, Orthodox and some Protestant churches. It is six months before Christmas because Luke 1:26 and Luke 1.36 imply that John the Baptist was born six months earlier than Jesus, although the Bible does not say at which time of the year this happened.[1]

        In Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Quebec (Canada), the traditional Midsummer Day, June 24, is a public holiday. So it was formerly also in Sweden and Finland, but in these countries it was, in the 1950s, moved to the Saturday between June 19 and June 26.[

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midsummer

       There is not much information from the Celtic period and what is noted was from the writings of Christian monks. These writings coupled with folklore described that the Summer Solstice celebration was marked by hilltop bonfires and around these fires unmarried villagers danced, flirted, and sometimes stole off to engage in sexual pleasures; wheels set afire were rolled down the hill into the body of water.  These rituals balanced the connection between the sun God, The Earth Mother, and the Water Goddess.

Midsummer for Modern Pagans:

        Litha has often been a source of contention among modern Pagan and Wiccan groups, because there's always been a question about whether or not Midsummer was truly celebrated by the ancients. While there's scholarly evidence to indicate that it was indeed observed, there were suggestions made by Gerald Gardner, the founder of modern Wicca, that the solar festivals (the solstices and equinoxes) were actually added later and imported from the Middle East. Regardless of the origins, many modern Wiccans and Pagans do choose to celebrate Litha every year in June.

http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/lithathesummersolstice/p/Litha_History.htm

      Humanity has been celebrating Litha and the triumph of light since ancient times. On the Wheel of the Year Litha lays directly across from Yule, the shortest day of the calendar year, that cold and dark winter turning when days begin to lengthen and humanity looks wistfully toward warmth, sunlight and growing things. Although Litha and Yule are low holidays or lesser sabats in the ancient parlance, they are celebrated with more revel and merriment than any other day on the wheel except perhaps Samhain (my own favorite). The joyous rituals of Litha celebrate the verdant Earth in high summer, abundance, fertility, and all the riches of Nature in full bloom. This is a madcap time of strong magic and empowerment, traditionally the time for handfasting or weddings and for communication with the spirits of Nature. At Litha, the veils between the worlds are thin; the portals between "the fields we know" and the worlds beyond stand open. This is an excellent time for rites of divination.

http://www.twopagans.com/holiday/Litha.html

      The wedding month of June traces to our pagan roots. Courting traditionally began at the Winter Solstice, when days were not as filled with tasks, and there was time to focus on familial matters. Towards Spring, pregnancies became obvious. Marrying in May was considered unlucky, as that was the time of the Sacred Marriage. Thus, marriage became common after Beltane. Mead was traditionally drunk for the month following the bonding to guarantee fertility and the health of children conceived. The Full Moon in June is known as the Mead Moon, and we honor this today in our reference to a wedding holiday as a honeymoon.

      The Goddess at Midsummer is the Lover-Mother. She is pregnant and aware of the life within. This is a bittersweet time. The mature God is her husband and the father of her child. He is more her partner at this time than at any other. Emotionally and intellectually they are equals. She is enjoying this time of mundane connection. It is as though her tasks are done and she finds the time to relax and enjoy life. She who always leads and inspires can briefly lay her head upon the shoulder of her consort and let someone else take charge. Shadowing her joy is the knowledge of what will come. Her lover will pass over and she will evolve once again separate from him. The child within is her connection to this Earthly time and the wonders of physical existence. It is also her connection to Eternity. What agony she will suffer, though, to see all that she loves pass? Even as her wiser self knows the purpose.
     
Goddesses for Midsummer include Earth Mothers and Goddesses of beauty and mature sexuality, fire goddesses and goddesses of the animals and the hunt. They include: Aine, Ameaterasu, Anahita, Aphrodite, Artemis, Asherah, Brighid, Cardea, Coaltique, Corn Mother, Danu, Erzulie, Esmeralda, Freya, Flora, Gaia, Hera, Hestia, Iamanja, Inanna, Ishtar, Li, Litha, Mawu, Oraea, Oshun, Oya, Pele, Rhea, Rhiannon, Spider Woman, The Corn Mothers, Tiamat, Tonantzin, Vesta, Yellow Land Earth Queen, Yemaya.
     
The God has matured from the free and independent young man to the wise elder, the King who has learned of commitment and responsibility to his Queen, his family and his community. He is the counselor and the person others turn to for leadership and guidance. The Lord of the Greenwood is now the Sun King. He wears his crown with dignity and with some sorrow, for he remembers how at Beltane he envisioned the blood upon the corn. He knows his time is about to end. He reflects on a life of joy and abandon, of peace and contentment, of accomplishment and triumph. It is the time when he looks back on his life, rather than forward. The time remaining is short. With age and maturity comes the wisdom in him that accepts his life, is aware of the contributions he has made and acknowledges his fate. He looks to the end with peace now, fearless and aware of his role in the theater of life.
         The Gods of Midsummer are the Gods of the hunt, Gods of the Sun, Father Gods and the Gods of the Arts. They include: Apollo, Arthur, Balder, Balin, Cernunnos, Faunus, Gwynn ap Nudd, Hades, Heimdul, Helios, Herne, Hugh, Lugh, Pan, Perkunis, Phol, Ra, Taliesin, Woden.

The Summer Solstice celebration had particle purposes and symbols.

Here is an outline:

Tools, Symbols & Decorations

The sun, oak, birch & fir branches, sun flowers, lilies, red/maize/yellow or gold flower, love amulets, seashells, summer fruits & flowers, feather/flower door wreath, sun wheel, fire, circles of stone, sun dials and swords/blades, bird feathers, Witches' ladder.

Colors

Blue, green, gold, yellow and red.

Customs

Bonfires, processions, all night vigil, singing, feasting, celebrating with others, cutting divining rods, dowsing rods & wands, herb gathering, handfastings, weddings, Druidic gathering of mistletoe in oak groves, need fires, leaping between two fires, mistletoe (without berries, use as a protection amulet), women walking naked through gardens to ensure continued fertility, enjoying the seasonal fruits & vegetables, honor the Mother's fullness, richness and abundance, put garlands of St. John’s Wort placed over doors/ windows & a sprig in the car for protection.

Goddesses 

Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Venus, Aphrodite, Yemaya, Astarte, Freya, Hathor, Ishtar, all Goddesses of love, passion, beauty and the Sea, and Pregnant, lusty Goddesses, Green Forest Mother; Great One of the Stars, Goddess of the Wells

Gods

Father Sun/Sky, Oak King, Holly King, Arthur, and Gods at peak power and strength.

Animals/Mythical Beings

Wren, robin, horses, cattle, satyrs, faeries, firebird, dragon, thunderbird

Gemstones 

Lapis lazuli, diamond, tiger’s eye, amber, carnelian, cat’s eye, citrine, clear quartz crystal, copper, emerald, jade, garnet, peridot, ruby, sulfur, yellow topaz. 

Herbs 

Anise, mugwort, chamomile, rose, wild rose, oak blossoms, lily, cinquefoil, lavender, fennel, elder, mistletoe, hemp, thyme, larkspur, nettle, wisteria, vervain ( verbena), St. John’s wort, heartsease, rue, fern, wormwood, pine, heather, yarrow, oak & holly trees.  Herbs collected for this day are said to be extremely powerful.

Incense/Oil

Heliotrope, saffron, orange, frankincense & myrrh, wisteria, cinnamon, mint, rose, lemon, lavender, sandalwood, pine

Flowers

Red flowers, carnations (red), honeysuckle, iris, lily, marigolds, nasturtiums, rose, sunflowers, trefoil, wisteria, witches’ broom.

Trees

The most powerful beings the oak, ivy and mistletoe, but also including evergreen and fruit-bearing trees - fir, holly, mistletoe, pine, hawthorne, maple, oak, peach, palm, rowan. 

Creatures

The cardinal, dove, lizard, magpie, and parrot.

Rituals/Magicks

Nature spirit/fey communion, planet healing, divination, love & protection magicks. The battle between Oak King, God of the waxing year & Holly King, God of the waning year (can be a ritual play), or act out scenes from the Bard’s (an incarnation of Merlin) "A Midsummer Night’s Dream", rededication of faith, rites of inspiration.

Foods

Honey, fresh vegetables, lemons, oranges, summer fruits, summer squash,
pumpernickel bread, ale, carrot drinks, mead.

Litha / Midsummer Recipes
Gathered and Contributed by StormWing

The following recipes are gathered from several various sources. Not only have I listed food recipes, but you will also find two different ones for mead, and a couple for incense and one for potpourri. All are appropriate for the Litha turn in the Wheel of the Year. The source and author of each recipe is noted on each.

Vegetable Rosti (for Midsummer Supper - British)

Recipe by Jan Brodie

1 lb. Potatoes
1 lb. Mixed Carrots and Parsnips
4 Spring Onions (chopped)
3 Tbs. Snipped Chives
1 oz. Butter
2 Tbs. Oil

Boil the root vegetables for about ten minutes, drain and cool. Grate the vegetables, season and add chives and spring onions. Grease a heavy frying pan or skillet with the butter and pour in half the oil. Add the mixture to the hot pan, pressing down gently. Turn down the heat and cook gently for about ten minutes. Turn over by placing a plate over the pan and then tipping the Rosti onto the plate, slide the Rosti back into the pan to cook the other side. Serve hot with green salad.

(The above recipe for "Vegetable Rosti (for Midsummer Supper - British") is quoted directly from Jan Brodie's book "Earth Dance: A Year of Pagan Rituals", page 98, Capall Bann Publishing, 1995


Summer Pudding
Recipe by Jan Brodie

1 lb. Mixed Red Soft Fruits
4 oz. Sugar
Enough White Bread to line a Pudding Basin
Whipped Cream for serving

Trim the crusts off the bread and line the pudding basin with it, cutting a circle for the base. Ensure that the basin is lined without any gaps.

Cook the fruits and sugar, without adding extra water, for a few minutes until the juices run. Drain the fruits and retain the juices.

Fill the lined bowl with fruit and place a circle of bread on top, enclosing the fruit. Then put a plate on top held down with a weight on top. Place in fridge overnight. When ready to serve, turn out onto a plate and pour the reserved juices over the top. Serve with whipped cream.

(The above recipe for "Summer Pudding" is quoted directly from Jan Brodie's book "Earth Dance: A Year of Pagan Rituals", page 98-99, Capall Bann Publishing, 1995)

Cauldron Cookies
Recipe by Gerina Dunwich

3/4 cup Softened Butter
2 cups Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
2 teaspoons Grated Lemon Rind
2 cups Flour
1 cup Finely Chopped Pecans


Cream the butter in a large cast-iron cauldron (or mixing bowl). Gradually add the brown sugar, beating well. Add the eggs, lemon juice, and rind, and then beat by hand or with an electric mixer until the mixture is well blended. The next step is to stir in the flour and pecans.

Cover the cauldron with a lid, aluminum foil, or plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

When ready, shape the dough into one-inch balls and place them about three inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake in a 375-degree preheated oven for approximately eight minutes. Remove from the oven and place on wire racks until completely cool.

This recipe yields about 36 cookies which can be served at any of the eight Sabbats, as well as at Esbats and all other Witchy get-togethers.

(The above recipe for "Cauldron Cookies" is quoted directly from Gerina Dunwich's book "The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch's Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions and Recipes", page 167, A Citadel Press Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1994/1995)

Fruit Salad with Love Spell
Adapted from Recipe by Morgana of Hawaii

Make a salad of the below-listed ingredients, concentrating on the love you wish to share. Chant the Spell Incantation as you chop and slice. The “fruit of pine” mentioned in the incantation can be either pine nuts or pineapple.

Fruit Salad Ingredients:

1 cup Mango
1/2 cup Pine Nuts (optional)
1 cup Pineapple, to be cut into bite-size chunks
1 cup Apple, to be cut into bite-size chunks
1 cup Peaches, to be cut into bite-size chunks
2 or 3 Bananas, to be sliced (depending on personal preference)
1 small jar Red Cherries
1/2 cup Coconut (if desired)

2-1/2 gallons Water (preferably fresh Rainwater blessed by a Wiccan Priestess or Priest)


Spell Incantation:

"Fruit of mango, fruit of pine,
Let the one I love be mine.
Fruit of apple, fruit of peach,
Bring him (her) close within my reach.
Fruit of banana, fruit of cherry,
Let his (her) love for me not vary.
As I work my magick spell,
Warmly in his (her) heart I dwell.
I now invoke the Law of Three:
This is my will, so mote it be!"

Mingle the fruits and place your hands on either side of the bowl, while visualizing you and your loved one building a life together. Then serve the salad.

(The above recipe for "Fruit Salad with Love Spell" is adapted from Morgana of Hawaii's recipe in Scott Cunningham's book "The Magic in Food: Legends, Lore & Spells", page 243, Llewellyn Publications, 1990.)

Midsummer Ritual Mead
Recipe by Gerina Dunwich

1 cup Meadowsweet Herb
1 cup Woodruff Sprigs
1 cup Heather Flowers
3 Cloves
1 cup Honey
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Barley Malt
1 oz. Brewer's Yeast

 

Pour the water into a large cauldron or kettle. Bring to a boil and add the meadowsweet herb, woodruff sprigs, heather flowers, and cloves. Boil for one hour and then add the honey, brown sugar, and barley malt. Stir thirteen times in a clockwise direction and then remove from heat.


Strain through a cheesecloth and allow the mead to cool to room temperature. Stir in the brewer's yeast. Cover with a clean towel and let it stand for one day and one night. Strain again, bottle, and then store in a cool place until ready to serve.

Midsummer Ritual Mead is an ideal drink to serve at Summer Solstice Sabbats, as well as during all Cakes and Ale Ceremonies and Esbats.

(The above recipe for "Midsummer Ritual Mead" is quoted directly from Gerina Dunwich's book "The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch's Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions and Recipes", page 172, A Citadel Press Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1994/1995)

Mead
Recipe by Rosemarie Taylor-Perry

Ingredients for five gallons of dry mead:

13-1/2 pounds light honey
1/4 TSP Powdered yeast extract
1/2 ounce champagne yeast
1/2 ounce sherry yeast

This is a terrific mead that only takes about five months to ferment out. If you'd like it sweeter, add an ounce of potassium sorbate and another pound or so of honey boiled in a cup of water to the batch after it's completely done and you're ready to bottle it. Keep the fermenter tightly covered!

Combine the honey with 1 gallon of water. Boil for 15 minutes and skim off the foam. Add the honey-water to a sanitized fermenter and then add cold water to make five gallons. Add the yeast and yeast extract when the honey-water has cooled below 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Try to keep it at a temperature between 69 and 80 degrees! Stir daily.

Rack the mead into a secondary fermenter when the liquid clears, fill the fermenter to the top with fresh water, and attach an airlock. As soon as the liquid becomes crystal clear and the last of the lees have settled, stabilize and bottle it in dark bottles. Grolsch beer bottles with pressure caps work wonderfully. Be sure to sterilize them first.

Mead, like all wine, should be stored sideways (bottles laid down), for storage.

(The above recipe for “Mead" is quoted directly from an article entitled “Sweetest and Most Fierce One: The Art of the Wine God” by Rosemarie Taylor-Perry. The article mentioned is printed in “Circle Network News” - issue #64 - “Kitchen Witchery” - Summer 1997, pages 16 & 17.)

Summer Solstice Ritual Potpourri
Recipe by Gerina Dunwich

45 drops Lemon or Lavender Oil
1 cup Oak Moss
2 cups Dried Lavender
2 cups Dried Wisteria
2 cups Dried Verbena

 

Mix the lemon or lavender oil with the oak moss, and then add the remaining ingredients. Stir the potpourri well and store in a tightly covered ceramic or glass container.


(The above recipe for "Summer Solstice Ritual Potpourri" is quoted directly from Gerina Dunwich's book "The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch's Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions and Recipes", page 162, A Citadel Press Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1994/1995)

Midsummer Incense #1:
Recipe by Scott Cunningham


2 parts Sandalwood
1 part Mugwort
1 part Chamomile
1 part Gardenia Petals
a few drops Rose Oil
a few drops Lavender Oil
a few drops Yarrow Oil

 

You burn the incense at Wiccan rituals, at the Summer Solstice (circa June 21st) or at that time to attune with the seasons and the Sun.


Midsummer Incense #2:
Recipe by Scott Cunningham


3 parts Frankincense

2 parts Benzoin
1 part Dragon's Blood
1 part Thyme
1 part Rosemary
1 pinch Vervain
a few drops Red Wine

 

(Both of the above recipes for "Midsummer Incense #1 and #2" are quoted directly from Scott Cunningham's book "The Complete Book of Incenses, Oils &Brews", page 80, Llewellyn Publications, 1989/1992.)


May the Lord and Lady bless you all with lots of love, prosperity, health, and well-being!
Blessed Be One and All,
StormWing

http://www.cauldrons-broomsticks.net/2000Lit1.htm

And now it is Midsummer! May you cherish the special moments of your life, honoring them as Divine gifts. May the love you have for family and community be paramount today, and may you see in the eyes of your mates, children, family and friends that spark of eternity that is a part of each of us.

Celebrate!

This time of celebration has always held a special time for me as I am a Summer Solstice Baby having been born on June 21 at 2:29 a.m. 1945.

 LaVonne

Related articles:
history, mid summer, recipes, Summer Solstice

About LaVonne
I am still learning who LaVonne/Dorothy is.

Statistically I am a 65 y/young mother of 3, grandmother of 9, and great-grandmother of 3. I am a High Priestess and founder of the College of the Boundless Truth, am an Ordained Minister and perform Handfastings, marriages during the Spring and Summer season. I am enjoying my Crone years.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Wonderful Article LaVonne stormyla Jun 21, 2011 3:05 PM 5
Wonderful article! poisondartfrog Jun 21, 2011 8:07 AM 0
Brilliant! NEILMUIR1 Jun 20, 2011 8:00 PM 1

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