Summer Solstice is just around the corner! The Summer Solstice (Or Litha) is the time when the sun is at it’s zenith. We look forward to the longest day of the year. We are beginning to see some of our crops are now bearing fruit. The inner seeds we have been tending to are hopefully growing and now is the opportunity to make a few final adjustments to help us achieve our goals. If you’re like me and have a real garden (container gardens count!) you can easily see this reflected in the natural world. This is a time when we can move around the plants that haven’t done as well as they should and give them a chance to grow healthy and lush before the harvest time draws near.
There are many ways to celebrate the Summer Solstice and a myriad of activities that can help you connect to this cycle. Dedications are appropriate at this Sabbat. Many who are new to the craft can perform a self-initiation or dedication ritual for solitary practitioners. Many covens will also do dedications at this time. If you have been practicing the craft on your own or with a coven for awhile you can still participate in the tradition of dedication and use this time to re-affirm your beliefs and faith. In years past this form of dedication (or re-dedication) has helped put me back on my path when I have wandered off it. It gives you an opportunity to reflect on where you started, where you wanted to go and where you really are. Often our goals when we start our Pagan paths change completely as we gain experience. So it is good to write down your new goals and keep those in mind when you do your ritual.
Since the Summer Solstice is a fire celebration, you can add fire symbolism to your rituals as well as fire honouring rituals as well. You can celebrate the sun at it’s highest and decorate your home and altar with items that represent the solar aspect of this day. There are many ways to symbolize fire. The most obvious is to build a real fire. This can be a bonfire (always check with local laws before lighting an outdoor fire and use common sense for fire safety), you can have a fire in your fireplace, you can light a fire in your cauldron. If you can’t do any of these things, you can simply light a yellow, orange or gold coloured candle. You can often find clay suns at craft stores that you can paint or you can craft your own out of a medium of your choosing. Get creative. You can also grow plants that have solar correspondences. Bamboo is the first that comes to mind. I have bamboo in my kitchen to brighten it up and add that solar element. You can also use fresh cut flowers that have either a solar correspondence or in a solar colour such as orange and yellow. White is good as well as it can represent any colour.
When we were kids we would buy carnations and out them in a glass with food dye and water and leave them overnight. In the morning you could see the dye coming into the carnation. I think a yellow or orange tinged carnation would be beautiful to represent the sun in your home and on your altar.
While many focus solely on the fire/solar element of this day, it is important to remember the relationship with water on the Summer Solstice. Water can be seen as a balance to fire. Water is essential in growing our food as well as sustaining our lives. The Celts believed that you must honour water, wells and sacred springs on the Summer Solstice. Failure to do so is sure to bring disaster to the individual and potentially their families and loved ones. Having a summer with adequate rainfall is important to grow our crops and help reduce forest fires. While the sun represents the male aspect for many, water represents the female aspect of the divine, so including water provides a balance there as well. Representing water for rituals and home decoration can be a cauldron filled with water, blue candles, a glass bowl of water, blue flowers, or a fountain. You can find lunar symbols as well. A simple ritual to honour water is to pour yourself a glass of the purest water you can find, close your eyes and connect to the element of water. See yourself as being part of the water all around the earth. See how we are all connected by water. A drop from a far away ocean can be become rain. That rain cloud can move it’s way right to your door and rain on you. You now have a connection to a place you many never have been to. Once you feel connected, think about how water sustains your life and have gratitude for that sustenance. When you feel ready, drink some of the water. Feel it cool in your mouth and throat. Feel it quenching your thirst. Say a few words of gratitude.
If we see the sun (fire) as having a male or projective correspondence, then we can see the moon (water) being female and receptive. These two compliment each other and provide balance.
On your Summer Solstice altar it is important to have representation of both fire and water and acknowledging that connection. Of course our celebrations are connected to all of the elements but I won’t go into depth on that here since I am trying to keep things simple and straight forward.
Another way to celebrate the season is to eat the fresh fruits and vegetables that have just come in to season in your area. If you’re like me and live in a cooler climate there is not that much ready yet, but I can find some things like tomatoes. As you eat, be grateful for what you have. Connect with the food, where it came from and honour all of the hands that brought it to your table. Share with a friend or loved one. If you have some early berries in your yard why not bring a small basket of them to your neighbour?
These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. It is so important to make your rituals your own. Make sure that your activities reflect how you feel inside about deity and the cycles of nature. Just because someone said it’s “traditional” does not mean you HAVE to do it. Or that bad things will happen if you don’t. Each of us follows a unique path that is all our own and we connect with Spirit in our own ways. So be true to yourself and you will never go wrong.
Have a safe and happy Litha everyone!