Celebrating Litha by Renee Rendall
• Jun 16th 2023 • by GLASGLOW GIRLS CLUB • 0 Comments
As we’ve all been soaking up as much sun as we can find this June, you’ve no doubt noticed the daylight hours seeming to stretch on well into the night. That’s because Litha is right around the corner. Also known as Midsummer’s Eve, this turn in the pagan wheel of the year marks the summer solstice. As the longest day of the year, our life giving sun is at the height of its power.
I’m Renee, and I’m the creator of Awesome on 20 Kitchen Magick and the co-host of The Coven of Awesomeness Podcast. I also offer tarot readings and spiritual coaching through Sagittarian Tarot & Coaching. I’ve been studying witchcraft since 2019, and I’m thrilled to share a little bit more magic with all of you.
The wheel of the year invites us to mark the changing of the seasons and the shifts in the natural world. The sun and its cycles were deeply significant to our ancient ancestors because they survived off the land and what nature provided. All life depends on energy from the sun, so the longest day of sunlight definitely deserves a celebration.The plants and animals we share the Earth with are certainly making the most of it, so we should, too.
Even if you know nothing about modern pagans and witches, you’ve certainly heard legends of Midsummer magic. From folktales to Shakespeare, people have felt the exciting energy that sparkles all around us in these long summer days. And when there’s so much abundance and ease to be had, we should all be taking a moment to give thanks. The fear of freezing or running out of food felt like a distant memory to our ancestors, and something within us still knows this is a time to thrive.
Litha is often marked on June 21st, but like with most ancient festivals that we are trying to recreate, there’s a lot of uncertainty and flexibility around when you can honor this festival. In 2023, the summer solstice does occur on June 21st, at 3:57 pm, to be exact. But if you’re busy, then, don’t worry. Mark the moment when it’s convenient to you. The timing is incidental. What really matters is your intention to give thanks to the sun.So celebrate any time around that date. Calendars are just made up anyway.
I’ll be celebrating Litha on Saturday the 24th with a group Litha Confidence Ritual at The Loft in Cambuslang, if you’d like to join.
What are the origins of Litha?
Like all neo-pagan festivals, Litha is a relatively modern creation with roots in the deep past. The name was used by Wiccans and other modern pagans and witches, but it derives from the ancient Germanic calendar. Litha was the name of the summer tide, which was a 60 day period, sort of like a double month. You’ve heard of Yuletide. This is the summer equivalent.
The summer solstice is honored around the world and still maintains significance in the Christian calendar as St John’s Eve. In Russian tradition, it’s known as Ivan Kupalo, and in Denmark, it’s been celebrated since the time of the Vikings. John the Baptist has also been incorporated into African diaspora religions and practices like Haitian Voudon and Voodoo in Louisiana. In North Africa, Midsummer festivals are now tied to Fatima, the prophet’s daughter.
The sun is at the height of its power, but it is also at this moment that it begins to slowly wane in a never ending cycle. The wheel of the year reminds us that change is the only constant in life. The good moments may not last forever, but neither will the hard times.
How to Celebrate Litha
The summer solstice also coincides with the beginning of Cancer season, where the sun enters this sign in the Zodiac wheel. Cancer is a water sign and ruled by the moon, making Litha both a fire and water festival. Bonfires and ritual bathing were both common practices at this time of year. In modern times, this sounds to me like the perfect time for a bit of wild swimming and a bonfire on the beach. Bring a bit of the sun’s energy to you by creating a fire, and balance it with a cleansing plunge into natural waters.
If that all sounds a bit extravagant, you could just take an extra long bath or shower, imagining all the stress and strain from the year so far washing away. Then light a candle with the intention of renewal and gratitude for this time of abundance.It doesn’t have to be complicated.
One of the most common practices on Litha is the gathering of herbs and botanicals. Magical and medicinal herbs are said to be at their most potent at Midsummer, so any plants you gather on this day are said to be extra potent. Old, dusty books of magic might tell you that you need to gather the herbs at midnight with a silver dagger and be completely nude. If that sounds really awesome to you, then go for it, but it’s certainly not required.
Today we can take things a little less seriously. Consider going for a walk in nature and bringing along a basket and some scissors or garden shears to forage for beautiful or useful plants and flowers. You can weave them into a wreath or flower crown, use them to decorate your home, or add them to charm bags or spell jars.
If you’re new to gathering plants, consider downloading a plant identifying app on your phone to learn more about your local fauna. And please forage responsibly. Only take what you need, and never take more than 10% of a plant. So if a plant has 10 flowers on it, you should only take 1. Some people like to speak to the plant to ask its permission or say thank you. You could also leave an offering of gratitude to the plant by giving it some water.
And please, never ever ingest a plant if you’re not 100% sure you know what it is and it’s safe to eat.
Anything you can do to get yourself outside and show gratitude for the life the sun has created is wonderful. Find something that feels really good to you. Celebrating the natural world should never feel like a chore.
For more ideas on how to celebrate Litha, check out 3 Easy Midsummer & Litha Rituals or listen to the Litha episode of The Coven of Awesomeness Podcast. Or join me for an online workshop to learn more about Herbs in Witchcraft on the 25th of June at 7 pm.
Create a Litha Feast
One of the best ways to celebrate any holiday is with a bunch of delicious food. As a kitchen witch, I’m always up for a sabbat feast, and Litha definitely deserves one. There’s so much fresh food available right now, it’s practically falling on our heads or tangling up our feet. The plants are definitely taking advantage of the long hours of daylight, so we should also make the most of this season of plenty.
Because herbs are so important at this time of year, adding lots of fresh herbs to your food is a great idea. Cooking outside to avoid heating up your home is also a great idea. Consider these Grilled Chicken Skewers with Chili Mint Yogurt, then follow it up with Mint Chocolate Mousse for abundance energy. And if you really want to stick with the mint theme, a pitcher of Mint Limeade would be so refreshing. Add a bit of gin for the grown ups to make it extra awesome.
If you’re looking for even more awesome summer recipes ideas, I’ve gathered together a list of 100 delicious and easy recipes to celebrate Litha. Go wild.
I hope you’re feeling inspired to celebrate the summer and give thanks for the Sun. With all our modern technology and our insanely busy lives, it’s so easy to forget that we are a part of the natural world. If we aren’t intentional about connecting with the Earth, it becomes that much easier to forget that it needs our care and respect. So no matter who you are or where you come from, take a moment to simply say thank you to the sun. We literally can’t survive without it.
Happy Litha, friends. Be sure to connect with me on Instagram if you have any questions or just want to share your moments of light. May your Summer be filled with joy and magic.