Litha, known as Summer Solstice, occurs between June 19th to 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere and around December 19th to 22nd in the Southern Hemisphere. This time throughout history has been a reason for celebration, receiving blessings and honoring the divine.
What is the meaning of Litha?
Litha or the Summer Solstice marks the time of the year when the sun is at its peak power, allowing it to grace the season forward with the energy of abundance. This is a time of fertility, fulfilment and expansiveness.
If you’re wondering where the word Litha comes from, it’s hard to tell! The meaning and history of the name Litha in paganism is obscure. Litha may be related to līþe (“mild”) probably cognate with Serbo-Croatian Polish lato, “summer, year”).
Litha is also known as the Midsummer, or the halfway point in the sunny season. Now half of the yearly cycle is completed, bringing the longest day of the year as well as the shortest night. This day is considered to be special for many reasons. The sun has given its energy to the earth to bring forward crops, and grow the previously planted seeds. It fills everything with life.
Litha Traditions & Celebrations
Litha is often observed by those who follow the Wheel of the Year and celebrated differently by many people, including Wiccans and other Neopagans and Witches. There are many rituals that continue now centered around celebrating during this time.
Add this printable page to your Book of Shadows. We’ve prepared two versions, to include those who live below the Equator.
Not everyone experiences the same natural cycles. Keep in mind that the Wheel of the Year is an Eurocentric construction and you are free to modify or adapt it to your location and personal preferences.
The Summer Solstice counteracts the time of Yule. Here in the tradition, it is acknowledged that now that the Sun has reached its peak, it will wane, be followed by shorter days to eventually the dark. This acknowledgement of the cycle of light and dark is a reminder of the blessings to be celebrated and to be grateful for.
For starters, many believe this is the day when faerie folk pass into the human world to offer blessings, many people even keep flower wreaths at their door to welcome this goodwill. Shakespeare also refers to the magic of this special day in his play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, presenting its powerful symbolism.
This time in Celtic tradition is explained as when the reign of the Oak King surrendered to his twin brother the Holly King. This shifting of power between them represents the turning of the wheel of the year. The Celtic name for Oak is ‘Duir” which means “doorway” and that is why often, you will see oak trees decorated. They are there to remind people that they are entering the doorway to the second part of the waning year.
In the early history of Litha, people would set large wheels of hay and wood on fire to roll them downhill into rivers or streams. That was an ode to the balance of the elements of nature, such as fire and water. They would celebrate by setting a huge bonfire to mirror the peaking, powerful sun.
In many parts of the world, the bonfire is set to burn through the shortest night of the year. The tradition started by using the burnt coal and herbs from this sacred fire to bless the homes and offer protection to all the participants of the ceremony.
Honey is drunk to honor Mother Earth and her ever sustaining nature. This honey is known to add life and blessing to the body, just like the sun that gives life to harvesting earth. Time is spent outdoors, in groups to feast in merriment and sing together.
Many Witches harvest herbs during this sacred day for later use, especially for magical and medicinal purposes, such as St. John’s Wort. This is why this day is also known as “Gathering Day” in Wales.
To celebrate Litha, soak up some sun during an outdoor meal. Fruits and vegetables are enjoyed as gratefulness is given for all life grown from the earth. This appreciation then also lends itself to the Litha ritual of prayer for the manifestation of the upcoming harvest. Even children are encouraged to explore this day when their own special playful rituals, help them to appreciate life around them.
The colors of summer, blue, golden, yellow and red, are used everywhere to mirror this joy for Litha. The color of summer flowers is worn. Candles used around this time are also the color of the sun. It is in Litha tradition to decorate altars with these same summer flowers and craft wreaths.
Symbols of Litha ☀️
Decorate your altar with these symbols: Sun wheel, Fire, Sunflowers, Roses, Daisies, Crosses, Torches, Sacred Spirals, Triangles as symbol of fire, the Tarot card “The Sun”, the Sword of the sun god Ra, lemons, seasonal fruits and flowers.
Cast a Litha Spell
Moreover, one more way to honor Litha is to do powerful magic. Rituals are performed to take full advantage of the energy present in the day. Spells are cast singularly and also in groups. Tools and herbs are also laid out in the sun to charge and increase their power. Wands are created. Different prayers and hymns are sung. Even the night of Litha is used traditionally for divination.
Litha is considered to be such a special time that many Wiccans have their handfasting ceremonies during this time. In a handfasting, two partners are symbolically tied when they clasp their hands together. Often, this is in front of their coven. This day then becomes an event commemorating a powerful union under the influence of Litha.
See also: Litha Divination with Playing Cards
The Sun as Symbol of Litha
Interestingly, Wiccans are not the only ones who celebrate Litha or are unique to celebrating the sun. Since ancient times, Egyptians have recognized the importance of the Sun god Ra, who was the ruler of the heavens and the earth.
Read also: Solar Magick ☀️
It is important to note though Litha may fall at a slightly different time due to the difference in the location on the calendar, all these groups recognize the importance of this time.
It should be no surprise then that this day, where the sun is the longest in the sky, is meant for the grand and magical influence that the Litha tradition acknowledges and celebrates. Litha brings forward healing, protection, and revitalization. It inspires life with its celebration.