Litha – A Midsummer Night Celebration of the Summer Solstice

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Everything we do revolves around nature; it’s why so many of the ancient practices were nature-based.  Our ancestors realized that their relationship with nature was critical for survival.  Everything they made, everything they used, their food and shelter, and spiritual needs all originated from the natural world.  Of the natural symbols, the sun was one  of the most powerful, and it was celebrated throughout the year,  Over the many centuries of human civilization, the summer solstice has inspired countless numbers of ceremonies, rituals, and festivals to celebrate the sun and all that it provides.  This holiday is known as Litha and can be linked to many of the ancient civilizations across the ancient world.

Modern pagans celebrate Litha on June 21st; marking the day as the official start of summer in the northern hemisphere.  In 2018, we can expect 15 hours, 25 minutes and 20 seconds of daylight.  The official time of the event is 4:07 AM.  This is an outdoor ritual and should be started when the sun is still visible in the sky, preferably right before dusk.  To follow this exactly as written, someone will need to wake up at sunrise and light the Sun Candle for a few minutes – it’s a symbolic act to infuse it with the first rays of the solstice sun – if you can’t coordinate an early riser, then leave the candle outside in a place where the early morning rays can bathe it in new light.  Also ask everyone to bring some fresh herbs or flowers with them; what ever calls them.

What items you’ll need to collect for this ritual (as written)

Four quarter candles – yellow (east), red (south), green (north), blue (west)
Yellow Altar Cloth
Sachet of Summertime Herbs
Goddess Candle (White)
God Candle (Tall Gold candle)
Midsummer flowers and herbs – heaped in droves on the altar
Yellow taper candle – Sun Candle
Taper candles for each person
Basket full of herbs and flowers – fresh preferred, but dried will work

Any portion of the ritual that is bracketed by <> symbols should be understood as instructional notes and not to be spoken aloud.

The Grand Entrance

<This ceremony is focused on light and energy and your bonfire should be lit prior to starting this event – assemble everyone in an area removed from your circle/bonfire area so they can walk in a procession to the circle when prompted to – give each participant an unlit taper candle – have one person act as a “gatekeeper” who will be holding the sun candle>

<the gatekeeper lights the sun candle and speaks aloud>

The Sun Candle represents the beginning of this day, when the first rays of the summer solstice blessed the land.

<each person approaches the gatekeeper in silence and lig(hts their candle from the sun candle and then proceeds to the circle area, facing the AWAY from the fire (they represent rays of the sun) – the gatekeeper should ensure the sun candle remains lit and takes it to the alter for use later>

<ritual leader speaks>

Step to the edges of the circle – symbolizing the rays of the great sun reaching out to all corners of our world

<once they reach the edge and stop – speak>

Return to source and the light, citizens of humanity.  Step forward.

The Ritual

Tonight we gather together not as individuals, but as a community – as citizens of humanity – join me as we cast our sacred circle – turn your attention to the east…

East

Great Guardians of the East, Emissaries of Spring, the direction from which the sun rises and energies are renewed – where the hawk and the owl and the hummingbird venture forth to offer their protection – We call upon your powers of security, your powers of healing, and your eternal love – Stand with us tonight; carry our words so they may fly with the spirit and be heard on the prevailing winds <light yellow candle>

South

Great Guardians of the South, Representatives of the Summer, the direction from which great abundance is granted – where the eagle and the wolf stand united to safeguard those who walk in the light – We call upon your powers of passion, your blessings of everlasting joy, and your heartfelt peace – Engage this gathering on this sacred night; remind all who stand together that when we walk as one, we shall never be afraid <light red candle>

West

Great Guardians of the West, Ambassadors of Autumn, the direction from which the sun sets and the harvest comes to its close each year – where the snake reminds us to shed our unwanted skin and the beaver teaches us to prepare for the coming winter – We summon your presence to lead us to sanctuary, to surround us with an impenetrable defensive veil, and to vanquish negativity from this space – Embrace this assembly and defend us from the darkness <light blue candle>

North

Great Guardians of the North, Dignitaries of Winter, the direction where adversity and struggle linger – where the moose reminds us to be patient, where the bear reminds us to show proper respect, and the buffalo gives us the will to survive any hardship – We seek your council to guide us to spiritual shelter and to hone our senses to hear the whispering of the universe – Join this delegation of kindred souls; reinforcing our bonds of unity and fellowship <light green candle>

Great Goddess, Blessed Lady of the Moon and Stars, Mother, Maiden, and Crone; Giver of Life and Understanding – We know you by many names, we see your magick in the eyes of our children, we hear your words calling upon the winds, and we cherish the gifts you heap upon us.  We humbly ask for your blessings this night; for your guidance and for your comforting presence in our circle. So Mote it Be! <light Goddess candle>

Great God of the Sun, bringer of light, giver of warmth, and source of eternal comfort; we gather here, on this night, to celebrate your strength at this zenith of your power! Fill us with your eternal brightness and endless energy. Wrap us in your protective mantle.  For today and all days that come after.  We humbly ask for your blessing on this Midsummer Night! <light God candle>

Meditation to the Sun

Today is about the sun; the light; and the bounty of all things growing.  It’s also a day of inner power and brightness should you choose to allow it; it’s a time to look inside yourselves and see what lies within – If you truly look, without fear or judgement, you’ll see the light you already possess plus you’ll see the darkness which lingers in the corners; waiting for the opportunity to usurp and command your inner light.  Know that today, the sun is more powerful than any other day of the year.  Use it’s power to supercharge your inner light and keep the darkness at bay.  <have everyone face the sun>

We’ll begin with a period of meditation – look skyward and allow yourself to relax completely and confidently – allow the power of the sun god to surround and permeate your very core…  <try to create a relaxed space/environment so that participants can really engage in the meditation – for how long this lasts is up to the ritual leader>

<With everyone relaxed, energized, and in tune, this is a perfect time to share those energies and power your collective – suggest that you use this time to engage in dance, music, singing, and contact with one another – joining hands, locking arms, or some other human to human connection to “share” that energized feeling – this step is to get the group moving in harmony around the fire – a literal sharing of energies>

Introduction and Herb Blessing

Greetings to all who have chosen to convene here on this Summer Solstice; the time we call Midsummer, Gathering Day, and Litha.  We gather tonight to celebrate both the longest day of the year and the shortest night.  It is the time when the Goddess is pregnant with child; her belly full, glowing, and ripe.  It is also the time when the Sun God is at his zenith of power.  The earth is awash with fertility and abundance, planting has been completed and the fruits of our labors are starting to yield sustenance.  And yet, as this day comes to close, we know that we’ll begin the slow descent into the darker half of the year – but that will have to wait until tomorrow, for during this night, we are here to celebrate the official beginning of summer!

In ancient times, the Summer Solstice was a festival of great importance and the devout would light balefires to honor the fullness of the sun and stay up all night ending them.   Blazing torches were carried throughout the fields and stables to bless the animals and the growing crops.  People would dance around the fires and jump across them. Coals from the bonfires were often scattered throughout the fields the next day to further strengthen the crops.  Holy wells and other sacred places were also blessed with fires in close proximity.  At Litha, many fresh herbs were at their fullest potency and they were gathered and burnt in the sacred fires to release the peace and blessings of the sun god into the surrounding air.

Tonight we honor that ancient tradition of sweetening the night air with our contribution of herbs.  <hold up starter herb/flower basket> This basket holds a collection of plant energies; energies of the earth fed by the sun.  Each of you brings energy from another source to mingle and merge with our energy.  Infuse your herbs or flowers with your personal energy as a final touch and add them reverently to the basket.

<Pass the basket from person to person so they can add their herbs>

<take the filled basket and walk the perimeter of the gathering, hold it high above your head and ask everyone to repeat after you>

oh sacred herbs,
oh sacred flowers,
share your energies,
share your powers,
fill these skies,
the wind to ride,
tonight we share,
our simple fare,
sun god blessings,
to one and all

<retrieve the Sun God candle from the altar and light the basket and then drop it in the center of the bonfire>

Bathe yourselves in the smoke of the burning herbs <wave smoke towards self like smudge>

May you always carry the blessings of the Sun God within your heart from this point forward.

Jumping the Bonfire

The ancients believed that jumping or dancing around the bonfire on Midsummer would bring good luck in the coming year.  It was customary for people to jump very high through and across the fires, and furthermore, the height reached by the strongest jumper, would be the height of that year’s harvest.

<allow everyone time to jump and interact as necessary>

Before we close, I’d like to share a prayer to the Sun God

The sun is high above us
shining down upon the land and sea,
making things grow and bloom.
Great and powerful sun,
we honor you this day
and thank you for your gifts.
You are the light over the crops,
the heat that warms the earth,
the hope that springs eternal,
the bringer of life.
We welcome you, and we honor you this day,
celebrating your light,
as we begin our journey once more
into the darkness.

Closing the Litha Circle

North

Great Spirits of the North – hold fast with your freezing winds until our time of reaping has passed – remembering that we shall once again hold circle in your domain of darkness and ice – leave us in peace and tranquility

West

Great Spirits of the West – with reverence we bid you safe journey to return to the land of the setting sun – set your banquet table for the Sun God and keep him in good company – leave us in peace and tranquility

South

Great Spirits of the South – abundance of heat, flame, and forge are never forgotten and always respected – cleanse the unwanted from our lives with your eternal fire and leave us in peace and tranquility

East

Great Spirits of the East – the direction from which all humans look to the dawn of each day – hold us in the highest regard as you bring about each new beginning but for now, leave us in peace and tranquility

Great Goddess

Teach us what we need to know in our continuing journey through this life and the next.  Prepare us for what things we are ready to receive.   Your blessings are abundant and we give you thanks for your presence in our circle this night.

Immortal Sun God

Mighty Sun God – we bid you farewell and ask for your continued blessings of light and warmth, for all those gathered here and all those who are not.

The Circle is Open But Unbroken
This Midsummer Night Rite Has Ended !!!!
So Mote It Be!!

thegypsy

Owner/Admin at The Gypsy Thread
As a hopeless romantic at heart, Ralph indulges in romantic poetry, but also allows his mind time to wonder across all subjects.A master of vocabulary and word-use, Ralph has a writing style that gives his works their own life, often giving his readers just enough information that they end up doing additional research on his subject matter.
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