Litha, without a doubt is the most powerful day of the year for the Sun God. Regardless of the culture or country, the Sun God has always held a superior position and has been worshipped worldwide. This day is also known as Midsummer and the summer solstice. It is the longest day of the year and Mother Earth receives more light on this day than any other.
In 2021, the summer solstice happens on Sunday, June 20, at 9:32 P.M. MST. In modern times we call this day the first day of summer, yet many get confused by why it was called midsummer in the ancient times. This is easily explained when you look at things from an ancient perspective. With crops being planted in late March and early April, the growing season was about halfway over in late June. To those ancestors, it was the mid-point of summer, thus the lasting term.
There are many rituals found in history to commemorate this day and many Gods and Goddesses associated with it. People would celebrate during the long day and into the night to honor and thank their Gods for everything that made their existence easier as human beings. Our ritual tonight will honor some of those ancient traditions.
What items you’ll need to collect for this ritual (as written)
Yellow Altar Cloth
Gold Sun Candles (taper type with enough for each person)
Goddess Candle (White)
God Candle (Yellow)
Midsummer flowers and herbs – heaped in droves on the altar
Any type of solar or sun objects for decoration
Any portion of the ritual that is bracketed by <> symbols should be understood as instructional notes and not to be spoken aloud.
The 2021 Litha Ritual – With Light, Comes Hope and Renewal
With a great light comes hope and renewal for all who choose to participate. Our Litha celebration honors the providers of this great light, the Sun God and the Sun itself!
We look to the East, the direction from which the sun rises and the great spirits of Air make their homes. The east is the direction of new beginnings, renewal, rebirth and illumination. For just as each start starts anew with the first golden rays, we can choose to renew those parts of our lives which are not meeting expectations. Take inspiration from the East and never forget that renewal can be done as often as necessary. <light yellow candle in the east>
We look to the South, the direction of the mid-day sun and the birthplace of the eternal spirits of Fire. The south is the direction of passion, creation, warmth, and growth. Midpoints are often crossroads in the great travels known as life, yet should not be seen as moments of indecision or disarray. If transformation becomes a necessity, ponder both the pathway leading to and the pathway leading from that which you are seeking changes to; the bigger picture is often a great compass. <light red candle in the south>
We look to the West, the direction of the setting sun and the source of the great spirits of Water. The west is the direction closure, reflection, introspection, and ultimately the direction of our final ending. Yet, do not fear that which is inevitable, for the west is also the direction from which the ancestors travel forth to share their wisdom with the living. Listen to the past and find the source to a future which leads you to your highest self. <light blue candle in the west>
We look to the North, the direction of the ancient ones, the monuments of the world, and the great spirits of Earth. The north is the direction of abundance, prosperity, sustenance, and inner wisdom. All things we need to sustain life are provided to us from our natural surroundings, but it is up to us to learn, build, and use them in harmony with the world around us. Conserve and protect that which all humankind depends on today, tomorrow, and forever. <light green candle in the north>
Great Goddess – she who is known by many names in many places. Bless us each and all on this great night of celebration as the wheel continues to turn and the seasons anchor us in our daily lives. Guide us as we walk the same pathways as our ancestors and help us to avoid the snares and pitfalls of that which is unwelcome in our lives. <light Goddess candle on the alter>
Great God of the Sun; your names are many and your reputation universally known. On this celebration of Litha, we call upon Áine, and Alaunus, and Belenos, and Étaín. We call upon Macha, and Usil, and Sól, and Dažbog, and Hors. We call upon Apollo, and Lugh, Huitzilopochtli, and Inti. We call upon those without names and those unnamed and those whose names shall be coined in the future. We ask for the continued and future blessing of light, warmth, heat, and comfort, for this day and all days ahead. <light yellow sun God candle on the alter>
Tonight we are gathered to celebrate Litha with a great festival of fire! Throughout time, fire has played an important role in traditional celebrations and none as focused as tonight. Fire represents the Sun and all the benefits associated with it. History tells us of many different celebrations performed by our ancestors across the ancient world, and tonight we shall engage in some of those traditions to honor the Sun God. With so many ancient traditions, and so many ancient deities, we choose to not offend and rather bring them all into this circle to be celebrated as equals. Yet, some of you may have specific inclination toward one God or Goddess, so before we go further, lets all pause for a long moment of reflective silence. Use this time to focus on your specific beliefs, the blessings provided by them, and what the future holds.
But, before we begin, I implore each and every person gathered to take a moment and reflect on the blessings we all experience from the great Sun God.
<leader should allow a few minutes of silent meditation>
Music of Litha – Summer Solstice
Choosing the right music for your ritual is often more fun than you might think. As I was putting this one together, it felt like a great spiritual journey was right on the cusp of happening. When I came across this Midsummer Magical Witch Meditation, I knew that I had found the appropriate theme song. The artist behind this magic is Skeed.
Litha Traditions & History
Our ancestors were dependent on the available resources in the lands the occupied, for everything. As humankind developed communities, some people chose to focus on specialized tasks, such as smithing, tool-making, or weaving. Everyone else was either a hunter/gatherer or a farmer and they were highly dependent on the sun and availability of water for success. At the time, the sun was mysterious and magical and it’s no surprise that the sun was a main focal point in many of their practices and rituals. On Litha, the sun would hang in the sky for what seemed an eternity. So much that even the word solstice translates as “sun stands still”.
Many of our ancestors also believed that Litha was part of a bigger, annual conflict between the light and the darkness. They personified these halves of the year with two great kings; the Holly King, that ruled in the winter, or the dark half of the year, and the Oak King, who ruled in the light half. Each year two great battles would take place; one on the Summer Solstice and the other on the Winter Solstice. Also on each solstice, the ruling king was vanquished for six months, with the winning King taking the throne for his time. On Midsummer, the Oak King meets his nemesis in mortal combat, only to be defeated and forced to retire to a far off place until he can retake the throne at Yule. Many ancient Europeans would celebrate this great battle and the changing of the seasons in their own ways, but each of those rituals had a focal theme, which was fire.
Sun Celebration Circle
As we watch the sun depart over the horizon, we offer a final celebration and honor to the great energy that feeds our lands. The sun is the greatest source of warmth and light known to humankind and often times we take it for granted. From the passing of the Winter Solstice, the days have been getting longer and longer, until this day, Litha, the longest of them all. Today we honor all the Sun Gods and Sun Goddesses that have been part of human existence across time.
<Ritual leader takes a gold taper candle and lights it from the Sun God candle on the alter>
The flame represents the light of the sun. It is eternal and never-ending. Without the sun, we could not exist and therefore we honor the sun at the highest degree. We offer high praises to the Sun Gods and Goddesses. The light is given to us freely and no person may take ownership or control of it. The light can be used, it can be shared, and it can be enjoyed by all. Light is the source of comfort, hope and renewal. We shall create a circle of light within our circle to show inclusiveness and unity.
<Ritual leader takes their lit candle and turns to the person next to them, using it to light their candle and that person goes to the next and so on until all are lit.>
As you pass the light, say “with this light comes eternal hope and with that hope, we shall grow and never stray from our path”
<Once all have lit candles, ask the group to hold them above their heads, tilting them toward the center of the circle>
Hail to Áine, and Alaunus, and Belenos, and Étaín. Hail to Macha, and Usil, and Sól, and Dažbog. Hail to Hors, and Apollo, and Lugh, and Huitzilopochtli. Hail to Inti, and Ra, and Helios, and Sunna. Hail to Saule, and Hestia, and Magec, and Lisa. Hail to Šerida, and Freyr, and Ao, and Tawa. Hail to Ah Kin, and Guaraci, and Napioa, and Malakbel.
To the Gods and Goddesses who bring us light, we sing praises to the highest degree and offer thanks from the core of our soul !
As the sun radiates in all directions, the light is spread to every space across the land. Slowly turn and point your candle light as the rays of the sun go outward!
As it always has been, it shall always be!
<Have each person put their lit candle on the alter if possible, or safely extinguish it and place the candle where it won’t cause a fire>
Setting the Watch
Each town and village would make preparations for the evening festivities by building a huge community bonfire the night before the celebration (this practice was called setting the watch). Additionally, individual landowners would build similar, albeit smaller bonfires on their property; also in preparation. At night, torches were carried from bonfire to bonfire, setting each ablaze as they passed. Those fires would often be tended throughout the night and the villagers would stay up to watch the sun rise the following morning, honoring the Sun God. The following day, the ashes were gathered and scattered throughout the fields as a blessing to strengthen them.
In some traditions, it was believed that these bonfires (also called balefires) were seen as a critical. They believed that the sun needed strengthening on Litha and fires across the countryside would be the source of new energy. Also those same people would set alight giant wheels bound with straw or barrels covered with pitch, and roll them down steep hillsides. These practices served multiple purposes; first to recharge the sun, and further to drive away evil and promote fertility. Historically, we know that people would dance around the fires until finally leaping through the flames as a purifying or strengthening rite. Couples would grasp one another’s hands and make the precarious jump together, as a sign of strengthening their bond to one another. Unmarried young people would leap across in hopes of finding a partner in the coming year.
<Ritual leader should give everyone a quick fire safety briefing (again) to prepare for the jumping of the fire>
The Leap of Fertility
Before we leap, we offer the Sun God this prayer:
All that we need hangs high above the land
Light and warmth radiate to the ground below
The land thrives and becomes ever greener
On this, the longest day of the year
We honor the great and powerful Sun God
The steward of life and giver of hope
Our homes are always open to your light
Our hearts are always open to your love
We celebrate tonight, for tomorrow
The journey into darkness begins again
<each person or couple should approach the ‘jump area’ and say aloud their individual prayer or words of hope to the Sun God>
As you jump across the fire, remember that by doing so, you’ll be protected from evil in the coming year. A warning to couples though – if your hands come apart during the jump, then you’ll face a difficult year in your marriage.
<let the jumping begin>
Cakes & Ale
<At this time, you may serve refreshments to the group if you’ve prepared them in advance, but remind everyone to remain in the circle>
Closing the Circle
We begin our journey home by looking to the North, to thank the Earth spirits for honoring us with their presence. As we depart, we shall carry on the message of conservation of our natural resources. Abundance does not me we squander. Prosperity can be taken away just as easy as it was given. All things are in a constant state of change and we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent. <extinguish green candle in the north>
Now we look to the West, where the last glimmer of the longest day of the year’s sun has crossed over the horizon. We leave this circle with a great feeling of hope and an eagerness to share our spiritual wisdom with those in our own circle. As we leave this Litha celebration, we, once again sing high praises for the guidance of our ancestors and the quiet times of reflection we’re able to spend with their spirits. <extinguish blue candle in the west>
Now turn to the South and bask in the perpetual warmth that radiates across the land. From this moment forward, we shall walk with a purpose and leave indecision to those who are not ready to ascend to a higher plane of existence. Our direction shall be illuminated with positive people, the beauty of the natural world, and the knowledge that self-improvement is the the greatest, but also some of the most difficult work to perform. <extinguish red candle in the south>
And lastly we turn to the East. Our memories still fresh of the Litha sun rising to start the day. We have chosen to renew our lives in the areas that we choose. We have chosen to raise our standards and not to compromise our values in order to achieve success. We leave inspired and forever thankful for the opportunity to take charge of our own lives and to step forth on a path of wonderment and growth. <extinguish yellow candle in the east>
Great Goddess, we again thank you, as we have thanked you many times before. Your wisdom and love are our guiding light and your forgiveness and compassion keep us humble and grounded. Thank you for sharing this night with us in our sacred space. <extinguish Goddess candle>
Sun Gods Across Time and Space, we have spoken your names, raised our energy in great honor of you, and have bathed in the golden warmth that you always provide. Our thanks cannot ever match the bounty of your blessings, and yet we offer our most heartfelt thanks anyway. <extinguish God candle>
This Litha Circle is Now Open But Forever Unbroken
The Gypsy Thread is a great resource for pagan and moon ceremonies. You can browse the archives at this link. As always, you can copy them for use without cost or copyright infringement. Some knowledge is too valuable to be sold; it must given away freely to those who would ensure it’s survival.
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