Our Litha ritual is the celebration of the beginning of summer and paying homage to the Sun God. Ironically it is also known as Midsummer and it falls each year on the Summer Solstice. Our ancestors called this special day, midsummer. To better understand this, remember that that in ancient Europe, crops were sown in late March or early April and harvesting would usually commence in August. To those agrarians, this was the middle of their ‘summer’. This year, the solstice occurs on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at 3:14 A.M. MST. In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs when the Sun reaches its highest and northernmost points in the sky. This is the most powerful time of the entire year for the Sun God, and the cause for our celebration.
The ancestors tell us that the Sun God will end his reign on this, the longest day of the year, but shall return again at the Winter Solstice, when he reincarnates as a newborn baby. The Sun God is also known as the Oak King. At Yule he is but an infant, but his rebirth symbolizes the return of the light. After many months of winter, this rebirth was a symbol of hope to humankind. As the days grow longer and the nights less, the Sun God grows and gains strength. At Ostara he seeks out and is smitten by the Maiden Goddess, and finally takes her as his bride on Beltane. And finally, as Litha approaches, he is the strongest as he can be. But, his reign cannot last, for his twin brother the Holly King arrives on the scene and in a glorious battle defeats the Oak King. Yet, his death is only temporary. His body dies, but his spirit is transported to the enchanted realm of the Goddess Arianrhod where it waits until the winter solstice to be reborn and to once again take the throne.
As you can see, the likelihood of an infant God defeating an adult God seems to defy logic. It’s more likely that these two mighty brothers do fight each year for the throne, but the dates are shifted. The great battles most likely occurs at the Spring and Fall Equinoxes, when both Gods are strong, but in a sense equal; day and night being balanced. In this adjustment to the timeline, the Oak King is powerful and reigns on Midsummer, but begins to wane, engaging in combat with the Holly King on Mabon, the Autumn Equinox and finally being defeated on Samhain. At Yule, the Holly King is at full power and rules until Ostara, the Spring Equinox, where he and his brother once again meet in combat. At Beltane, the Holly King finally succumbs to the Oak King. The two kings each represent one half of the year. The Oak King rules the Light Half and the Holly King the Dark Half. It’s important to remember that light and dark do not represent good and evil. They are anchored in agriculture and are completely about the seasonality of Mother Earth.
Unlike most of our celebrations, when our focus on is the Goddess, our Litha ritual 2022, will have more of a masculine tone.
The Litha Ritual 2022
This ritual is designed for a small to medium sized group. It is expected to be performed outdoors with a central bonfire or fire pit. The elementals, Fae, ancestors, and all things from the forests are welcomed in the circle. It is recommended that this ritual be started while the sun is still in the sky, about 30 minutes before sunset.
What items you’ll need to collect for this ritual (as written)
Quarter Candles (red, green, yellow, blue)
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
Ritual leader should understand that any portion of the ritual that is bracketed with <> refers to instructions for them and should not be spoken aloud. It is recommended that the leader read through the entire journey before leading it live.
The 2022 Litha Ritual – Celebrating the Masculine
With a great light comes a great hope and renewal for all who choose to participate. Our Litha ritual honors the providers of this great light, the Sun God and the Sun itself!
“Let it be called, let it be cast, this sacred circle of both present and past; a meeting place, a spiritual space, where we welcome all from the human race”
First, we look towards the East, the direction of the rising Sun and the Spirits of Air. The East reminds us that a new beginning can happen each day and that the events of yesterday are lessons to ponder over today. The spirits of Air remind us that change can come from any and every direction and that no human can predict when and where their lives may experience change. As we embark on this Litha ritual, we shall seek illumination, renewal, and gather inspiration for greater things to come. <light yellow candle>
Now turn to the South, the direction of the Sun at midday and the great spirits of Fire. The South reminds us of heat, bright light, and all things glowing. We stop our daily toils at midday and take time to rest ands rejuvenate; allowing the heat of the sun to penetrate deep into our bodies and warm us from within. The spirits of Fire remind of of passion and creativity, and the great lessons of balance and transformation. For as the forge changes the shape and consistency of metals, the sun can change and shape us as humans. <light red candle>
And now we turn to the West, the direction of the setting sun and the great spirits of Water. The West signifies closure, but not an ending. For when a day passes, it becomes part of history and part of each of us, but it is not our last day. We learn to grow and become more flexible and change as necessary. The great spirits of Water reinforce these ideals, by demonstrating them in every curve of the river, every pool of eroded pebbles, and every beach filled with infinite grains of sand. <light blue candle>
Finally we come full circle and look to the North, the direction of stability and all things of the physical world that we call the great spirits of Earth. Here we find the ancient ones, the monuments of the world, the origins of our ancestors and the records of time. As we meditate in the great forests or gain wisdom in the vast deserts, we seek to understand the greater meanings of abundance, prosperity, sustenance, and inner wisdom. <light green candle>
We give praises to the Goddess. For it is through her that we are so blessed and able to embrace life with zeal and gusto. She who has many names, many visions, and touches many worlds is always with us as we walk through the daily toils of living. We give thanks for all that is provided to us and count our blessings. We ask for continued guidance and support throughout the turning of the Great Wheel. Watch over us as we walk the same pathways as our ancestors walked and help us to avoid the snares and pitfalls of that which is unwelcome in our lives. <light Goddess candle>
Great God of the Sun, tonight we celebrate your great power and also give thanks to your great gifts. We celebrate Masculinity, not for domination or brutality, but for strength of both body and character. We celebrate wisdom, patience, courage, and understanding. We bring the teachings of our fathers and commit them to our sons so that they may become wiser in practice, more able to bring comfort, and able to lead if called upon. Great Oak King, we ask for the continued and future blessing of light, warmth, heat, and comfort, for this day and all days ahead. <light God candle>
Introduction to our 2022 Litha ritual
Like many other important celebrations, the Litha ritual is a festival of fire. Fire represents the Sun and all the benefits associated with it. Throughout history, our ancestors would perform many different ritualistic actions using fire to celebrate and show their devotion to the Sun God. We shall engage in some of those ancient traditions tonight. Yet, as we celebrate, it is with a tiny taste of bittersweet. For as this is the longest day of the year, we must accept that from this point forward the nights will begin to grow in length. Soon the air will once again be chilled and the Holly King shall rule. We must prepare, but preparations can wait until tomorrow. Tonight we celebrate.
Music of Litha – Summer Solstice
Music has been a part of human culture for as long as humans have existed. Whether its pounding drums, chanting, or an electric power chord, the music is raising our energy. We are charging and pulsating with power as we celebrate. We are setting off on a spiritual journey together and to usher us along the path. Enjoy this melodious jaunt by FAUN called Federkleid.
Litha Traditions & History
Across the lands now known as Europe and the Mediterranean, our ancestors survived on the gifts of the land, the waterways, and the forests. Agriculture was a key part of the equation along with hunting, gathering and specialized crafts such as smithing. For most professions, the weather dictated success or failure. Heavy rains could wash away vital farmland and destroy fishing areas. Winds could damage crops, homes, and livestock. An extended winter could delay planting and cause crop failures. The sun however was almost always seen as completely positive; even if it brought about extreme drought in some years. It was mysterious and unexplainable by most people. It provided life, light, heat, and was the driving force for all growth. It was more important than any other single object in the world. This status led to many sun-worshipping cults, many sun rituals, and in many religions, the Sun has specific Gods and Goddesses. In the anceint Celtic practices, Litha was the celebration of the longest day of the year. On this day, the sun would hang in the sky for what seemed an eternity. This day later became known as the solstice, which loosely 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 with the vanquished king stepping aside while the other took the throne for six months. Many ancient cultures 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.
Celebrating the Sun Gods & Goddesses
<If you’ve planned things well, then the sun should be just about ready to dip below the horizon. Distribute Sun candles to each participant in preparation for this part of the ritual>
We turn our eyes to the West once again and revel in the gift of the Sun. As it dips below the horizon, we offer a quiet prayer of thanks. The day will continue for some time until the light finally gives way to the cool darkness and the longest day of the year shall come to an end. We take this time to offer prayers, honors, and to continue celebrating the great energy which feeds the lands. The light of the sun may be hidden, but never extinguished.
<Ritual leader takes a gold taper candle and lights it from the Sun God candle on the alter>
This 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 and the light is spread to every space across every land. Now, just as the Sun radiates it’s ray, slowly turn and point your candle light outward.
From this point until eternity, you are charged with sharing the light of the Sun. Seek out those who live in darkness and bring about positive change to their lives with the light of the Sun. Be the beacon in a storm. Be the torch in a dark forest. Be the one that warms the hearts, encourages growth, and nurtures all living things.
<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>
Celebrating the Masculine
Every human has both Divine masculine and Divine feminine energies. Most of our rituals are focused on the Goddess and the Divine feminine energies as the Goddess is the great life-giver. She who brings forth life and fertility and nurturing and peace. And yet, the Divine feminine cannot survive without the Divine Masculine. For it is through the God that we learn that which brings balance. It is he who brings strength, protection, physical wellness, courage, trust, and kinship. Together they are the the energies that bind us together. We see love, and family, teaching, sharing and growth as these two energy sources merge into one.
<Young boys should come forward and be seated around the fire, older young men behind them, and adult men and elders behind them – the women and girls should surround the group to keep the masculine energy focused>
We celebrate Strength – the strength to labor until the task is complete, the strength to hold when things seem hopeless, the strength to lift up those who may be wavering, and the strength to keep a level head and even temperament.
We celebrate Protection – we stand ready to defend that which has meaning in our lives; not because their is weakness, but because we choose to put ourselves in a position of protection.
We celebrate Physical Wellness – keeping a strong body keeps us prepared to manage any crisis or to endure wounds and sickness with no ill effects, keeping a clean body, one without the pollution of chemicals, too much strong drink, or gluttonous activity, keeping a clean mind, one free of negative influence, gossip, rumors, or under the control of another.
We celebrate Courage – the courage to speak the truth, the courage to defend the weak, the courage to stand true to our convictions and the binding qualities of our word, the courage to face any enemy, whether in battle, the infirmary, or within oneself, the courage to be kind and helpful, and the courage to be true to ourselves.
We celebrate Trust – the one characteristic that we cannot afford to allow to be damaged. Our word is sacred, our word is our bond, our promises are forever and our loyalties without end. The betrayer is the worst of all men, for he has violated the trust of his brothers and sisters and shall find no peace within his heart for all of eternity.
And finally, we celebrate Kinship – kinship is the sacred bond that the masculine energy of each of us has with the masculine energy of others. We are all connected. When one succeeds, we all succeed. No battle is won unless it is won by all and there is no greater glory than to celebrate the success of another. We are here to pull each other up, not to step over another to praise ourselves.
We are of a great family of brothers, a community of difference, but with the same energies. Everyone contributes something unique and because of that everyone shares in the blessings, gifts, and protection of the Gods.
These are the lessons of masculinity – they will guide you throughout your life, and will give you the foundation for all that awaits you in the future.
<return to the full circle>
Setting the Watch – Jumping the Fire
As we’ve come to know with many ancient celebrations, a huge bonfire or several bonfires was a key component. These were built the night before the event and the practice was known as setting the watch. Even though each village had a large fire, land owners and some individuals would also build bonfires around their lands, in preparation. On the night of Litha, 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 would be gathered and scattered throughout the fields as a blessing to strengthen the land.
In some traditions, it was believed that these bonfires (formerly called balefires) were necessary. Those practitioners believed that the sun needed strengthening or renewal on Litha. The fires burning across the countryside would have been the source of that new energy. Historically, we know that during the celebration that the villagers would dance around the fires until finally leaping through the flames. This practice had many reasons. Some saw it as an individual purifying or strengthening rite. Others as an action of protection against evil. Married 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. The reasons differed for everyone, but the action was still the same; they believed the Sun God would grant their wishes.
<Ritual leader should give everyone a quick fire safety briefing (again) to prepare for the jumping of the fire>
Litha Ritual – Leap of Protection
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 until everyone has had their fill – participants may jump as many times as they wish to>
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 until it is properly closed>
Closing the Litha Ritual Circle
Great spirits of Earth, we look to the North as a final gesture of this Litha ritual. We have felt the grounding energy flow through us on this longest day and shortest night. As Midsummer passes, we know that the land will slowly change, and yet we also know that the Great Wheel turns slowly and there are still three great harvests ahead of us. We ask for continued blessings and a bountiful crop. Our connection with the living world has been strengthened and also with ourselves. <extinguish green candle>
Great spirits of Water, as we turn to the West, we are reminded that although the sun has set, that it will again rise. We remember the lesson of water and it also strengthens our resolve. Whether solid, liquid, or gaseous, water is always present. It never abandons us, just as the earth never fails to provide for us. We are but a small part of the great universe, but a part nevertheless which is necessary to the continuation of all things. <extinguish blue candle>
Now turn to the South and offer our final prayers of thanksgiving to the Fire Spirits. For as we have praised the Sun, we’ve done it by the light of a great bonfire and as we’ve conjured energy to give back to the sun, that energy came from fire. We are connected with the flames, as they bind the world of humankind together with the great tenants of comfort, warmth and light. As the flames give way to embers and coals, we are drawn to scry the secrets the universe is waiting to share with us. <extinguish red candle>
And now we turn to the East and the great spirits of Air. Our thoughts still lingering on the Litha sun and how it rose to start this, the longest day of the year. As we do each year, we choose to renew our lives and strive to improve our actions. Tonight we have reinforced the qualities of masculinity to our young men in hopes that they will grow to become more virtuous than their fathers and to bring sons into the world that make history. <extinguish yellow candle>
Great Goddess, we again thank you, as we have thanked you so many thousand times before. Your wisdom and love are our guiding light and your forgiveness and compassion are what keeps 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 Ritual Circle is Now Open But Forever Unbroken!
If you enjoyed this Litha ritual and would like to read more from this author, here are some suggestions.
R.J. Schwartz is the owner of The Gypsy Thread website, and the author of all of its content. Use this link to go to the main page and explore articles on the unexplained, witchcraft, pagan history, and to find Full Moon and Pagan Rituals (all of which are free to use). It is his belief that our history as pagans should be shared freely with everyone in hopes that more people return to the old ways.
If you are a fans of poetry, creative writing, short stories, and more, visit the Creative Exiles website at this link. R.J. Schwartz is a writer and also owns the website. If you are a writer looking for a place to get started, contact him.
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