About the Summer Solstice
Within the wheel of the year there are four major Sabbats four lesser sabbats that make up the Pagan holidays starting with Samhain at the end of October. These holidays always follow nature and the seasons within our year. Litha is one of the lesser sabbats and is sometimes called Summer Solstice or Midsummer Solstice.
Typically this holiday is celebrated on or about June 21st, it is the longest day of the year and the time when the sun reaches its peak. Its thought of as the middle point of summer that starts with the celebration of Beltane on May 1st and the season ends on Lammas typically on August 1st. In most of the Pagan traditions, Litha is seen as the moment when the Oak King (who represents the waxing year) gives way to the Holly King (who represents the waning year).
The Goddess, of course, is also celebrated at Litha. She represents the woman that is heavy with child (pregnancy) who gives birth at Yule. She may also be seen as the bounty of the coming harvests, of protection and of sustenance. The ancient Romans saw this time as being sacred to the Goddess Juno, the wife of Jupiter, the Goddess of women and children as well as the patroness of marriage and weddings.
Litha is a time of light, purification and of healing. Its a time to reflect on the light and dark that are both within each of us and within the world around us. This is also a time of celebrations that take place outside and enjoyment of the warmth of the sun and the beauty of nature that surrounds us. Rituals and celebrations may involve bonfires, music and handfastings.
Litha is also a celebration that has some sadness to it. It is the beginning of the decline of the sun, and though it is a time of feasting and abundance, there used to be need to be aware of winter’s scarcities. An ancient proverb from Cornwall, England says “yn ha, porth kov a wav,” which means “In summer, remember winter.
This holiday is considered to be a time to harvest your medicinal and spiritual herbs and is one of the best times to perform spell work that fosters love, prosperity and healings. It is a time for meditating on the balances between the light and darkness that are within yourself and within the world around you.
Text from Oval Pike
Summer Solstice activities with children
- decorate the home altar
- gather and dry herbs
- make dream pillows
- work in the garden
- go on a nature walk
- make a fairy garden
- make suns out of paper plates and ribbons. Hang all over the house!
- make a sun catcher
- hold a BBQ or bonfire with friends
- go camping
- go on a picnic
- swim or play in water (particularly rivers)
- talk about the Gods and Goddesses
- go wildcrafting (collecting wild plants for domestic use, whether as food, medicine, or decoration). For example, collect dandelions and make chains from the blossoms, and/or make medicinal tea from the roots.
- get up at sunrise and stay up till sunset, enjoying the longest day of the year
This year there will be a supermoon visible on the night of June 22-23. Which we will definitely try to see.
Definition supermoon: (…a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit (perigee). In short, Earth, moon and sun are all in a line, with moon in its nearest approach to Earth.)
Books to read together
The Summer Solstice, by Ellen Jackson
The Longest Day: Celebrating the Summer Solstice, by Wendy Pfeffer
Under Alaska’s Midnight Sun, by Deb Vanasse
Mermaid Dance, by Marjorie Hakala (about mermaids celebrating the summer solstice)
Powwow Summer: A Family Celebrates the Circle of Life, by Marcia R. Rendon
The Cat’s Midsummer Jamboree, by David Kherdian
Lavender’s Midsummer Mix-Up, by Cicely Mary Barker
Moominsummer Madness, by Toove Jansson
A Midsummernight’s Dream, a picture book adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Midsummersight’s Dream by Bruce Coville
Can you think of any other children’s books (or maybe movies) about the Summer Solstice, or Midsummer celebrations?
- Best Pagan Books for Children
- About.com – All About Litha
- Book: The Ancient Celtic Festivals, by Clare Walker
- Oval Pike