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Celebrating the Summer Solstice & Litha: An Ancient Solar Festival


summer solstice, sunflowers

The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year & shortest night, the opposite of the Winter Solstice. This solar event typically occurs on the 20th or 21st of June, & this year it takes place on June 20th @2:50PM MDT. The Pagan festival of Litha celebrates the Summer Solstice annually from June 20-22nd, & this year (2024), just so happens to be a little extra magical with the Full Moon in Capricorn rising the evening of the 21st. This is a time to celebrate the ultimate expansion of light, love, & the power of the Sun. The Summer Solstice, or Litha, is one of the 4 solar festivals of the 8 celebrations of the Wheel of the Year! Litha is not only a time to celebrate the Sun, but honor the coming darkness as time fades & the days slowly begin to dwindle in this annual life/death/life cycle.


In the West, we are typically told that the Summer Solstice marks the start of Summer, but it is actually thought to represent the height of Summer, or Midsummer, in many spiritual traditions. The Summer Solstice is a full expression of life, a time to dream your heart's wildest desires & bring them forth. You may have also heard this season of Litha referred to as Heuldro'r Haf from the Welsh, or maybe Meán Samhraidh or Alban Hefin from the old Druids.


Summer Offerings for the Elements + Directions:

  • Earth / North: plants, acorns, crystals, herbs, berries, asparagus, flowers

  • Air / East: feathers, incense, bells, dandelion clocks, smudge sticks (mint, sage, flowers, etc.)

  • Fire / South: white/yellow/orange/pink/green candles, clear quartz or citrine spheres, matches

  • Water / West: shells, water bird statues/images, water, oil, blue lotus, water crystals (amazonite, aquamarine, etc.)


Wondering how to setup your own altar at home? Read my brief blog post, How to Set Up Your Altar here! Don't forget to cleanse your space & self before ritual practice!*


Symbols of the Spring Equinox:

  • Sun: the powerful Sun is viewed as protective, healing, empowering, & revitalizing

  • Strawberries: strawberries come in abundance this time of year, representing love & reminding us of the sweetness of life

  • Meadowsweet: one of the most beloved herbs of the Druids, Meadowsweet is a beautiful flower of love & self-confidence. She encourages you to look within & heal, bringing peace to your inner & outer worlds. Meadowsweet, connected to both Jupiter & Brighid, is often used in love spells & seen in bridal bouquets!

  • Love: With the heat of Summer comes fiery passion, connecting us with aspects of love, beauty, creativity, & marriage.

  • Brighid: The powerful poet goddess, Brighid, seems to appear in most Celtic festival traditions, & she sure brings her fiery Spirit during Litha. Brighid's eternal flame reminds us that even in the darkest moments, there is always light.

  • Herbs: lavender, chamomile, blue lotus, chicory, mugwort, elderflower, rose, basil, fennel, cinquefoil, chickweed, yarrow, violet, calendula

  • Honey: a symbol of connection to spirit, ambrosiac bliss, abundance, fortune

  • Mother: the mother is the life-bearer, bringing abundance & fertility to this world. She is strong yet soft, nourishing yet protective, & full of life.

  • Fire: the traditional Celtic element of Summer, representing passion, expansion, Spirit, pure energy, creativity, & movement. Fire is also the Taoist element of Summer!

  • Dragons & Salamanders: Dragons symbolize fire & are connected to lizards & snakes in this world. They are powerful beings that can both destroy & protect, bring balance & chaos.

  • Water Birds: it can be nice to bring in water elements this time of year to balance out the heat of Summer, & connecting to water birds is a beautiful way to do this. This can be done by observing these birds, or calling in the Spirit by naming, working with feathers, or connecting to the medicine of a specific bird: ravens, swans, cranes, ducks, etc..


Crystals for the Spring Equinox:

  • gold

  • carnelian

  • hematite

  • honey calcite

  • goldstone

  • amber

  • citrine

  • red jasper

  • bloodstone

  • ruby

  • red garnet

  • dragon's eggs


A Simple Ritual:

The close connection to Spirit & dream time during the Solstices, make it a beautiful time for divination, receiving answers from guides, ancestors, Fae, etc.. This is also a wonderful time to charge your crystals & herbs in the celestial light.


Bringing in the elements of water, dreams, love, & divination, enjoy a little herbal witchcraft with my Midsummer's Tea recipe. As the Green Witch says, "A tea is a potion that can be consumed" (Murphy-Hiscock, 186). Did you know that the correct term for tea divination is Tasseography?


  • Ingredients

    • 2 tsp Mugwort - divination, dreams, psychic abilities, womb magic

    • 2 tsp Lavender - love, healing, nourishment, cleansing

    • 1/2 tsp Fennel - motherhood, protection, purification, healing

    • 1 tsp Chicory - Sun, transcendence, good fortune

    • 2 tbsp Chamomile - dreams, Sun, love, Solar Plexus

    • 1/2 tsp Blue Lotus - intuition, emotions, dreams

  • Infusion Since these are daintier herbs, we will create an infusion to make the tea verses a decoction. Making an infusion involves pouring hot water over your herbs & allowing them to steep for 2--30 minutes. Once well steeped, enjoy your tea - you would typically strain the herbs, but not if you are working with tea divination.

  • Ritual

  1. use a cup that is special to you

  2. create your infusion & wait for it to fully steep

  3. once your tea is ready, pour your cup, & sit in a still space to quiet your mind

  4. feel your body against the Earth & begin to tune into your physical body. How do you feel in the moment?

  5. bring your awareness to the center of your head & begin to breathe any nagging thoughts away as you quiet your mind

  6. let your awareness drip down to your heart & let your breath settle there, connecting with the intelligence of your heart

  7. thank the elements before taking your first sip - traditional Celtic elements: Fire (Summer/South), Water (Fall/West), Earth (Winter/North), Air (Spring/East).

  8. smell your tea before sipping & thank each individual herb for their magic!

  9. take your first sip & sit with any feelings/emotions/images/sensations that arise as you enjoy your Midsummer's Tea

  10. when you only have a wee bit of liquid left, swirl the remaining tea in your cup 3 times clockwise, & then flip the cup over

  11. pick your cup back up & begin to read the tea. I believe in trusting your intuition, but it can be helpful to have a guide, if you're just getting started. I like this article Reading the Tay, or check out this Reading Tea Leaves article for something a bit more technical.


I leave you with this - it's best to trust your intuition before looking too deep into meanings/symbolism, to ensure you are truly trusting the intelligence of your heart - your magic! May you feel the blessings & abundance of Summer with an open heart!


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*How I clear my space: I typically clear my altar & wipe it down with either lemongrass or cedarwood essential oil. Next, I will either spray a smudge blend I've made, or burn one of the following: sage, palo santo, cedarwood, or resin of dragon's blood / frankincense (keep your windows open when smudging).


Sources:

  • Hinds, K. & McColman, C. (2020). The Spirit of the Celtic Gods & Goddesses: Their History, Magical Power, & Healing Energies. Weiser Books.

  • Hopman, E. E. (1995). A Druid's Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year. (1st Edition). Destiny Books.

  • Lafranque, S. (2020). Moon Energy: A Practical Guide to Using the Lunar cycles to Unleash Your Inner Goddess. Skyhorse Publishing.

  • Lister, L. (2017). Witch: Unleashed. Untamed. Unapologetic. (1st Edition). Hay House UK.

  • Murphy-Hiscock, A. (2017). The Green Witch: Your Complete Guides to Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils, & More. Adams Media.

  • Starling, M. (2022). Welsh Witchcraft: A Guide to the Spirits, Lore, & Magic of Wales. (1st Edition). Llewellyn Publications.

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