Summer Solstice, also known as Litha is when we celebrate the height of Summer, the longest day of the year. Here are some tips for your Solstice ritual!
Symbols and Energies
The Sun is often depicted as the male counterpart energy to the female Moon. She gracefully reflects his light on our warm Summer nights, but we are forcibly reminded of his power and strength during the hottest days, often finding ourselves seeking shade.
Those with strong Sun in their birthchart often have wonderful thick hair, reminiscent of Leo the lion - the sign ruled by the Sun. These people seem to radiate their own light, in the positive sense they are generous, brave, bold, strong and creative. The Sun's negative traits however, are egotism, self-centeredness, being boastful and condescending. Whenever we celebrate an energy it's important to know both the positive and negative aspects, this way we can focus on the positive and also prevent the negative aspects from manifesting within ourselves while we are working our magick.
The Green Man
You may have seen images of the Green Man carved into woodwork and stone. This usually mature face, complete with full beard of leaves appears in many Christian churches and features in architecture, art and literature in many traditions. His face is sometimes made of vines, or leaves and foliage grow out of his features. We relate this character to all things that sprout and grow particularly during the Spring and Summer months. Linking strongly with Earth energies at the height of Summer, we use this imagery to connect to the spirits of our woodlands, meadows and countryside.
How to celebrate Litha
Celebrating, spell-casting or simply acknowledging energy is a personal experience, you can choose to do so alone or in a group. You may decide to set up an altar in your home or outside somewhere you won't be disturbed. A simple altar consists of a table or platform with something to represent the energy or celebration placed on it. In this case setting down a yellow or golden table cloth first is ideal.
A good rule of thumb if you're celebrating seasonal events is to use plants, flowers and vegetables/ fruit that are in full bloom or ripeness during the period. For Litha I like Sunflowers, Chamomile, Lavender, Daisies, yellow Carnations and Marigolds. Any of these or a combination works perfectly. Placing fruit on an outside altar attracts butterflies and insects and it's lovely to watch them bringing more energy into the space. Oranges, lemons and grapefruit are a perfect offering, you could put a small shallow bowl of sugar water out for the bees.
For the central candle I usually have a plain white one, then I place a yellow or golden one beside it. I also like to use candles to mark the four quarters of my working space or altar and items to represent the four elements. This is my personal choice but it's not essential in this particular case - everyone works differently. Working outside usually dictates the need for windproof candle holders!
Incense blends and oils can include Cedarwood, Frankincense, Sandalwood, Cinnamon, Orange, Benzoin and Nutmeg. One of the simplest ways to use these is to buy pure essential oil and place as many drops as you wish onto a napkin or cloth and place this on your altar. Ensure it is well away from any flames.
Crystals can be used, Tigers Eye, Citrine and Carnelian are firm favourites but you can use any natural crystal or stone of yellow, red, golden or green hues, even Rubies if you have them! Worn close to the Solar Plexus chakra (just below the rib cage and above the belly button) or set into a ring is ideal.
You may choose to wear yellow, golden or green clothing or robes, perhaps a cheerful lightweight wrap or scarf if you are working into the evening.
Now we have delt with the basics, it's time to use your imagination! Anything that you identify as "Summery" can be worn or placed on your altar. Bear in mind that harvest items are used a little later in the year, keep to things that put you in mind of the height of summer.
Many people feel that setting up an altar or sacred space is the beginning of the ritual itself, others begin when they light the candle and perhaps sound a bell or drum. Preparation is key - ensure you have something to light your candles with and if you have prepared some words to say, bring them with you. Words carry great power so I like to prepare beforehand at least an idea of what I want to say. Litha is a very strong time of year energetically, so you could set forth your intention for the coming 6 months at this time. It really doesn't matter what you say, as long as your intention is clear. I usually begin with thanking my guides and Masters, calling forth the energies of the four quarters to purify and cleanse the space, then I bring forward any energies required. I find that being thankful and respectful brings better results and simply wouldn't consider working any other way. We want to build a relationship with the energies! Always thank the spirits that join you in your rituals even if you can't see them and say a few words at the end to release any spirits that may have become attached to the space while working. I like to extinguish my candles anti-clockwise.
Timing and Time
Any period around 20th - 22nd June or height of Summer. Your Litha Summer Solstice ritual or celebration can begin at midday if you wish, but be sure to wear suitable sun cream and don't ever look directly at the sun! Late afternoon would perhaps be best or situate yourself where you can witness a glorious sunset.
Rituals and celebrations can last as long as you want them to. I have friends who have a lot of Fire element in their birth chart who can have a fabulous altar set up, activated and closed within 10 minutes! Others like to spend an entire day and continue to celebrate into the evening, which is perfect if you are setting it up in your garden or inside the home. Please don't leave candles or incense burning unattended though! Personally I like to spend some time meditating and enjoying the energy, usually up to an hour in total then ideally pack away my altar just before bed, leaving offerings to nature.
I hope this helped to inspire you.. May the Litha energies bring you all you desire!