Litha

Helpful Information

Date: June 20th - 22nd

Other Names: Alban Heruin (Druidic), Summer Solstice

Pronunciations: lee-thuh, lii-thuh

Although the name Litha is not well attested, it may come from Saxon tradition -- the opposite of Yule. On this longest day of the year, light and life are abundant. At mid-summer, the Sun God has reached the moment of his greatest strength. Seated on his greenwood throne, he is also lord of the forests, and his face is seen in church architecture peering from countless foliate masks.

The Christian religion converted this day of Jack-in-the-Green to the Feast of St. John the Baptist, often portraying him in rustic attire, sometimes with horns and cloven feet (like the Greek Demi-God Pan).

Midsummer Night's Eve is also special for adherents of the Faerie faith. The alternative fixed calendar date of June 25 (Old Litha) is sometimes employed by Covens. The name Beltane is sometimes incorrectly assigned to this holiday by some modern traditions of Wicca, even though Beltane is the Gaelic word for May.

Herbs: Mugwort, Vervain, Chamomile, Rose, Honeysuckle, Lily, Oak, Lavender, Ivy, Yarrow, Fern, Elder, Wild Thyme, Daisy, Carnation

Traditional Foods: Garden fresh fruits and vegetables are made into a variety of dishes and eaten by Pagan's who choose to celebrate this day

Incense: Lemon, Myrrh, Pine, Rose, Wisteria

Stones: Emerald

Woods Burned: Oak

Ritual

Tools & Instruments

  • Golden Yellow Altar Cloth
  • Small Cloth Pouch of Summertime Herbs
  • Cauldron
  • 1 cup Fresh Spring Water
  • Red Sun God Candle
  • Green Earth Goddess Candle
  • Summer Blend Incense (Jasmine, Rose, Lotus, Wysteria, or combination)

Preparation:

Sweep area moving in deosil manor. Set up Quarter Candles and any accessories symbolizing the Elements of the Quarters. Decorate the alter with seasonal flowers, especially Sunflowers. Prepare your Pouch of Summertime Herbs, and as you make it, pour your troubles, pains, sorrows, illness, and regrets into it. Place the Cauldron in the center of your alter, the Red Sun candle to the right of it , the Green Goddess Candle to the left of it. Place the cup of Fresh Spring Water in front of the Goddess Candle. Take a shower or bath for purification. Sit quietly and meditate for a while, then ground and center. When ready, play some peaceful music for the ritual.

Cast the circle. Pick up your Wand, and with arms upraised, face South and say:

"I celebrate the Mid-of-Summer, held in honor of the Blazing Sun God. All of Nature vibrates with the fertileness of the Goddess and of the God. The Earth basks in the light and life of the Sun. The ever turning Wheel of the Year has made the light ever stronger And the light has kept growing longer, until today... The middle of the time of light, Litha, MidSummer's Day, Summer Solstice. From here, the light begins to fade, again, until once more the Wheel turns to the time of darkness, Yule, Winter Solstice. Yet, for today, the Sun is high, the light is bright, the Earth is warm. As the Sun God blazes above, may the fires of my rite flame below."

Face the alter, put down your wand, and light the Green Goddess Candle to the left of your cauldron, saying:

"Oh, Mother of Nature, She that brings the meadow to bloom, Green Forest Mother, from lakes and streams your children spring forth. Blessed Lady of the stars and the Moon, Fruitful Womb of which I honor, and ask of Thee, Thy Blessings."

Light the Red Sun God Candle to the right of your cauldron, saying:

"Oh, Father of all things, He that plants the seed and nurtures Life. God of Fertility and Fruitfulness, from hill and forest your children emerge. Blessed Lord of the blazing Sun, potent Consort of which I honor, and of Thee, Thy Blessings."

Take the Herb Pouch and hold above your head, saying:

"By thy power, oh sacred herbs, may the Lord of the Sun Burn away the hurtful, the troublesome, and the painful, Leaving me purified through His warmth and Light."

Hold the pouch over your main Alter Candle to take flame. While it is burning, drop it in the cauldron, saying:

"Great Goddess and Great God, from Thee all powers flow forth.
The Two that are One, Great Spirit of All-That-Is,
By Thy powers, and the powers of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth,
By Thy powers, and the powers of the Sun, Moon, and Stars,
I banish these negatives from my life."

Visualize the negatives burning away to nothingness. When all that is left is ashes, douse the ashes with the cup of Fresh Spring Water, feel as if the water were being poured over you and your negatives washed away. Air dry by dancing and running your hands up and down your arms, body, and legs. Don't forget your head... lay it back and shake running your fingers through your hair. When done, face alter, wave hand over the cauldron and say:

"As the Phoenix rises from the ashes, so let this water be pure and new.
Mother Goddess, bless this water so that it may bless and renew me.
Father God, may your rays of the MidSummer Sun bless and nourish me.
Two that are One, may your blessings sustain me as I journey, anew."

Pass your cupped hands over the cauldron, pausing briefly each time to 'pour' in wishes for health, prosperity, and good fortune to be part of your life. Dip the forefinger of your right hand into the cauldron water, and trace a pentagram on your forehead, saying:

"Let my mind be open to the truth."

Anoint your lips saying:

"Let my lips always speak the truth."

Anoint your heart area, saying:

"Let my heart seek the ways of the Goddess, now and always."

Anoint the centers of your palms, saying:

"Let my hands be gifted to work in m'jyk-l ways."

Anoint the soles of your feet, saying:

"Let my feet ever walk upon the sacred paths!"

Now is the time for meditation and any spellworkings. MidSummer spellworkings include: prosperity, fertility, and plentiful harvests. Finish by having the Cakes and Ale Ceremony and releasing the circle. Clean up. The Ritual is done.

Adapted by: Akasha Ap Emrys for all of her friends and those of like mind.

Child Activities

Earth Puppets

Materials: Use natural items found in the yard, tape, and glue.

The easiest kind of puppets can be made from a twig. Select a twig that forks. You now have 2 arms and a handle to hold the puppet with. Find a fallen flower, and tape the stem to the handle for the head. You can also tape the stem of a fallen leaf to the handle for the head. For clothing, wrap a leaf around the handle, and your puppet has natural summer wear. Another puppet can be made with a pine cone. Glue the pine cone to the forked twig, for the head. Dried and fresh grass make loads of hair styles, beards, and mustaches. Use seeds or small rocks for eyes, nose, and mouth. Make clothing out of leaves and bonnets out of flower petals or acorn caps. Use a large box or table for the stage, and enjoy the show.

Vegetable Tray Puppets

Materials: Large carrots, popsicle sticks, cream cheese, raisins or olives, celery, parsley, green beans, radishes, cauliflower buds, broccoli buds, cucumber spears, any other desired vegetable, and cheese slices.

Having trouble getting the younger children to eat their vegetables? Let them play with their food! Peel several large carrots and cut off both ends. With a paring knife (adults only) cut a slit in the bottom of the larger end. Place several carrots on a plate. On a serving tray, in the middle place a small bowl of cream cheese, and surround with "garnishing vegetables". Cut cheese slices lengthwise to strips of hair.

Insert popsicle stick in the slit in a carrot. Using the cream cheese as glue, attach raisins or olives as eyes, and other assorted vegetables as arms, legs, hair, etc. Let the child(ren) put on a mealtime play before eating the characters. Lots of fun for the whole family!

Trasure Boxes

Materials: Sturdy cardboard box, natural items for decoration, white glue, med-size paint brush.

This little box is for the youngster to collect "treasured" memories from summer. Start with a large shoe box and lid. Let the child collect some items from the yard, the park, and/or the beach. Glue flat items to the box, and place the non-flat items inside. To give the box a more durable finish, brush on a coat of white glue diluted with water. Encourage the child to tell stories of where the different items came from, or make up stories about the contents.

Wheelbarrow Planter

Materials: 1 plastic detergent scoop, 2 large brightly colored buttons, white glue, 1 cup potting soil, seeds.

Take the plastic detergent scoop and poke a couple of small holes in the bottom (adults only!) with a nail or a needle. Let each child pick out two brightly colored buttons for the wheels. Glue wheels onto the sides of the scoop so that it sits at an angle. Once the glue has dried, let the child pour 1/2 cup of potting soil in the scoop, place in a couple of seeds around the sides of the scoop, and pour in the rest of the soil. Slowly add water to the soil until soaked through. Place on small dish in sunny spot. Watch the new life grow from the seeds and spring forth from the soil just as life springs forth from the Goddess.

Litha Spiral Candles

Materials: Decorating wax strips or preprinted wax logs, plain ball or short pillar candle(s), craft or butter knife.

Have your child choose a couple of colored wax strip combinations. Cut each strip into 2 pieces 2 3/4" long and on piece that is 2" long. Lay a short length of one color over a longer length of another color and roll them into a tight spiral log, 1/2" in diameter by 11/2" long. When you've got eight logs use the knife (adults or older children) to cut each log into as many slices as you can. Firmly press the wax slices all around the outside of the candle, starting at the base and working up. Continue placing the slices as close together as possible until the whole candle is covered.

Stained Glass Sun Catchers

Materials: Wax paper, crayon shavings, colored string, yarn, or thread, lace, leaves, flower petals.

To begin, have the child empty crayon shavings from their sharpener, or (adults only!) use a paring knife to create shavings. A cheese grater works great for large crayons. Arrange shavings, and any of the accessory items the child chooses and sandwich between two sheets of wax paper. Iron (adults, of course) the whole package on low setting, just until the shavings melt. Cut the "stained glass" into shapes and hang them with string, in a sunny window.

Fairies' Feathered Friend Feeder

Materials: An empty milk carton, nontoxic paint, glitter, white glue, popsicle sticks, 10" wooden dowel w/ 1/4" diameter, wire hanger (cut bottom of hanger for inserting into milk carton), birdseed.

Rinse out milk carton thoroughly. Do not completely open top, rather glue open spout back together. Cut 3" wide by 4" long arched openings on "spout" side and opposite side of carton, with base of opening approx. 3" from bottom of carton. Let the child paint the outside of the carton in Litha colors of red, yellow, orange, white, green. Before the paint dries let child sprinkle colored glitter all over the carton, (birds are attracted to shiny objects). Let carton dry. Glue painted or non-painted popsicle stick shingles onto the top of the carton as a roof. For the perches, poke holes in the carton just below the openings, and slip the wooden dowel through the holes. Poke two holes in the top of the carton just under the roof, insert one end of the cut hanger into each hole. Fill the bottom of the carton with wild birdseed. Hang in a spot that is easy to view, but far enough away from fences or other objects to thwart predators. Tell child how fairies, brownies, and sprites ride on the backs of birds to get from one place to another if it is too far to walk.

Summer Invocation

For the little children to participate in the Litha ritual, have them call quarters!

"Fireflies and summer sun
in circles round
we become as one
Singing songs at magick's hour
we bring the winds
and timeless powers
Turning inward, hand in hand
Chant While Sun is Setting
we dance the hearth
Hail fair Sun
to heal the land
Ruler of the day;
Rise on the morn
Standing silent beneath the sky
To light my way.
We catch the fire
from our God's eye
Chant While Moon Gazing
Hail fair Moon
Swaying breathless, beside the sea
Ruler of the night;
we call the Goddess
Guard me and mine
So mote it be!
Until the light"
By Patricia Telesco

Recipes

Midsummer Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon rind
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans

Cream butter in a large non-metallic mixing bowl. Gradually add the brown sugar, mixing well. Add eggs, lemon juice, and rind, then mix well until mixture is well blended. Cover the bowl with a white or yellow towel or cloth napkin, and refrigerate overnight. The next day, shape dough into 1" balls and place approx 3" apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for abut 20 minutes. Cool on racks. Makes 36.

Sun's Up Cobbler

Ingredients:

  • 1 - 1 lb. 14 oz. can (3 1/2 cups) halved peaches
  • 3 slices slightly dry bread (toast on light)
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Drain peaches, reserving 1 cup syrup. In a pan, combine cornstarch and salt and slowly blend in reserved syrup. Over med-high heat, cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and cook and stir for 2minutes. Add lemon juice, butter or margarine and peaches. Heat JUST to bubbling. Pour into 10x6x11/2 inch baking dish.

Cut bread lengthwise into 1 inch strips. Dip into 1/4 cup melted butter, then into mixture of sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Arrange over peaches. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until toasty. Serve with cream (optional) Makes 6 servings.

Lunchtime Cranberry Sun Mold

Ingredients:

  • 2 3 oz. packages orange flavored gelatin
  • 2 7 oz. bottles ginger ale
  • 1 1 lb. can whole cranberry sauce
  • 2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
  • 1 8 3/4 oz. crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned

In saucepan, combine gelatin and cranberry sauce. Heat and stir until almost boiling. Stir in undrained crushed pineapple and ginger ale. Remove from heat and stir until fizzing has stopped. Pour into round mold. Chill until set. Unmold onto a serving dish with a layer of lettuce leaf bedding. Garnish with orange and grapefruit sections. Top with alternating orange and grapefruit sections in a "pinwheel" array. Serve as salad or dessert.

High-In-The-Sky Sunny Sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 4 French rolls
  • 4 slices pressed ham
  • Butter or margarine, softened
  • 4 slices salami
  • Several lettuce leafs
  • 2 hard cooked eggs, sliced
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
  • French salad dressing

Split rolls lengthwise, cutting to but not through crust at back. Spread cut surfaces with butter or margarine. For each sandwich: Cover bottom half with a couple lettuce leafs, then slice cheese and cut lengthwise for julienne strips and add a few strips, fold slices of ham and salami and add. Place egg slices (3) atop folded meats. Drizzle approximately 1 tbs. of French salad dressing over each sandwich. Makes 4 servings.

Setting Sun Taco Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 package dry taco mix
  • 1/2 cup sliced ripe olives
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 med head lettuce, shredded
  • 1 6oz package corn chips
  • 1 large tomato, halved and sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced and rings separated

In skillet, brown the ground beef. Sprinkle in the package of taco mix and stir in the water. Simmer uncovered for approximately 10 minutes. In a salad bowl, combine all the rest of the ingredients except the chips. Divide salad onto 4-6 plates, spoon meat mixture on top, and garnish with chips.

Bright Memories Parfait

Ingredients:

  • 1 2 3/4 oz. package vanilla custard mix (no bake type)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1 lb. 5 oz. can pineapple pie filling
  • 2 3 oz. packages cream cheese, softened

In sauce pan prepare custard according to the package directions using the milk. Remove from heat. Gradually stir cheese into hot mixture, mixing well. Stir in vanilla. Chill custard mixture and pie filling separately until ready to serve. When ready to serve, spoon alternate layers of mixture and pie filling into parfait or juice glasses. Top with some type of berries if desired. Serves 6.

Warm Glow Applesauce

Ingredients:

  • 8 med apples, cored, pared, and cubed
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 or 6 drops red food coloring
  • 1/4 cup water

Put apples, sugar, water, lemon juice, and food coloring in blender; cover and blend until smooth. Heat in sauce pan on low to serve warm, or chill. Makes 4 1 cup servings.