Wicca Weekly: Litha
Hello My dear Followers,
It’s been brought to myattention that it’s been a while since I actually wrote a Wicca Weekly post that wasn’t a personal update or the answering of a specific question. Let’s fix that. My goal in the near future is to finish the holiday series so that when someone asks me what they need to know in their first steps of pagandom I can send them to a Holidays post.
So far I have done
Since I have been (sorta) going in order, this means the next holiday up for explanation is Litha/Midsummer. Speaking from experience a lot of people know the name of the holiday..but haven’t the foggiest idea of what to do.
Well, I am here to help clear things up for you.
Litha: The Longest Day
Litha, also called midsummer, is celebrated on the longest day of the year. When that is depends on where you live. In the Northern Hemisphere it is June 21st or 22nd, in the Southern Hemisphere it is December 21st or 22nd. I would suggest looking into the solar charts of you area to find out exactly when this day is for you.
The name Litha comes from the Saxons and their name for the month of June, which was Aerra Litha. They celebrated this day as the day when the Light won the battle over the darkness. They would make huge bonfires at the tops of hills in order to connect the earth with the sky. One tradition that is depicted in old artwork has the people of Europe lighting wheels on fire and rolling them into water to connect the worlds of fire and water. The purpose of this has been lost and some people aren’t sure that it ever happened at all since wheels were particularly expensive.
Early Christian Monks even marked this day on their calendars, who would also build bonfires in order to connect themselves with the heavens and honor the sky that was in between. There are only a few surviving documents that talk about this so it is hard to know exactly what Christians did at this time, though it is commonly called St. Hans Day. However it has become St John the Baptists Day in modern reckoning.
This day was also the day when Roman pantheons celebrated the goddess Juno, also called Juna de Luna, or Juno of the Moon. Juno is the Wife of of Juiptor and the goddess of women, childbirth, and marriage. Making this the day when man Roman citizens would get married. When celebrating Juno for this festival one would take offerings of salted meats to her temples, and some of the most devout would even fast themselves for eight days to get closer to the goddess, ask for her blessings on their home or ask her to give them the gift of a fertile union or an easy childbirth.
Midsummer holidays are still celebrated (thought not always realized) by the following countries:
- Austria with ships and the lighting of old castles,
- Brazil celebrate St. John’s Day,
- Bulgaria also celebrates St. John’s Day and Enyovden,
- Canada especially in Newfoundland where the celebrate the discovery of Newfoundland,
- Denmark celebrates St. John’s Eve, or sankthans
- Estonia celebrates John’s Day
- Faroe Islands celebrates jóansøka or John’s Eve by lighting a bonfire
- Finland originally celebrated Ukon juhla or Ukko’s Celebration after their Grandfather God Ukko, who was also a god of thunder and of the heavens. It was heralded by twin bonfires at the highest points available to a village with a great deal of dancing and feasting. Young maidens looking for fertility or suitors they would toss gifts into the fire in the hopes of getting one of these blessings. It is tradition for a woman seeking a husband to gather flowers from seven different types of flowers to make a bouquet to place under her pillow so that she might dream of her husband to be. It is still celebrated and as of 1955 it is always celebrated on a Saturday. As Finland became more Christianized, however, they began to call this festival Johannes Döparen. The real name of John the Baptist.
- France: Fête de la Saint-Jean, the Feast of Saint Jean.
- Germany: Sommersonnenwende still celebrates the Old Feast, and I found this following snippet that amuses me:
- On June 20, 1653 the Nuremburg town council issued the following order: “Where experience herefore have shown, that after the old heathen use, on John’s day in every year, in the country, as well in towns as villages, money and wood have been gathered by young folk, and there upon the so-called sonnenwendt or zimmet fire kindled, and thereat winebibbing, dancing about the said fire, leaping over the same, with burning of sundry herbs and flowers, and setting of brands from the said fire in the fields, and in many other ways all manner of superstitious work carried on — Therefore the Hon. Council of Nürnberg town neither can nor ought to forbear to do away with all such unbecoming superstition, paganism, and peril of fire on this coming day of St. John
for John the Baptist
traditonally did St. Ivan’s Night. Until the 19th
century Hungary called the month of June the Month of St. Ivan.
Bonfires were lit and young ladies would jump the fire while young
men watched. However, around the 5th century
Christanization shifted the festivity from the pagan Feast of St.
Ivan to a festival for John the Baptist. However, in true
Hungarian fashion, the far reaches of the country still celebrated
the feast of Ivan up until the 1930’s.
Tiregân which is a lovely and intricate festival
that I wont belittle by summarizing it in a couple of sentences,
however likemany of the midsumemr festivals it incorporates fire
is famous for it’s midsummer carnivals which has bonfires,
fireworks, festivals, carnivals, and is sometimes referred to as
St. John’s Night.
has celebrated St. John’s Day since the Renaissance. Especially in
Genoa since St. John is the patron saint of this area.
while almost completely forgotten now Jersey used to celebrate Les
cônes d'la Saint Jean all the way
up till 1970.
still recognizes the feast of
by eating special foods, drinking bear, dancing and singing as
well as the traditional bonfire. Women wear flower wreaths and
jump the bonfire, and the wearing of Oak leaves by the men. There
are a thousand of smalelr traditions that vary from one city to
the next for a miriad of reasons, I highly suggest looking into
celebrates the Festival of St. Johannes.
recognizes St. John’s Wake were many did a pilgrimage to a
specific church. Also mock weddings, bonfires, and the wearing of
flowers are nightly traditions. It is believed that if a girl puts
flowers beneath her pillow on this night she will dream of her
people wear tradition polka garments, and girls throw flowers into
the water to ask for blessings of love.
Populares which is the Feast of Popular Saints.
It is a VERY big festival with far too many intricacies and
traditions for me to put here. But dancings, merriment, tricana
girls, and much much more are traditional.
actually has two festivals Drăgaica or Sânziene. For Drăgaica
five to seven girls form a group, one of them is called the
Drăgaica. She is dresses as a bride with a wreath of flowers the
others have crowns of wheat. They dance and form the center of
merriment for this festival. Sânziene is the romani word for the
latin term Sancta Diana. The festival revolving around this
concept is more erotic in nature and revolves around a woman’s
Ivan Kupala was the old Kyiv Rus’ name for John the
Baptist. Up to the present day, the Rus’ Midsummer Night (or
Ivan’s Day…we know Ivan’s Day…right?) is known as one of the
most expressive Kyiv Rus’ folk and pagan holidays. Ivan
Kupala Day is the day of summer solstice celebrated in Ukraine and
Russia on June 23 and July 6. This is a pagan fertility rite,
which has been accepted into the Orthodox Christian calendar.
Bravo Russia/Ukrane. You kinda rock. Once again girls with flwoers
are a large part of this festival, as well as water (girls would
place flowers into water for blessing of sensuality and fertility)
Bonfires which both men and women would jump over. Also, nude
bathing is a thing. Lucky folks.
Kresna noč use to be celebrated on June 21., but during
Jugoslavia holiday was changed with maj. 1, international
workers day. Kresna noč was once associated with the
Slavic god Kresnik, who was eventually replaced by St. John
the Baptist.If you haven’t noticed a trend here…you really
aren’t paying attention.
has a LOT of tradition here. However it should be noted that St.
John is referred to at the Dancing Saint in Serbia and to dance
around a fire on this day is traditional.
you guys do anything small? Ever? Spain wins the cake for
incorporating pagan traditions into modern christian festivals. Go
look up midsummer in Spain…you’ll see what I mean. However Fire,
Water, and Medicine are themes here.
may be one of the most traditional in their celebrating of
midsummer. “In modern Sweden, Midsummer’s Eve and Midsummer’s
Day (Midsommarafton and Midsommardagen) were formerly celebrated
on 23 June and 24 June, but since 1953 the celebration has been
moved to the Friday and Saturday between 19 June and 26 June with
the main celebrations taking place on Friday. It is one of the
most important holidays of the year in Sweden, and probably the
most uniquely Swedish in the way it is celebrated. When Sweden got
its National day (6 June), discussions were held about making
Midsummer the Swedish national day because of the strong civil
celebration on this day.”
parts of the United Kingdom celebrated traditional midsummer
bonfires and feasts up until the 14th century.
believe it or not The United States…seriously…look for local
fairs around this holiday…you’ll notice there are about 30x
The God at Litha
- This Holiday falls opposite
Yule, and in such is associated with the God. On Litha the God in
his Oak King or Green Man form is at his strongest. In certain
wiccan traditions this is when the Holly King and the Oak king
battle or change power, in others this is when the God becomes
Father. This holiday is equal and opposite to Yule.
The Goddess at Litha
- Any goddess who is associated
with the Mother or Maternal aspects of the Goddess is accepted,
however Juno is most notorious on this day.
- You will notice that the lighting of bonfires is a huge part of this festival. Today is the day when light overtakes the dark. Light a bonfire as the sun disappears and keep it going as long as possible, traditionally all night.
- Looking for a spouse
- Once again, an ongoing theme for this festival is to gain the attention of a partner, particularly if you are female. Wear flowers and place them in water or put them beneath your pillow in order to gain a dream-like glimpse of your future partner.
- From Dark to Light
- The Wheel of the Year is split into two halve, the Light half of the Year and the Dark half of the year. Litha is the beginning of the Light half of the year and will continue until Yule.
- Fertility and Motherhood
- Yes, this is a holiday for the God of the Sun, but do not ignore the fact that the world is ripe and yielding it’s bounty unto us. The heat of the world gives forth to the fertility in those who are capable of giving birth.
- Being outside
- If ever there was a festival where you should close up your computer, leave your phone at home, and just go outside to be outside…this is the day for it. From the time the sun is up until you can’t handle being around the bonfire another moment, go outside. Go for a nature walk, pack a picnic lunch, and plan for a BBQ. No seriously…BBQ…in the covens I have been a part of having a BBQ on this day is a two fold thing. First you have your fire, second you are outside. And who is gonna say no to an awesome BBQ?
- Citrus in general as they are
big into the soaking up of the energy of the sun
- Berry Pies
- Summer Squash
- All locally grown fresh fruits
- Anything that can go on a grill
but especially chicken or pork
Rituals and Ceremonies
- What you want to do as you Litha
Ritual is entirely up to you please check the Themes in this post
to give you an idea for your intent.
- Do not be too serious on this
holiday. If there is a holiday that is all about celebration this
one is it. Dance, sing, rejoice.
- Getting in touch with the God. I
know of many pagans who do not have the same connection with the
God as they do with the Goddess. My whole hearted advice is to use
this holiday and the holiday of Yule to change that. This holiday
is fairly easy…go outside. Go play. Bask in the warmth of the sun
and feel the heat not just on your skin but in your very heart.
- All women, both with vaginas and
without, go collect flowers. Collect them, wear them, and put them
in the water or under your pillow. Even if you aren’t looking for a
partner this helps reestablish a connection to the sun, the earth,
and the God.
- All men, with penises and
without, collect wood for the bonfire. As you collect each stick
think on the Green Man and let his spirit wake up in you.
- I know I’ve said this like three
times…but host a BBQ. Invite friends and family. Turn on your
radio, laugh, sing, dance, eat drink and be merry. This is the best
ritual that you can offer this day.