Updated: Jun 12
Litha, also known as Midsummer or Summer Solstice, is a celebration of the longest day of the year and the peak of the sun's power. It is typically celebrated on June 20th or 21st in the Northern Hemisphere, and December 20th or 21st in the Southern Hemisphere.
Litha is an important holiday in many pagan and Wiccan traditions, and is often seen as a time of renewal, abundance, and growth. It is a time to celebrate the power of the sun, and to honor the earth's bounty and fertility. Many people celebrate Litha by spending time outdoors, enjoying the warmth and light of the sun, and participating in rituals or ceremonies that honor the natural world.
Some common Litha traditions include lighting bonfires or candles, wearing bright colors or flower crowns, and gathering and eating fresh herbs and fruits. It is also a popular time for handfastings, or pagan weddings, as the energy of the sun is seen as a powerful force for love and commitment. Overall, Litha is a time to celebrate the abundance of life and the power of the sun, and to honor the natural cycles of growth and change that are present in the world around us.
Legend and Lore
This year it looks like we are to be blessed with good weather as we celebrate another turn of the wheel and the longest day of the year. From this day forward the nights will grow shorter (sigh) and the Holly King will become stronger, until the Oak King is finally defeated.
The legend of the Holly King and Oak King may be familiar to you; The Oak King, sometimes depicted as the ‘Green Man’, adorned with oak leaves, represents the height of summer, abundance and fertility; the Holly King, dressed in a green robe, often decorated with holly leaves and berries, represents the cooler winter months and is sometimes depicted driving eight stags (sound familiar?). Santa Claus or St Nicholas was originally represented as wearing a green robe and not red, so this character is likely to be an amalgamation of several characters, one of which is the Holly King!
Wiccans believe that the Oak King is defeated at midsummer and rules until Yuletide, however others believe the battle takes place at the Equinoxes, where the Oak King is at his strongest during Midsummer, or Litha, and the Holly King is dominant during Yule. Whichever path you follow, the celebration of abundance and prosperity can be enjoyed during this time!
Fire is an integral element to most pagan celebrations. Fires were used as a magical aid to strengthen the sun’s powers, drive out evil, bring prosperity and fertility and to purify. In ancient times, wheels bound with straw or gorse bales were set alight and rolled down steep hills into a body of water.Bonfires were lit and feasts and festivities would take place.
Litha is also a very popular time for handfasting, or vow renewal, when the weather is warm, the flowers are sweet and in full bloom at a time of abundance and plenty.
Many believe that the Summer Solstice is the day when faerie folk pass into the human world to offer blessings. Some people keep flower wreaths at their door to welcome this goodwill. Shakespeare also refers to the magic of this special day in his play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, presenting its powerful symbolism.
There are many ways in which we can celebrate Litha, here are just a few ideas:
Gather your herbs – herbs gathered at midnight on midsummer’s eve were said to have unparalleled potency. Use fresh, or dry upside down for use in spells, cookery or rituals.
Manifest your love – Litha is a perfect time to get married, renew wedding vows and to celebrate love. If your single and want to bring love into your life, the solstice is a perfect evening to manifest your inner goddess and fill yourself with radiating positive energy.
Celebrate with food! - there are some great recipes online for Litha cookies, cakes and treats. Using herbs and honey is traditional and represents the abundance of the land. Decorate with edible marigold flowers, or if you’re feeling creative, make goddess shaped biscuits! (Link to recipe below)
Get crafty! - Making a Litha sun wheel is great fun for kids and adults alike. Create a spoked wheel by fashioning a simple cross from straw, (you could use lollipop sticks or even chopsticks) and wrapping orange, yellow and red wool or yarn around each spoke, in a spiral until you reach the end. Get as creative as you like by adding flowers, feathers, crystals, more spokes or weave into an unusual pattern.
Make a fire – Fire is a great cleanser, so by sharing our stories, releasing things that no longer serve us and manifesting what we desire, we can weave powerful magick. Light a small bonfire or fire pit safely if you have the space or simply burn brightly coloured candles. You can dress your candles in summer herbs and essential oils for a beautiful look and aroma.
Make a flower crown – another fun activity for children, but I will be making one for myself too! You could use an old headband or costume tiara as a base, or just a simple loose loop of string. Decorate with flowers, colourful ribbons, feathers and wrap with twine – if you’re feeling super creative, add butterflies, bees and fairies!
Crystal correspondences – sunstone, goldstone, malachite, tiger’s eye, jade, citrine, carnelian
Add to your altar – oak leaves, sunflowers, marigolds, goddess amulets, orange, red and yellow candles, coins, herbs.
Herbs & plants: St John’s Wort, parsley, rose, fennel, daisy, dandelion, nettle
Colours: orange, red, yellow, gold, bronze, green
Deities: Lugh, Ra, Helios, Sulis, Oak King, Sol, Apollo, Mithras, Surya.
Recipe for Solstice Biscuits
200g of softened butter
200g of caster sugar
400g of plain flour
1 egg, beaten
Cream the butter and sugar together. Once thoroughly blended, gradually add the beaten egg and sifted flour until a dough forms.
Wrap in paper (or cling film, but we prefer to be eco-friendly here at Witch HQ) and leave to chill in the fridge for an hour.
Roll out onto a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin. Cut to the shape you want, or use a cutter. Transfer the biscuits to a baking tray and pop in the oven for 12 to 14 minutes at fan 170.
When cooled, decorate with icing, flower petals or you could add sunflower seeds, representing the light half of the year and poppy seeds for the dark half of the year.