It’s hot again – uncomfortably hot. We wear light, loose clothing and do any strenuous activities early in the morning or late in the evening. And the evening goes on and on, encouraging us to spend time outside, grilling food and relaxing with friends. Peaches, plums and apricots are in season. Summer has officially arrived, beginning technically this year with Litha on the 20th or 21st of June depending on your time zone.
The whole world seems to be in celebration mode now, even if they aren’t pagans celebrating the solstice. Maybe it’s the ripe corn and stone fruit telling out instinctual selves that this is the beginning of the abundant time of the year. Maybe it’s just the heat making all of our molecules dance faster. We all start going on vacation or at least heading to the beach or the park on the weekends, enjoying the world outside our homes once again.
Here, where I live, we have the annual Summer Solstice Parade & Festival (not always on the actual solstice due to the fact that it doesn’t always fall on a weekend). All of the creative, weird, enthusiastic and talented people get together and make human-powered art for all to see. There are dancers and people in costume, huge paper mache floats and decorated bikes ans strollers. The music makes you want to dance and the colors are vivid and beautiful. This year’s theme is “Unity” – pictures to follow here soon, because I’m going!
In myth and legend, Litha celebrates the zenith of the Oak King’s rule. On the longest day of the year we know that every day that follows will be a little bit shorter, beginning the dark time of the year, the reign of the Holly King. Litha is a fire and fertility celebration, mimicking the abundance all around at this time of the year. Animals have borne their young, the fields have been planted and are bearing fruit, and the heat makes the smell of strawberries rise from the fields. It is almost all too much! But as part of the cycle of the year, we know, too, that this riot of color and fecundity is fleeting. We celebrate it and give thanks while it lasts.
This is also a time when, if you are so inclined, you can contact the little people, the nature spirits who inhabit all lands. Passively, you may leave an offering of honeycomb and milk or mead as a message of respect and welcome outside your home. More proactively, you may choose to cast a circle and invite these beings to join you in celebration. Always be respectful of these guardians of nature, avoiding eye contact and words of gratitude. Show your gratitude and respect, don’t speak it. Actions speak louder than words in the wilds.
Personally, I plan to get some mead and sunflowers for my altar, cast my circle, and reflect on the abundance of spiritual gifts I’ve received since this time last year. Also, of course, taking stock of what I’d like to change will surely lead to a ritual of letting go as well. Earth Mother, Danu, will be invoked to guide me to further abundance, wisdom and prosperity going forward. Then, as with any holiday, a small feast will be in order! Mead, bread, and spicy, fiery food are the order of the day, with peaches for dessert, I think…
How will you mark this holy day? Share in the comments or on Facebook.