Check out our video on The Magic of Litha - Summer Solstice. Steve will teach us about the magic and history of the pagan midsummer celebration of Litha. He will also lead us in a Transmutational Meditation to introduce us to Olwen the goddess of the Summer Solstice.
The Magic of Litha - Summer Solstice
As the sun reaches its heights, basks in its zenith. On the wheel of the year, throughout Northern Europe, we’ve reached the time of celebration, the Magic of Litha - Summer Solstice. Lugh the Celtic light bringer god moves through the land on his way to his festival of the corn harvest, Lughnasad on August 1st. He moves in response to our evocation bringing pleasure, passion, and the power of life. Lugh carries the lamp as a magical weapon (or magical tool.) It shines light into any darkness, or symbolically brings the light of consciousness into the darkest unexplored or repressed places in our unconscious minds. His light transmuting trauma and pain into joy and the energy that fills our power.
Litha (the pagan name for the Summer Solstice) celebrates the longest day of the year. The hours of daylight are at their most plentiful and the sun is at its zenith in Northern Europe. It is the time of warmth and radiance. Litha was originally celebrated as the culmination of the summer but as time evolved so did the seasons. Now the Summer Solsitice marks the beginning of Summer. The light and warmth now spread out across July and August, even into the first few weeks of September.
A Celebration of Nature
Part of the Magic of Litha - Summer Solstice is found in nature herself. She’s alive and vibrant. Her color magic resounds throughout the natural world. The flowers, shrubs, plants, trees, leaves and animals vibrating their beauty across the green hedgerows and fields, forests, mountains, hills and glens. Birds fly across the skies, often in flocks, having arrived in Northern Europe from lands far away. Those with eyes to see them differently read the omens of the time from the patterns of their flight. Story has it that the ancient druids foretold the coming of the Christ this way thousands of years before the event.
The land itself is an expression of abundance and spirituality, the Immanence of the Goddess/Godhood. Alternatively, it can be seen as the expression of the enormity of who you really are. It is painted across the earth as a mirror image of your divine abundance and beauty.
What is the Spiritual and Magical history of the Pagan Calendar?
Pagan magic and spirituality, in all of its guises, works with what is known as a seasonal year, or the wheel of the year. Each year is seen as a reflection of the passing of time. It moves from birth, through childhood, as lover, as parent, as comfortable aging to death. Different parts of the year represent these energies. From a pagan religious point of view the year represented the goddess and the god in different stages of life.
- Imbolc (February 1st) - They are the child. It’s the time that pagans celebrate both childhood and the childish parts of self (for example play and wonder).
- Beltane (May 1st) - The goddess and the god are young adults, this is the time of sexuality, sexual exploration and passion.
- August 1st is Lammas or Lughnasad. - The goddess is heavily pregnant, the story of divinity is about to become about parenthood. Life is about a new way of loving and responsibility.
- Samhain (October 31st) - The goddess is the hag, the crone of wisdom, the bringer of death. The year is about to die and pagans celebrate and perform magic in relation to the counterbalance to life, death!
The Wheel of the year
- The Sabbats of the Equinoxes and Solstices, Ostara (Spring Equinox) Litha (Summer Solstice) Mabon (Autumn Equinox) and Yule (Winter Solstice - the longest night of the year) symbolize different aspects of physical and spiritual life.
- Traditionally seen as the East (the day dawns in the East.) Ostara is the province of Air and the land coming alive again after the long winter. The sap rises in the trees and many of the animals are born. Air is the province of the mind, both conscious and unconscious, the domain of thought, intellect and perception. This is a time of hope if you’re religious, or the focus of the mind and manifestation in your magic.
- Litha represents the element of fire and is placed in the South. The sun is at its height, and the days are warm and long. Life in many places in Northern Europe is hot in this season. As one moves south nearer and nearer the equator the sun and the heat become even more intense. The Magic of Litha - Summer Solstice is in the element of fire. Fire is associated with passion, power, masculinity, spirit, warmth, light and destruction.
- Traditionally is the element of water and is placed in the West. The days are a balance of 12 hours each of light and darkness and the longer nights are on the ascendancy. The rains come in their frequency and the land is colder than at the time of Litha. This is the time of the second harvest, the fruits, the nuts, the vegetables and wheat. Food is collected and stored for the barren winters as life prepares itself for hibernation. The magic here is about the survival of the tribe, family, friends and self. On a deeper level it's the magic of middle age.
- Mabon celebrates the understanding of life due to the age. Appreciation of the individual who has witnessed more rotations around the sun and the wheel of life. The magician or the witch has greater experience of how their magic works and may well reassess their goals and dreams. Water is the province of emotions and emotional growth and exploration.
- Representing the bardo, Yule is the domain of Earth and physicality. The land has died, we are at the longest night and the air is cold. If the year had been good there may have been slaughtered animals (cows, sheep or pigs) preserved for this celebration of death. Death and being in the bardo (the place between the worlds) is also the place of dreaming your new life and world alive. From here on in there will be more light. There’s a spark in the sky that brings the hope that the sun has been reborn. The ascendancy is towards the light and new life. In the darkness the witch or magician can explore their deeper inner self, their unconscious mind. From this place of creation empowering their journey with magic and their burgeoning spirituality and wisdom.
Tell me more about the spirituality and the magic of Litha
Litha is a celebration of life, when the days are bright, warm and vibrant. We are at the height of our energy, the zenith of our vitality. Life is about the external, the connection with others, in comparison to the winter (particularly for our ancestors) life is easy. The Summer Solstice is like a culmination of all the energies that started at Yule. Not only have the days become longer and longer but your goals, dreams and creation magic have gestated and are about to be born.
Sabbats and Sacred Trees
Litha and Yule (well all the Sabbats but these two in particular) have been associated with native trees. Litha was the time of the oak and Yule the holly tree. Yet the days from here on in are to become shorter bit by bit. The oak tree is dying, the god sacrifices himself so the land, the goddess and his people (children) may live. In the midst of celebration the goddess grieves for the loss of her lover and husband.
Even here in the height of the sun, one honors the journey to death. Life sacrifices itself so that others may live. The magician or witch knows that they must destroy in order to create. This is the very nature of spirituality and magic. Nowhere do you see it more vividly than in the practice of Immanence. It is the experience of your spiritual practice based in the land, the sun, the moon, the stars and the seasons themselves.
Yet with this cycle of joy and grief comes wisdom, a depth of spirituality, a power in the magic. For the magic of Litha is about fire, the source of power, creation and destruction and Spirit itself. At this extremity of experiences, typified by Litha, the magical practitioner can see the greater whole of the cycles of life. From here the magic becomes poignant and mastery can be realized. The magic of the sun at its height is phenomenal!
What are the Magical and Spiritual Benefits of Litha?
- The witch becomes receptive to life and spiritual and magical power at their heights. From gratitude the magical practitioner can view the incredible power of Earth based spirituality from the most elevated point available to them. As s/he moves into gratitude, the opportunity to align with, and thus utilize this energy and power is realized. Hence, gratitude becomes the greatest tool to spiritual and magical growth. As Litha is at the height of the year, magical and spiritual practice at this point is a great opportunity.
Illumination of the Unconscious Mind
- The magical weapon (symbolic tool) of Litha is the lamp. The Summer Solstice is also about having the light shining into the deepest and darkest places of self. Here it releases and heals trauma and memory and frees that energy for life, magic and spiritual discipline.
Balance of Life and Death
- Litha faces across the wheel of the year to Yule. Life at its greatest and highest reflects death at its greatest and deepest. There’s a saying from Oscar Wilde that says something like if you stand on the shoulders of giants you can see a long way. Litha is life as a giant, light at its height. Understanding and experiencing the power of the balance of life and death can be magic from the path of the deepest knowledge.
Celebration of light at its most vibrant
- The celebration of both ends of the scale is phenomenal for building your emotional power and gathering the juice for your magical practice. Access to emotional energy, particularly happiness, joy, celebration, can give your magic a potency almost second to none.
Enjoy the magic of Litha the celebration of light this Summer Solstice
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