The Magick of Litha
Litha, also known as the Summer Solstice or Midsummer is the time of the longest daylight hours due to the position of the Earth to the Sun. This falls each year, in the UK, on either the 21st or 20th of June, with it falling on the 20th of June in 2020.
Litha also marks the first day of summer. As a sun festival, it is traditionally marked with fires. Historically, these fires were lit at night and festivities took place around them. Often the fires were lit on Midsummer’s Eve, the night before the solstice and were kept burning to welcome in the sun at sunrise, hence the phrase ‘setting the watch’. Oak was sometimes burnt and the ash and coals
scattered on crops, once cooled, to encourage a good harvest.
It is said that if you spend Midsummer’s night sitting in a stone circle the fae will appear to you. However, to protect yourself from their mischief you should carry rue in your pocket or turn your coat inside out.
Many traditions celebrate the summer solstice and many mark the occasion with ritual dance and song. It is a time of fertility, when the Earth is abundant with life and as such it is a traditional time for handfasting. This is an ancient marriage ceremony that is becoming increasingly popular today, which involves the binding together of a couple’s hands to symbolise their commitment to each other. Often the hands are kept bound together for a day, but in some traditions, such as in Scotland, the binding can be expected to last a year. This is where the expression ‘tying the knot’ comes from.
Colours to celebrate with at Litha include the colours of summer; blue for the sky, green for the grass and yellow for the sun.
Many Pagans celebrate the legend of the Oak King and his brother, the Holly King. Each King dominants for half of the year and at Litha, the Oak King is the strongest. However, the Holly King will soon return to wage war until he, in turn, regains full rule at Yule.
Whatever your path, Litha is a time of magic and witchcraft. Shakespeare referred to Midsummer as a time of witchcraft in three of his plays. It is certainly a time when it is difficult not to feel a sense of wonder and awe at the display of nature around us. However you choose to celebrate, have a happy Litha.