Sunday, May 20, 2007

Summer Solstice (aka Litha): An Explanation

The Sumer Solstice is also reffered to as Mid-Simmer (think Shakesphere's "Mid-Summer Nights Dream") or Litha. This is one of the 8 major Sabbats or High Holy Days in most Witches Calendars. It falls on the longest day of the year - in the Northern~Hemisphere anyway (usually between June 20 - 23) This year it falls on June 21.

As it is the longest day of the year - it is not surprising the Holy Day is all about celebrating the Sun and its corresponding deities. In Wicca the Sun is represented by male deities but in Celtic witchcraft there is no gender alone associated with it - we have both female and male deities associated with the sun {see below for associated Celtic Deities}. This day is also about celebrating the abundance is what spring has wroght after Beltane - the previous Sabbat. It celebrates the abundance of Summers warmth and strength - the creativity and growth Summer facilitates. SO even as we celebrate the Sun we also celebrate the drastic contrast of the Summer Thunder Storms. So, at the time of celebrating all this richness and abundance we are recognizing and respecting the inevitability of decay, the cycle of birth to re-birth. This makes the Summer Solstice a great time of year to tend teh garden, pick herbs, etc.

Elements associated with Summer Solstice are Fire and Water. But, keep in mind that the High Holy Days are often represented as a wheel of teh year - as such it folls or flows from one Sabbat to the next - so there is some overlapping in associations: meaning some of the associations are the same as Beltane and some are teh same as Lughnasadh (August 1), and beyond in both directions. Along this reasoning - water is most associated with Fall while Fire is Spring and Summer.

How do the other elements relate to a "Fire Sabbat?"
Across from the Mid-Summer on the wheel of the year is Yule (The Winter Solstice = Winter, North). Its element is Earth. The 2 Equinoxes associated with Air and Water are Ostara and Mabon (respectively). Therefore - the Summer Solstice is "complimented" by Air and Water, and "opposed" by Earth. Earth and Fire balance eachother, understandably, as most fires are built on the earth or framed by it - but earth is also one of the best ways of extinguishing a fire. So, if you raise too much energy w/in your circle - you're "on fire" from it, you ground by conne conecting to the element of Earth. Fire cannot butn without Air - it needs it, which is why Air complements Fire. Symbolically, the beginings of magick in our circle begin at the East (Air) - so to raise the energy w/in your circle, your "fire" as it were, you need Air. But, you might be wondering how Water can complement and not oppose fire, as it also extinguishes Fire. BUT in many cultures Fire is a God aspect and Water is the Goddess aspect - you need both to complement the other.

The Summer Solstice also celebrated teh battle between the Oak King and the Holly King. The year is rolling toward winter and the abundance of the Oak must battle the decay of the Holly. From the Summer Solstice on, the days begin to become shorter and shorter, the harvest bgins to ripen, etc. So, while on this day the Oak King is at his strongest, He is challenged by Holly - the oncomming of Winter. The Oak King is thought of as the Goddesses consort - Her lover and partner in abundance and fertility. (He's the Green Man who marries Her at Beltane) on beltane this Green Man is very green, covered in foliage - by Mid-Summer he is represented by a single tree - he has matured. (By Lugnasadh His leaves have begun to turn and he isa ging unto decay and "death" of Winter.)

Many ancient Celts would pick summer grasses and toss them into the sea thanking Manannian Mac Lir for allowing the land to remain above the water for another year. Many Duids conscider this time a time of great Healing - as we gather our strongest herbs at this time. So many will recite the story of Dian Cecht as a part of their rituals: See other post.

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