In the pagan Wheel of the Year, the summer solstice is marked by the celebration of Litha, also known as Midsummer. In ancient cultures, the summer solstice was an enormously significant time of the year. Stonehenge and the Sphinx in Egypt are both oriented to the solstice sun.
The Solstice on June 21st is like the Full Moon of the year. It is a turning point. Leading up to the solstice, as days get longer and longer, our energy is high and our efforts are often pointed outward, into the world. We are busy and social and thinking about our goals for the year. After the solstice, the days shorten and we begin the journey of turning within, as we return to the Winter Solstice, when once again the night overtakes the day. What goals or resolutions were you initiating at the end of last year? Now we have a moment to reflect on how far we have come.
Astrologically, June 21st marks the transit of the Sun from the sign of Gemini into Cancer. Cancer, a cardinal water sign, is the sign of the Great Mother. It is a time of fertility and abundance, but there is still work to be done to tend to the fields to nurture and sustain growth. It is interesting timing that so many school-aged children are home again at this time. The hustle and bustle of Gemini begins to relax into the hazy days of summer.
It is no coincidence that summer memories are often the most nostalgic and sentimental. We look back with fondness at the days of splashing in the pool or ocean (again, Cancer is a water sign), eating delicious food, attending family gatherings. Cancer season is all about family - chosen or otherwise - and creating memories to last a lifetime. We tend to wish we could pause time in Cancer season, wanting to cling to the present and extend the sun-drenched days forever. Of course, this can also lead to smothering affections, forced family bonding, or being sensitive to a fault. Ultimately, we would do well to embrace the present for what it is - fleeting and yet, even more beautiful for its brevity.
Below are some rituals to celebrate Litha:
Waking up early to soak in the sunrise rays of the Solstice Sun
Like at the Full Moon, put your crystals and stones out in the sun to be cleansed
Leave an offering to the fairy folk
Sit around the fire pit and roast marshmallows
Head to the beach or lake and spend time in water
Spend as much time outdoors as possible
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.