The Summer Solstice is Upon Us! Learn About this Ancient Traditional Holiday
The summer solstice is upon us and we say, “Blessed be!”
Litha, the Midsummer Wiccan Sabbat, is an ancient celebration honoring the day of the year when the Sun sticks around the longest and takes place on June 21st. This is a tradition meant to celebrate life, Mother Nature, the spiritual path, and the glorious, golden, life-giving light of the Sun.
This tradition was born of a gratitude for the growing, healthy crops, the warm weather and the abundance of daylight. It is speculated that this celebration could have been observed as early on as the Stone Age. The summer solstice may even have been created by Neolithic humans as a means for determining when to plant, and later harvest, their precious crops.
“Solstice” is configured from the Latin words “sol,” which means Sun, and “stitium,” which essentially means to stop. It is as if the Sun stops moving for a day and simply plants himself in the heavens.
The Greeks had a celebration, called Kronia, around the same time as Midsummer that celebrated their god of agriculture. The Ancient Romans held a similar holiday that celebrated their goddess Vestalia, who guarded the hearth.
Many, many Midsummer celebrations are still practiced today. Every year, tens of thousands of people migrate to Stonehenge in England to create music, dance, pay homage to the stones, and watch the sun rise. In places like Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, the summer solstice is referred to as Ivan Kupala Day and takes place in July. Folks perform purification rituals, jump over bonfires, and don flower wreaths upon their heads to celebrate the summertime.
In the United States, thousands of people gather in New York City to practice yoga, while some citizens in Alaska play a game of midnight baseball.
Why not participate in your own summer solstice ritual? Here are some ideas for creating your very own Midsummer tradition.
Attune Yourself to the World Around You
Take the day to wander outdoors and get in touch with nature. Whether you take a hiking trail through the woods or lounge in the park on a travel hammock, just spend the day getting to know Mother Nature again. It may have been a while since you two have really spoken, but she’ll always be glad to see you.
Build a Witchy Bonfire
After spending your day outdoors in jubilation, gather your best witches and warlocks in a safe place where you can create an enclosed fire to celebrate the fiery energy of the Sun. Bring the ingredients for some S’mores, a few hand drums and a guitar, and get to dancin’ around the fire. Feel the energy and the heat of the fire and give praise to the powers that be for providing us with vitality, life, energy, love and sustenance. Try bringing some sparklers to really get the energy flowing. Tell stories and get to know each other, revel in the atmosphere of friendship and delicious life. Just make sure that you are Smokey-the-Bear-approved.
Dance, Dance, Dance!
One of the best ways to get back to your roots, to the spiritual core of your being, is to celebrate the miracle of life through dance. Dancing frees your mind as well as your body, boosting your confidence and filling you with the life-force of nature. If that isn’t enough to get your booty groovin’, dancing also reduces stress! How cool is that? Whether you form a drum circle or dance around your living room naked, be free, be uninhibited and dance your heart out.
Give Yourself in Service of Others
This is an excellent time to give of yourself, to donate your time to your community and contribute to our global consciousness. Maybe it’s something as small as spending a few hours in the park picking up litter. Or, try volunteering at your local animal shelter — you can give your time by cuddling with puppies and kittens! Visit the hospital or retirement community, or donate the clothes you no longer need to your local thrift shop. Whatever it is, you’ll feel better for having done your part to lift the vibrations of others and contribute positivity and compassion to the globe.
This is a time to enjoy your life, to rejoice in being alive and having love in your life. Create any ritual that reminds you to be grateful, excites your senses, enchants your soul and, of course, harms no one. There are no rules for celebration, no limitations on your imagination. Whatever you choose to do this Summer Solstice, do it with love and appreciation for the warm light of the Sun. We’d have absolutely nothing without him.