Our Midsummer celebration is fast approaching, with the Summer Solstice falling on June 20th at 5:44pm (EDT) this year. We're back again to show you our Litha altar and share some recipes and ways to celebrate the longest day of 2020.
DISCLAIMER: Some items profiled in this article are sold in our shop at mysteriousdragonfyre.com. We recommend them because we use them regularly in our practice
Deity & Decoration
The Wheel turns again, and brings us the warmth of the Sun and the beautiful colours of nature in full bloom.
This is the time of year when the focus of our altar is all about flowers and butterflies. This is the perfect sabbat to honor Mother and Father Deities, especially Pregnant Goddesses and Sun Gods.
Cybele, Danu, Durga, Gaia, Hathor, Isis, Kali Ma, Mary, Parvati, Radha, Shakti, Tara, and Yemaya are all Mother Goddesses, while Dagda, Govinda, Odin, and Zeus are Father Gods. Apollo, Aten, Horus, Lugh, Ra, and Sunna are Solar Gods.
Decorating our Litha altar is always fun and colourful! There's a lot going on here (probably because it always feels like more is more with the summery altars), We've got a miniature orange tree and pretty yellow gerbera daisies. Unfortunately our Canadian gardens are just starting to bloom so there isn't much we can bring in from the garden yet, so a few potted plants add life to the altar.
There's a lot of yellows, oranges, and reds, the colours of the season. A green chime candle represents the Mother Goddess and a yellow one the Solar God, while Reiki votives representing Laughter, Joy, and Positive Energy brighten up the space. The altar cloth is a fun red with a white floral pattern. It's a little busy, but it ties in nicely with the season.
We also added a lot of stones, Carnelian, Garnet, and Citrine bringing out the colours of the Sun, while Tree and Moss Agates, Serpentine, Nephrite Jade, and Bloodstone represent the greens of Nature.
Also on display: a fantastic dragon incense holder with orange scented incense, seashells, butterfly stickers, and divination tools: a scrying mirror, miniature crystal ball, gold coloured rune beads, and a Faerie Rose Quartz pendulum.
Decorate your own altar with as much greenery as you would like, the more the better! Bees, butterflies, Faeries, dragons, sun wheels, seashells, and citrus fruits are perfect for your Litha altar.
Add green, red and yellow stones such as Emeralds, Green and Red Jades, Carnelian, Sunstone, Tiger Eye, and Citrine, and enhance your space with incense of cedar, frankincense, lemon, myrrh, rose, and lavender.
Traditional & Modern Ways to Celebrate
The Summer Solstice is all about family, friends, nature, and of course, the Sun! The most traditional thing you can do on Litha is to light bonfires (large ones outside, or smaller, more symbolic ones, inside) to honor this life-giving planetary body. This was done traditionally by almost all ancient peoples at this time of year, and continues on to modern times.
Jumping the fire or building two fires and dancing between them was a common way for our ancestors to celebrate Summer, and if you have a large enough property or access to open fields (and permits, I imagine), you can do the same. If you're reading this in any year other than 2020 (or possibly 2021), I would definitely suggest that you check for local celebrations, because this particular Solstice is well known for being the perfect time to have public, communal events. (*Always be safe when dealing with fires*)
Another traditional celebration during the Summer Solstice is to attend or host a handfasting. Even if you're already 'married', a handfasting ceremony is a beautiful , meaningful, and intimate way to bind yourself to the one you love. Instead of family and friends bringing gifts, plan ahead as a potluck, and everyone can bring something to eat or drink at the party!
The Spiral Dance
Lastly, the Spiral Dance is performed at Litha. You could probably figure out a way to dance it by yourself if you're a Solitary, but it's much more fun with others. Teach your friends and family (there are multiple videos on youtube) and dance it together, whether they're practicing Wiccans or not (after all, everyone dances!).
Spend Some Time with Nature
Show your love for Nature and the natural world. Spend some time in your garden, and if you don't have one, plant something. It can be as small as a potted herb on your windowsill or the construction of a new raised bed filled with vegetables in your yard. In fact, this year I built a small raised bed in my yard and filled it with native pollinator plants and a birdbath to attract more insects to my yard. Growing your own herbs, veggies, and flowers is a great way to get into the practice of Green Magic!
A great project you can do alone or with your children is to build birdhouses, bird feeders, insect condos, toad houses, and bee homes. Plans, ideas, and tutorials are easy to find all over the web.
Take a walk through the woods or wild park near your home. Pay attention to the proliferation of life all around you. Really, really take the time to actually see it, from the tiniest aphid on the stem of a flower to the hawk gliding overhead, to the deer quietly munching on some grass. Pick wildflowers slowly. Examine each one's beauty and complexity. Smell their unique scent (or stink), and thank each one for their gift of beauty and colour, and then bring them home and decorate your Litha altar with them.
Greet the Sun
One of my favorite things to do Litha morning is to greet the sunrise. I wake early, brew some Magical Summer Solstice Tea, pour a small glass of brandy, and grab two honey cakes. I sit outside and watch the special sunrise while giving thanks for all the beauty of the natural world that surrounds me. When I'm finished my tea and cake, I leave a small plate with the second cake and the cup of brandy for the Faeries. Faeries love sweets and booze. Don't have any? That's okay, they're good with milk or cream too. However, be careful when leaving offerings to the Wee Folk, they are notoriously mischievous and unless you'd like to invite that into your home, leave all offerings for them as far from your door as possible.
(Solstice Tea recipe can be found at mountainroseherbs.com, Mysterious Dragonfyre is in no way affiliated with them nor do we receive any compensation if you purchase anything from their shop.)
Build Faerie Houses
While we're on the subject of Faeries, another fun project you can do with your kids is to make Faerie houses and doors. Again, lots of ideas and how-to's can be found with a few clicks.
Cleanse your Altar
Litha is also the perfect time to clean, cleanse, and refresh your altar. Remove everything from your altar, clean it with natural cleaners (salt water with fresh pine needles is a perfect 'dual' agent here, cleaning and cleansing), cleanse it with smoke, and finally anoint your tools before placing them back on the altar and decorating it for the season.
Lastly, this is the perfect time for some divination, specifically through Fire and Water. Scrying through the flames of your bonfire, the water in your nearest pond, or even looking to the skies and using the clouds are perfect ways to celebrate the season.
Delicious Things to Eat
Traditional foods to enjoy and share with friends and family during Litha include: grilled foods (BBQ or any open flame), anything made with honey (such as honey cakes or mead), yellow, orange, and red foods to honor the Sun, juice made from fresh fruits (especially citrus), herbal teas (hot or iced), and all sorts of fresh fruits and veggies, especially from your own garden or your local Farmer's Market.
I usually give you a few recipes here to try at home, but I came across Raven and Crone (it's also an online store, but Mysterious Dragonfyre is in no way affiliated with them nor do we receive any compensation if you purchase anything from their shop) and they have a compilation of quite a few delicious Litha recipes , so we decided to post the link to their site and you can scroll through many there.
If you'd like a simple recipe for honey cakes made the way they did in Medieval times, we posted one in our Ostara blog post.
I would like to leave you with one very summery, very refreshing recipe before I let you go:
*Note* I like Jacob's Creek Moscato in this lemonade, but any sweet or sparkling wine will do just fine.
1 cup mixed fresh berries
1/2 cup frozen berries
2-3 sprigs fresh mint
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups water (filtered or spring)
juice of 10 lemons
1 small (750ml) bottle Moscato wine
1 lemon, sliced into rounds
*In a small saucepan over medium heat, add sugar and 1 cup of water. Heat, stirring well, until the sugar dissolves, then remove from heat.
*Add the fresh berries and mint to a large pitcher and crush lightly. Pour slightly cooled syrup over berries and mint and stir in lemon juice.
*Add the full bottle of wine and stir, then top up with remaining water (you may not need all of it).
*Lastly, add the frozen berries (to keep your Litha-ade cold), and add lemon slices (to make it look pretty and to remind you of the Sun), and enjoy with your barbecue!
Thank you for spending some of your time with me.
I wish you a blessed Litha!