If you’ve been keeping up with me for a while you all know that my favorite sabbat is Midsummer, the Summer Solstice. I have wonderful summer memories from my childhood as well as always having had a bang-up Litha (the other name for the sabbat). This is the first summer in several years that I truly feel the significance of the holiday since so much has changed in my life recently. I will be conducting a special ritual and spell on June 21st. You can read more about it at mysticspells.com.
Here is some information on the Summer Solstice written by Sarah Todd:
Summer Solstice is also called Litha or St. John’s Day, and in Pagan times it was an important religious event. Tribes would gather to celebrate the longest day of the year. Whole communities would participate in the celebration, paying homage to nature and the planets. Mother Earth was commemorated as “The Goddess”, while “The God” was represented as the Sun King. The festivities were filled with color – yellow for the harvest, green representing nature and blue for the sky. Some of the rituals that took place during Summer Solstice are kept alive today by modern Pagan faiths. They include:
1. Staying up all night to welcome the rising sun at dawn.
2. Keeping a sacred fire burning all night.
3. Dancing around the sacred fire to the beat of drums.
4. Burning a Yule wreath in the sacred fire.
5. Making a promise to Mother Nature to do something to improve the environment.
6. Exchanging magical gifts with fellow Pagans.
7. Exchanging songs, stories and poems with other people.
Summer Solstice was celebrated by the Slavs, the Celts and many Germanic tribes, with massive bonfires a main feature of the festivities. The Druids celebrated it as the marriage of Heaven and Earth. Customs and rituals were performed all over Europe, and over time Summer Solstice evolved into a night of fire festivals and love magic. Oracles were consulted, predictions were made and spells were cast. Midsummer Night became focused on lovers and fortune telling, commemorating the magic of the year’s shortest night, nature and the woods. A maiden could learn the identity of her future husband, a pair of lovers could leap through the bonfire flames to bring them luck and spirits and demons would be banished. Other leapt over the flames in the belief that the higher the leap the taller the crops that year! Customs to ensure the health and fertility of the land, domestic animals and humans were performed, and the church, the nobility and the peasants would join in the celebrations. Cities and towns marked the occasion with parades, plays and festivals in the market place, the town green and nearby forests.
Adding to the celebration of nature and her gifts was the inclusion of herbal potions, water and brooks that were supposed to contain healing attributes. Water customs conducted during the Summer Solstice, such as cleaning and decorating fountains and wells persist in many European cultures to this day. The Germanic tribes called this festival “Johannisnacht”, and tell of the healing powers of a magical pool and a fern that blooms only at Midsummer. Herbs gathered at this time and specific foods like baked elder flower blossoms were also believed to be able to heal and bring health.