Summer Solstice/Litha/Midsummer

Posted by on Jun 20, 2013 in Spirituality | 4 comments

The summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, also called Litha or midsummer, comes around about the 20th or 21st of June. (In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s usually on the 20th or 21st of December.) It’s the longest day and the shortest night of the year because the sun rises as high as it can go, so we get more daylight. From here on in, the days will be getting shorter and the nights longer until the winter solstice/Yule, when things turn around again. This is a joyful festival to celebrate growth and abundance, energy, and blessings of the sun.

Celebration

The summer solstice is midway into the growing season in Europe. According to The Pagan and the Pen, this isn’t actually the beginning of summer, as is so often believed. It’s actually the beginning of the end of summer. It just feels like the beginning of summer because the heat from the sun, which has been hanging around the heavens longer in the build-up to the solstice, gets absorbed into the earth and is released gradually. We’re typically hit with its heat in July and August.

Midsummer can be celebrated on the evening before the solstice day, at sunrise on the day of the solstice, or at the moment of the solstice, as is done in sacred places around the world (Stonehenge, for instance). Neo-Pagans and people from other traditions celebrate the beauty and goodness of the sun because without it, nothing would grow (including humans).

However, in an article by Ian O’Neill for DiscoveryNews about the summer solstice, he points out that although the sun is crucial to life, we also should be thankful for the way our planet is tilted. If it wasn’t,

[t]here would be no seasons, and the world as we know it would be a very different place: a lifeless desert around the equator and frozen poles equally as hostile to life.

So perhaps it’s more accurate to say that we celebrate the mechanism of life on this planet at the summer solstice, where everything in nature works together to maintain a delicate balance.

Growth and Abundance

The summer solstice is the time of the first harvest. Things are growing all around us and we can see that, though not everything has achieved ripeness for harvesting. Many vegetables have a way to go yet, but some herbs can be harvested. We see flowers all over the place. We also see creatures running and buzzing all around us.

Growth is a beautiful thing because it reaffirms life, so midsummer is a time to be joyful. If we were moving with the rhythm of the earth then we planted seeds during previous festivals. During Imbolc, we purified ourselves of crap that could get in the way of future growth. At Ostara, we honored fertility and clarified our desires. At the beginning of May, Beltane, we celebrated the promise of future abundance as we recognized that there was still a lot of work to do. If we went through all of that, we can see that the work isn’t over, but we’re beginning to see results. The growth of those seeds is unstoppable, and their results will nourish us for months to come.

Tower against a large rising sun

“Castle Hill’s Victoria Tower in the UK silhouetted against the setting sun at the summer solstice on 21 June 1990″ Photo copyright Les Shaw, courtesy of Creative Commons

Energy

The sun is pure energy, and the summer solstice is a good time to celebrate that. We can feel that energy and move with it to push us into greater achievements. Winter is the time to hibernate ideas and plans in the darkness; the summer is the time to go for it.

When writing about Beltane, I mentioned the Fool from the Tarot and how that festival marked the beginning of the Fool’s journey. The Rider-Waite-Smith deck, which has become one of the “standard” ones, shows the Fool dancing towards a cliff, about to head over it without a care in the world. It’s a symbol of leaping into action based on our instincts.

Midsummer is the time to take a leap or two of faith. Before we do, though, we need to check our foundation. This isn’t about being stupid. It’s about listening to what speaks deeply to our hearts and feeling what will pan out to our advantage at some point in the future, even if we’re not clear on exactly how that will happen. We’ll make mistakes, but so what? According to Jung (and many before and after him), we all have a Fool within us that knows all about mistakes and doesn’t give a rat’s ass about them. That’s the part of us that’s speaking to us during the summer solstice time, if we listen.

Blessings

Finally, midsummer is a time to open ourselves up to the blessings of fire: energy and life, protection from things in the darkness of the mind that can drag us down, and optimism for the future. We can even ask for these if we perform a summer solstice ritual. Just as we can’t be happy all the time, we can’t be bummed all the time either, and this is a festival where we’re allowed to recognize that.

Something that may block us from accepting the joyful blessings of midsummer is an uneasy feeling that we don’t deserve to be optimistic, to expect good things to come of our actions, and to simply enjoy life. But humans are a part of nature, not separate from it, and what’s true of animal and plant life is also true of human life. Any gardener knows that tilling the soil, planting the seeds, and nourishing them will bring them to maturity. Just why, exactly, should human life be any different?

True, things can get more complicated, as when we pour energy into the wrong things, but the inevitable blessings do come. It’s the human will that stands in the way then. In other words, we have greater control over the blessings we bring into our lives. Spirit cooperates, whether it’s bringing to fruition blessings that keep us tied to an inauthentic life or blessings that raise us to a higher level of consciousness. We can look upon the summer solstice as a reminder that blessings will come, but it’s our responsibility to ensure the blessings are in harmony with a greater good.

The summer solstice is the time to celebrate in ways that our everyday worries don’t often let us. It’s a time to appreciate how what we plant and tend indeed grows, that life has joy, that good things can and will come from our actions, and that sometimes, we just have to leap and trust.

Summer Solstice Inspiration

Rainbow




Tags: , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments

Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Astrid

    Hi,
    I am thankful for apositive post on summer solstice. For many of my friends, this is a triggering day due to the abuse involved in certain cults that celebrate this holiday. I appreciate the way you turn this around and actually use your abuse recovery blog to celebrate solstice (I know you’re not a ritual abuse blogger, but it’s good anyway). It is important that all people learn to appreciate the tiem of growth that we each go through.

    • rainbow

      Hi Astrid,

      I’m really glad you brought up this issue. While I don’t know much about ritual abuse, I know enough to understand that there are sick people out there who destroy Pagan festivals in this way. Faith Allen at Blooming Lotus once wrote that she felt many of these cults used such beliefs as an excuse to legitimize their abuse. As a sincere Neo-Pagan, this really sickens me!

      I’m very sorry that many ritual abuse survivors have terrible associations regarding these festivals. It robs them of their beauty (whether we celebrate them or not). Again, thank you for bringing this up because we all need to be sensitive to this very difficult issue.

      Rainbow

  2. Anna CQS

    Rainbow, a wonderfully upbeat celebration Summer Solstice writing! I really liked the Blessings in what you stated: “…blessings of fire: energy and life, protection from things in the darkness of the mind that can drag us down, and optimism for the future.” And this to soak in during summer time to carry us through the shortening daylight days and to Winter Solstice. Yes, Blessings will come and thank you for reminder. A blessing indeed!

    Happy Summer Solstice, Rainbow. Blessings to you, Blessed Be, and Shine on!

    • rainbow

      So glad, Anna, that this post lifted your spirits. I struggle sometimes to keep those blessings in mind, although it helps to take a walk every morning and soak up the beauty of summer growth.

      Blessings,
      Rainbow

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

© 2010-2014 Rainbow Gryphon All Rights Reserved.