Updated: Jun 22
Celebrating Midsummer, as we reach the longest day of the year.
The Summer Solstice, also known as Litha, St John's Eve or Midsummer, is the point when we experience maximum sunlight.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the Earth has reached its maximum tilt towards the Sun, providing the longest day and shortest night of the year.
Litha, as a description for this celebration, is a reasonably recent addition introduced in the 1970s. As far as records indicate, we believe Litha means 'gentle' or 'navigable', referring to the calm breezes surrounding the seas at this time of year.
Historically, celebrating Midsummer can be traced back to the early 12th and 13th centuries, when records show that communities would light bonfires on Saint John's Eve.
Fires were thought to represent the power of solar energy and the ability of fire to protect against supernatural forces.
There are stories of farmers walking lit torches around their fields to bless and protect their harvest and livestock. History also gives us one of the symbols of the Summer Solstice, the wheel. In ancient communities across Europe, wheels would be lit and guided down the hills with sticks, as a form of divination to indicate the nature of the harvest.
The Summer Solstice also marks the Sun's transit into cardinal water sign Cancer. Cancer energy brings our focus to family, home, and our foundations. Spending time enjoying yourself with loved ones is a simple but beautiful way to celebrate the Summer Solstice.
Today, one of the things we celebrate is the beauty of nature, which like the Sun, is at the peak of its power at this time of year. Plants and flowers have done the hard work of growth through Spring and are now in full splendour enjoying the warm weather.
There is a message for us to take a lesson from nature and consider the Summer Solstice as a period to relax and enjoy ourselves as we absorb that powerful solar energy. We naturally feel more joyful and want to spend more time in the open air at this time of year, and we must permit ourselves to relax!
You may notice some similar themes that we explored at Beltane, and that is because the energy flows across the season.
So, the themes of this time of year relate to abundance, creativity, health, home and hearth, success, growth, banishing, manifestation and inspiration.
Ways to celebrate
Spend some time outdoors with friends and family, and weather permitting, enjoy the feeling of the summer Sun on your skin (safely).
You could have a picnic and enjoy the feeling of connection with loved ones.
You could even incorporate some kitchen witchery with Summer Solstice correspondences such as summer fruits, vegetables, honey cakes, cream, ice cream, etc.
Alternatively, spend time alone outdoors in quiet reflection. You could use this time to connect with your plant allies, as the Summer Solstice was a traditional time to gather and forage for botanicals, such as St John's Wort.
You could also meditate outdoors or simply enjoy time in the garden or park reading or journalling. Summer can be a busy time for socialising, so prioritising some time for solitude can be vital for your wellbeing.
While the Summer Solstice is a joyous, social celebration, it is also a time to pause and reflect on the waxing year as we proceed into the darker half of the year.
Consider how the seeds of intention you planted at Imbolc have manifested? Are you still on track? Are you still in alignment with those things, or has something changed?
Journalling or divination may help you with your reflective practice.
It is also time to celebrate your achievements and use the power of the solar energy to acknowledge your unique talents.
Spend time reading about Sun worship or solar deities from around the world. There is a long history of ancient civilisations worshiping solar deities, including the Egyptians, Romans, Mayans and even the Celts. Learning about their mythology is fascinating, even if you do not involve deities in your practice.
Alternatively, read Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare to lean into the faery energy that abounds at this time of year.
And speaking of the fae, Midsummer is historically associated with these spirit beings, believing that the Otherworld is more easily contactable at liminal points such as the Summer Solstice.
Views of the fae as either benevolent, tricky or even troublesome vary depending on belief, mythology and culture.
However, many witches will acknowledge the fae during their Summer Solstice rituals by leaving offerings and asking for their blessings.
A simple way to celebrate the Summer Solstice is to get up early and watch the sunrise.
Welcome the rise of the Sun.
If you can, you could even do the sun salutation yoga flow as part of your celebrations. Alternatively, give a simple thanks to the role of solar energy in your life and all the things it brings you.
As we've explored, fire is essential to many Summer Solstice celebrations across Europe.
Today, we can't all have bonfires, but we can work with the element of fire by burning candles on our altar, petitions in our cauldron representing what we want to release, or working with a fire pit in our gardens.
Fire is a flexible element that can cleanse, transmute, protect, banish, attract, and manifest.
Just remember – fire safety first!!
We'd recommend candle magic, which is incredibly potent at the Summer Solstice.
Consider using red, yellow, orange or gold candles for Summer Solstice correspondences.
You could also enhance the solar energies with Sun-ruled herbs such as chamomile, calendula, sunflower, basil and bay. Crystals such as citrine, sunstone, amber, and carnelian also hold the Sun's energy.
Divination is also historically associated with the Summer Solstice, with evidence of divinatory practices on St John's Eve going back to the 12th century.
You could do a tarot, oracle, or rune spread to reflect on the waxing year or gain insights into what the waning year will bring you.
Alternatively, try new divination methods such as fire scrying or try and read the symbols of nature as you spend time outdoors.
Don't forget that there is no requirement to celebrate the Summer Solstice or any other sabbats if it is not part of your practice. We only aim to give you information and ideas to incorporate into your pathway if it feels right.
Although we have given you some suggestions – there are multiple other ways to recognise the Summer Solstice – explore your own unique rituals and traditions.