Litha is also known
as Midsummer the Summer Solstice, and is the longest day of the
year. It falls just before Christmas, between December 20 & 23
(June 21 - 24 in the Northern Hemisphere). From this point forward,
the days will become shorter until the Winter Solstice celebrated at
Yule. The Oak King dies at the hand of his brother, the Holly King
(who will rule until Yule, when the Oak will again be reborn as
king). This battle is again celebrated at Yule with the God in his
guise as the Oak King prevailing and the days become longer again.
(See Winter Solstice / Yule)
Some folk wonder
why a day in December is considered "midsummer" when in many places
the warm weather is just beginning. The calendar has changed many
times over the centuries and our modern calendar depends less on the
movements of the sun than in years past. Our Celtic ancestors
counted Beltaine as the first day of Summer and Lughnasadh/Lammas as
the last day of Summer. Counted this way, the Solstice is, indeed,
the mid-point of summer.
Litha is another
one of the four fire festivals. Bonfires would be lighted and it was
considered bad luck to let the fires go out. [See
Beltaine for more about fire festivals.
Many of the activities described in the
Beltaine craft and activity
pages would be equally appropriate for Litha] It is
the season of expansion, when the crops burgeon forth. We forget
winters cares and spend our days basking under the brilliant light.
The Summer Solstice brings us the longest day of the year - the
zenith of the Sun King, and also His death as the Holly King
dethrones him and takes reign over the now waning year. From now
until Yule, the light will fade into darkness.
Litha, the Goddess is the Generous Mother, Freya, Flora, Habondia,
she who gives life and fruitfulness to all her children. Everything
in nature is generous - otherwise we could not live. The apple tree
makes hundreds of apples every year, when only one seed in one apple
would be enough to reproduce the tree. Bees make honey so that the
hive can survive the winter, but they keep on working all summer
long, storing enough to share. Life could exist without climbing
roses, striped butterflies, songbirds, raspberries, or wildflowers,
but the Goddess keeps making new forms of beauty for us to enjoy.
Goddess at Summer Solstice gives us not just what we need, but
extra. We can feel close to her by being generous, giving more than
were asked to give, and doing more than just our fair share. That
way, we make abundance for all.
The rose is the Goddesss symbol at this time of year.
Now is the time
when the God and Goddess are at the apex of their power. The Goddess
is beginning to swell with the life of the young god who was planted
at Beltaine. The world is bursting with life and almost everyone
feels more at ease and happier than they will at any other time of
are Solar Disk, Mistletoe, Feathers & Blades. Colours associated
with Litha are Green, Gold, Yellow (Which also particularly
symbolize an Australian summer). Herbs for Litha are
chamomile, cinquefoil, elder flower, fennel, lavender, mugwort,
thyme (these may be burned); hemp, larkspur, pine, wisteria (may be
used as decorations).
Five plants were thought to have special
magical properties on this night: rue, roses, St. John's wort,
vervain and trefoil. If you aren't familiar with them yourself, you
might like to visit the library a check a book about wild flowers,
or click here.
Altar Arrangements - At the Summer Solstice, the
family altar can be covered with flowers, especially
roses. On or around the altar, you might also place
things you have completed and let go of, or are trying
to let go of. Add any fist fruits of the season and, of
course, images of the sun, sunflowers, and other symbols
of the holiday.
You might have a special section on the altar for things
to give away. Take one thing off your won altar and
bring it to the family altar, or find something special
to contribute. Let the things stay during the holiday
season to soak up blessings, then give them away before
Lughnasadh rolls around!
Colours - Gold and green are two of the most
Prevalent colours of this time of year. Not only do they
represent the sun and the verdant forest, but they
represent the colors of Faerie Fire Magic. Other colour
accents include sea green and red (especially when red
roses are added to the altar).
Incense, Herbs and Woods - rose, violet, fir, and
cedar are good. Tangerine, frankincense, and frangipani
If you want to work with herbs at this time, St. Johns
wort is one of the most popular associated with Litha.
Also connected with the holiday: basil, parsley, mint,
thyme, violet, dragons blood, fern, vervain, and
Woods of Midsummer include oak, fir, mistletoe, and
typically for children in preschool, these activities can easily be
adapted for older children.
Ocean in a
Bottle (For little
ones to remember summer fun at the beach!)
about ½ C of
A small clear bottle (such as a soda bottle) with label removed
Contact cement (optional)
1. Pour about ½ c mineral oil into the clean soda
bottle. (It's probably a good idea for an adult to do this step)
2. Fill the bottle as full as you can with water
(don't leave any air space )
3. Add a few drops of food colouring
to the bottle.
4. Put contact cement (or similar glue) in the bottle lid and twist
on the lid.
The child can
make waves in the bottle by moving it slowly back and forth (Do not
Tip - you and add
some plastic sea creatures before
gluing on the lid.
This was one of
my favourite activities when I was a pre-school teacher (and is
still fun for us grown ups too!)
(powdered) or food liquid colouring
or ice-cream containers
White drawing paper or newsprint
Crayons or markers
1.Mix 2t dye (or several drops food colouring), 1 T dish detergent, and
about 1 C water in the dish or cake pan. Use a separate
container for each colour.
2. Show children how to blow through the straw to
make bubbles. Stress that they must not drink the paint
3. When the child has a good head of bubbles on
top of the water, carefully place a piece of paper on top of the
bubbles and press just hard enough to break the bubbles, but not
so hard that the paper actually touches the water.
4. Turn the paper over and allow it to dry. If
desired, you may use more than one colour of bubbles on the same
picture, but allow them to dry between colours.
Use crayons or
markers to make fish and other sea creatures swimming through the
Permanent Sand Castings
4 C clean Sand
2 C Corn Starch
4 tsp Cream of Tartar
3 C hot Water
Mix sand, cornstarch, and cream of tartar in a
2. Stir in the hot water
3. Cook over medium heat until the water is
absorbed and the mixture becomes very thick. [An adult
definitely needs to do this step as the mixture must be close to
boiling to work.]
4. Cool sand mixture until it can be handled.
5. Mould using your hands, plastic beach moulds or
other moulds such as cake pans. Shapes may be removed from moulds
more easily if the mould is sprayed with cooking spray or coated
with cooking oil before the sand is packed into the mould.
activity is to place the sand in a low flat mould such as a cake pan,
then have the child make handprints or footprints and write their
name with a stick or dull pencil. Add small shells around the edge
of the moulded shape.
dry and be fairly stable after a couple of days. Moulded shapes will
break if dropped, but will last if handled carefully.
bottle such as a water or juice bottle
shells, starfish, beads, pebbles, etc. (They must fit through the
mouth of the bottle)
crayons work well (optional)
1. Fill the bottle
about half full with sand.
2. Place the
shells and other treasures in the bottle
3. Glue the lid on
4. If using wax,
you will need a small clean can such as a tuna or tomato paste
can, a small saucepan full of water and a heat source such as a
[This part should be closely supervised by and adult--never
heat wax directly over the burner!]
5. Place the wax in the
small can and place the can in the saucepan full of water. Be
sure the water doesn't come higher than the top of your can.
6. Heat the water to simmering and allow the wax to melt.
7. Dip the
top of the bottle into the melted wax.
8. Allow to cool and repeat
until the top of the bottle is covered with a thin coating of coloured wax
(This makes it look like a really old bottle).
9. Turn your bottle on
it's side and see how many of the treasures you can see and how many
remain hidden in the sand.
Tissue roll for each child
Strips of crepe paper or ribbon for each child
Construction paper in red, white, and blue
Crayons or markers
stickers or Glitter (optional)
a piece of construction paper 10cm x 12cm for each
child. Each child will also need several pieces of crepe paper or
ribbon approximately 1cm x 20cm
Have the children decorate the paper as desired.
When they have decorated their paper, have the
children turn the paper over so that the decorations
are on the underside.
Have the children lay the decorated paper on the
table with the short edge towards them. Use the
gluesticks to cover the back of the paper.
Have the children lay the tissue roll on top of the
glued paper and roll it up in the decorated paper.
Glue the ribbon or crepe paper inside one end of the
Construction or other heavy paper
An unsharpened pencil or other stick
Pin with a large head, such as a corsage pin
such as a 1/4" wooden bead or pony bead
1. Cut a square piece of paper (the larger the paper
square, the larger your pinwheel will be).
2. Fold the square in half to form a triangle, matching
3. Unfold the square and fold another triangle, matching
the opposite corners.
4. Unfold the paper. You should have 2 folded lines
forming an X in the centre of your paper.
5. Use the quarter to draw a circle in the centre of the
paper. [black circle on diagram]
6. Cut the paper on the folded lines to the drawn circle
[blue lines on diagram] Do not cut all the way to the
7. Gently curl the corners marked with a red dot toward
the centre of the square (do not fold them!) Poke the
pin through each corner [red dots on diagram] and
pushing the corner toward the head of the pin. Then
stick the pin through the centre of the paper.
8. After pushing the pin through all the red dots, slide
the bead on the pin behind the pinwheel and then push
the point of the pin into the side of the pencil eraser
or top of the stick you will be using.
I LOVED making these when I was a kid! Now my children
share in the same fun!
2 sticks the same length (you can use pencils or ice
yarn in various colours rolled in small balls
1. Cross the sticks in the centre to form a + .
Glue them where they cross to make it easier for the
children to handle them.
2. Begin wrapping the sticks in a figure 8, then
without tying off the yarn, and going clockwise, wrap
the long end of the yarn under #1, around the stick,
under #2, around that stick, under #3, etc.
3. Continue wrapping the yarn around each leg of the
cross. Keep the yarn tight and push it toward the centre
with each wrap so that the strands will lie close
4. Change colours
whenever you desire. When ending a colour, tie a double knot close
to the stick, put a drop of glue over the knot and trim off the end
of the yarn.
5. When your "god/dess eye" is full, tie and glue the
yarn as described above, and then form a hanging loop
and tie and glue again. Trim off the end of the yarn.
Some fun activities
for this time might include:
Stay up to welcome
the dawn on this shortest night of the year.
Rub rowan on your
eyelids and watch for faeries.
Tell the story of the Oak King and the Holly
2 Parts Sandalwood
1 Part Camomile
1 Part Gardenia petals
few drops Rose oil
few drops Lavender oil
few drops yarrow oil
2 parts Benzoin
1 part Dragon's Blood
1 part Thyme
1 part Rosemary
1 pinch Vervain
a few drops Red Wine
Cunningham's book "The Complete Book of Incenses, Oils & Brews")
2 C Sugar
3 C Water
3 C ripe bananas, mashed
3 C pineapple juice
1 1/2 C orange juice
· 1litre lemon-lime soda
water and sugar together for 5 minutes. Cool.
In a large
non-metal container, combine mashed bananas, juices and sugar
mixture; mix well and freeze.
About 2 hours
before serving, remove the banana mixture from the freezer.
serving, pour the lemon-lime soda over the banana mixture. It
will foam in the container.
This recipe must be made several hours in
advance and has a lot of ingredients, but it is worth the work! It
was one of my children's favorite foods. It can be made in a regular
but is pretty enough to put in a fancy
1 pk lemon, lime or orange gelatine (4 serving size)
1C.crushed pineapple (drain and reserve juice)
4 large bananas sliced into coins
about 80 miniature marshmallows
1/2 C sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 C cream (to be whipped)
1 C grated cheese (cheddar)
according to package directions for a moulded salad.
Stir in the
pineapple, bananas, and marshmallows.
Allow to set.
Add enough water to
pineapple juice to make 1C.
Mix the sugar, butter and
cornstarch into the juice.
Cook and stir over medium
heat until the mixture thickens (should look like lemon pie filling)
Whip cream and then fold
in the thickened juice mixture.
Top the geletine with the
whipped cream mixture.
Spread the grated cheese
over the top.
stored in the refrigerator and served chilled.
litre water, preferably
1 cup honey
1 sliced lemon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
all ingredients in a non-metallic pot. While boiling, scrape off the
rising "scum" with a wooden spoon. When no more rises add
a pinch salt & juice of 1/2 lemon.
cool. Drink in place of alcoholic mead or wine during the Simple
Midsummer Ritual Mead
water (preferably fresh rainwater blessed by a Wiccan priestess or
1 cup meadowsweet herb
1 cup woodruff sprigs
1 cup heather flowers
1 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup barley malt
1 oz. brewer's yeast
Pour the water
into a large cauldron or kettle. Bring to a boil and add the
meadowsweet herb, woodruff sprigs, heather flowers, and cloves. Boil
for one hour and the add the honey, brown sugar, and barley malt.
Stir thirteen times in a clockwise direction and then remove from
Strain through a
cheesecloth and allow the mead to cool to room temperature. Stir in
the brewer's yeast. Cover with a clean towel and let it stand for
one day and one night. Strain again, bottle, and then store in a
cool place until ready to serve.
Mead is an ideal drink to serve at Summer Solstice Sabbats, as well
as during all Cakes and Ale Ceremonies and Esbats.
"Midsummer Ritual Mead" is quoted directly from Gerina Dunwich's
book "The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch's Collection of Wiccan Spells,
Potions and Recipes"
2 large tomatoes, peeled,
seeded, and chopped
1 sweet pepper, seeded and
1 clove garlic, peeled and
3/4 C. Herb blend, basil,
chives, tarragon, parsley, dill, chervil, thyme
1/2 C. olive oil
3 tbsp. lemon juice
3 C. cold water
1 sweet Spanish onion,
peeled and sliced
1 C. cucumber, peeled,
seeded, and sliced
1/2 tsp. paprika
tomatoes, pepper, garlic and herbs in a bowl. Stir in olive oil,
lemon juice, and cold water. Add onion, cucumber, and paprika. Chill
in refrigerator for about 5 hours. Serve over ice cubes in bowls and
garnish with fresh parsley or watercress.
by Trish Telesco
Fireflies and summer sun
in circles round
we become as one.
Singing songs at
we bring the winds
and timeless powers.
Turning inward, hand in
we dance the hearth
to heal the land.
Standing silent, beneath
we catch the fire
from out God's eye.
beside the sea
we call the Goddess
so mote it be!
Standing midst the
I look at faces ---
all searching for that
that sense of connection
which spans all words
We come together
to know the same magic
that moved the great
birthed the dragons
and touched even the
with its mighty song.
to sense the power
rising within us
like the glory of a
until we too sing
its timeless ballad.
until our souls dance
hand in hand
with the Lady of Light
and Lord of the Fires
(From Llewellyn's 1994
Magical Almanac and is
by Marian Lore Singer)
Once upon a time
there was a little girl named Meagan. She lived with her mother
Elizabeth, her father Michael and her brother Corwin. One day,
Meagan was playing with her cat Starweaver. She was excited. Soon it
would be Midsummer Day, the longest day of the year. Meagan knew
that it was also called Litha. She and her family would celebrate
all day with a picnic and a ritual at the farm that one of the coven
members owned. Meagan had to be careful not to mention the word
coven around her Gramma Lee and Grandpa Scott because they were
Christian and might get upset about Meagan and her family being
pagan. Meagan wished that her grandparents understood how nice all
the pagans that she knew were.
It was hot and
Meagan was getting thirsty. She started back home to get a drink. On
the way home she saw a woman in a nurse's uniform coming out of her
friend Mrs. Hanson's house. Meagan slowed down. She had become
friends with Mrs. Hanson after leaving a May basket on her porch.
She wondered who the woman could be.
Meagan sped up
and ran the rest of the way home. She raced up the stairs and into
the kitchen. "Meagan!" said her father, "you know the rule about
running. We only run outside where we aren't likely to get hurt if
we fall down." Meagan stopped by the refrigerator. "I'm sorry
Daddy. I saw a lady in a nurse's uniform down at Mrs. Hanson's house
and I was going to call her and see who it was. I was coming home to
get a drink anyway." Michael nodded, "It was thoughtful of you not
to stop at Mrs. Hanson's house. If she's sick, she might not want
company. I tell you what...I'll call Mrs. Hanson while you get a
drink." Meagan poured herself a big glass of herbal tea while her
father went into his office to make the call. She looked for some
cookies but didn't see any.
Meagan's mother came in the door carrying several net bags full of
groceries. Meagan's family always used cloth or net bags at the
grocery store to help save the earth's resources. "I'll help!"
exclaimed Meagan running up to her mother. "I'd rather you went to
the car and helped your brother bring in the rest of the bags
please," said her mother. Meagan went outside and found Corwin
testing bags to see which were heaviest. "Here," he said, "these are
the perfect weight for you." Meagan took the bags and took them
inside. She helped put up the groceries. Meagan wondered why her
father had not come back and told her about Mrs. Hanson. She asked
her mother if she could take Mrs. Hanson some cookies when they made
a new batch. "Sure honey," said her mother, "that reminds me, we
should probably make three batches tonight so that we'll have enough
for the picnic on Saturday. In fact, you might ask Mrs. Hanson if
she'd like to go on a picnic sometime with us. She isn't pagan and I
don't she'd enjoy going to Litha"
"I'm afraid Mrs.
Hanson isn't going anywhere for awhile," said Michael from the
doorway, "I just talked to her on the phone. It seems that she's
broken her leg. That's why she wasn't home last week, the doctor had
her stay in the hospital so that it would heal better. She's home
now, but he still wants her to take it easy. There's a nurse's aide
who's going to come bathe her several days a week but she was
wondering how she was going to get her meals. You know that she
doesn't believe in convenience foods so I offered to bring over a
helping of what ever we're having until she's back on her feet. I
hope you don't mind." Elizabeth walked over and hugged him hard. She
smiled up at him, "Why should I mind? You do most of the cooking!
Besides, it was very kind of you to think of it."
So that night
after dinner had been made Meagan and her brother ran down the road
with some reusable containers. Corwin rang the doorbell twice and
unlocked the door with the key that their mother had given him.
"Hello! Mrs. Hanson?" he called into the house as they brought in
their packages. "I'm back in the family room," they heard her call
from the other end of the house. Corwin carefully locked the door
behind them and put the key into his pocket. They carefully took
their packages into the family room. There was Mrs. Hanson sitting
in a recliner. She had a table on either side of her, a wheelchair
near her and a TV remote in her hand. She smiled when she saw them.
"I didn't know how serious your father was about his offer," she
said, "I really appreciate you bringing me something to eat." Mrs.
Hanson was surprised when she saw what they had brought her. They
had a drink, some casserole, some vegetables and some cookies for
"We made lots of
cookies today because we're going on a picnic on Saturday," said
Meagan, "I wish that you could come but it's a family thing and
mommy says that not just everyone can come." Mrs. Hanson smiled and
patted Meagan's hand. "It's very sweet o f you to offer but I don't
think I'd feel like it right now anyway. I tell you what, after I'm
feeling a little better, perhaps you and I and your friend Cindy
could have a picnic on my patio." Meagan nodded. Mrs. Hanson said
that she would call Elizabeth and Cindy's mother Anna when she felt
up to fixing a picnic. Corwin smiled, "I'll do you one better, why
not just let us know when you feel like eating out on the patio and
we'll have a potluck picnic!" Mrs. Hanson frowned, "What is a
potluck picnic?" "Oh!" said Meagan, "that's when everyone brings one
thing that they are good at making. I like to bring ice tea but I
have to make sun tea because I'm still not old enough to pour hot
water over tea bags. I don't want to get burned." Mrs. Hanson
thought that was a good idea.
Meagan and Cindy
planned for their picnic so that they would be ready when Mrs.
Hanson felt better. Soon she called their parents and made
arrangements. They decided to have their picnic the Sunday after the
Litha celebration. Soon it was Midsummer's Day. Meagan and her
family packed up a picnic basket filled with good things to eat.
They had brought yarn to make God's Eyes. Meagan and Corwin decided
to look for sticks at the farm to make the God's Eyes. Meagan knew
that they made God's Eyes to celebrate the sun at the height of its
power. They spent the day playing, eating, singing and dancing. It
didn't seem like very long before it was time for ritual. It seemed
strange to have ritual while the sun was still up but Meagan's
parents said that they would not be done until the sun went down.
First the grownups all got dressed in their robes and went from
field to field to bless the crops. Meagan and most of the other
children stayed behind to set up the altar. They put candles in
containers around t he altar and helped put the smaller stones
around the fire pit while one of the grownups put bigger stones.
One of the
children had found a dead ash tree earlier in the day. Everyone was
excited because they could make things from the wood without harming
a living tree. Meagan and Corwin both had pieces of the tree to make
a wand with. They brought them into the circle with them. Soon the
other coven members began gathering. They were excited. Tonight they
would also have a handfasting! Jeremy and Sybil had been handfasted
for a year and a day at the last Litha celebration. Tonight they
would be handfasted 'for as long as love lasts'. It was time for the
ritual to begin.
Meagan was still
very excited when it was time to go home. She had had a good time
and she still had a picnic with Corwin, Cindy and Mrs. Hanson
tomorrow! But it was very late and she fell asleep in the car on the
way home. Her father carried her into the house and put her to bed.
Starweaver curled up beside her and purred. It had been a good day.
by Kathryn Dyer