A Secular Witch’s Guide to the Sabbats: Litha

Summer is here, y’all, and so is summertime magick! The Summer Solstice is a time of celebration, energy, action, and love. It’s a time for bonfires, enjoying the beauty of the summer sun, interacting with nature, finding true love, and leaving your garbage all over Stonehenge. Nearly every culture in the world has celebrated this time when the sun seems to stand still in the sky, and Neo-Pagans and Witches are no exception. Since Litha is such a hot and action-oriented holiday it’s usually assigned more of a masculine energy, and most offerings around this time are made to deities like Apollo and Ra (sun gods both).

How limiting! Litha is a day to celebrate love, joy, abundance, and prosperity – and these are things that all people can benefit from.

The face of witchcraft is changing, and many people are realizing they can celebrate without gods, and creating new ways of celebrating magic and the seasons with their fellow witches and pagans. One of the things that hasn’t changed much in the 20 years I’ve been practicing is Sabbat celebrations. Despite may of the celebrations I’ve been to in the last few years hosting a range of theistic and atheistic people of all backgrounds, the rituals themselves still seem to focus on the deities and tend to be just a hair too religious for many people.

As I mentioned in what is no doubt my popular podcast episode to date “Godless Heathens!“, if you realize that you like your witchcraft the way you like your public schools – secular – your path will take a little more soul-searching. You have to decide what it is you believe in, and how to interpret and use the information that IS out there. The following guide is what works for me and allows me to celebrate the changing seasons, and energy of the planet along with my pagan friends.

First Things First, The Name

Like many Pagan and Wiccan sabbats, the summer solstice goes by quite a few names that no one can agree on. Personally, the one that makes the most sense to me is the word Solstice itself. Solstice is derived from the latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), which describes exactly what the seasons are seeming to do from here on earth. Since at this time we can actually get outside and observe the sun, this seems especially appropriate now.

Midsummer doesn’t seem to make sense if you live in a place where you have 4 seasons and the middle of June is regularly seen as the beginning of summer, but if you lived in Northern Europe 2000 years ago you really only had two seasons – summer and winter. (Oh! The humanity!) In that way this really would be the middle. It’s also mid-way between “magickal seasons”, with Beltane functioning as the beginning of this particular season. This makes a lot of sense when you consider all of the similarities between Beltane and Midsummer, and this serves as a great middle of the faeries and parties season.

Litha comes to use from the english historian, Bede, the same originator of the name “Ostara”. He used this word not to describe a holiday, but a double-length month or season (june-july). It was worked into Wiccan and Neo-Pagan religions and rituals when they came into being and has stuck ever since! Though it’s not some ancient pre-christian pagan label, it still carries the history of modern paganism with it.

Other pagan traditions and witches have their own names and labels for the holiday, and there’s no wrong answer! Choose which ever one makes most sense for your own practice.

Themes For Your Summer Solstice Celebration

Even though this isn’t a harvest festival like the next few sabbats, any magick to do with growth and growing green things in the earth is potent around this time. Herbs for magick and healing are harvested, used, and celebrated around now.

Love has always been a major focus of the summer solstice, with the month itself named after Juno, the goddess of marriage. All types of love are celebrated now, including weddings, love between parents and children, love in friendship and the love of yourself.

The Sun! I bet you’re surprised by this one. Midsummer is a celebration of the sun, of the long fruitful days and all of the warmth and life the sun brings us.

In many places people celebrated with sacred water and pilgrimages to wells and beaches. The connection to water comes through both in the love aspects of the holiday, but also in healing. Visiting sacred wells and bodies of water, or just taking a healing bath are great ways to celebrate the heat. For those in dry climates, now is also a time to do magick for rain and storms. If you, like most modern pagans, spend the majority of your time indoors and in a sedentary job this is a good time to check in on your health and take some time to heal yourself.

Faeries and the faerie domain are a common theme around midsummer, as this is supposed to be the time when the veil between our worlds is thinnest. A similar phenomenon happens around Halloween or Samhain, though the veil there is to the spirit world. Communicating with, appeasing, and doing magick with faeries is especially potent now. You might even get to see some!

Finally empowerment, increase, abundance, and prosperity are your main themes for magick done around this time and in this season. This is the time for activity and energy in reference to achieving your goals! Do magick for abundance and prosperity, and then go out and make it happen. All magick done now should involve some real world, physical, commitment to its success, rather than just a magickal one. After planning and laying the groundwork in the spring, now is your green light to bring it into the physical world.

Symbols and Decor for the Summer Solstice

Whether you’re hosting a gathering for all of your favourite pagans and witches, or celebrating on your own, using colours and symbols of the season add this bright and exciting energy to your magick and everything you do all day.

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  • Colours like yellow, orange, red, gold and bright greens in table cloths, altar cloths, your clothes and other decor objects add fresh summery vibes. The firey colours are best used in magick for action, energy, confidence, and celebration. Green is best for prosperity and healing and it’s connection to nature. Your personal focus will determine what energy you need to call in.
  • Summer flowers and foliage like sunflowers, chamomile, daisies, and marigolds in pots or picked. Summer herbs are also potent.
  • Sun symbols and statues, or diss and plates, and gold coins and spirals
  • Oak leaves and acorns, as this marks the beginning of the season of the Oak King in celtic traditions
  • Faeries, small faerie bells, mead and beer in small walnut shells, and faerie houses
  • Animal totems of the season like bees, butterflies, and other pollinating animals; swallows, wrens and summer birds; horses and bulls
  • Cinammon brooms
  • Flames and fire; candles
  • Wands, especially those made of oak

Sketchy Herbs & Magic Rocks for the Summer Solstice

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Chamomile – Chamomile is a chill solar herb that was used to honour many sun deities in ancient times. Of course it’s also used for healing, rest, and easing anxiety, while promoting restful sleep. Chamomileflowers are also used to attract prosperity, and chamomile hand wash is considered to be good luck for gamblers. It perfectly combines the sunny, loving, prosperous vibe of the summer solstice.

Vervain – This is a special witch herb that’s especially potent around this time, and people used to wait until midsummer to harvest the plant fromtheir own gardens. This herb is commonly used for protection and increased magickal power. I often include this herb in incense to protect me magickally, and just get into a witchy vibe.

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Buy it from White Witch Parlour

Rosemary – One of my absolute favourites. If you’ve never tried to growyour own rosemary, you’re missing out on one of the most beautifully fragrant herbs in the world, and the plant is hearty and needs little upkeep. Depending on the magickal tradition, rosemary is either thought of asmasculine or feminine in nature. In italian witchcraft, it’s usually associated with goddess and lunar energy, but in other neo-pagan traditions it’s masculine and belongs to the sun. This make it an ideal plant for a time when the sun is king, but about to abdicate the throne to the moon. Rosemary has also always been associated with love and weddings and is a perfect edition to floral displays, incenses, baths, and bonfires. (Not to mention your food, of course!) For a little extra magick, rosemary planbts are said to attract the faeries to your ritual.

St John’s Wort – You may have seen St John’s Wort supplements in your local pharmacy to help ease depression and anxiety, and indeed this is sunshine in a single flower.This herb that features bright yellow flowers is one of the most strongly associated with midsummer. It’s said that if you harvest it at noon on midsummer it will be extra magically potent. Add it to incense blends of your bonfire to fill your space or surround your home in healing and protective energy. (Warning: do not ingest St John’s Wort without asking your doctor. It can interfee with SSRIs and other anti-depressants, oddly enough.)

Lavender – another incrediblycalming and healing plant, Lavender is a common sight and smell on the summer solstice. We’re right in the thick of Lavender season, and you’ll no doubt see lavender festivals popping up at your local farms around now. Lavender flowers were traditionally thrown in the solstice fire to purify the area, offer healing to those in attendance, and attract faeries to the ritual. Lavender is also used in love magick and is a perfect bath companion to rosemary.

Other great herbs for the summer solstice are cinammon, roses, bay leaves, marigold, meadowsweet, mugwort, and foxglove. Look to your natural environment for summer specific plants that grow where you live, and any plants associated with faeries and the faerie kingdom.

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Tiger’s Eye – All colours of tiger eye fit with midsummer vibes, but gold and red are the most appropriate for obvious reasons. Whenever someone asks me, in mymetaphysical store jobs, what Tiger’s Eye is used for I break into the chorus of Eye of the Tiger, because that’s it! Confidence, power, passion, energy, luck, and prosperity, everything you need to harness summer energy.

Sunstone – I don’t know why, but sunstone is so underrated in magick. Sunstone is a stone of leadership, action, and pure joy. I regularly wear this stone near my heart chakra and it makes me feel alive and enthusiastic about everything. It’s connection to this holiday is another obvious one, and in ancient Egypt the sunstone was sacred to the Sun God Ra, and a sunstone pyramid os one of my favourite ways to include this stone in the summer solstice.

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Citrine – This sunny form of quartz attracts prosperity and abundance, is an excellent good luck charm, chases away nightmares, and generally makes any space feel more positive. This is a stone to include in celebrations, put on your altar, keep next to your bed, and wear for the solstice.

Jade – Is perfect for celebrating the prosperity and abundance part of the solstice, as this one has been associated with good fortune for centuries. The stone is also great for  healing, longevity, love, and wisdom. I love to include it in baths and wear as jewelery whenever I am giving a presentation, working a festival, or have an interview. It’s a great stone to help you make your own luck and accomplish your goals.

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Aquamarine – If you’re looking to spend your midsummer day on the beach, friend I don’t blame you. Pilgrimmages to sacred wells or bodies of water for healing and celebration are common in many parts of the world. In russia, water is the most prominent theme of the summer solstice. Aquamarine is my absolute favourite water stone. It’s gentle and calm, loving and cleansing, healing and empowering. It helps you be strong when going through change, and calms your fears and anxieties. This is another one to include in a summer solstice magickal bath.

Generally speaking, any stones associated with the sun and fire are appropriate for the summer solstice! Think amber, carnelian, fire agate, and garnet. prosperity crystals like emerald, bloodstone, and diamond are great for any magick to further your goals.

Summer Solstice Ritual and Activity Ideas

The summer solstice is mainly believed to be a celebratory holiday, and not one on which to perform any magick. This seems odd to a lot of people since the energy of the holiday is so strong and so magickal, like Samhain. However, the energy around this time is for like faeries – chaotic and celebratory. It’s time for joy and celebration and partaking in libations with friends. Get crunk on mead, y’all! That being said, the energy is very strong and there are tons of fun rituals and activities you can do.

Harvesting herbs, especially healing herbs – If you don’t have herbs growing already, making consider adding some to your windowsill or garden. Herbs like rosemary and chamomile are both magickal, medicinal, and delicious!

Magick for prosperity and abundance – Since this is an action-oriented holiday think of things like getting a new job, starting a new business, and increasing your energy and stamina at work. Remember to take steps in the real world to make it happen! Add gold coins, or any of the positive Coins/Pentacles cards from the tarot to your altar and decor to bring abundance into your space.

Music and Dancing – Not only will this add a more celebratory vibe to your rituals, sound and movement are excellent ways to clear space and raise energy. Use instruments like bells or drums like you would a burning bundle of sage and clear the space in your home. You can even sing or clap or crank the radio, as long as you move through the home with intention and make sure the sounds gets in all of the nooks and crannies. Then when you need energy for your ritual consider dancing, making music, doing yoga or some other meditation in movement to get into the zone. This is especially good if you’re working with faeries ’cause that’s their aesthetic.

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Not just for Beltane anymore!

Faerie magick. –  Get started with mead, music, and dancing. This is the raison d’etre for all faerie kind. They love vibrant parties, intoxication, beautiful flowers and sweet fruits and honey. Faeries can be tricky, but they’re also the spirits of nature itself and the embodiment of it’s wildness. Build faerie houses or plant flowers and herbs to attract faeries in your garden. If you live near open fields of flowers or wooded areas go on a hike to find the land of the fae.

Handfastings and weddings – This one will take a little bit of planning, but maybe consider this one for next year. There’s no better time to host a celebration of love than on the bright and sunny summer solstice. Make it extra special by including some of the flowers, herbs, crystals, colours and symbols mentioned above. One friend of mine dressed her flower girl as a cute little faerie for her midsummer wedding, complete with tiny flowers in her curly hair. I hate to admit it, but I nearly screamed at the photos. Adorable.

Making herbal incense! –  Put those herbs you harvested to good use, friend. Or maybe instead of harvesting herbs, take an adventure to a new bulk herb store and pick a bunch of new herbs out. It’s like harvesting for city folk! Pick your magical intention that fits the energy of the day, a few herbs, resins, and maybe oils and create your own special blend for magick and celebration. This is very earthy and green magick, with heat and fire to fuel your intention.

Healing and sacred waters – If you’re lucky enough to live near a sacred well or spring like the Chalice Well in Glastonbury, today is a perfect day for a pilgrimmage. You can also celebrate with a magickal bath, a visit to the ocean or lake, or by making your own magickal water! Make sun or moon water, crystal eixirs, or drink blessed water throughout the day.

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Bubbles are literally the best meditative tool

Get a tan – Ok ok, this is just my personal favourite. I know not everyone can be in the direct sun, be safe! I am fortunate to be able to just lay out and bake in it. My favourite way to celebrate the sun is to spend the whole day enjoying it. Go to the beach, walk through fields bursting with flowers and bees and butterfies, visit a local farm and get fresh summer fruit, and then light the bonfire with your sun baked friends and enjoy the cool of the night. It’s the most magickal thing you can do, really.

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Throw an A+ Sabbat Gathering!

 

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