This is going to be sort of a master post that compiles information from books, blogs, and websites that I frequent. I am going to include information about the Sabbat, ritual/activity ideas for the solitary witch, as well as ideas on how to include children/family in the celebration of the Summer Solstice. I hope you get some great ideas on how you want to celebrate Litha while being in the Southern Hemisphere.
In the Southern Hemisphere Litha (also known as Midsummer’s Night, Alben Heruin, the Celtic Oak Festival, and Feast of the Fairies) is celebrated between December 20th – 23rd. It is the longest day of the year, and a time of joy and strength for the light. It is a time when the powers of nature are at their fullest.
This is the time of the battle between the Holly and Oak Kings. The Oak King and the Holly King as considered dual aspects of he Horned God in some Wiccan traditions. Each aspect rules for half of the year. The Oak King rules from Midwinter to Midsummer and his twin, the Holly King rules from Midsummer to Midwinter. When they meet at Litha, there is a great battle between them. The Holly King win’s and the Sun’s strength begins to wane. The Oak King is symbolically considered to be dead.
I thank the waves as they crash upon the beach. I thank the wind blowing through the trees. I thank the fire as it crackles through midsummer. I thank the Earth for its richness and bounty. I thank the Gods and Goddesses for Litha’s blessings of love, health and prosperity.
In the past this was often marked with bonfires and celebrants staying awake through the short night. To leap over the bonfire was to assure a good crop; some said the grain would grow as tall as the leapers could jump. Due to the frire restrictions in Australia throughout summer, celebrations for this Sabbat tend to be quite different from those throughout the rest of the yer. No candles can be lit, no cauldrons burned, and no open flames are allowed outside throughout much of the country. Litha falls in the dry stifiling heat of summer in the southern part of our land, but in the north, Litha falls in the hot, wet season and represents fruitfulness. In Australia the Sturt Desert Pea is a sacred flower of this time. This is a time of ascendancy of the God, at his most powerful now, while the burgeoning Goddess brings forth the bounty of the Earth.
It is a time to celebrate your reams coming to fruition. Dreams are traditionally more lucid on this night; ensure you have a journal ready. To help remember your dream experiences and the information presented in the dream state, try using crystals such as nephrite, moonstone, blue kyanite, and/or strawberry quartz tucked into your pillow or placed on your bedside table.
As a Wiccan, it is your choice whether or not to celebrate Christmas alongside your Litha celebrations or not. This season seeks to shine light, truth and celebration to your spiritual life, relationships and daily living. Honour the strength of the sun within you and your enviroment.
Litha provides an opportunity to:
- Bless your home with a eucalyptus wreath, decorated with red and yellow feathers or flowers. This invites prosperity into your home.
- Spice up your life! Go on a hike and/or picnic with family and friends.
- Have a dance or drum circle. Invite some friends over and have fun while you raise your energy.
- Bless and protect your animals by doing something for them – a special wash or maybe a bew collar with an engraved tag
- Collect magickal water during thunder and lightening storms. Collect your water in a glass or porcelain container, never metwal. Metal conducts lightening! Store it on a shelf tightly sealed. If you place it on the ground, the energy will ground itself. Feel free to add coral, shells and rocks to the water to increase its energy during this time. This water is for magickal use and not for drinking purposes. After six months, pour the unused portion back onto the ground.
- Place a garland of St. John’s wort over doors or windows and a sprig in the car for protection.
- Create a mobile of dried lemons, oranged and cinnamon sticks.
- With increased heat, you can help care for animals by placing water bowls at differing heights in your garden or on your veranda.
- Do something to help someone else… whether it be on a large or small stage.
- ANIMALS: Goanna, eagle, kangaroo, sulpher-crested cockatoo, horse, wren, birds of song, any sort of pet, dragons
- COLOURS: White, green, blue, red, yellow
- CRYSTALS: Jade, emerald, lapis lazuli, diamond, opal, golden tiger eye
- FOODS: Fresh stone fruits and vegetables of the season, pumpernickel bread, chamomile, wild thyme, fennel, mugwort, spicy foods
- GODDESSES: All Mother Goddesses ruling over love, passion and beauty; Aine, Cerridwen, Aphrodite, Astarte, Freya, Hathor, Ishtar, Venus, Kali
- GODS: All Soldier Gods; Helios, Llew, The Holly King, Lugh, Ra, Sol, Zeus, Aten, Apollo, Horus, Huitzilopochtli
- INCENSE: Lemon, myrrh, pine, sandlewood, lotus
- INTENTION: Magick of all – especially those for healing, love, properity and those for the protection for your pets
- PLANTS: Cherry Ballarat, kangaroo apple, lily, oak, ferns, elder, carnations, rose, wildflowers, citrus trees, mistletoe, oak, pink bloodwood, bunya, buckamia
- SYMBOLS: Fires, mistletoe, fairies, the sun, blades, sunflowers, cauldron
Midsummer Night Fire Ritual
If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, consecrate a space, or call the quarters, now is the time to do so.
This ritual is a great one to perform outside, so if you have the opportunity to do so without scaring the neighbours, take advantage of it.
Begin this ritual by preparing the wood for the fire without lighting it yet. While the ideal situation would have you setting a huge bonfire alight, realistically not everyone can do this (especially in the Southern Hemisphere). If you’re limited, use a table top brazier or fire-safe pot, and light your fire there instead.
Say either to yourself or out loud:
Today, to celebrate Midsummer, I honor the Earth itself. I am surrounded by tall trees. There is a clear sky above me and cool dirt beneath me, I am connected to all three. I light this fire as the Ancients did so long ago.
At this point, start your fire. Say:
The Wheel of the Year has turned once more. The light has grown for six long months until today.
Today is called Litha, called Alben Heruin by my ancestors. A time for celebration. Tomorrow the light will begin to fade as the Wheel of the Year turns on and ever on.
Turn to the East, and say:
From the east comes the wind, cool and clear. It brings new seeds to the garden, bees to the pollen, and birds to the trees.
Turn to face South, and say:
The sun rises high in the summer sky and lights our way even into the night. Today the sun casts three rays. The light of fire upon the land, the sea, and the heavens.
Turn to face West, and saying:
From the west, the mist rolls in bringing rain and fog. The life-giving water without which we would cease to be.
Finally, turn to the North, and say:
Beneath my feet is the Earth, soil dark and fertile. The womb in which life begins and will later die, then return anew.
Build up the fire even more (if possible), so that you have a good strong blaze going.
If you wish to make an offering to the gods, now is the time to do it. For this version of the ritual I have included the use of a triple goddess in the invocation, but you should substitute the names of the deities of your own personal tradition.
Alben Heruin is a time of rededication to the gods. The triple goddess watches over me. She is known by many names. She is Morrígan, Brighid, and Cerridwen. She is the washer at the ford, She is the guardian of the hearth, She is the one who stirs the cauldron of inspiration.
I give honour to You, O mighty ones, by all your names, known and unknown. Bless me with Your wisdom and give life and abundance to me as the sun gives life and abundance to the Earth.
I make this offering to you. To show my allegiance. To show my honour. To show my dedication. To You.
Cast your offering into the fire. Conclude the ritual by saying:
Today, at Litha, I celebrate the life, and love of the gods, and of the Earth and Sun.
Take a few moments to reflect upon what you have offered, and what the gifts of the gods mean to you. When you are ready, if you have cast a circle, dismantle it or dismiss the quarters at this time. Allow your fire to go out on its own.
Sun Ritual for Midsummer
Litha is a great time of year to get outside, enjoy the extra hours of daylight, and cfelebrate the season with family and friends. You can do this ritual as a group or adapt it to perform as a solitary practitioner.
You will need:
- A larger candle to represent the sun
- An individual candle for each participant to hold
Also, be sure to decorate your alter with symbols of the season – solar symbols, fresh flowers, in-season summer produce and crops that you have harvested. You should do this ritual outside if at all possible, so you can take advantage of the sun’s light and energy.
If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, go ahead and do that first.
Take a moment to ground and centre, and get yourself focused. Bask in the rays of the sun, feeling its warmth on your face, and welcoming its power into you.
The person who is leading the ritual – for ease of purpose, shall be referred to as HPs – should stand at the alter.
HPs: We are here today to celebrate the power and energy of the sun. The sun is the source of warmth and light around the world. Today, at Litha, the summer solstice, we mark the longest day of the year. From Yule until this day, the sun has been moving ever closer to the earth. Flowers are blooming, crops are growing, and life has retuned once more. Today we honour the gods and goddesses of the sun.
The HPs lights the sun candle on the alter.
HPs: The sun is the ultimate source of fire and light. Like all sources of light, the sun shines brightly and spreads around the world. Even as it gives its light and power to each of us, it is never diminished by the sharing of that energy. The sun passes over us each day, in the never-ending circle of light. Today, we share that light with each other, passing it around the circle, forming a ring of light.
Using the sun candle, the HPs lights her own candle, and turns to the next person in the circle. As she lights the next person’s candle, she says: May you be warmed and rejuvenated by the light of the sun.
The second person turns to the third, lighting their candle, and passing along the blessing. Continue until the last candle in the circle has been lit, returning back to the HPs.
Remember, this is a joyous celebration – feel free to include dancing, clapping, music or even a drum circle as you enjoy the power of the sun!
As each person in the group holds their lit candle, the HPs calls upon the gods and goddesses of the sun. Feel free to add or substitute different solar deities as your tradition or needs require.
HPs: Gods who bring us light, we honour you! Hail Ra, whose mighty chariot bring us light each morning!
All: Hail Ra!
HPs: Hail Apollo, who brings us the healing energies of the sun!
All: Hail Apollo!
HPs: Hail Saule, whose fertility blooms as the sun gains in strength!
All: Hail Saule!
HPs: Hail Helios, whose great steeds race the flames across the sky!
All: Hail Helios!
HPs: Hail Hestia, whose sacred flame lights our way in the darkness!
All: Hail Hestia!
HPs: Hail Sunna, who is sister of the moon, and bringer of light!
All: Hail Sunna!
HPs: We call upon you today, thanking you for your blessings, accepting your gifts. We draw upon your strength, your energy, your healing light, and your life giving power! Hail to you, mighty gods and goddesses of the sun!
Each member of the group should now place their candles on the alter, surrounding the sun candle.
HPs: The sun radiates out, never dying, never fading. The light and warmth of today will stay with us, even as the days begin to grow shorter, and the nights grow cold once more. Hail gods of the sun!
Invite everyone to take in the warmth of the sun once more, and when you are done, end the ritual as you normally would.
Backyard Barbecue Ritual for Litha
Start by decorating your back yard with symbols of the season. If your tradition normally casts circle prior to ritual, consider placing some unusual items on your alter and at the four points:
- North (Earth): a sandbox, potted flowers, your garden
- East (Air): fans, pinwheels, hula hoops, a swingset
- South (Fire): sparklers, your bbq, a large fire bowl or pit
- West (Water): water guns, buckets of water, a sprinkler, a wading pool
Instead of casting a circle in the traditional way, invite your guests to help you invoke the elements in a way that celebrates the Litha season, using some of the symbols above. Wave a sparkler in the air when it’s time to invoke fire, or jump in the pool to represent the element of water.
Plan on preparing your food ahead of time – preferably using some method of flame or fire, such as your bbq. Time your ceremony that it begins when the food is ready. Prepare a platter with a few samples of each item on it – corn cobs, hot dogs, burgers, etc. – and place it on the alter, and ask your guests to form a circle surrounding it.
Begin by welcoming your friends and family members. If your traditions honours specific deities, invite them to join you for a feast. If you simply wish to celebrate the season, you can just pay homage to the spirits of the land, or thank the earth and sun for the bounty in front of you.
You can also incorperate this Litha prayer to the sun into your ceremony:
The sun is high above us shining down upon the land and sea, making things grow and bloom. Great and powerful fun, we honour you this day and thank you for your gifts. Ra, Helios, Sol Invictus, Aten, Svarog, you are known by many names. You are the light over the crops, the heat that warms the earth, the hope that springs eternal, the bringer of life. We welcome you, and we honour you this day, celebrating your light, as we begin our journey once more into the darkness.
Once you have honoured the sun and the power it brings, invite each guest to approach the alter. At this time, they can make an offering to individual deities, to the sun itself, or to the local spirits of the garden and land.
Finally, ask the gods of your tradition to bless the food on the alter. Everyone should take a moment to bask in the sun’s rays, and then dismiss the circle – it’s time to dig into your summer feast!!
Ritual to Celebrate Fathers
During Litha we are celebrating and welcoming the God of your tradition, now is the perfect time to honour the men who are important to you. This simple rite also offers your menfolk a chance to get out there and dance, and to celebrate the masculine within themselves.
Prior to the ritual, make a headdress for each male that will be present. This can include horns, antlers, branches, feathers, and other symbols of fertility and masculinity. Headdresses are fairly simple to make – use a strip of heavy fabric or cardboard cut to size, and just glue items on it. If your boys are younger, this is a fan craft project. Assign one male to act out the part of the Horned God in the ritual.
Also, give each memeber of the group some sort of noisemaker – drums, rattles, bells, etc.
This is a ritual best performed in a group, either as a family or coven. If you normally cast a circle, or call the Quarters in a ceremony, do so at this time. Light a red or gold candle in the centre of your alter to represent the Sun.
The High Priestess (HPs) or whoever is leading the ritual should face the sun, and say:
We are here as a family (or coven) on this longest of days. The power of the Sun is above us, and its heat and strength reminds us of the power of the God.
At this point, the group members should shake their rattles, bang their drums, ring their bells. Do so slowly, almost at the tempo of a heartbeat.
The HPs continues:
The God is strong and powerful, he is virile and fertile. He is the Lord of the Hunt, the King of the Forest, and with the Goddess, together they create Life.
At this point, speed up the beat of the drums and rattles just a bit. We honour the God today, and celebrate the masculine within him.
The HPs goes on and says:
I call upon the Horned God! Cernunnos, Herne, Apollo! We ask you to honour us with your presence!
Now the drumming should speed up even more. The man or boy chosen to be the Horned God leads the male members of the group around the alter clockwise in a dance, keeping up with the rhythm of the drums and rattles. As the males circle the alter, they should move faster each time.
Allow the men and boys to dance around the alter as many times as they like. As the dance gets faster, the music will get faster too, until there is a palpable hum of energy. This sensation is often indicative of the presence of the Divine. Let the music run its course – it will end when it’s ready to end, and at that time, the dance should stop too.
Once the dancing and drumming as ceased, the HPs should call out:
Horned one, God of the Hunt, Lord of the Forest! We honour you tonight, on this longest day. We celebrate the men in out lives, those who raised us, those who love us, those that we are raising. We honour them in Your name.
Each memeber of the group may make an offering at this time. If you have a fire burning, throw your offerings into the flames. If you don’t have a fire, place your offerings on the alter instead.
Take a few moments to reflect upon the balance of men and women in your life, and in the world. Think about the men you ahve known, and those you will know in the future. Recognise the qualities that make them honourable and worthy of your love.
When you are ready, dismiss the quarters or close the circle.
- Decorate your alter with the colours of midsumer – golds and reds and yellows. You’ll also want a candle in one of those colours.
- If you don’t have drums, rattles or bells, clap your hands or clack two sticks together!
5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Litha with Children
Becuase Litha falls around December 21 (southern hemisphere) children are on a break from school, this means it is the perfect time to celebrate the sabbat with them. It is the longest day of the year, many of us are playing outside and enjoying the warmer weather. Here are some children appropriate and family friendly ideas.
1. An Outdoor Adventure
Depending on where you live, and what’s readily available nearby, the summer solstice can be a great time to get back to nature. Do you have a nearby forest that you can hike in? How about a beach? Even a field, meadow, or park will do – or even your own backyard! This about the natural elements that fit into the area you’re going to visit, and come up with ideas for how you can use this as a teaching experience.
For older chikldren, try going wildcrafting in the woods. Be sure to grab a book or pamphlet with local edible herbs tha you can find in that area. Use this as an opportunity to look for wild berries, regional fruits, or magickal herbs.
If your children are younger, try a scavenger hunt – look for interesting rocks and sticks, seedpods, pinecones and even animal tracks.
If you have a beach nearby consider taking your little ones out for a bit of beach magick. Gather shells, bits of driftwood, or other interesting goodies that you can use for magickal purposes.
If you don’t have a lot of free time, or you can’t get to a forest or beach, there is plenty you can do in your own yard. Look for butterflies, check out the things that are growing in your garden, and see what you can learn about the sun as it travels overhead. If your children can stay up late enough, try a backyard campout on a clear night and watch the starts and moon.
2. Hold a Family Friendly Ritual
Sometimes its tricky to get through a ritual with small children. The best way to keep them interested is keeping them involved and occupied – this usually meand rethinking ritual ideas so that they can be fun as well as spiritual. Why not hold a ritual that incorporates a backyard barbeque? If you your chikldren have a father or male role models in their lives, hold a ritual that honours fatherhood/important men. For older children who understand fire safety, you can hold a bonfire ritual – this is great for teens after the little ones have gone to bed.
3. Solar Crafts
For a bit of scientific fun, build a sundial in your backyard to see if your children can use it to tell the time. All you need are some rocks and a sturdy stick.
Make a sun wheel out of four sticks and some yellow yarn and fabric, craft some hod’s eyes in bright sunny colours, or gather some sunflowers and make a decorative candle ring for your table.
4. Get Into the Garden
Gardening is a great activity for children, and in the summer time, all those seeds you planted back around Beltane should be growing heartily. If you’ve got food growing, some of it may be ready by Litha – strawberries are often in full bloom, and so are your leafy greens like kale and spinach and lettuce. Teach your young ones how to harvest the food that they’ll be eating
Older children can be put to work weeding and tidying around your plants, and can be shown how to identify the different herbs you’ve planted.
If your herbs have grown enough to harvest a few sprigs here and there, show your children how to pick them and hang them up for drying.
Don’t have room for garden? Don’t worry – you can still plant things in containers. There are plenty of plants that grow well in containers! Give each child a pot of his or her own, and put them in charge of the of a plant. Even though Litha is a few weeks past the optimum planting time, if you get some seedlings in now, they’ll be ready to pick later in the season.
If you are lucky enough to have a nearby farm, see if you can go for a tour of the fields, so your children can see where so much of our food comes from, and how much farmers rely on the cycles of the natural world for agricultural markers.
5. Get Active!
Summer is the perfect time for outdoor activities. If it is very hot during the day in your area, plan your activities for the cooler morning hours or later in the day near sundown.
Put on your favourite music and dance around the yard, or host a drum circle. In addition to being entertaining (and a great stress reliever), a drum circle or a ritualised dance serves another purpose – that of raising energy.
The more you build, the more people will feed off of it. Invite a group of friends overm let them know there will be music and dance, and see what happens. Be sure to provide refreshments for afterwards – drumming and dancing can be draining for some people.
Don’t have enough people for a dance or drumming? Run around the neighborhood looking for fireflies, butterglies, or other summer critters.
Use your imagination and creativity, almost every Litha ritual can be adjusted to be family or child friendly, you just have to be creative!