Summer Solstice, meaning “sun standing still”, is the climax point in the Wheel of the Year.
Summer Solstice is called Litha and is one of the quarter festivals – along with Mabon (Fall Equinox), Yule (Winter Solstice), and Ostara (Spring Equinox) – of the Celtic calendar with the cross-quarter festivals of Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain celebrated in between.
Litha occurs when the northern hemisphere of the Earth is most inclined toward the sun, which is why we get the most daylight of the year on this day.
The word solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because the seasonal movement of the Sun’s path (as seen from Earth) momentarily comes to a stop before reversing direction.
In the northern hemisphere, the Summer Solstice takes place between June 20th and 22nd. Which is why it is often celebrated anytime over this three-day span.
This seasonal wisdom has a time-honoured history.
In ancient times, the date of the June Solstice was used to organize calendars and as a marker to figure out when to plant and harvest crops.
Traditionally, this time of year was also popular for weddings with June being named after Juno, the Roman Goddess of Love and Marriage (Hera is her Greek counterpart).
Litha is steeped in mystical tradition with several ancient cultures celebrating it as a time of honouring the fertility of the earth and the sun’s blessing of warmth and light.
While this longest and brightest day of the year calls for playing, rejoicing, and enjoying all of life’s pleasures; often we prevent celebration in our lives thinking that we can’t enjoy something until everything else is done. When we shine light upon this unwillingness to fully experience abundance it allows us to burn away what we don’t need and spark what we do.
In the yoga tradition, yogis see us as living embodiments of nature, reflective of our outer world.
The yogis see surya (sir-ya meaning the sun) as the source of wisdom which lies in the heart. The heart meridian in Traditional Chinese Medicine is reflective of the element of fire which is needed for life to bloom into full maturity. It speaks to how nourished you are by what you bring in, and how to filter out what you don’t.
As we emerge from Spring and the birthing of new dreams and ideas, we slowly grow into Summer, a time of manifestation and the ripening of fruit.
Often portrayed as simply a celebration of Summer – which it certainly is – but as the midway point to the year, Solstice encourages you to look back on what you have been tending in your inner garden, what needs to be watered, what needs to be weeded, and to notice if there’s anything that’s been left out of sight that needs to bloom.
It signifies the earth’s biggest inhalation of the year and is the perfect time to look back on the last six months. Celebrate all that you have brought forth in your life AND set intentions for the rest of the year and how you will tend those things for a fruitful harvest.
Now add the potency of the Moon in Her First Quarter phase when Her face is exactly half illuminated.
Her yang half (the half that is illuminated) represents the year you’ve had and what is to be celebrated. Her yin half (the half in darkness) represents the year to come, the unknown, the fertile possibilities yet to birth in your life.
During the remainder of this week, take a cue from this pause, of the “sun standing still” and honour the year you’ve had while welcoming the year to come.
How can we acknowledge the sacredness of this time?
Before you continue to the suggestions on how to celebrate, first connect to the essence of this being a time to appreciate all that is lush and full in life.
Take out your journal and ask yourself:
- What do I need to celebrate?
- Have I prevented myself from celebrating something because I either feel I don’t deserve it or because I’m waiting until “everything else” is done?
- Imagining my inner garden, is there anything that needs my renewed energy?
- Is there anything in my inner garden that needs to be weeded or removed
Ways to Celebrate Litha
- Watch the Sun Rise Choose a day this week to get up before the sun and watch it rise. As you do, give thanks for the abundance you have in your life and reflect upon this past year from Yule (Winter Solstice) to now.
- Nature Walk Go for a walk and notice which plants or flowers have had their full bloom time already, what is at its zenith, and what is still growing.
- Celebrate with Others Have a bonfire to celebrate the change of the seasons and all that has manifested so far this year for everyone. Decorate with oranges, yellows, and reds.
- Attune to the Little Girl in You This is a time to tap into the magic of each day, to rejoice in freedom, and to play to your heart’s content.
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How did you celebrate Litha?
I’d love to know! Leave your comment in the box below and share your experience with me.
Your Soul Sistah,