Litha, also known as Midsummer or the summer solstice, is the longest day of the year. It’s also a minor sabbat for witches, pagans, and Wiccans.
The holiday marks the height of the Oak King or solar god’s power. Litha is all about abundance, growing crops, and welcoming the first day of summer. Pagans celebrate the sabbat with bonfires intended to bring luck and protect the coming harvest.
Litha falls on the summer solstice, between June 19 and 23 each year. This year, the pagan holiday falls on June 20, 2021 in the Northern hemisphere and December 21, 2021 in the Southern hemisphere.
What is Litha?
For some, Litha represents the holiday that celebrates the marriage of the God and Goddess, which was promised at Beltane. (Also, it’s pronounced LEE-tha, in case you weren’t sure.) The earth is full of life and abundance, and you can see this reflected throughout the plant and animal kingdoms.
And, on this, the longest day of the year, Wiccans celebrate the Oak King’s wedding to the pregnant goddess. After the summer solstice, his strength wanes and, at the autumn equinox (Mabon), the Holly King takes power.
During Litha, the sun seems to stop in the sky, rising and setting in the same place for a few days in a row. In fact, the word solstice comes from the Latin solstitium, which means the “sun stands still.”
Litha is also associated with the goddess Epona, protector of horses, donkeys and mules.
Holding festivals, creating bonfires, and hosting feasts are some of the ways modern Pagans celebrate Litha. They’re all ways to fully enjoy the warmer weather and the longer days.
Ancient pagans marked other midsummer holidays as well. Athenian Greeks marked their new year at midsummer with Panathenaia, a celebration of the goddess Athena.
Ancient Romans honored Juno with feasts and also celebrated Vestalia, the holiday honoring Vesta, goddess of the hearth and vital force.
- Colors: green, gold, purple
- Crystals: amber, garnet, obsidian, moonstone, jade, emerald
- Flowers: honeysuckle, roses, chamomile, lavender
- Animals: butterflies, robins, horses, fireflies
- Plants: fennel, oak trees, mugwort, St John’s wort
- Spells: Litha is one of the best times for protection or love magic
7 Ways to Celebrate Litha
1. Enjoy Fresh Fruits
Traditional foods of Litha include fresh vegetables and summer fruits like strawberries, since those are at their peak. Honey is a popular ingredient in recipes for Litha as it represents the sweetness of the season and was used to make mead.
2. Have a Bonfire
Like with other spring and summer festivals, a bonfire is a way to celebrate this sabbat and enjoy the warmth and light that echoes the sun.
3. Gather Herbs
Since the power of the sun is at a peak, the morning of Litha is thought to be the best time to harvest summer herbs. If you have a herb garden, spend some time there and enjoy the extra energetic boost of midsummer.
Be responsible if you are wildcrafting, and only take herbs from nature if you are sure you will not harm the plants future growth.
4. Make a Dream Pillow
Use mugwort to make a dream pillow to keep away nightmares and encourage insightful dreams. Or make different sachets to put under your pillow depending on your intent.
5. Get Married or Handfasted
Whether for “a year and a day” or “as long as love shall last,” Midsummer is an auspicious time to begin a partnership or marriage.
6. Decorate your Altar with Flowers
Bring in some of the summer abundance with fresh flowers and use these to decorate your altar. Look for what is locally available and make your home feel bright and full of light.
7. Visit Stonehenge
If you’re looking for a summer trip for 2022 or beyond, visiting this landmark could be fun. Stonehenge, located in Wiltshire England, was created to enhance the rising of the sun on the solstice as it moves between the stones. It’s closed again this year, but you can check out the livestream that runs from sunrise to sunset.
- How to Celebrate Samhain: The Witch’s New Year - October 11, 2022
- How to Celebrate Mabon: The Autumn Equinox - September 16, 2022
- How to Celebrate Lughnasadh, the Pagan Harvest Festival - July 6, 2021
Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft 🙂
Sorry, I was just wondering if you are allowed to celebrate Litha if you are not pagan/Wiccan/a witch/or anything else like that. I’m interested in branching out in other religions to maybe find the right one for me.
In my humble opinion, yes. What you choose to believe is a very personal matter, and one way to explore what you believe is to attend a pagan celebration or — given current circumstances — try some of the practices at home.
If you feel like they feel right for you, keep diving in. And, if you don’t, keep exploring other faiths and practices until you find one (or a mix of some) that does. If you want to go deeper into Wicca, Scott Cunningham’s book is an excellent starting place.
Absolutely you are allowed!!!
Just like any Wiccan ritual/spell/celebration/general rule: go in with an open heart and an open mind.
I can only assume the author’s response airing on the side of caution is because there is still a lot of negative association with Wiccan/Pagan faith and just to keep that in mind if you share your interest in the practice with others. Or, well, because of COVID-19. But I’ve seen Litha celebrations that respect social distancing; but many (in my area at least) are vaccinated and the celebration is outdoors, so I totally encourage you to check it out. But I would advise reaching out first to see what you can contribute, any covid safety precautions, etc.
Personally, I was a solitary practitioner for a decade, but for a couple of years I decided to join a coven and it was a major adjustment. I was basically a beginner! But everyone was so kind in guiding me through, because it was obvious that I had an open heart and open mind. 🙂
I hope this helps! Blessed be!
I love this reply! <3 I 100% agree.
There’s a long tradition (albeit a discrete one) of folks from other faiths either also being pagan, or using pagan techniques in the practice of their main one. So you’re most welcome, and I hope you’re having a beautiful day today.
This is very true! Thank you so much for your kind comment.