June 1st 2018
Midsummer is fast approaching, and it seems that the wheel of the year is turning faster than ever this year. As we approach the longest day, its worth planning ahead for what you might do to mark it. You might see several different names dotted around in the Media - Summer Solstice, Litha, or Midsummer. It falls onto June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere.
Sometimes you may see people referring to it as 'Litha', and suggesting this is an ancient name, however, it was part of a series of 'Celtic' names that were given to the festivals by an American witch called Aiden Kelly in 1974. He was frustrated that some had old celtic names, and others did not, so it is not an ancient name, but a Modern invention. To read more about why he did this, please see a blog entry that he wrote here in 2017.
In my tradition of Gardnerian Wicca, we simply tend to call it 'Midsummer', or Summer Solstice.
THEMES FOR MIDSUMMER
The theme for Midsummer celebrations centre around the figure of the sun god. Just as Yule marked the birth of the Sun King, Midsummer marks his coming to full strength, so celbrations that are held tend to revolve around various incarnations of the Sun God, such as Apollo, Aten or Helios. We acknowledge that although the solar disc has reached its zenith, from here onwards the days will start to get shorter, and the nights will lengthen, so there is always an element of 'make hay while the sun shines'.
WAYS YOU MIGHT CELEBRATE THE SOLSTICE
In recent years it has become popular to go and watch the sun rise at a sacred site. But you don't have to travel to a sacred site such as Stonehenge or Abu Simbel to do this. You can just save on carbon footprint and watch the sun rise where you are.
If you keep a dream diary, pay special attention to any dreams you are having around this time, as they might give you a hint about anything your unconscious mind wants you to know about. Keep you Dream Diary close at hand when you go to sleep!
Spending time in nature is always good for the soul, but while the weather is warm and dry, this is a good time to get out and about in the woods or the heathland.
Go for a picnic and share your favourite solar inspired poetry with your companions. It might be Shakespeare's 33rd Sonnet, or Keats' Hymn to Apollo, or even something less classical - 'Here Comes thee Sun' is always a Beatles' favourite at this time of year too.
Cook a solar inspired meal - if you go for Meditteranean flavours or foods from temperate climates, they tend to fall under the auspices of the Sun - olives, olive oil, oranges, round loaves of bread and sun dried tomatoes.
Go wild swimming. If you want wild swimming, do take professional advice as to where to go (be wary of currents and unsafe places, and stick to the well-known swimming spots, such as beeches and lakes). If you are in London, check out the ponds on Hampstead Heath as they are fabulous.
Host a little Solar inspired ceremony or magical circle. You can design a simple ritual around all of the elements mentioned above.
Go and watch an outdoor performance - if there are any groups performing Shakespeare's A Midsummer Nights' Dream, even better. If you are in Cornwall, check out the Minack Theatre if you want a really magical experience.
Honour the spirit of Midsummer by eating the foods that are actually in season at this time - buy locally from the farmer's markets or choose foods that have been grown locally, and not flown in from miles away.
Have a barbeque in honour of the longest day. Pagan practice doesn't have to be mysterious or complicated, it can be as simple as doing the things you would normally do in summer, but doing them mindfully and by dedicating what you do to whichever solar deity you are most drawn to.