Midsummer Night's Dream - Litha
Open up your petals, like roses planted near running waters,Send up a sweet scent like honeysuckle.Break forth in blossoms like the lily, yield fragrance,Bringforth leaves in grace and praise in song.
Welcome to the Wheel of the Year series, this year on each natural turning point that is celebrated in the Wheel of the Year, I will share with you my thoughts and some history around these specific days.
The sun reaches the point on the celestial sphere where it is again at the greatest distance from the celestial equator, only this time the earth is tilted its full 23.5 degrees in the direction of the sun. The sun shines directly over the Tropic of Cancer, at a latitude 23 degrees north, and seems to stop for a moment as the earth’s journey around the sun reaches a culmination. The sun will be at its farthest north along the horizon, standing still before beginning its slow return to the southern sky.
It is late June, Summer Solstice.
The sun rises in the northeast, soars high overhead at noon and sets in the northwest. The days are long and hot, and the nights are short, as are the shadows. But that is about to change.
The Summer Solstice -also called Litha- represents the peak of the light. The word Litha comes from the Saxon word for the summer months of June and July, and so encompasses the nature of that part of the year. As Litha marks the peak of the summer season, it also marks the start of the decline of the light. From this point forward, the days will begin to shorten and the nights will start to become longer, as the Wheel turns to the dark side of the year and we begin our journey towards winter.
The Welsh call the Summer Solstice ‘Gathering Day’ as this festival also marks the first of the three harvests of the year, the collecting of young tender vegetables, peas and beans and early fruits and honey.
The energy of plants harvested at the Summer Solstice is believed to be very potent, and so herbs were often gathered at this time. Herbs such as Mugwort and Vervain are supposed to be particularly powerful.
Summer Solstice Folklore
The sky at midsummer is a treasure trove of mythological lore. From the virulent conquering male hero of Greek mythology to the Babylonian genesis myth, the stars above continue to remind us of the link between mortals and the deities, projecting the age old legends in the language of their sparkling light.
Hercules: The Hero
The constellation Hercules will be visible at the zenith, its most recognizable feature the central “box” made up of four stars in a trapezoid pattern. Hercules, or Herakles, was by far the most famous of all the Greek heroes. He was a son of Zeus and Alkmene and, by way of his divine and illegitimate parentage, incurred the persistent wrath of Hera, the often maligned wife of Zeus. Renowned for completion of the legendary Twelve Labors, Hercules was worshipped as a god throughout the Mediterranean.
Draco: The Celestial Dragon
Directly north of Hercules, you will find Draco, the celestial dragon writhing across the night sky. The head of the dragon lies just beneath the hero’s feet and its body undulates between Ursa Minor and Ursa Major in a serpentine pattern. Associated with the goddess Athena, the dragon depicted in Draco is associated with the myth of Cadmus and the founding of Thebes. After Cadmus defeated the dragon, he was instructed by Athena to plant the creature’s teeth into the ground. Cadmus did so, and from the dragon’s teeth sprung full-grown men who assisted him in building the city.
Corona Borealis: Ariadne’s Crown
If you turn to face the north, lying to the west of Hercules, you will find an enchanting crescent of seven stars curving upwards. This is the Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown, or the Crown of Ariadne as it is also known. Corona Borealis has a very distinctive feature in addition to its shape. The bright star Gemma is the unmistakable jewel in this glittering summer constellation.
This year we celebrate the Summer Solstice nine days after the day that I was born, June 12th, which makes me a Gemini. A sign that very much illustrates the duality of Nature.
I love the energy of June and the Summer Solstice might be my favourite celebration in the wheel of the year.This is the time of extremes, of breakthroughs and transformations.
I’m feeling incredibly inspired and my creativity is at it’s peak!
The warm days here in Sweden are allowing me to work outside, tucked away between lilac bushes with a view on my vegetable garden.
The season of abundance and expansion is upon us!
Blessed Summer Solstice!