Litha has come around again, it seems to come along more quickly every year. Litha is when the sun is at it’s highest strength; the days are at their longest, the UV index is high (but will get higher over the next two months) and animal life has settled into the serious business of raising babies. We celebrate Litha by thanking the sun for shining and bringing energy to our world, we celebrate the shortening of the days and the beginning of the harvest season.
This year I am making cold porcelain sun discs as a Litha craft. I am using this recipe to make the clay, then making some sun symbols from it.
The recipe for cold porcelain is so simple…
3/4 cup corn flour
1/2 cup white glue
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon oil
That’s it, just add the ingredients and mix, then knead until it looks like clay.
Once these little discs are dry and hard I will paint them and add a couple of layers of lacquer to make them a bit water proof. Sun discs can be used as decorations, gifts or as coasters. I think I will punch a hole in mine and hang them around the humpy.
It’s Litha…summer solstice, time for solar symbols, fire and water. We honour Apollo; one of the sun gods, he is at his height at this time of year, as is the sun itself. At this time of year the grass seems greener and the flowers more vivid, sounds carry further and everything is so alive it vibrates.This point marks the middle of summer for us as the sun reaches it’s southern-most position in the sky and begins the journey back to the north.
It also brings with it the usual pressure to conform to the Christmas madness.
I don’t do Christmas now my children are adults; when they were young we bought them presents and dragged them around to see relatives only glimpsed at this time of year, but now my partner and I are happy to sit back and relax a bit. I am the sort of person who likes to understand the symbolism of rituals and Christmas always confused the Hel out of me.
On one hand we are told that the date marks the birth of the SON (you know, the messiah, saviour of the universe) and asked to be kind to our fellow human in his name (and make your way to church too). On the other hand we spend our hard won cash on plastic presents for people we only see once a year (if at all) and hang bright bits of plastic on a tree (also plastic) in preparation for the arrival of an inappropriately dressed fat man. The symbolism escaped me as a kid and for many years of my adulthood, until I attended my first Yule celebration (in August). Here were all the traditional symbols; decorated tree (real), solar symbols (shiny golden balls and candles), presents, spiced mead, stories, feasts of heavy foods and a shaman dressed in red and white, in a setting I could understand; winter solstice. The meaning of the symbols were explained to us as we decorated the tree and held the ritual, it all made sense to me. So I choose to celebrate the height of the sun’s strength and it’s inevitable wan at this time of year rather than the birth of the sun and it’s inevitable waxing (as does the Christmas crowd).
On my Litha altar I have oak leaves, candles and solar symbols, to me they represent the height and strength of the sun and the recognition that the sun’s strength will begin to wan from this point onwards (until Yule). This year we were to meet up with friends for a Litha picnic, but an inconveniently falling branch kept us home to clean up. We held a small family ritual instead.
Yesterday was Summer Solstice in the southern hemisphere (which includes us). The Earth’s annual journey around the sun has bought us back to the peak of solar strength and the promise that ‘this too shall pass’ and winter will come again.
Every year we head to water for our Litha celebration; it pays to have water close when playing with fire. Litha is a celebration of the sun reaching the height of his strength and a realization that everything is cyclic and even the awesome power of the sun waxes and wanes. We decorate the altar and surrounds with sun symbols and imagery. We perform a ritual to say thank you for the light and heat that let us live on this planet, then we party.
Decorating the tree behind the altar (facing North)
The altar is coming together nicely too
I love the twisted branches of this tree.
The Sun Lord’s mask.
My partner wearing his Litha crown.
The Sun Lord in a light hearted moment.
The mask after the ritual, hanging in the tree, watching over our revels.
The Sun Lord casting the flaming spear into the water to symbolize his current strength and the shortening of the days from this point onward as the suns strength wanes towards winter.
Feasting from the altar.
The spear is floating in there somewhere
Happy Litha to all. I hope your day was as pleasant as ours.
A holed rock hanging in the tree.
A rock with a hole in it (naturally formed) is called a hagstone. It protects the area it is hung in from negative energy and if you look through it maybe you will see the faerie world.