MOOD | VERDANT
There’s a single moment here in Colorado that you’ll miss if you’re not paying attention. The instant when all the grasses along riverbanks and in wild fields crest with growth and green. Ahh… This is what the blades of grass seem to be whispering as the late day breezes waft down the mountainsides to swish through. It’s happening right now.
Too soon those grasses will seed and fade to summer hues. But this too is beautiful, and a welcome sign of warm summer nights to come. With that warmth, we get to look forward to the summer solstice too!
In this week’s blog there’s all kinds of wonderful things to know about the summer solstice. I’m also including some suggestions for your Litha altar. I’m so ready to be dazzled by the summer sun and all the colors of blooms and rainbows to come! I hope you are too.
All my love, always.
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LITHA | A CHRONICLE
Celebrated since the Stone Age, Litha or the Summer Solstice, occurs on or around June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere. Both Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids have hinted at such celebratory use by their specific design in relation to the sun’s movements.
Ancient Romans honored Vesta, the goddess of home and hearth, while the Chinese celebrated feminine Yin energy at midsummer. Likewise, ancient Celts called upon the goddess Cerridwen for her natural, mothering nurturance and protection. For Native Americans, the day served as a marker for beginning the countdown to harvest time.
Litha is derived from the Old English word lithe, which means gentle or serene. It was observed that June’s breezes are calm, making for smooth sailing on the high seas—hence Litha became the name for summer’s languid day of long light.
Naturally, the power of the sun is amplified on this day. And so, having a large bonfire, or lighting a whole host of candles, is a beautiful way to symbolically honor the sun’s fire and heat. Litha is also a day of balancing fire with water. Having pools or bowls of water about, with symbols of rivers, lakes, and the sea are a way to recall this balance.
Herbs and flowers are abundant at the height of summer. Perhaps it is their intoxicating scent which enhances the balance of masculine and feminine at this time of year. Both energies support one another during Litha in rituals which honor unity and contentment. This is the natural reason for marriage and renewal of vows on Litha.
You may wish to honor all things related to the sun, fire, and summer’s bliss through lazy picnics, making daisy chains or flower crowns, and floating candles in handmade stick rafts upon the water. Above all, allow time to lie back and drowse at length in the warmth of our dear Sun. Once the Summer Solstice passes, we witness the fading of the light once again.
THE LITHA ALTAR
An altar is an intimate expression of your experience with this celebration. In the summer, it’s so lovely to set up a space outside for this—in the garden, on your patio, under a favorite tree. There are no rules, only suggestions based on those who have come before us:
• A sunny colored cloth that captivates the eye. Think shimmering golden threads which remind you of the sun’s light streaming through the trees.
• Items to represent all the elements—earth, air, fire, water. Some soil, a feather, a candle, and a small bowl of water are simple selections. Outdoors, you can use a flowerpot or bucket of water, and simple bundles of gold flowers or shimmering stones instead of a candle.
• Summertime herbs such as basil, thyme, sage, chamomile, or lavender. Having live plants of all these herbs, potted or planted directly in your garden makes for a super aromatic altar.
• Flowers and leaves. Think sunflowers, marigolds, calendula, oak leaves, daisies, ferns!
• Stones of citrine, lapis lazuli, carnelian, or jade.
• Personal spiritual items such as deities, amulets, talismans, or images.
• Sun symbols, shells, bees symbols, circular symbols, wands and iridescent wings!
• Something to represent both the feminine and masculine.
Above all, make it a delight to gather items and create your altar. Simple is lovely. As is over-the-top elaborate. Let it be who you are.