Litha, also known as Midsummer or the Summer Solstice, is a significant event within the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. It occurs annually around June 21st, when the Sun is at its highest point in the sky and we experience the longest day of the year. The term 'Litha' is derived from an old Anglo-Saxon term denoting the months of June and July.
For Wiccans and many other Pagans, Litha is a time of celebration, a day to honor the power and warmth of the Sun, which is at its peak. It symbolizes the point of the year when the reign of the Oak King, symbolizing the waxing year and the growing light, ends, and the Holly King, representing the waning year and the encroaching darkness, begins his rule.
The summer solstice is a time of abundance. The seeds sown in the spring are growing and maturing, reflecting the potential turning into tangible reality. It's a time for feasting and enjoying the first fruits of the land, acknowledging the fullness and abundance of Mother Earth.
As with other Wiccan sabbats, Litha has ancient roots. Many pre-Christian cultures celebrated this time of year. One of the most famous sites is Stonehenge in England, where the heel stone aligns with the rising Sun on the summer solstice.
Rituals during Litha vary greatly, but many revolve around the theme of balance, echoing the balance of day and night during the solstice. Bonfires are traditional and represent the Sun at the height of its power. They also serve a protective purpose, driving off evil spirits. It's a time for purification, love and strength spells, herb gathering, and divination. The use of symbols such as sun wheels, solar crosses, and sunflowers is common during Litha celebrations.
In conclusion, Litha is an occasion of joy and celebration in the Wiccan calendar. It’s a time for recognizing the Sun's strength, reflecting on the cyclical nature of life, and expressing gratitude for the Earth's abundance. While the exact rituals and practices may vary, the underlying themes of reverence for nature, acknowledgment of the balance of light and dark, and celebration of growth and life remain constant.