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Litha is Light (and it's going down and coming up)


For me, Litha is about balance and light. For others—as I found out when I gathered with a fiery group of ladies at our Midsummer Celebration here on Martha’s Vineyard—it’s about the color yellow, fire, beauty, happiness, joy, and potential. That last one interests me in particular, because I’ve been studying quite a bit about potential lately; specifically, the possibilities that lie dormant in our minds and hearts that surface when we are ready for them.

   We connect with these possibilities through the rhythms of our lives, and I’m especially called to the rhythms of descent and rising, such as what Kore experienced when she descended and arose new and fresh as Persephone. We all know her story—she goes down as an innocent virgin and arises a woman, Queen of the Dead. She now knows about sex and maturity and life and death; she’s tasted of the pomegranate, or like Eve, of the apple. In other words, she’s tapped in to her potential, opened it up like a fruit to see the shape of the seeds inside. She’s pulled from the depths and the dark and has brought the juicy knowledge of her own being out into the light.

   Light is what Litha is all about. But not just sunlight. It’s the light of our own souls and the shining brilliance of our own potential, finally realized.

   We ladies gathered in a circle on Midsummer eve, watching the sunset near the Aquinnah cliffs, ancient multi-colored clay cliffs that face west and overlook the Atlantic Ocean and the dunes and the sky. We stood barefoot in the grass, about 20 of us, and we celebrated the plants and the changing of the seasons. I led a short celebration of the plants, because who else understands our rhythms better than the plants do? They, too, withdraw inwards into a dark space, learn of their potential, and rise into the light—bigger and stronger than they were before.

    We did a simple call and response, and it was heartening and bright and lovely:


I descend.

I rise.

I descend.

I rise.

I descend.

I rise.

Descending is hard.

Rising is hard.

Descending is joy.

Rising is joy.

My cycles make me strong.

My cycles keep me green.

My rhythms define me.

I create my rhythms.

I create my own truth.

We create our own truth.

Blessed be, and happy summer, all!
(And thanks to Adrianne Ryan for this fantastic photo! What a great group of ladies!)



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Award-winning herbalist and author Holly Bellebuono directs Vineyard Herbs Teas & Apothecary on Martha’s Vineyard, as well as The Bellebuono School of Herbal Medicine, a creative and welcoming program for those interested in pursuing the study of herbal formulary. Holly lectures internationally about natural health and women’s empowerment and has published three books: The Essential Herbal for Natural Health, The Authentic Herbal Healer, and Women Healers of the World: The Traditions, History & Geography of Herbal Medicine (foreword by Rosemary Gladstar). Holly lives on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with her family on their mini-homestead raising chickens, rabbits, firing up the blacksmith forge, and hiking wild island trails in search of magic.


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