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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Litha
Litha: Light and Laughter

 

     It is the time of light, laughter, and joyful abandon. It is Litha! Let us celebrate with ruby-ripe strawberries and twinkling fireflies and achingly-pure blue skies reflected in chilly streams and sun-warmed ponds. I tend to get giddy this time of year; maybe it’s the child in me that hasn’t grown up yet, or perhaps the Kitchen Witch who is so excited by all of the fresh fruits and vegetables that summer brings, or maybe it’s just because I’m finally warm enough. Whatever the reason, they year’s turning at Litha always fills me with barely-contained excitement, though I don’t always get to act on it. My mind springs into action, suddenly there are so many things I want to do, and I can’t convince myself that I still have to balance all the fun things with work, which means working my way through my summer reading list while lounging by the lake is not a daily option. (Life isn’t perfect, after all.)

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In Search of the Sun

How does one weather a soggy Summer Solstice, anyway? Looking forward to one of the big Sabbats of the year is what most Wiccans and Pagans eagerly anticipate reveling in. As I peered out my bedroom window this morning, however, my brow furrowed. Overcast, cold, and rainy. Again. Granted this is Wisconsin, as everyone here loves to repeatedly point out, as if that makes it alright. News flash: it doesn't. My allergies have not appreciated this unduly wet and cooler year thus far. If it wasn't so damp, it wouldn't be a big deal. Even though I'm prone to heatstroke, I don't begrudge the truly hot temps, even when you get the double-whammy of humidity (more extreme wet stuff). I just pace myself accordingly, and don't attend the Ren Faire in a heavy costume, lest I be carried out on a stretcher. I'm beginning to suspect I would do much better in an arid climate, but that's a story for another time.

Back to the Solstice. I often nostalgically recall my first and only attendance to the PSG in 2000. It started out bright and sunny that day, but by mid-afternoon, we all had to seek shelter in our tents due to the thunderstorms rolling in. It wasn't so terrible. Wine, cheese, and a cozy atmosphere all helped. Earth-minded folk tend to be resilient. Things finally cleared up around nine that evening. Eventually, curiosity seekers began to creep and crawl out of their tents to the damp grass, lured by the sound of drumbeats. The natives were restless from being cooped-up the better part of the day and needed to get their dance on. So drum and dance we did, as planned, around the bonfire, until the wee wee hours. It was ecstatic and frenzied and sweet. It was continuing our celebration as planned, and not allowing Mother Nature's mood swings to rain us out completely.

So my best advice today, if it looks dicey outdoors, is to go about your plans the best you can and not lose hope. I'm determined to set up my annual outdoor "Zen Den," whether my hammock gets soaked, or not. If my partner and I can't sit outside and enjoy the sunset later, I will still cook up the ritual din-din as planned, and we can crack the windows and listen to the raindrops. Candles and incense will be lit regardless. I will still bake homemade cornbread and perform my yoga sun salutations on this day, because, why not? I believe it remains important to honor the significance of the actual sacred day and the deities associated with it. The main thing to keep in mind when following an earth-based belief, is that being flexible with Book of Shadow plans and adjusting them when necessary is key. Happy Solstice, everyone, whatever plans that you honor today.

References:

Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

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Summer Is Here!

There’s not much mistaking it anymore is there? Summer is definitely here! Depending on how you count it, today is either the first day or the midpoint of summer, the longest day and the shortest night. In Britain, the summer solstice has been known traditionally as both Litha and Midsummer, with the former coming from the ancient Celts. Included below is all our content related to the festival as well as various cool tidbits we found around the web. We hope you have a great summer!

--Aryós Héngwis

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Summer Camp Solstice

The Summer Solstice is nearly in full bloom, and that means camping opportunities. If you haven't already booked a hot spot this year to frolic with fellow Pagans and Wiccans at one of these memorable social events, there is still time to partake in the merriment. Here is a sampling of some of the midwest celebrations available. For more to choose from, see the additional resources listed at the end of this blog. If you're looking for a more mellow and smaller outing, just grab your own merry band of pranksters, and get out in the wilderness for a few days. Worship the sunrise and the sunset, and listen to what those oak trees may be whispering to you…

PAGAN SPIRIT GATHERING
June 18-25, 2017
One of the longest-running and best-loved, Pagan Spirit Gathering, or PSG, as it is more affectionately known, has changed venues over the years. When I attended back in 2000, it was in Wisteria, Ohio. Now held at Tall Tree Lake, in Vienna, IL, it has grown in leaps and bounds. There is still a community service shift program, a village cafe, sweat lodge, musicians, drum circles, vendors, classes, workshops, rituals, and camaraderie galore. The clothing optional dress code is mighty fun, too. Make no mistake, this can be a game-changer if you have not yet experienced the experience that is PSG. Sponsored by Circle Sanctuary, this year's registration is currently closed. But if you peek at their website, it could inspire you to jump on board for next year's celebration.

https://www.circlesanctuary.org/index.php/pagan-spirit-gathering/pagan-spirit-gathering

MIDSUMMER GATHER
June 18-25, 2017
On a somewhat smaller scale, there's still time to register for the Earth House annual Midsummer Gather. You can also opt to just stay the weekend, rather than commit to a full week. There are so many rituals, classes and activities, it will make your cauldron spin. Located at the Eagle Cave Campground in Blue River, Wisconsin, "Celestial Fire" is this year's camp theme. This is one I've definitely been wanting to check out:

http://www.earthhousemn.org/gather/

SUMMER SOLSTICE
June 19-25, 2017
There are still goings-on at the Wisteria Event Site, near Athens OH. This lovely nature preserve and special event site is tucked away in the scenic Appalachian foothills. Work barter slots are available with an early application. One nice perk is that purchasing tickets in advance for their events is not mandatory. Famed author Starhawk will even be in attendance this year.

https://www.wisteria.org/

Other resources:

https://www.circlesanctuary.org/

http://www.faeriefaith.net/festival.list.html

Photo, "Camping Site," by Wiangya at freeditalphotos.net

 

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Posted by on in Signs & Portents
Summer Is Here!

It’s Midsummer, also known as the Summer Solstice or Litha! Alternatively viewed as either the midpoint or the start of summer, Midsummer is the time when one hemisphere of the Earth (the Northern Hemisphere in this case) is at its maximum tilt towards the Sun, resulting in the longest day and an increase in temperature. Of course, for our southern kindred, it’s Midwinter.

Here at PaganSquare we’ve gathered a large number of posts both from our own website and others to celebrate this day. We hope you enjoy today’s festivities and have a wonderful summer (or winter if that’s where you are)!

-Aryós Héngwis

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Incan Summer Solstice Ceremony

I visited the Sacred Valley and the Temple of the Sun in Peru for my 40th Birthday, and these lands are a sight to behold. At the time of the Summer Solstice each year, the rising sun reflects off a certain point of a mountain in the Ollantaytambo archaeological site, and bounces off the altar atop the temple, where the Incans strategically placed it some 500 years ago. The fact that these laid by hand granite stones still stood now– with no cement holding them together– untouched– was truly spiritual. My mother, who had accompanied me, was moved to tears, taking it all in. Each year, not unlike their British counterparts at Stonehenge, local Peruvians reenact the Incan Summer Solstice ritual. I am sure it is a spectacle to appreciate, based on what I have seen and the commemorative photos marking the event.

Litha, or the Summer Solstice, is many a Pagan and Wiccan's favorite festival of the year. If you'd like to make yours truly special, here are some suggestions for a simple ritual, in tribute to Inti Raymi, not unlike our Incan ancestors held.

Buy some brightly-colored flowers and throw them festively around the ground of your firepit. Encourage participants to wear silver and gold jewelry, and have everyone bring a small carved wooden sun symbol or figure to place in a backyard bonfire. Since I'm sure you wouldn't want to sacrifice any white llamas, burn some white sage instead. Smudge everyone first, and then offer it to your fire as a sacrifice to the Sun God. Make a procession of building your fire where each guest contributes by adding to it. Build it first, and wait to light it at sunset, adding some straw and dancing around it to raise energy clockwise. Give a nod to each of the four wind directions as you do.

Give thanks to Suyos, representing the snake for the world below, the puma for life on earth and the condor, who presides over the upper world of the gods. These three animals were very honored and seen repeatedly in architecture and artwork throughout Cusco and the surrounding areas.

Celebrate and feast with some Pisco Sours (the national cocktail), ceviche,  Peruvian roasted potatoes (see recipe below) and Inca Kola – if you can get your hands on it! When the fire dies down a bit, those who feel able-bodied should take a running jump over the pit for good luck. Revel in the sunset.

     ROASTED PERUVIAN POTATOES
     Start to finish: 1 hour
     Servings: 4 to 6
     2 pounds Peruvian purple potatoes, scrubbed
     1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
     1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
     1 tablespoon minced garlic
     Salt and freshly ground black pepper
     1 tablespoon cilantro
     Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

     Halve the potatoes and place them in a bowl. Cover them with water if you cut them ahead of time.
     In another bowl, mix olive oil, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Drain potatoes well and add them to the oil mixture. Toss with olive oil mixture. Spread the potatoes on a sheet pan. Roast for 30 minutes until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve
(Recipe from Aaron Sanchez, foodnetwork.com)


Resources:

http://latinamericanhistory.about.com/od/ancientlatinamerica/p/Inti-The-Inca-Sun-God.htm
http://www.livescience.com/22869-machu-picchu.html

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Night on Witches' Hill

The cop car careens up into the park, right over the grass. It slams to a stop; two doors fly open simultaneously and a cop leaps out of each one, hands on holsters, poised and ready to go.

Welcome to our Midsummer's Eve.

There we were, up on the highest hill in the metropagan area: us and folks from our sister coven. We'd decked ourselves and the picnic tables with oak leaves. We'd sung the songs, danced the dances, and shared the feast of new foods.

Now it's sunset, and everyone's gone up to the top of the hill to bid farewell to the Sun at its latest setting of the year.

Except for me. Here's old Uncle Steve, right in character, down in the park running around with the kids. There's even one sitting on my shoulders.

I don't know what the cops were expecting. Something nefarious, I suppose. Something occult. Black hooded robes and a virgin in a white gown.

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