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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Litha

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
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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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Rhymes with Blithe

Midwinter is to Midsummer as Yule is to —?

If you answered Litha, well...you're mostly right.

Midwinter and Midsummer are ancient. Cognate names survive in every living Germanic language, so they must have been known back in Common Germanic times, more than 2500 years ago.

Both holidays have by-names as well. The Hwicce—the Anglo-Saxon tribe ancestral (some say) to today's witches—also knew Midwinter as Géol and Midsummer as Líða.

Down the centuries Géol morphed into Yule. Líða didn't survive the passage of time, but during the 80s pagans rediscovered the word and gave it a new lease on life.

It's unclear what either word originally meant. Some have suggested that “Yule” may be kin either to gel—because it marks the coming of winter—or to yell, because “crying Yule” is a fine old midwinter's custom. In northern England, after Christmas services, people used to join hands and dance through the church shouting “Yule! Yule! Yule!”

I'll bet the vicar just loved that.

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Posted by on in Signs & Portents
Hail to the Sun, High Above!

And so that time of year has come again, when the Northern Hemisphere tilts towards the Sun, warming it to its hottest temperature, while the Southern Hemisphere tilts away, resting in the shade. Yes, that’s right, it’s the Summer Solstice for the North and the Winter Solstice for the South and we at PaganSquare are here to celebrate it with you!

As we have in the past for other holidays we’ve gathered a number of articles and posts we found interesting that celebrate this most holy of days. Many of the posts are from our own website, but there’s plenty of stuff from elsewhere listed as well should that catch your interest. In the meantime we wish you a very happy summer... or winter if that’s the side of the globe you hail from ;-) .

-Aryós Héngwis

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Summer Solstice-Yoga-Kirtan Party


Summer Solstice is traditionally one of the most festive of the Pagan/Wiccan Sabbats of the year. What better way to celebrate than with some Sun Salutations and joyous chants? Depending on whether you have your most energy at sunrise or sunset, plan your party according to your own natural rhythm. Invite your fitness-buff friends. Have everyone bring a yoga mat, lounge-worthy apparel and a healthy snack to share. Lead them through a series of easy postures, including Prayer Pose and Raised Arm Pose. There are some good ideas and tips courtesy of
http://www.artofliving.org/yoga/health-and-wellness/sun-salutation-for-beginners

If you are able to do these outside in your backyard, all the better. If nothing else, open all the windows and let the sunshine in. Be sure to keep you and your guests hydrated with some Sun Tea. If having a morning party, prepare the tea the day before. If holding at sunset, you can start your tea the day of! And the recipe is:

(Adapted from Chef Garlic, food.com)
Serves 16
4 family-size tea bags (I know some people prefer one brand over the other, so you can decide which you prefer)
1 1⁄4 cups sugar or sugar substitute to taste
water, to fill container
lemon wedge, for garnish
1 gallon container or jug, with a screw on lid.
     About 9 a.m., fill your pitcher with the water, and tea bags.
(The reason for the screw on top, is so that ants don't get to the tea.) Let the tea sit in the sun for most of the day, a prime full sun location is best. In the summer, the heat from outside can be enough to dissolve the sugar later.
     When done heating, combine the sugar, tea, and more water to make one gallon.
     Serve with thick 1 1/2" wedges of lemon. It usually takes 4-6 hours of being in the sun in order to steep. You can eyeball the tea and bring it in, after the tea looks dark enough.
     Since the tea is best served cold, put it in the fridge right away. It does not last as long as boiled tea for some reason, and I usually leave the tea bags in the jug until the tea is gone. Then, I take the tea bags and sprinkle them in my flower garden, or over my roses.

A rousingly energetic series of Kirtan chants can be shared on the wah! Loops N Grooves recording. A sampling of this inspiring music can be found at http://www.wahmusic.com/music_loopsngrooves.php

Typically Kirtan is a call/response effort, but with this recording you could sing along, dance, or do whatever moves you. When everyone has reached a sufficient state of bliss, sit down and feast! Blessed be and namaste.

For a list of common Kirtan chant lyrics that you could print out copies of:
http://www.kirtancommunity.com/html/kirtan_chant_lyrics.html
For more info about Kirtan:
http://newworldkirtan.com/what-is-kirtan/
Photo by ponsuwan at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net



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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Summer Yule

Yule : Midwinter :: Lithe : Midsummer.

8th century Anglo-Saxon historian Bede of Jarrow calls it Líða: Midsummer. Along with its winter equivalent, Yule, it was one of the two hinges of the Old English year.

Like Yule, we don't know what Líða meant originally. According to Bede, the word denotes “gentle” or “navigable” because at this time of year “the calm breezes are gentle, and they were wont to sail upon the smooth sea” (Shaw 49). Likely this is just a guess; it's certainly not a particularly compelling explanation.

In the English-speaking pagan world, many today refer to the summer sunstead (solstice) by its Anglo-Saxon name. If the word had continued in current use, as Yule did, we would today speak of Lithe. (Rhymes with scythe.)

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks Janette and Greybeard both: the OED confirms that well into early Modern English "lithe" retained its old association with
  • janette nash
    janette nash says #
    As a Brit, I have no trouble believing it means smooth, and refers to the water - a lot of old sayings relate to the weather, and
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Our best guess is that Litha was a Saxon word that essentially meant June. And "after-Letha" meant July.

A few weeks ago, one of my co-workers asked, what exactly do you do for the Summer Solstice? And while I had any number of answers for her, about typical Midsummer traditions and rituals, all of them boiled down to: enjoy your life and all the pleasures that life brings.

Turning to the Summer Solstice, feeling the power of the Sun and standing on an awakened Earth, when all that lives is busy photosynthesizing, eating, mating—the wonders and gifts of being embodied are so evident. There is joy in stretching our muscles, feeling the Sun on our skin, eating that first juicy peach, smelling cut grass and flowers. Summer Solstice is a moment to revel in all our senses, to take in all the sensations of the season. But this beauty and pleasure is not just for the Solstice Day itself, but permeates the whole Season. The magick of Summer is not bound up in the moment when the Earth is closest to the Sun, although that is a profound and magickal moment. Summer's magick is bound in passion and pleasure and experience.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Maybe it would have been more appropriate to invoke Maeve or Mebh for Midsummer. But this is a Celtic roundhouse built in a magical woodland garden by a Smyth.  Brighid, as we know, looks out for all smiths, even those with a y in their name. The man had the vision as well as the craft. Between them, Tina and Johnny have made some magic on their land that lies a country mile from the Shannon Pot, where the River Shannon rises in Ireland.

 

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