Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Wheel of the Year — The Summer Solstice and Its Lore

Sometimes called Litha, the Summer Solstice falls in the middle of summer, somewhere around June 21st. This is the longest day of the year and is often marked on calendars as the "first day of summer." It is a time of paradox, because even as the sun reaches its height, it begins to wane and the days grow shorter. Just like at the Winter Solstice, the Oak King battles the Holly King, but it is the Holly King, the King who presides over the waning sun, who wins this time.

As a part of the Wheel of the Year, the Summer Solstice sees the God move past his prime. He moves from his Lover aspect and becomes the King. The Goddess quickens with His child, still in Her aspect of Mother.

There are many symbols that reflect the spirit of this Sabbat, including:
  • Fireworks
  • Catherine wheels
  • Yellow flowers
  • Phallic symbols
  • Any sun symbols
Themes and Practices of Midsummer
The general theme of this Sabbat is change as the sun's power begins to wane. It is a preparation for the coming harvest and an acknowledgment that the season will continue to advance towards winter. This day is a reminder to enjoy the heat of summer while it lasts, for it will not last forever.
After the Summer Solstice, after the bright day of the year, the hours of daylight will decrease as the hours of darkness increase. In the northern hemisphere summer really doesn’t get into full swing until this date.
The Feast of the Summer Solstice
The colors of this Sabbat are the colors of the sun. Try to keep these colors in your feast. Try carrots, oranges, and breads shaped to resemble the sun. As summer has finally arrived and the cold of winter and unpredictability of spring are both long passed, pull out the barbeque and plan a picnic for your feast. If you tend to have a problem with barbequing, try marinating the meats and precooking them in the microwave. All you’ll have to do then is throw them on the grill to brown and heat them thoroughly.
Vegetables can be prepared by sprinkling them with herbs and a little olive oil. Wrap them tightly in tinfoil before throwing on the grill for a few minutes. Don’t overcook. Alternatively, leave the vegetables raw and simply enjoy the fruits of the season. Most foods that you would normally cook in the cover can be covered in tinfoil and cooked on the grill instead, including a children’s favorite, chicken nuggets.
There are many options for feasting at the Summer Solstice. Some of these include:
  • Green-leaf salad with herbs tossed with a little orange juice
  • Sliced tomatoes sprinkled with salt and pepper
  • Cucumber, olives, and goat cheese with a light olive oil dressing
  • Apples and walnuts in yogurt
  • Cooked and chilled chickpeas with olive oil and garlic dressing
  • Couscous with lemon juice
  • Potato and anchovy salad with a light tomato dressing
  • Stuffed fish
If you’re looking for a dessert, try ice cream. It’s perfect for the summer heat and you can make it yourself in any flavor you can imagine. If you’d rather buy it, but still want to make it special, let it soften a little on the counter and stir in your own ingredients. Try crushing up chocolate chip cookies or malted milk biscuits and mixing them into the ice cream. Also try adding in slices of seasonal fruit such as strawberries and raspberries. Add your ingredients and allow the ice cream to chill again before serving. This will allow any crispy ingredients such as cookies to soften as well.
Beverages for Litha
Though you’ll probably use a strong red wine or juice for your ritual, for feasting and celebrating you’ll want beverages that are a little more festive. Look for golden liquids such as cider , sweet white wines, pale sherry or even a Honey Mead. For the non-alcoholic crowd and for children, look for seasonal fruit juices and even lemonade. Just remember that the summer is hot and you’ll probably be more thirsty than normal. Have some cool water on hand to quench that thirst.
Celebrating the Summer Solstice
For many Wiccans, it is traditional to rise at dawn the morning of the Summer Solstice. Since dawn comes early on the longest day of the year, many people choose to have an all-night party and simply stay up to greet the dawn. Those who make it through the night can go to bed and get a few hours’ sleep.
There are other ways to celebrate this day as well. You can reenact the battle of the Oak King and the Holly King just as you did with the Winter Solstice. Just remember that the Holly King wins this time around. Consider also hosting several physical activities and getting everyone involved. Tug-of-wars, races, or even board games can provide hours of fun for everyone. Don’t get too serious about your games. Simple and fun is usually better than complicated and serious.
If it’s nice enough to be outside, organize a little treasure hunt. Make a list of items that can be found in your area that represent spring. A river rock, green leaf, a flower, or a feather are all common enough objects that people should be able to find them if they look hard enough. Give a prize to the person who completes their collection first.
If you have a large open space, build the face of the sun outside where the sun can shine upon it. Gather up light-colored twigs and stones and lay them out so that they resemble the sun. Get everyone involved and build it as large as you can. Don’t forget to take a picture when you’re finished.
Most Wiccans will also choose to celebrate the Summer Solstice with a ritual or ceremony. You would not generally perform magick during this ritual, honoring the Goddess, the God, and the power of the son instead.
Dressing for the Summer Solstice
Dressing in the colors of the season is an excellent way to get into the spirit. Whether you choose your ritual robes or something else, keep in mind that your dress should be special, not something that you’d wear every day. Traditional colors for the Summer Solstice include golds and bright greens. You may also choose to use golden yellows and oranges to represent the God and reds for the Goddess. Use these colors to choose your clothing or simply to decorate your ritual space.
The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, representing the heightened power of the God. It is a time to bask in the heat of the sun, to make the most of the warm summer months, and yet to acknowledge that nothing lasts forever.

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