What deep-rooted connection to Sun and Earth and each other vibrates within us, that we greet Midsummer with such homage and joy? Known as Litha, Midsummer, or the Gathering Time, many worldwide, with varying beliefs, cultures and backgrounds celebrate this solar festival typically on June 21st. Some celebrations will be simple family gatherings around bonfires; others will be met with ceremonies and rituals, private or shared. But even those unaware of the rich traditions of the Summer Solstice may feel an inner excitement as the Sun reaches its highest apex.
And that is what is so remarkable about the seasons, the sacred days, the wheel of time that moves beyond and around us ~ they move within us, as well.
The history of Summer Solstice is complex because of humanity’s timeless connection to the natural and spiritual world. Our survival once depended upon respect and knowledge of the many forces of nature. As civilization flourished, spiritual beliefs were born, shared, and diverged into many branches yet there remained, in one aspect or another, a celebration of natural change. Ancient and modern religions include celebrations that mark the passing of time, cyclical events, and the power of the physical world which is the manifestation of the spiritual.
Today, most religions recognize, if not celebrate, Midsummer in their own way. The names and dates may vary, and sometimes the ancient roots are not acknowledged but the Sun is still at the center and many symbols are borrowed from, or shared with customs of long ago.
In Pagan Celtic tradition, Midsummer is when the horned god, as the waning and jubilant Holly King, overtakes the waxing Oak king. It is also when the goddess Juno moves across the sky, her belly swollen with child, ready to deliver at Yule.
Both the feminine and masculine aspects of the Solstice represent a time of newness, nourishment and sustenance, a movement from dark to light, rebirth, and healing. It is a time to turn attention toward inner balance – between our dark and light sides – as well as those forces in the world around us. An occasion of great change, Midsummer is a time to contemplate healing, nurturing and nourishing of ourselves and the earth.
During events like the solstice, we build a bridge of meaning between the spiritual and natural worlds with special earthly items and traditions. There are many symbols associated with Midsummer including incense, herbs, fire, gems, crystal, colors and even foods. Some will incorporate many aspects in a sacred ceremony while others will prepare a feast of seasonal fruits and vegetables, dress in bright clothing or simply work in the garden, tending to flowers. But one need not be well-versed in traditional practices; one need only think about ways to beautify surroundings with flowers, foods, scent, and colors of the earth and share the joy of living with loved ones.