Monday, June 20, 2011


Litha is upon us, Alban Hefin. The summer solstice.
The longest day of the year. 

     Keeping track of the seasons can get confusing because nearly every week on TV there is a season finale of one program or another and I keep wondering exactly what season they are talking about. But there is no mistaking the longest day of the year, June 21st.

     The summer solstice occurs exactly when the Earth's axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun. Although the summer solstice is an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used like Midsummer to refer to the day on which it occurs. Except in the polar regions (where daylight is continuous for many months during the spring and summer), the day on which the summer solstice occurs is the day of the year with the longest period of daylight. Thus the seasonal significance of the Summer solstice is in the reversal of the gradual shortening of nights and lengthening of days. The summer solstice occurs in June in the Northern Hemisphere and in December in the Southern Hemisphere.

This magical day has been celebrated since time began from Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain in England to Chaco Canyon in New Mexico

            It is also celebrated in literature, most notably in Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream".

     So take a moment on June 21st and revel in the sun and know that the days will begin to grow shorter until the Autumnal Equinox when they will be equal and soon to begin to wane. A Celtic quarter day, as opposed to a cross-quarter day, is a direct barometer of what the future weather will hold. 

Should you be so inclined, here is a short ceremony of celebration.

From the East comes the Spirit of the Air.  Warm and gentle you carry the fragrance of the roses and other midsummer flowers.  Hot and full of fury you usher in the storms.  Welcome to our circle Spirit of Air.

From the South comes the Spirit of Fire:  Seen in the lightening the forks across the summer sky.  Seen in the power of the Sun King who now reaches his Zenith:  Welcome to our circle Spirit of Fire:

From the West comes the spirit of Water:  You nourish our crops, quench the thirst of the parched earth, and remind us of Aphrodite and Yameya Goddesses of the Sea.  Welcome to our circle Spirit of Water.

From the North comes the spirit of the Earth:  The mother of all of us in whose womb grows the seeds we have planted.  You are the ship upon which we travel the universe.  Welcome to our circle spirit of Earth.

At Midsummer, it is by wedding you, Mother Goddess, that the Sun King indeed becomes King.   Mother Nature, you are at your finest for it is your most passionate and abundant time.  Tonight your consort is at his Zenith of power and the lust you shared at Beltane becomes mature love and though the Oak King becomes the Holly King light will continue to rule until the Equinox.

We honor St. John the Baptist and the horned spirit of the forest, we ask protection from unfriendly spirits as we acknowledge and hope for a glimpse of the Tuatha De Danaan.

If we jump the fire will the crops grow up higher?  We ask blessings on our land and the animals that abide here.  Purify us and see to our health in body and soul. 

It is a time of joy though we miss and grieve for our loved ones departed.  Remember those who have gone before us and cradle them in your compassionate hand.

To the family and friends still with us on this plane we thank them for their strength, friendship, and encouragement.  Tonight we forget the cold dark days of Winter, we are languid in the heat of the day and energized by the coolness of the evenings.  Yet we remember that the fullness of Summer is transitory and we are thankful for what this season brings as the wheel of the years ever turns.

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