Vana Grimoire: Litha

In the Vana Grimoire series, we share tips and background information on pagan festivals, recipes, mythologies, history and other subjects worth knowing that are related to our events. In this blog, we will dive into the pagan festival Litha.

On the 21st of June, we celebrate the midsummer festival of Litha. Litha is the fourth celebration on the cycle of the Celtic calendar. During Litha, we celebrate the power of nature and its fertility. It is the longest day and the Celts saw this as the peak of summer.

According to the Julian calendar, Litha used to be on June 24th, which was the longest day. Then, when the Gregorian Calendar with her leap years was implemented, people kept using June 24th. Later it was calculated that the longest day was now around June 21st. 
Still, it varies when people celebrate Litha. Some people stay true to the old tradition of June 24th, while others use the 21st, as it corresponds with the astronomical calender. 

The Celtic calendar

We are already halfway in the year, both on our calendar and the Celtic calendar. This Celtic calendar is shaped like a circle, representing the everlasting cycle of nature. Birth, growth, decline, death and rebirth - all phases of life keep following each other up. This cycle starts with the festival of Yule, a time for tranquillity and reflection between lively periods. Then the rebirth starts at Imbolc, nature awakes. During Ostara and Beltane, we follow the growth of a young being in becoming an invincible youthful spirit.

Because of this split between abundance and reflection, the Celts divided the year into only two seasons: summer and winter. Even though the summer starts now for us, in both weather and calendar, the Celts saw Litha as the peak of summer. From now on the light will slowly leave us again as the days will get shorter.

The changes in nature were led back to the Holly King and the Oak King. During the summer solstice, these brothers switched places on the throne and ruled in their own way. Their full story can be read in the Vana Grimoire blog about the two brothers on the website of the Castlefest Winter Edition.

We praise the sun

Litha is the last celebration this year that centers around nature, its growth and fertility and prosperity. Nature reaches its peak. After this, the next festival will be Lughnasadh in August. It is the first harvest festival in which we are thankful for all nature has given us. We will look back at a fruitful season and get ready for the darker days to come.

To honour the sun, people would stay awake to watch the sunrise and welcome the sun on its longest day. During midsummer night, big bonfires were lit to celebrate the power of the sun. The flames represented the sun in all its glory.

How do we celebrate Litha 2021?

During 2021, we will take an extra moment to celebrate Litha. You all requested more celebrations together. And so we did during Ostara 2021! Will you join us online again during Castlefest celebrates Litha on the 20th of June, 2021?

More information about Castlefest Live can be found here.

Feel the power of nature

If you are new to making altars, but are interested in making one: Litha is the perfect time to start. You can use the tips Lunadea gave us in her blog about making a Spring Altar.

What reminds you of midsummer? Place some flowers, a small skull or other reference to nature. Represent the sun by lighting a candle and even add a personal touch with a picture of your favourite summer memory. If you want you can take some time before, during or after Midsummer to meditate. It is your altar, do what feels right for you!

If you prefer a smaller celebration without an altar, you can feel the power by finding a nice spot in nature, preferably in the sun. Focus on your surroundings. Can you hear the birds singing, the crickets chirping and the frogs croaking? Can you see the sunbeams making their way through the trees? Can you feel the power of the sun, the wind rustling everything around you? Nature is at its peak, it is a wonderful time to take a moment to appreciate her all around you. You may even want to take a moment to reflect on your own growth. The power of Litha is everywhere, not only in nature but in yourself as well!

There are eight Celtic holidays. In our Vana Grimoire, we like to get you acquainted with them. You can read more about them in our blogs about Yule, Imbolc, Ostara and Beltane.

Geschreven door Lieke Jansen & Lena Gijsbrechts

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