20 June 2011

On Summer Solstice

Today is Midsummer’s Eve and tomorrow is Litha – the Summer Solstice.  Here is Seattle it’s not feeling so summery just yet.  It’s supposed to hit the mid-70s tomorrow but I’m not sure I believe it.  Rae and I went to the Fremont Solstice Parade on Saturday which is always good fun.  We hiked the 2ish miles from Greenwood down to Fremont in a persistent drizzle and then I froze my tuchus off waiting for the parade to begin.  It was worth the chill to see the flying spaghetti monster wiggling down the road along with a cadre of naked bicyclists who must have been very chilly indeed.  I quite liked the whole troop of folks dressed as the characters from The Wizard of Oz.  We in Seattle seem to believe that if we act like it’s summer (think rooftop bbqs in the rain) then eventually the weather will bow to our collective denial and be nice, so rock on naked bicyclists.  I spend most Litha’s hiding from the sun and being rather cranky, but this year I think I can really get behind celebrating the strength and warmth of the sun.  This year I’m ready for it to be warm. 

Traditionally, Litha is the celebration of the most fertile agricultural season and the time when the Oak King is at the height of his power.  It is also a time when the veil between the worlds is thin, making it a great time for divination and communication with Faery realms (hence the famous play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream).  It’s a time for bonfires, feasts, making flower garlands, and feats of physical prowess.  The traditional celebration of Litha is really just a pagany version of the average 4th of July picnic.  The essence is about enjoying the good times while they’re here.

One of the most fun things about Litha is the presence of the Fay.  Midsummer’s Even is traditionally a time when the Good Folk come out in full force.  The barrier between their world and ours is at its thinnest at this time and they can pass to and fro with ease.  It’s a great time to make offerings of flowers or honey to ensure their friendship.  Even if you don’t traditionally work with the Fay, it doesn’t hurt to leave a little something for them on Litha because they’re going to be around and it’s always better to be on their good side.  I like to leave flowers, honey cakes, and a few dimes (or bits of tin foil – anything shiny really) as a way of showing respect, even though I don’t work with them often.  You never know when you’re going to need a Faery favour, so best keep the pump primed.

I plan to spend my Litha on the patio: reading in the sun, grilling, and journaling.  Much as I enjoy celebrating with friends (and I’ll be doing just that this weekend), I like to spend sacred time by myself.  I’ll have a nice quiet evening enjoying the sun (if there is any) and spend my time meditating and reflecting on what summer actually means to me.  For someone who walks the shadow path the glaring light of summer is not exactly the most comfortable and that makes big gatherings rather tricky – no one likes being a killjoy or at least I don’t.

For me, Litha marks a time of danger and potential.  The veils are thin so magick and divination are more potent, but is also means that things that really shouldn’t move between worlds can – and that often leads to problems that I get called on to fix.  In the past I’ve seen some spectacular magickal cockups at Litha that led to serious damage control by Lammas and Mabon.  Many magickal folks get so caught up in the frivolity and joy of the moment that they forget how much more potent things are at this time and consequently go too far.  It’s easier to unwittingly open a portal at this time than just about any other time of year.  Sure, it’s just as bad at Samhain, but people seem to be a lot more cautious then.  Litha is an amazing time to do magick that needs extra oomph, but please don’t be dumb about it just because the sun is out.

That’s enough sunshiny crap, back to reading World War Z.

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