There is no one way or right way to celebrate a sabbat, We each celebrate and interpret the sabbats in whatever way makes the most sense to us personally. Here are how some of the writers at Patheos Pagan celebrate and view the Summer Solstice.
Whatever you do, and however you celebrate, we hope your solstice celebration is a meaningful one!
Of all the posts I’ve written for Patheos Pagan, possibly the most contenious thing I’ve ever committed to pixel is to be found in my listicle “What Your Favorite Wheel-of-the-Year Day Says about You,” where I wrote:
Just kidding. No one actually likes Litha best.
There, in eight short words, I incited countless arguments and protests (and possibly a bar fight or two), and basically called into question any delusions of validity I might’ve carried in my heart. My standing as a pundit, an author, and a Pagan was clearly teetering in the balance, and circumstances demanded I address the growing concerns that I was woefully out of touch with the Pagan zeitgeist.
So, I did what any decent holder-of-controversial-opinions does when faced with the possibility that they’ve kicked the hornet’s nest: I chuckled about it, then went and did something else.
Now I’m here, metaphorical hat in hand, to admit I was wrong. Many people clearly do like Litha best, and with every good reason. The Summer Solstice has its own charms, from the delightful weather (when it’s not blisteringly hot or stiflingly humid) to the lengthy daylight hours (which make going to sleep at a decent hour nigh-impossible). I give in. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
Here, then, is the remixed, remastered, rewritten version of Litha’s entry for “What Your Favorite Wheel-of-the-Year Day Says About You.”
You are immensely proud of your personal recipe for handmade, organic, vegan, hypoallergenic, ritually blessed suntan lotion suitable for use in all skyclad situations. (And it smells like coconut!) As long as we don’t get into the etymological history of the name, it’s all fun in the Sun, right?
Blessèd be, everybody.
ruth be told, I enjoy the Summer Solstice as much as the Winter Solstice or the Equinoxes. It’s at these holidays I feel great connection to the Earth Mother, the energy of the season, etc. I find these four sabbats from the Wheel mean the most to me as a Witch. And as I have always been solitary, the current situation with social distance won’t change much for me.
At this time, I should be camping in nature with hundreds of other pagan friends at the Pagan Spirit Gathering. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, large festivals are still a no-go. Instead, I’ll be attending PSG online in chat rooms and in the Facebook group. So far, things have been really nice. It’s great to see familiar faces and have a video chat.
I’m also fortunate to be part of an open group of wonderful people who will be hosting an event for a couple of hours on the summer soltice. We’ll be wearing masks and/or practicing other safety measures.It’s a different kind of year, but our community can still thrive if we roll with the changes.
This is typically the season where rituals move outside, or at the very least part of it is taken outdoors. To be with people, eating around a bbq outside in the middle of nature, enjoying the summer sunshine and warm weather. This for me is part of the celebration of the Summer Solstice: fire, food, and craft family.
This year, the most outdoors my covens and I will likely get is us taking our Zoom chat outside after ritual and enjoying a glass of our favorite beverage with maybe a bite to eat or something. COVID-19 has challenged our ability to continue connecting not just with our traditions but with others within our traditions. As I offer up my prayers and incense to Apollo this year on the Summer Solstice, I am reminded that while these challenges still exist that we still have each other despite the physical distance. And for that, I am grateful.
May Apollo continue to shine his blessings on us and all that we do.
The twin solstitial gateways of midwinter and midsummer are ancient portals standing between the heavens (shades of the dead) and the earth (realm of man, beast and trees). Intimately connected with fertility and the spirits of ancestors, these doors swing open and closed to permit the ride of the host gathering up souls, as the living expire and the expired are reincarnated.
At first, it may seem counterintuitive to equate Midsummer with death, but it’s most hoary symbolism is that of an end to the growth of spring and the beginning of a cycle in which all must return from whence it came.
The Babylonian star lore which informs much of western mythology and folk custom coalesces the aspects of the solar year, the the journey of the hero king, Dumuzi, upon who’s virtue the fertility and prosperity (luck) of the clan is determined, and the life cycle of man itself.
According to Gavin White (Babylonian Star-Lore, 2008) “the symbolic cycle embodied in the stars makes most sense when you start and end with the winter solstice”. It is no coincidence, then, that modern mythologies and folk custom celebrates the most recent incarnation of the hero king’s descent into the land of the dead at Midsummer. The funeral rites of Dumuzi, marked at the summer solstice, are perhaps echoed by later fire festivals which raised a bon(e)fire as he “…walked the path of the dead…[taking] the sorrows of the world with him to the land of the shades” (White, 2008).
As the solstice at summer marks the passing of the longest day, and the encroaching darkness as night grows longer, perhaps there are ‘sorrows’ we would all like to commit to the fire this year for the hero king to carry to the land of the shades.
Even as a child, the Summer Solstice felt magical. By this time we’d be out in the yard, running around barefoot and trying not to step on a bee. Rolling down the freshly mown hill beside our house was a given, as was chasing the lightning bugs that lit up the yard. I think they may have been faster back then. Either way, it was a time when magic was alive and wonder afoot. You couldn’t not feel it.
The past few years I’ve been unable to ritually celebrate the day, being busy with other, non-magical events, but even then I’d take a moment to pause and feel the energy, perhaps even get a slight glimpse of the fairies dancing just at the edge of my vision. This year, I’ll be home, where even with the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes, my daughter and I will be out on our bigger deck, celebrating Midsummer, making the area sacred space.
Maybe we’ll be lucky and there will be fireflies. We’ll certainly bask in the energy of the day as we mark the point moving us from growing light to growing dark – and cooler temperatures once we get past those pesky Dog Days of summer.
Summer Solstice, as the yang to the yin of Winter Solstice, reminds me to balance my celebration of the divine feminine with the divine masculine and to work diligently on my own warrior spirit. I tend to get lost in the caregiver role and it helps me to remember to go into the assertive, pro-active part of myself that wants to default in deference to the needs of others.
That sacred moment when the sun rules supreme and dominates the hours is the perfect compliment to the quiet, internal work of the Winter Solstice’s long night. Summer Solstice gives me the counterbalance of external action in the the light of year to the dark, introspective work of the dark of the year.
I’ve always found the Summer Solstice rather challenging as a sabbat. It can be difficult to find the motivation to do ritual when it’s 100 degrees out, and in more normal years there tends to be a lot of travel going on in June too. But there’s still something magickal about Midsummer.
Midsummer is a holiday with truly ancient roots, the Summer Solstice has been celebrated for thousands of years now. While it’s an afterthought in much of North America, in much of the world the Summer Solstice is a very major holiday. Because of that there are a myriad of ways to celebrate the holiday, and this appeals to the ritual writer in me who is always looking for something new.
Midsummer is also a welcome moment of stillness most years. The Summer garden is planted and there’s not much to do there other than weeding and watering. It’s a time for wine on the porch with the wife and to delight in the smell of jasmine and roses. Because expectations at Midsummer are rather low, I find I can enjoy the world as it is in a low stress sort of way.