A Litha Ritual of Highlight and Shadow

A Litha Ritual of Highlight and Shadow May 23, 2017

The longest day of the year, when we celebrate Summer Solstice is celebrated when we enter the sign of Cancer. As we begin preparations for our sabbat celebrations, I offer for your consideration this Litha ritual with techniques to engage all the celebrants as contributors, regardless of their previous witching experience.

CC0 Public Domain ~ Pixabay
CC0 Public Domain ~ Pixabay

One thing I cannot abide is a boring slog of ritual theater, standing around in circle formation, just watching the ritual leaders pontificate among themselves like its a show. That is too much like the dry-white-toast churches of my youth. I can’t stand “chur-cle.” You know, church in a circle? I didn’t pursue witchcraft to remain a bystander.

I’ve had a few opportunities to enact this rite with different groups over the years, and I think it is successful because it engages all the senses, includes both an inner working that is still and reverent and an outer working that is robust and gets the heart pumping. Both work together with the high-intensity power of the sun at Litha, to further the Great Work of personal evolution.

Then once all is said and done with the main rite, there is a “take away” spell-crafting of a Sun Fetish, that everyone can use to continue their magick as the wheel turns on. My favorite sabbat rituals result in something you take home with you, to utilize personally until the next turning, much like our Ostara Fire of Aries Candles.

A Litha Ritual of Highlight and Shadow

Circle Layout:

  • Outline perimeter with flowers, 18’ in diameter.
  • Set tiki torches at the cardinal points. Enter through the east.
  • Altar set in southeast edge of the circle, golden yellow altar cloth dressed with sunflowers.
  • Fire pit in center of circle, lit with additional fuel.
  • Cauldron of water in the Western side of circle.
  • Metal pan and fire shovel for collecting ash.

Altar Goods Needed

  • Consecration elements: Incense, water, salt and fire candle.
  • Smudge Bundle and Litha anointing oil
  • chalice of mead
  • plate of cakes
  • libation bowl
  • silver goddess and gold god candles, white spirit candle
  • deck of divination cards, I like the animal guide cards

Tools: Hand-held mirror, stang (If you use one), athame/sword, wand. Singing bowl, frame drum with mallet.

Spell Materials near the altar:

  • Unfinished straw wreath (Sun wheel) on the stang.
  • Small cauldron of burnable healing herbs, like eucalyptus.
  • Self-drying clay and cinnamon powder
  • Florist Ribbon cut into 36″ lengths, sharpie markers.


  • RL: ritual leader, guide and narrator. If your coven has both a High Priest and Priestess, the duties may be divided between them.
  • Maiden
  • Summoner
  • 4 Elemental Gatekeepers

Pre-ritual preparation:

Before we begin, I like to go over the ritual intent, and get every one thinking about some time in their lives when they accomplished something really awesome…they got that degree, won that championship game or the spelling bee, passed some big exam, birthed a baby, won whatever battle they were fighting. For this rite, they will share with us an example story of their previous, shining greatness. Everyone then writes on their sun wheel ribbon… “My skills and talents shone most brightly when I accomplished______________.” Then drape around the shoulders and wear their ribbon into ritual – each like a ray of the sun.

Purify the Celebrants:

Gatekeepers smudge each celebrant with burning sage; anoint their brow with a litha oil blend.

Maiden treads the circle edge playing the singing bowl, banishing any baneful energies from the physical/energetic space.

Challenge at the gate:

Summoner (brandishing the sword or athame:) How do you enter?
Celebrant: In perfect love and perfect trust.
Summoner: It is good, you may pass.

Celebrants follow the maiden as they circle deosil (jed-sil, clockwise) 3 times before finding the place in circle that feels right.

Tapping in:

RL: Let us begin tonight’s ritual by tapping in to the flow of nature’s power all around us.  First we’ll take 3 group breaths from the belly. (Pause)

Imagine yourself like a tree with branches that extend above, breathing in the air. Your leaves soaking in the fires of the sun, extending all the way to the galactic center. Breath down their vitality, flowing down through the crown of your head to fill your trunk, all the way to the root of your spine. (Pause)

Now, extend those roots from the base of your spine deep into the earth, touching the waters and minerals, all the way to the core of the planet. Breathe up their nurturing power, filling your trunk. (Pause)

Breathe in a cycle now. As you exhale, visualize any tension you may be carrying flushed down the roots, or released into the atmosphere to be recycled. Inhale and  pull up renewed and awakened vitality, confidence and power. (pause)

Consecrate the altar:

Pull up the energy from the earth, pull down from the sky, out through the hands. Maiden chimes bowl three times. RL awakens and prepares the consecration elements, lights spirit candle. Maiden chimes bowl three times. (Full Instructions for an Altar Consecration Ritual)

Bright sun casts long shadows CC0 Public Domain ~ Pixabay
Bright sun casts long shadows CC0 Public Domain ~ Pixabay

Erecting the Temple:

Welcome and Ritual intent:

RL: Welcome Friends!

All: Welcome!

RL: The Wheel of the year turns on. We are gathered on this sacred eve to celebrate the summer solstice.  The earth is a riot of vitality. Just as the fruits grow on the vine, the womb of the mother goddess quickens with child.  The seeds of The Great Work we planted at Imbolc, continue to grow. The sun reaches his zenith, shining brightly through his strongest, longest day.   

But today is an out-of-balanced light that casts harsh shadows.  The Oak king falls to the Holly King. As the sun slips over the horizon, so do we also turn towards the darkening half of the year.  We celebrate our personal zeniths–as well as our shadows.

We step aside from personal ego, release knowing, and seek wonderment. We release personal will, and seek surrender to Divine Will. We accept our greatness, then dare to strive for improvement. We hold the space, seeking the next resonance. We will celebrate our greatest accomplishments then look inward to find the source of our inner light, setting ourselves on the path to discover “what’s next?”

Let us erect the temple, by first hallowing our sacred space with the four elements.

Hallowing with the Elements:

Gatekeeper of the East: (Summoner delivers burning incense, gatekeeper faces the east) I consecrate this circle with the powers of air… (all repeat as element is carried around the circle. When arriving back at the gate…) Air! I your brother of air, greet you with air and ask that you blow free any unwanted energies from our circle today. So Mote it Be! (Summoner returns the element to the altar.)

All: So Mote it Be!

Gatekeeper of the South: (Summoner delivers lit candle, gatekeeper faces the south) I consecrate this circle with the powers of Fire. (all repeat as element is carried around the circle. When arriving back at the gate…) Fire! I your brother of Fire, greet you with Fire and ask that you burn free any unwanted energies from our circle today. So Mote it Be! (Summoner returns the element to the altar.)

All: So Mote it Be!

Gatekeeper of the West: (Maiden delivers water dish, gatekeeper faces the west) I consecrate this circle with the powers of Water…(all repeat as element is carried around the circle. When arriving back at the gate…) Water! I your Sister of Water, greet you with Water and ask that you wash free any unwanted energies from our circle today. So Mote it Be! (Maiden returns the element to the altar.)

All: So Mote it Be!

Gatekeeper of the North: (Maiden delivers salt dish, gatekeeper faces the north) I consecrate this circle with the powers of Earth…(all repeat as element is carried around the circle. When arriving back at the gate…) Earth!  I your sister of Earth, greet you with Earth and ask that you ground any unwanted energies from our circle today. So Mote it Be! (Maiden replaces element on the altar.)

All: So Mote it Be!

Cast the circle:

RL: (All take hands with thumbs pointing left.) Together we will cast the circle with the Awen Cone of Power. Pull vital, protective energy from the universe and release it through your voice, surrounding us with multicolored light at the circles edge.

All: Ah–oo–wen (chanted repeatedly, starting low and slow, rising in pitch and speed, to peak at the top with arms thrown to the sky.)

RL:  A ring of our energy dances around us at the circle’s edge.  See it pulsing with light and life–all colors, all vibrations.  Together we will close the sphere.  Hands to the sides, close it above us gathering in the heavens (bring hand to a peak above our heads) and below us, gathering in the underworld (sweeps hands to close them pointing to the earth.)
The circle is cast; let it be our protection, our amplification, and our magnification for our work this day. Naught but love will enter in. Naught but love will emerge.  We stand in a temple of our own making, between the worlds, in a time out of time.  Blessed be!

All: Blessed be!

Opening the Elemental Gates:

RL: Let us now open the gates, beginning in the East. (We all turn to face each gate with a salute, flowing deosil.)

Gatekeeper of the East: Guardians of the East! Powers of air!  We ask your breezy, cleansing presence into our circle tonight.  Liberate us. Give our voices wings of flight. Hail and welcome! (Draw invoking pentagram)

All: Hail and welcome!

Gatekeeper of the South:  Guardians of the South! Powers of Fire!  We ask your passionate, transformative presence at our circle tonight.  Embolden us. Ignite our Will with your power. Hail and welcome! (Draws the invoking pentagram)

All: Hail and welcome!

Gatekeeper of the West: Guardians of the West! Powers of Water!  We ask your flowing, ever-changing presence at our circle tonight.  Inspire us.  Break free the banks of our emotions.  Hail and welcome! (Draws the invoking pentagram)

All: Hail and welcome!

Gatekeeper of the North:  Guardians of the North! Powers of Earth! We ask your sturdy, comforting presence at our circle tonight.  Strengthen us.  Manifest our dreams. Hail and welcome! (Draws the invoking pentagram)

All: Hail and welcome!


RL:  (Walking around the circle, making eye contact with each celebrant.) The Great Spirit fills this place.  Spirit has never been separate or elsewhere.   Every atom, every molecule, the soil, the burrowing worm, each blade of grass, breath of air and drop of dew are spirit swirling into manifestation.  I also honor the transcendent deity–the impetus to BE, to evolve, to come together and bond in new ways.  We are animated and connected by the divine spark. Welcome Spirit!

All: Welcome Spirit!

RL: (All standing in Goddess Posture, hands cupped and raised to the heavens) Mother Goddess! Nurturer! You who are the fertile earth! Aid our journey with your strength. Hail and Welcome! (Light the silver candle.)

All: Hail and Welcome!

RL: (All standing in posture of Esoterism, right hand saluting above, left hand saluting below.) Father God!  Provider! You who are the blazing sun! Aid our journey with your devotion. Hail and Welcome! (Light the gold candle.)

All: Hail and Welcome!

Ritual Body:

Outer Work: Releasing attachment to former greatness

RL: Just as the sun is at it’s zenith today, we also have achieved zeniths, or times when our strength, skills and talents gained us great accomplishments.  We were in our full power and on top of the world!  Our pride and self-confidence grew. Our egos swelled. 

While ego is an important part of our psychological make-up, *attachment* to our former accomplishments can be limiting.  If not released, it begins to define us as what we were, and derails us from what we can become.  So we’ll each come forward, declare that accomplishment for which we are most proud then attach the ribbon to the wreath. When we are done, we will then burn the wreath and with it our attachments to that part of ego.

Starting with the RL, we go around deosil, each person stepping forward to the altar, shares the story of their accomplishment (briefly), reads the ribbon aloud, the voice filled with power, and then ties it to the straw wreath “sun wheel.”

“I shone most brightly when I ___________________.”

After each declaration we all applaud and cheer them on. When all have had their turn…

RL:  (All Repeat in call and response) How brightly we shine! (repeat) We are strong! (repeat) We are powerful!  (Repeat)

The sun wheel is dropped onto the fire.

RL: But we are not limited by this past greatness!

Treading the mill (rhythmically stomping the edge of the circle, widdershins) or dancing to raise the cone of power…

All: (Chanting) Burning, burning, higher higher, feeding pride into the fire.

RL: (leads chant to a peak directed downward into the fire,  then everyone sits around the circle to ground the remaining energy. Pause to catch our breath.

CC0 Public Domain ~ Pixabay
CC0 Public Domain ~ Pixabay

Inner Work: Opening to Mystery

RL: Our attachments to previous greatness are set free.  Where they once lived within us is now an open place, a void of potential. Let us invite into that space our next greatness.  Open yourselves to the mystery of what comes next.

(Long Pause)

Affirm your connection to the earth–strengthen your grounding root.

(Long Pause)

Feel the residual heat of the Sun at your back and open yourself to the Cosmos before you.  Look deep–stretch your awareness all the way to the Galactic Center.  Where will your path take you next?

(Pause for a lengthy inner journeying – RL shamanic drumming while walking around fire)

Thank any beings you have encountered.  It is time to return to the Circle.  Be present in your body again. Please stand with me once more…As I come around to each of you with the mirror,  look yourself in the eyes and see the divine within you–your light–and affirm you will continue to seek this mystery.  While we do this, let’s all softly sing…

“I am the flow, and I am the ebb, I am the weaver, and I am the web.”

RL As the chant begins, RL goes to each celebrant in turn, holding a hand mirror for each to see themselves. (If ritual is at night, Maiden holds up the spirit candles to illuminate their faces.)  RL will whisper in their left ear in two parts of the affirmation for them to repeat.

Individually: It is my Will to seek the Mystery within me / which is the source of my Light

After the affirmation, celebrant is offered a sparkler by the Summoner, they light the sparkler from either the fire pit or the spirit candle, then walk or dance the circle, as they desire.  Each person may scry at a cauldron of water…feeling the water and doing any ritual cleansing they desire.

RL: By this act of your will, you are on the path of en-Light-enment.  Your coming greatness will be in the service of that path, and in service to the Divine will in your life. So mote it Be!

All: So mote it Be!

CC0-Public Domain ~ Pixabay
CC0-Public Domain ~ Pixabay

Grounding and Closing the Temple:

Prayers and Thanksgiving:

We pass the small cauldron of healing herbs around the circle and holding them while praying, visualizing ourselves or other loved ones in good health, sending healing energies and intentions. We then cast the herbs in the fire declaring that type of wellness by name. End with “Blessed Be!”

Divination for Further Guidance:

RL: Goes around to offer one animal card to each celebrant to receive guidance on which animal spirit medicine will guide our journey through the dark half of the year.

Simple feast:

RL: Blessing of the mead and cakes, offering a libation to the goddess, god and spirits of the land into the libation bowl.

RL: May the gods sustain us all through the dark half of the year. Blessed Be!

All: Blessed Be!

(The chalice and cakes are passed around the circle deosil, each saying to the next, “You are a god/dess may you never thirst/hunger.” Each answers, Blessed be, before taking a sip/bite and passing it on.

Dissolving the Temple:

RL: Blessed Be this midsummer’s night!

All: Blessed Be!

RL: Summer is here and our work is complete.  It is time to dissolve our temple and step back into the flow of time.

Release the Center:

RL: Great Spirit!  Universe weaver! You who are mother and father to all things.  Thank you for the inspiration, nurturing, protection and devotion felt here tonight.  You are carried ever with us. Guide each of us in our Great Work as we Turn the Wheel. Hail and farewell! (Extinguishes the three candles)

All: Hail and Farewell!

Closing the Elemental Gates:

RL: We’ll close the elemental gates widdershins beginning in the north.

Everyone faces North with a salute. Once closed, all bow.

Gatekeeper of the North:  Powers of the North and of Earth.  Manifest our magick, lend solidity to our purpose.  As above, so below. Thank you for your aid today.  Hail and farewell!  (Draws the banishing pentagram)

All: Hail and Farewell!

Everyone faces West.

Gatekeeper of the West:  Powers of the west and of water.  Nourish our magick and succor our hearts.  As above, so below. Thank you for your aid today. Hail and farewell!  (Draws the banishing pentagram)

All: Hail and Farewell!

Everyone faces South

Gatekeeper of the South:  Powers of the South and of Fire.  Empower our magick and lend your transformation to our purpose.  As above, so below. Thank you for your aid today. Hail and farewell!  (Draws the banishing pentagram)

All: Hail and Farewell!

Everyone faces east

Gatekeeper of the East: Powers of the East and of air.  Realize our magick and inspire us to our sacred mission. As above, so below. Thank you for your aid today.  Hail and farewell!  (Draws the banishing pentagram)

All: Hail and Farewell!

Circle release:

RL:  We’ll release the energy of our circle to light our paths during the darkening half of the year.  With your hands, gather the bubble of energy we’ve created.  Feel it tingling in your hands as together we push it, mold it into an intense ball of energy.  Smaller and smaller, charge it with all your intent, your will.  (When we visualize it beach ball sized hovering over the central fire) We charge this sphere to be the light on the path before us, leading us back together again! On the count of three, release it into the universe for the highest good of all! One, two, three…RELEASE! (We throw our hands upward, and clap, to break the space.)

RL: The circle is open, but never broken!  Merry meet, Merry part…
All:  And Merry meet again!

(We sing the song and usually frolic around a bit like a square dance….)

Grounding as needed.

Post Ritual Personal Spell working: Sun Fetish

After the sun wheel is burned to ash, and cooled, we collect that ash, mix a smidgen of it with the self hardening clay and cinnamon, an herb of the sun. Kneed it together thoroughly while visualizing your Great Work intention for the year.

Fashion a sun-shaped fetish that can either be turned into a pendant, or a figurine for personal use in the furthering of the celebrants great work through The Wheel of the Year.

Harden and charge it in the summer sunlight for at least one full day. It may later be painted or (even better) covered in gold leaf.

May your Summers be blessed,


I would be remiss not to give credit here to the ample influence of one of my early mentors, Diana Rice of the (now disbanded) Lunatic Fringe, a Shamanic Witchcraft circle that offered public Sabbats for over 18 years here in North Carolina. Every young witch needs a good mentor, and Diana was an excellent guide and friend to me when I needed it most. Thank you, dear friend, for your most excellent Work.

Heron’s Sabbat Rituals for every Season!

Candlelight Yule Ritual: A Meditation for Hope and Peace

Yule Log Ritual for Winter Solstice Magick

Imbolc Ritual: Dedicating to The Great Work of Magick

Ostara Ritual Ritual for the Large Coven

Rites of Beltane: Sacred Marriage of MayQueen and King, Tying the Knot

Litha Ritual of Highlight and Shadow

Litha Ritual for One: Solar Potion for Fortune, Success and Prosperity

Lammas Ritual of Integration and Sacrifice

Mabon Ritual of Feasting and Toasting

Samhain Ritual: Wake of the Fallen King

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