~How To Hold a Midsummer Night’s Fire Ritual~

The Summer Solstice, known to some as Litha, Midsummer, or Alban Heruin, is the longest day of the year. It’s the time when the sun is most powerful, and new life has begun to grow within the earth. After today, the nights will once more begin to grow longer, and the sun will move further away in the sky.

  1. If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, consecrate a space, or call the quarters, now is the time to do so. This ritual is a great one to perform outside, so if you have the opportunity to do this without scaring the neighbors, take advantage of it.
  2. Begin this ritual by preparing the wood for a fire, without lighting it yet. While the ideal situation would have you setting a huge bonfire alight, realistically not everyone can do that. If you’re limited, use a table top brazier or fire-safe pot, and light your fire there instead.
  3. Say either to yourself or out loud:Today, to celebrate Midsummer, I honor the Earth itself. I am surrounded by tall trees. There is a clear sky above me and cool dirt beneath me, and I am connected to all three. I light this fire as the Ancients did so long ago. At this point, start your fire. Say: The Wheel of the Year has turned once more
    The light has grown for six long months
    Until today.
  4. Say:Today is Litha, called Alban Heruin by my ancestors.
    A time for celebration.
    Tomorrow the light will begin to fade
    As the Wheel of the Year
    Turns on and ever on.
  5. Turn to the East, and say:From the east comes the wind,
    Cool and clear.
    It brings new seeds to the garden
    Bees to the pollen
    And birds to the trees.
  6. Turn to Face South, and say:The sun rises high in the summer sky
    And lights our way even into the night
    Today the sun casts three rays
    The light of fire upon the land, the sea, and the heavens
  7. Turn to face West, saying:From the west, the mist rolls in
    Bringing rain and fog
    The life-giving water without which
    We would cease to be.
  8. Finally, turn to the North, and say:Beneath my feet is the Earth,
    Soil dark and fertile
    The womb in which life begins
    And will later die, then return anew.
    Build up the fire even more, so that you have a good strong blaze going.
  9. If you wish to make an offering to the gods, now is the time to do it.Say:

    Alban Heruin is a time of rededication
    To the gods. The triple goddess watches over me.
    She is known by many names.
    She is the Morrighan, Brighid, and Cerridwen.
    She is the washer at the ford,
    She is the guardian of the hearth,
    She is the one who stirs the cauldron of inspiration. I give honor to You, O mighty ones,
    By all your names, known and unknown.
    Bless me with Your wisdom
    And give life and abundance to me
    As the sun gives life and abundance to the Earth.

  10. Say:I make this offering to you
    To show my allegiance
    To show my honor
    To show my dedication
    To You.

    Cast your offering into fire.

  11. Conclude the ritual by saying:Today, at Litha, I celebrate the life
    And love of the gods
    And of the Earth and Sun.
    Take a few moments to reflect upon what you have offered, and what the gifts of the gods mean to you. When you are ready, if you have cast a circle, dismantle it or dismiss the quarters at this time. Allow your fire to go out on its own.

Come and join in the fun here: http://thesecretmoongarden.ning.com/group/all-about-litha

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~Sweet Summer Incense~

From Scott Cunningham’s Incense Oils and Brews

2 Parts Sandalwood
1 part Mugwort
1 part Chamomile
1 part Gardenia petals
a few drops Rose Oil
a few drops Lavender Oil
a few drops Yarrow Oil
A Love Bath
3 parts Orange flowers
2 parts Lavender
1 part Gardenia petals
1 part Cardamon
1 part Ginger
1 part Rosemary
1 part Rose Petals

Litha Incense #1
2 parts Sandalwood
1 part Mugwort
1 part Chamomile
1 part Gardenia petals
a few drops Rose oil
a few drops Lavender oil
a few drops Yarrow oil
Litha Incense #2
3 parts Frankincense
2 parts Benzoin
1 part Dragon’s Blood
1 part Thyme
1 part Rosemary
1 pinch Vervain
a few drops Red Wine

——————————————————————————–


Wear one of the following oil blends to a Midsummer Sabbat to promote communion with the deities.
Midsummer Oil #1
3 parts Patchouli
2 parts Musk
2 parts Carnation
Midsummer Oil #2
2 parts Frankincense
2 part Myrrh
1 part Carnation
1 part Allspice
1 part Cinnamon

http://thesecretmoongarden.ning.com/group/all-about-litha

~Litha Cooking – Litha Sabbat Recipes~

Litha is the celebration of the summer solstice – and what’s a Sabbat without food? Take advantage of the summer crops of fruit and vegetables, and prepare a delicious feast for your Midsummer gatherings.
https://i2.wp.com/festivalgrove.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/ss_tablefullandbig.jpg

Lemon Balm Tea

Lemon balm is in full bloom by Litha, so it’s a perfect opportunity to make a pitcher of cool lemon balm tea! Brew this up in your kitchen, and serve it over ice.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups lemon balm leaves, fresh
  • Honey or other sweetener
  • Water

Preparation:

Bring 2 quarts water to a boil, and add the leaves. Reduce heat and allow to steep for about 15 minutes. Strain leaves out, and then add honey or other sweetener to taste. If the tea is too strong, add a bit of water to thin it out. Pour into an ice-filled pitcher and serve. You may want to add a sprig of mint for garnish.

Grilled Vegetables

Few things symbolize the midsummer season like early vegetables — peppers, onions, and even asparagus are delicious on the grill. During Litha, when we celebrate the power and energy of the sun, grilled vegetables are the perfect representation of that solar energy. After all, what’s better than cooking with fire, like our ancestors did? Toss some veggies on the grill and dig in for your Litha sabbat celebration!

Ingredients:

  • 4 bell peppers (your choice of colors)
  • 2 onions
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 4 Portobello mushrooms
  • 2 zucchini
  • A bunch of green onions
  • 1/2 pound asparagus spears, trimmed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Oregano

Preparation:

Preheat a grilling pan over medium heat.

Wash and trim all vegetables. Cut the larger ones, like zucchini and eggplant, into slices. Place the veggies in a bowl, and drizzle olive oil on them. Shake the bowl so that all the vegetables are lightly coated with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Add vegetables to the grilling pan, and and grill them until they are tender. They should be lightly charred, which will take anywhere from 8 – 12 minutes. It’s best to do this in small batches, unless you have a really big grilling pan.

While the vegetables are grilling, combine about 1/4 Cup olive oil with the balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary and oregano. Remove the veggies from the grill, place them in a bowl, and then add the herb and oil mix. Toss to coat them. Serve veggies warm with your Litha feast.

Note: Some vegetables tend to grill poorly, so be careful which ones you choose. Peppers, eggplant, asparagus, summer squash and onions all work well. Avoid veggies that are high in water content, like cucumbers, celery, or leafy greens.

Candied Ginger

Ginger is a root vegetable found in a lot of Asian cuisine, but it can be grown all over the world. To make this recipe, you’ll need about a pound of ginger root, which you can either grow yourself or pick up at your local grocery store. Candy it with sugar and corn syrup, then store it for a fiery and sweet snack combination!

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 12 hours

Total Time: 12 hours, 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ginger root
  • 3 Cups white sugar, divided
  • 2 Cups water
  • 1/2 Cup white corn syrup

Preparation:

Peel the skin from the ginger root completely, and chop into small pieces.

Combine 2 cups of sugar, the water and the corn syrup in a crock pot and bring to high heat, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar has melted, add the ginger to the liquid. Cover, reduce heat, and allow to simmer overnight, or for about 12 hours.

Once the ginger has simmered overnight, drain off liquid. Place ginger in a bowl with the remaining 1 cup of sugar, and toss so that it’s completely coated. Pour our on a sheet of wax paper to cool (it helps to put them on a baking tray in the fridge). Store in an airtight container, and snack on whenever you need a fiery pick-me-up!

Fiery Grilled Salmon

In Celtic lore, the salmon is associated with knowledge. In fact, the first person to taste this delicious fish was granted all kinds of wisdom! At the summer solstice, certainly a time of fire, why not toss a salmon into the flame so you can partake of its vast knowledge? This simple dish can be prepared out on your grill to keep the kitchen cool, and tastes just as good cold the next day on top of a salad.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs salmon fillets, skin on
  • 1/4 C. soy sauce
  • 1/4 C. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 C. olive oil

Preparation:

Combine the olive oil, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, garlic and cayenne pepper in a bowl and whisk together. Using a barbeque brush, brush half of the soy sauce mix onto the salmon fillets. Place them sauce-side down (skin-side up) on the grill for about six to seven minutes. Brush the remainder of the sauce onto the skin side, and use a large spatula to flip the fillets over. Grill for another five minutes or so and remove from heat. Allow the fillets to sit for about ten minutes before serving.

Note: A well cooked fish is one that isn’t too dry. When you remove the salmon from the grill, it may seem undercooked in the center. However, once it sits for ten minutes, the heat in the juices will make it finish cooking. Don’t cook salmon until it “looks cooked” in the middle, because by then it will dry out and lose its flavor.

Savory Snack Wraps

These snack wraps are easy to make, and can be prepped ahead of time and chilled in the fridge. They work nicely as an appetizer for any summer menu, or you can put together a variety of them as a main course for a light dinner.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 10 flour tortillas
  • 1 package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tbs. fresh dill
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 C. shredded lettuce
  • 1 C. shredded carrots
  • 1 C. diced tomato
  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cooked and diced
  • 2 C. your favorite cheese, shredded

Preparation:

Mix the dill and garlic into the cream cheese, and stir until blended. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly onto the tortillas. In layers, add the lettuce, carrots, tomato and chicken breast. Top with cheese.

To roll the tortillas up, fold the bottom of the tortilla up, and then fold in from one side. Use a toothpick to keep it from unrolling, and chill for an hour or so before serving.

Veggie-lover’s option: Instead of the chicken, used diced and cooked tofu, seasoned with a bit of teriyaki or soy sauce. You can also use chopped cucumbers or peppers. For a gluten-free alternative, use brown rice tortillas instead of flour.

Fresh Fruit Fennel Salad

Fennel has a rich, licorice-like flavor, and lends itself well to a cool summer salad. Add a bit of fruit to offset the savoriness of the fennel, top with a light mustard viniagrette, and you’ve got the perfect salad to serve as a side or main course.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 2 fresh oranges
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 3 green onions
  • 1/4 C. water
  • 3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. honey mustard
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Preparation:

Shave the fennel into thin pieces (use a mandoline if you have one), and toss it into a bowl. Peel and divide the oranges, and chunk up the Granny Smith apples, dice the green onions, and add all these to the fennel.

Combine the water, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey mustard, rosemary and garlic in a bowl and whisk until blended. Drizzle over the fennel and fruit salad.

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~History of Litha (Midsummer)~

History of Litha (MidSummer)

Also known as Summer Solstice, Litha, Alban Hefin, Sun Blessing, Gathering Day, Feill-Sheathain, Whit Sunday, Whitsuntide, Vestalia, Thing-tide, St. John’s Day

In addition to the four great festivals of the Pagan Celtic year, there are four lesser holidays as well: the two solstices, and the two equinoxes. In folklore, these are referred to as the four ‘quarter-days’ of the year, and modern Witches call them the four ‘Lesser Sabbats’, or the four ‘Low Holidays’. The Summer Solstice is one of them.

Litha is usually celebrated on June 21st, but varies somewhat from the 20th to the 23rd, dependant upon the Earth’s rotation around the Sun. According to the old folklore calendar, Summer begins on Beltane (May 1st) and ends on Lughnassadh (August 1st), with the Summer Solstice midway between the two, marking MID-Summer. This makes more logical sense than suggesting that Summer begins on the day when the Sun’s power begins to wane and the days grow shorter. The most common other names for this holiday are the Summer Solstice or Midsummer, and it celebrates the arrival of Summer, when the hours of daylight are longest. The Sun is now at the highest point before beginning its slide into darkness.

Humanity has been celebrating Litha and the triumph of light since ancient times. On the Wheel of the Year Litha lies directly across from Yule, the shortest day of the calendar year, that cold and dark winter turning when days begin to lengthen and humanity looks wistfully toward warmth, sunlight and growing things. Although Litha and Yule are low holidays or lesser sabats in the ancient parlance, they are celebrated with more revel and merriment than any other day on the wheel except perhaps Samhain (my own favourite). The joyous rituals of Litha celebrate the verdant Earth in high summer, abundance, fertility, and all the riches of Nature in full bloom. This is a madcap time of strong magic and empowerment, traditionally the time for handfasting or weddings and for communication with the spirits of Nature. At Litha, the veils between the worlds are thin; the portals between “the fields we know” and the worlds beyond stand open. This is an excellent time for rites of divination.

Those who celebrated Litha did so wearing garlands or crowns of flowers, and of course, their millinery always included the yellow blossoms of St. John’s Wort. The Litha rites of the ancients were boisterous communal festivities with morris dancing, singing, storytelling, pageantry and feasting taking place by the village bonfire and torch lit processions through the villages after dark. People believed that the Litha fires possessed great power, and that prosperity and protection for oneself and one’s clan could be earned merely by jumping over the Litha bonfire. It was also common for courting couples joined hands and jump over the embers of the Litha fire three times to ensure a long and happy marriage, financial prosperity and many children. Even the charred embers from the Litha bonfire possessed protective powers – they were charms against injury and bad wwweather in harvest time, and embers were commonly placed around fields of grain and orchards to protect the crops and ensure an abundant reaping. Other Litha customs included carrying an ember of the Litha fire home and placing it on one’s hearth and decking one’s home with birch, fennel, St. John’s Wort, orpin, and white lilies for blessing and protection.

The Litha Sabbat is a time to celebrate both work and leisure, it is a time for children and childlike play. It is a time to celebrate the ending of the waxing year and the beginning of the waning year, in preparation for the harvest to come. Midsummer is a time to absorb the Sun’s warming rays and it is another fertility Sabbat, not only for humans, but also for crops and animals. Wiccans consider the Goddess to be heavy with pregnancy from the mating at Beltane – honor is given to Her. The Sun God is celebrated as the Sun is at its peak in the sky and we celebrate His approaching fatherhood – honor is also given to Him. The faeries abound at this time and it is customary to leave offerings – such as food or herbs – for them in the evening.

Although Litha may seem at first glance to be a masculine observance and one which focuses on Lugh, the day is also dedicated to the Goddess, and Her flowers are the white blossoms of the elder.

Correspondences

Purpose
Rededication to the Lord and Lady, beginning of the harvest, honoring the Sun God,
honoring the pregnant Godddess

Dynamics/Meaning
Crowning of the Sun God, death of the Oak King, assumption of the Holly King,
end the ordeal of the Green Man

Tools, Symbols & Decorations
The sun, oak, birch & fir branches, sun flowers, lilies, red/maize/yellow or gold flower, love amulets, seashells, summer fruits & flowers, feather/flower door wreath, sun wheel, fire, circles of stone, sun dials and swords/blades, bird feathers, Witches’ ladder.

Colors
Blue, green, gold, yellow and red.

Customs
Bonfires, processions, all night vigil, singing, feasting, celebrating with others, cutting
divining rods, dowsing rods & wands, herb gathering, handfastings, weddings, Druidic
gathering of mistletoe in oak groves, needfires, leaping between two fires, mistletoe
(without berries, use as a protection amulet), women walking naked through gardens
to ensure continued fertility, enjoying the seasonal fruits & vegetables, honor the
Mother’s fullness, richness and abundance, put garlands of St. John’s Wort placed
over doors/ windows & a sprig in the car for protection.

Goddesses
Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Venus, Aphrodite, Yemaya, Astarte, Freya, Hathor,
Ishtar, all Goddesses of love, passion, beauty and the Sea, and Pregnant,
lusty Goddesses, Green Forest Mother; Great One of the Stars, Goddess of the Wells

Gods
Father Sun/Sky, Oak King, Holly King, Arthur, Gods at peak power and strength.

Animals/Mythical Beings
Wren, robin, horses, cattle, satyrs, faeries, firebird, dragon, thunderbird

Gemstones
Lapis lazuli, diamond, tiger’s eye, all green gemstones, especially emerald and jade

Herbs
Anise, mugwort, chamomile, rose, wild rose, oak blossoms, lily, cinquefoil, lavender,
fennel, elder, mistletoe, hemp, thyme, larkspur, nettle, wisteria, vervain ( verbena),
St. John’s wort, heartsease, rue, fern, wormwood, pine,heather, yarrow,
oak & holly trees

Incense/Oil
Heliotrope, saffron, orange, frankincense & myrrh, wisteria, cinnamon, mint, rose, lemon, lavender, sandalwood, pine

Rituals/Magicks
Nature spirit/fey communion, planet healing, divination, love & protection magicks.
The battle between Oak King, God of the waxing year & Holly King, God of the waning
year (can be a ritual play), or act out scenes from the Bard’s (an incarnation of Merlin)
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, rededication of faith, rites of inspiration.

Foods
Honey, fresh vegetables, lemons, oranges, summer fruits, summer squash,
pumpernickel bread, ale, carrot drinks, mead.

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