Litha Rites & Rituals

Ringdances around Midsummer pole at Gammelgarden open-air museum.
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Depending on your individual spiritual path, there are many different ways you can celebrate Litha, but the focus is nearly always on celebrating the power of the sun. Litha, the summer solstice, falls around June 21 in the northern hemisphere, and around December 21 below the equator. It's the time of year when the crops are growing heartily and the earth has warmed up. We can spend long sunny afternoons enjoying the outdoors, and getting back to nature under the long daylight hours. Here are a few rituals that can be adapted for either a solitary practitioner or a small group.

Setting Up Your Litha Altar

Pagan Altar for Early Summer
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Litha is a time of celebrating the sun, and spending as much time as you can outdoors. Try to set up your Midsummer altar outside if at all possible. If you can't, that's okay–but try to find a spot near a window where the sun will shine in and brighten your altar setup with its rays. 

Midsummer Night's Fire Ritual

Summer Bonfire
Summer is a great time for a bonfire ritual!. Chris Pecoraro / E+ / Getty Images

Although this particular Midsummer ritual isn't ancient, it is inspired by the traditions and legends of the Celts of the British Isles. Take advantage of the long hours of daylight to celebrate Litha, or Alban Heruin, and honor the solstice outdoors under the skies. If you're interested in Celtic lore, or wish to honor the Triple Goddess, this might be the perfect ritual for you.

10 Great Ways to Celebrate Litha

Woman In Woods
How will you be celebrating the sabbat?. Marc Romanelli / Blend Images / Getty Images

It's Litha, the longest day of the year! The sun will shine more today than any other day of the year, and it's a day to get outdoors and celebrate. Spend the day in the sun with your family. Play outdoors, go for a hike, and enjoy all the delights the earth has to offer. Here are some ideas for ways to celebrate the summer solstice. 

Litha Ritual to Celebrate Fathers

Playing with my dad outside
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In many traditions of Paganism, particularly those that are Wicca-based, there is a great deal of focus on the Goddess. Sometimes, there's so much attention to the feminine that the masculine aspects get overlooked. By welcoming the God of your tradition, you can honor the men who have impacted your life–whether they raised you, loved you, or are being brought up by you. This simple rite also offers your boys a chance to get out there and dance, and to celebrate the masculine within themselves.

Prior to the ritual, make a headdress for each male that will be present. This can include horns, antlers, branches, feathers, and other symbols of fertility and masculinity. Headdresses are fairly simple to make; use a strip of heavy fabric or cardboard cut to size, and just glue items on it. If your boys are younger, this is a fun craft project. Assign one male to act out the part of the Horned God in the ritual.

Also, give each member of the group some sort of noisemaker–drums, rattles, bells, etc. This is a ritual best performed in a group, either as a family or coven. If you normally cast a circle or call the Quarters in a ceremony, do so at this time.

Light a red or gold candle in the center of your altar to represent the Sun. The High Priestess (HPs) or whoever is leading the ritual should face the sun, and say:

We are here as a family (or coven)
On this longest of days.
The power of the Sun is above us,
and its heat and strength reminds us
of the power of the God.

At this point, the group members should shake their rattles, bang their drums, ring their bells. Do so slowly, almost at the tempo of a heartbeat. The HPs continues:

The God is strong and powerful,
he is virile and fertile.
He is the Lord of the Hunt,
the King of the Forest,
and with the Goddess, together they create Life.

At this point, speed up the beat of the drums and rattles just a bit. The HPs goes on and says:

We honor the God today, and celebrate the masculine within him.

I call upon the Horned God!
Cernunnos, Herne, Apollo!
We ask you to honor us with your presence!

Now the drumming should speed up even more. The man or boy chosen to be the Horned God leads the male members of the group around the altar clockwise in a dance, keeping up with the rhythm of the drums and rattles. As the males circle the altar, they should move faster each time.

Allow the men and boys to dance around the altar as many times as they like. As the dance gets faster, the music will get faster too, until there is a palpable hum of energy. This sensation is often indicative of the presence of the Divine. Let the music run its course–it will end when it's ready to end, and at that time, the dance should stop too. Once the dancing and drumming has ceased, the HPs should call out:

Horned one, God of the Hunt,
Lord of the Forest!
We honor you tonight, on this longest day.
We celebrate the men in our lives,
those who raised us,
those who love us,
those that we are raising.
We honor them in Your name.

Each member of the group, both male and female, may make an offering at this time. If you have a fire burning, throw your offerings into the flames. If you don't have a fire, place your offerings on the altar instead.

Take a few moments to reflect upon the balance of male and female in your life, and in the world. Think about the men you have known, and those you will know in the future. Recognize the qualities that make them honorable and worthy of your love. When you are ready, dismiss the quarters or close the circle.

7 Ways to Use Beach Magic

Family Collecting Beach Shells
Gather shells for divination and magic - just be sure to check with the locals first!. Mike Harrington / Taxi / Getty Images

The beach can often be a magical and spiritual place. Here are seven simple ways you can take advantage of the magical properties of your favorite beach. 

Hold a Backyard Barbecue Ritual

Backyard Barbecue
Invite family and friends to celebrate Litha with a backyard cookout. Hello Lovely / Blend Images / Getty Images

Litha falls in the middle of summer, right before things start to get unbearably hot in most parts of the world, so it’s a perfect time to celebrate by having friends and family over for a cookout. Why not take advantage of this get-together and turn it into a fun celebration of the summer solstice? After all, if summer is about having fun with the people you love, a Litha backyard barbecue is the perfect way to mark the season!

Start by decorating your back yard with symbols of the season. If your tradition normally casts a circle prior to ritual, consider placing some unusual items on your altar and at the four points:

North (Earth): A sandbox, potted flowers, your garden
East (Air): Fans, pinwheels, hula hoops, a swingset
South (Fire): Sparklers (they’re easy to find right before July 4th), your grill, a large fire bowl or pit
West (Water): Squirt guns, buckets of water, a sprinkler, a wading pool

Instead of casting a circle in the traditional way, invite your guests to help you invoke the elements in a way that celebrates the Litha season, using some of the symbols above. Wave a sparkler in the air when it’s time to invoke fire, or jump in the pool to represent the element of water.

Plan on preparing food ahead of time–preferably using some method of flame or fire, such as your grill. Time your ceremony that it begins when the food is ready. Prepare a platter with a few samples of each item on it–corn cobs, hot dogs, burgers, etc.–and place it on the altar, and ask your guests to form a circle surrounding it.

Begin by welcoming your friends and family members. If your tradition honors specific deities, invite them to join you for a feast. If you simply wish to celebrate the season, you can just pay homage to the spirits of the land, or thank the earth and sun for the bounty in front of you.

Once you have honored the sun and the power it brings, invite each guest to approach the altar. At this time, they can make an offering to individual deities, to the sun itself, or to the local spirits of the garden and land.

Finally, ask the gods of your tradition to bless the food on the altar. Everyone should take a moment to bask in the sun's rays, and then dismiss the circle–it's time to dig into your summer feast!

5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Litha with Kids

Bubble Kids
Summer is a great time to be a kid!. Image by Echo/Cultura/Getty Images

Litha is the season of the summer solstice, and for many families, the kids are on break from school, which means it’s a perfect time to celebrate the sabbat with them. It’s the longest day of the year, many of us are playing outside and enjoying the warmer weather, and you might even be lucky enough to go swimming as you celebrate the sun. If you’ve got kids at home, try celebrating Litha with some of these family-friendly and kid-appropriate ideas.

Hold a Midsummer Sun Ritual

Ringdances around Midsummer pole at Gammelgarden open-air museum.
Anders Blomqvist / Getty Images

Litha is a great time of year to get outside, enjoy the extra hours of daylight, and celebrate the season with family and friends. You can do this ritual as a group or adapt it to perform as a solitary practitioner.

You’ll need the following items:

  • A larger candle to represent the sun
  • An individual candle for each participant to hold

Also, be sure to decorate your altar with symbols of the season–solar symbols, fresh flowers, in-season summer produce and crops that you’ve harvested. You should do this ritual outside if at all possible, so you can take advantage of the sun’s light and energy. If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, go ahead and do that first.

Take a moment to ground and center, and get yourself focused. Bask in the rays of the sun, feeling its warmth on your face, and welcoming its power into you. The person who is leading the ritual–for ease of purpose, we’ll call that person the HPs–should stand at the altar.

HPs: We are here today to celebrate the power and energy of the sun. The sun is the source of warmth and light around the world. Today, at Litha, the summer solstice, we mark the longest day of the year. From Yule until this day, the sun has been moving ever closer to the earth. Flowers are blooming, crops are growing, and life has returned once more. Today we honor the gods and goddesses of the sun.

The HPs lights the sun candle on the altar.

HPs: The sun is the ultimate source of fire and light. Like all sources of light, the sun shines brightly and spreads around the world. Even as it gives its light and power to each of us, it is never diminished by the sharing of that energy. The sun passes over us each day, in the never-ending circle of light. Today, we share that light with each other, passing it around the circle, forming a ring of light.

Using the sun candle, the HPs lights her own candle, and turns to the next person in the circle. As she lights the next person’s candle, she says: May you be warmed and rejuvenated by the light of the sun.

The second person turns to the third, lighting their candle, and passing along the blessing. Continue until the last candle in the circle has been lit, returning back to the HPs.

Remember, this is a joyous celebration–feel free to include dancing, clapping, music or even a drum circle as you enjoy the power of the sun!

As each person in the group holds their lit candle, the HPs calls upon the gods and goddesses of the sun. Feel free to add or substitute different solar deities as your tradition or needs require.

HPs: Gods who bring us light, we honor you!
Hail, Ra, whose mighty chariot brings us light each morning!
Hail, Apollo, who brings us the healing energies of the sun!
Hail, Saule, whose fertility blooms as the sun gains in strength!
Hail, Helios, whose great steeds race the flames across the sky!
Hail, Hestia, whose sacred flame lights our way in the darkness!
Hail, Sunna, who is sister of the moon, and bringer of light!
We call upon you today, thanking you for your blessings, accepting your gifts. We draw upon your strength, your energy, your healing light, and your life giving power!
Hail to you, mighty gods and goddesses of the sun!

Each member of the group should now place their candles on the altar, surrounding the sun candle.

HPS: The sun radiates out, never dying, never fading. The light and warmth of today will stay with us, even as the days begin to grow shorter, and the nights grow cold once more. Hail, gods of the sun!

Invite everyone to take in the warmth of the sun once more, and when you are done, end the ritual as you normally would.

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Your Citation
Wigington, Patti. "Litha Rites & Rituals." Learn Religions, Apr. 5, 2023, Wigington, Patti. (2023, April 5). Litha Rites & Rituals. Retrieved from Wigington, Patti. "Litha Rites & Rituals." Learn Religions. (accessed May 29, 2023).