Merry we meet - Merry we meet - Merry we meet
Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Written and compiled by George Knowles.
“He furnishes the world with light and removes darkness; he obscures and he illuminates the rest of the stars; he regulates in accord with nature’s precedent the changes of the seasons and the continuous rebirth of the year; he dissipates the gloom of heaven and even calms the storm clouds of the mind of man”
Pliny the Elder - A Roman naturalist.
The Litha festival is one of the lesser Sabbats of the Witches annual calendar and today (in the northern hemisphere) is normally celebrated on the 21st of June, this however can vary from the 20th to the 23rd of June depending upon the Earth’s rotation around the Sun. The festival of Litha celebrates the arrival of summer when the hours of daylight are there longest and nights at their shortest. Litha is also known as: Alban Hefin, Alben Heruin, All-couples day, Feill-Sheathain, Feast of Epona, Gathering Day, Johannistag, St. John’s Day, Sonnwend, Thing-Tide, Vestalia, Whitsuntide or Whit Sunday.
Litha celebrates the peak of the suns annual rise at the Summer Solstice, the first of two annual solstices dividing the year (the second being the Winter Solstice at Yule in December). The word “Solstice” is derived from two Latin words: “sol” which means “sun”, and “sistere” meaning “to stand still”. As the summer solstice approaches, each day the sun rises noticeably higher in the sky, but by the day of the solstice itself, its rise becomes almost imperceptible compared to the day before it. In this sense and for the period of midsummer, the sun seems “to stands still” having reached its peak.
In legends of old, the summer sun begins to grow in strength at Beltane (the 1st of May) and starts its decline at Lammas (the 01st of August), with Litha midway between the two, marking Midsummer. At this time the God is in his prime and the Sun is at its strongest, the Goddess is pregnant of the God and her fertility is reflected in nature. As the powers of nature reach their highest point, so its bounty will soon be ripe for harvest. After the hard work of the planting and before we reap its rewards, the rituals of Litha celebrate the suns life giving energy while all the riches of nature are in full bloom.
In days long ago the rites of Litha were boisterous communal affairs with Morris dancing, singing, storytelling and feasting all taking place in the village. Traditionally it was the time for handfasting and weddings, when couples who met at Beltane, joined hands and jumped the broom to ensure a long and happy marriage. Another custom was to dress the home with seasonal plants and herbs, and to collect and store those containing magical and medicinal properties for use throughout the year. Amongst some of the most favoured at this time of year are: Rue, Roses, Fennel, Orpine, Saint-John’s-Wort and Vervain.
More commonly associated with the Winter Solstice and Christmas time, Mistletoe (the “Golden Bough”), Holly and Ivy are equally sought after plants used at the Summer Solstice. The Druids of old specifically prized the mistletoe that grew in Oak trees (which they held to be sacred), and on Midsummer Eve would harvest the plant with a golden sickle. Equally sacred was the Holly, which the Druids believed was special because its evergreen nature added colour to the earth when trees such as the Oak had shed their leaves. The holly’s berries were also thought to represent the sacred menstrual blood of the Goddess.
Traditionally the Mistletoe, Holly and Ivy were used at the solstices to decorate homes and churches, later however, Church leaders banned their use from churches because of their pagan associations. Since then their use was confined mainly to decorating the home with the exception of weddings and handfasting were it was strictly observed that men only wore Holly and women wore Ivy. Jointly they were believed to possess mystical and magickal qualities, they were used in rites of divination, to cure various illnesses, and to protect the home and person from unwanted influences.
Midnight on Midsummer Eve or at noon on Midsummer Day is the best time to collect plants and herbs for use in magick. Divining rods and wands cut at midnight were thought to be more powerful, while plants and herbs harvested at midnight doubly efficacious. Many of the herbs collected at midnight were also used as charms to protect the house from fire or lightning, the family from disease and ill health, and to ward off negative witchcraft and the attentions of pesky Fairy Folk.
In England and across Europe it was an old custom on the eve of the Solstice to light a large bonfire after sundown; these served the double purpose of providing light for the revelers and warding off evil spirits. In addition to the fires the streets would be lined with lanterns as torch lit processions paraded through the villages. Led by Jack-in-the-Green and his maidens, and followed by Morris dancers and hobbyhorse riders, giant effigies of wicker men and dragons were paraded before being burnt on the bonfires in symbolic sacrifices to the sun.
The fire was a major part of the Litha celebrations and of old was used in many ways. The most common was rolling a flaming wheel down a hill, a powerful solar symbol imitable of the sun’s course through the sky. As the fire wheel (Catherine wheel) rolled down the hill, if the fire went out they could expect a bad harvest, but if the fire remained lit, the year would be blessed with abundant crops. Another function of the fires was to sympathetically boost the sun’s energy so it would remain potent throughout the rest of the growing season ensuring a plentiful harvest.
People believed that the Litha fires possessed great power, and by jumping through the fire it would bring prosperity and protection for the coming year. The charred remains of the fire would later be used to create charms against injury, bad luck and bad weather. Ashes from the fire would be mixed with seeds not yet planted, and spread around fields and orchards to protect their crops. After the embers had cooled farmers would then drive their cattle through the ashes to purge them of disease and illness.
Water is also an important ingredient of the Litha celebrations and is an excellent time for gathering magickal water for your spell work. Many people who live near the coast conduct their rituals on the beach, others near sacred wells, rivers, or streams, and naturally use water in their rites. If you don’t live near the sea, than gathering rainwater or dew from the trees or water from a free flowing brook will suffice, more particularly after a storm with lightening. Water should always be collect in glass containers, never metal, and stored on a shelf off the ground or its power may be dissipated. When needed it should only be used for magickal purposes.
According to folklore, Midsummer Eve is a night second only to Halloween for its importance regarding the Fairy Folk, who especially enjoyed riding about on this night hoping to catch the unwary. To see them you had only to gather ferns at the stroke of midnight and rub them onto your eyelids, however be sure to carry a piece of Rue in your pocket to guard against capture. For protection and to evade capture simply turn your jacket inside out, which should keep them from recognising you as human. When traveling through the woods on this night, you should seek out one of the “ley lines”, the old tracks used to link ancient landmarks and places of worship, and stay upon it until you reach your destination. Ley lines were popularly associated with mystical powers of protection and should keep you safe from any malevolent powers, as will crossing a stream of “living” (running) water.
In mythology, Litha symbolizes the end of the reign of the Oak-King. As the sun nears the peak at the summer solstice (represented by the Oak King) and begins its decline back to winter (represented by the Holly-King), the two do battle. This time the Oak-King is defeated by the Holly-King who then rules over the second half of the year until they meet again and do battle at the Winter Solstice. This in essence is an enactment of the annual cycle of life, growth and death in nature. The Oak King is the growing youth who reaches his peak in mid-summer, while the Holly King is the mature man whose life declines into winter, from where he is again re-born of the Goddess.
Encarta® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Encyclopedia Of Magical Herbs - By Scott Cunningham
A Witches Bible
- by Stewart and Janet
Plus others to
many too mention
Written and compiled on the 24th May 2008 © George Knowles
Best wishes and Blessed Be
Site Contents - Links to all Pages
A Universal Message:
Let there be peace in the world - Where have all the flowers gone?
Wicca & Witchcraft
The Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
Traditions Part 1 - Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Traditions Part 2 - Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Other things of interest:
Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) / Esbats & Full Moons / Links to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft Resources / What's a spell? / Circle Casting and Sacred Space / Pentagram - Pentacle / Marks of a Witch / The Witches Power / The Witches Hat / An esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism / Pow-wow / The Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / A history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope Innocent VIII / The papal Bull / The Malleus Maleficarum / An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum / The letter of approbation / Johann Nider’s Formicarius / Jacob Sprenger / Heinrich Kramer / Stefano Infessura / Montague Summers / The Waldenses / The Albigenses / The Hussites / The Native American Sun Dance / Shielding (Occult and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats and Festivals:
The Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Rituals contributed by Crone:
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder
Rocks and Stones:
Stones - History, Myths and Lore
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:
Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Wisdom and Inspiration:
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murdered by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A Kelly / Albertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Amber K / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Biddy Early / Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christina Oakley Harrington / Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Doreen Valiente / Dorothy Morrison / Dr. John Dee & Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake / Fiona Horne / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater - Horrible Herman / Isaac Bonewits / Israel Regardie / James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches / Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone / Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred / John Michael Greer / John Score / Joseph John Campbell / Karl von Eckartshausen / Laurie Cabot - "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" / Monique Wilson / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellars / Mrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning Glory / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Philip Heselton / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" / Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) / Rudolf Steiner / Sabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough" / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - (includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) / Thomas Ady / T. Thorn Coyle / Vera Chapman / Victor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest /
Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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