When the sun sets on the longest day of the year, pagans gather to celebrate for a variety of reasons. In the Northern Hemisphere it falls on the 21st of June and in the Southern Hemisphere it falls on the 22nd of December.
We know that the solstice celebrations are an important milestone on the Pagan Wheel of the Year and were actively celebrated by ancient peoples at sites such as Stonehenge. The summer solstice marked the point of descent halfway through the light half of the year where agriculture would start to wind down and preparations must be made to survive the winter.
But before that, it was vital to give thanks to the gods for the bounty of the spring and summer months. Flowers, fruits, honey and leafy greens were paired with wines and ciders to refresh the palate on a hot summer day.
Bonfires at the beach would be lit and serve as a beacon to gather the community who may choose to stay up late enough to watch the sun both set and rise once more.
Playing in the water, feeling the sun on your naked skin and paying homage to the masculine deity of the sun god also feature in Litha rituals. A sun-disc can be incorporated as part of your altar decorations, or perhaps something of a phallic nature would be entirely appropriate as well as offerings of fruit and alcohol.
It’s a time of ripening, a time of sexual prowess, and a time of bountiful excess.
Feel at liberty to luxuriate in the sensual nature of Litha.