by COSS Blog Contributor Ashley Miller
On Tuesday, June 21 2022 at 5:14 EDT the Summer Solstice graces us with her beauty.
In the Northern Hemisphere, Earth is tilting mostly towards the Sun which will be directly overhead at 12 Noon at 23.5 degrees in the constellation of Cancer. This is the longest day of the year in the North. Our friends down in the Southern Hemisphere will be experiencing the shortest day of the year and the arrival of winter.
Solstices are focal points of the year as the Earth’s axis tilts towards or away from the sun marking both the longest day of the year and the shortest.
The Summer Solstice doesn’t always land on the same day every year. It depends when the Sun reaches the northernmost point from the equator, so it usually falls sometime between June 20th – 22nd.
The Pagan wheel of the year marks the Summer Solstice, Litha, which is one of the eight sabbats during the year. Litha is a time where the light and dark take up battle. This is a battle fought between the Oak King and the Holly King for control of the season. The Oak King represents the daylight and rules the lands from the Winter Solstice, Yule, to the Summer Solstice, Litha. During Litha the Holly King wins this battle and takes his place on the throne. The days begin to gradually get darker up until Yule, then the Kings will battle it out again.
Modern day Pagans observe Litha with traditional fire rituals and ceremonies. Celtic fire festivals pre-date Christianity and have been around for over two millennia. Many European cultures celebrate midsummer festivities by gathering at magical spots and liminal spaces like Stonehenge and lighting bonfires on the hilltops to celebrate the lands and the bounty the season has to offer.
To celebrate Litha, enjoy a fire, set up an altar, or plant some wildflowers around the community. Happy Solstice.