Saturday, June 11, 2016

Litha, History and Lore


We are quickly approaching one of my favorite sabbats, Litha. I'm not 100% sure why I love this sabbat so much, but I think it has something to do with Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and the thinness between our realm and that of the faeries. Throughout history, people have celebrated Midsummer, the longest day of the year where the Sun seems to stand still. This time of year is marked by lush gardens, dense forests, fires, swimming, and warm weather.

The Romans celebrated Midsummer by honoring Vesta, goddess of the hearth, in a festival known as Vestalia. Matrons would enter her temple to make offerings in hopes she would bless their homes. While very few primary sources exist, there are some records detailing the traditions of the ancient Celts. It is believed the Celts celebrated Midsummer with hilltop bonfires and feasting. When the Saxons arrived they brought the tradition of Aerra Litha, where this holiday gets its name, to celebrate the endless days which contrasted with the endless nights of northern Scandinavian counties. This festival was marked with huge bonfires to celebrate the Sun's triumph over darkness.

While there is some debate as to whether or not Litha should be included in the eight sabbats, most modern pagans and witches choose to celebrate the sabbat. It is a festival of light, brightness, and warmth. Spend this time outdoors celebrating the power of the Sun and the life it gives the Earth. Light a balefire, drink mead, and spend time with friends and family.

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