Surprise! There isn’t one… or at least, not a formal ritual with words to invoke everyone, etc.
Preparation For Litha Ritual
In our tradition, of the Welsh-Celtic as practiced by the Witch and Famous Coven, we traditionally celebrate Litha at the beach. Being located in South Florida, this is easy and natural for us to do. We meet a little before sunrise on the morning of the Solstice, and gather together all our beach supplies, towels, etc, and head "en masse" towards the water.
At an appropriately secluded spot, if one can be found, we set up our towels and assorted sundries. We do not wear robes for this, but we do wear regular clothes and bathing suits. Next year, we hope to do this at the Nudist Beach in Miami, and so do away with the bathing suits altogether. We also do not take any ritual altar tools, unless these need to be cleansed or consecrated in the water. We don’t set up an altar, or otherwise cast a circle. This is in part because it is a public area, and we have been approached at times by Christians professing to be worried about our souls. If there are no overt signs to alarm people, most will ignore us and pass on. Occasionally we will be joined by a solitary Pagan who also came this morning to worship and didn’t know anyone else existed! They were drawn to us because they saw us dancing in a circle in the water, and could hear what we were chanting. That is always a wonderful experience.
We bring nuts and pennies or dimes, also flowers, jewelry, and any other offerings we deem appropriate. We honor Aphrodite and Yemaya as Goddesses of the Sea by tossing the flowers, pennies and dimes, and old jewelry into the Sea as a way of thanking the Goddesses, and the Gods, Neptune and Poseidon, for all we have received from the Sea. We remember that we are nourished by the Sea everyday, and that all life came from the Sea. I have not written an elaborate ritual for Litha for this reason. I could, but I am keeping within our practices and want to show you that there are other ways to worship besides always in the same circle and space. Sacred Space is where you make it and proclaim it to be, and keep it Sacred.
This is an outline of what our coven does at Litha, which we celebrate at the beach at sunrise on the morning of the Summer Solstice. We usually meet an hour or so prior to sunrise, so everyone can park and carry their supplies to the beach. We bring towels and wear our bathing- suits, since this is not a nude beach. We also bring containers of our water from previous years, to give the water back to the Sea to be re-energized and to collect our fresh water for the coming year to be used to cast circle, to cleanse and to bless. We honor Aphrodite and Yameya as the Goddesses of the Sea, and also Neptune and Poseidon as the Gods of the Sea. We bring them items they don’t have access to, such as nuts and berries, flowers, and pennies or dimes, and jewelry. Old jewelry, such as half an earring pair, a ring which is no longer worn, broken chains, etc. are fine, as long as they are not plastic. (By voluntarily giving the Sea jewelry twice yearly, we don’t seem to lose any jewelry that we treasure at any other times we visit the ocean!) Pennies and dimes are for their prosperity, and in return, our own. We also bring whatever we wish to eat and to share with everyone. This includes bagels and muffins, fruit, juices, breads and jams, etc. Someone always brings a big thermos of coffee as well! At sunrise, or just prior the sky is just becoming lighter and the sea is calm. Off in the distance sometimes we can see vivid summer storms and lightening, usually farther up the coast. A few tiny boats may be out on the horizon, but the beach itself is quiet, serene, and all ours.
We start by laying out all our towels and food, and arranging our jugs so we know who’s are who’s. Then we all hug and welcome each other, and also those who have joined us from other covens and groups. Litha is always an open invitation to the whole community. Next we go down to the Sea individually to get wet initially, and to commune with the Gods, Goddesses, and the incredible energy of the Sea itself, to cleanse our auras, our spirits, and to feel the impact of the Sea stretching out to the horizon. It is awe inspiring, as we feel the gentle tug of the current and the tide, tugging at our feet as we attempt to stay upright! The Sea is gentle at this hour, and we can commune for as long as we like.
At this time also is when we will toss out our offerings to the Sea and the Gods and Goddesses, as a thank you for all we have been given by the Sea and by them. This is our quiet meditation time. As the sky begins to get lighter, and we see the peeking out of the first rays of the Sun, we form a circle and hold hands in the shallows. Some of our members are not good swimmers, and most of our children are present, so we stay shallow. We gaze at the sky and begin to circle around. We sing "Here Comes The Sun" by the Beatles, also "Here Comes the Sun King", we also sing "An Anthem to the Sun" by Rick Hamouris, which can be found on the tape "Welcome to Annwyn". We sing any other chants we make up on the spot, and we continue to circle and sing until the Sun is well up.
Sometimes there are cloud formations that hide the Sun a bit, and we can use these to shield our eyes better. Do not stare directly at the Sun, as that is dangerous. (don’t be insulted, I usually have to tell someone that every year!) When the Sun is definitely risen we clap and frolic in the water, swim, play, and basically enjoy ourselves as much as we want. We stand in the water, raise our arms to the sky and ask the Sun to bless us and energize us while He is at His peak of power.
Then it’s time for breakfast! Back to the towels and the food…we share whatever we have brought, and we also share some with the Gods (and the fish!). Be careful not to put too much in the water in the way of food, where we are we have attracted barracuda, and last year, a sting ray. Luckily we were finished with the part in the water, so we didn’t mind being visited at all! But be aware that it is also okay just to bury some of your food in the sand as an offering as well. Things like orange peels, and nectarine or peach pits are better buried than thrown in the water.
After the communal meal, we each get our containers. Those of us who have remaining water from last year, pour it back into the sea and carefully return any shells or stones that we need to give back. Then we collect our water for the coming 6 months. The water only stays energized for about 6 months, and we use it for casting circle, for spells, for cleansing and purifying and for consecration. By adding stones, shells, and coral, you can increase the energy level of the water, but the energy itself does fade after 6 months, the non-degradable shells etc just keep the level higher, but not longer. (Side note: I say 6 months because we will do this again on New Year’s Day but we meet around noon instead of sunrise. This has become our coven’s tradition, but other covens do it at Winter Solstice. We all have New Year’s Day off, so we chose to stick to that date. It gives us a chance to "bring in the New Year" in a Wiccan Way. Since the mundane celebrations for New Year’s are so full of energy at this time, we also choose to take advantage of it.)
After we have collected our water and shells, we sit around and share for a bit, then we prepare to leave. Anything that is not bio-degradable goes into the trash or comes home with us if the trash if full, regardless of whether it is our garbage or someone else’s. We always leave our outdoor sites looking better than when we got there. Picking up other people’s garbage is so second nature to us, that we just carry extra garbage bags in our car for the purpose most of the time. This is our Mother after all! Once back at the cars, we say goodbye to those who aren’t coming back to the house with us, then we all proceed, convoy style, to either the coven-stead, or to one of the Priestesses homes that is closest to the beach location. There, we change into comfortable, dry clothing, shower off the beach sand, and break out the tarot decks!
It is also our custom twice a year, at Summer Solstice, and on New Year’s Day, to do a daily reading to see how the next 6 months will be. How we do this is we form a circle around the room, on tables, the floor, wherever we are comfortable, and we all shuffle our tarot decks. Then one person starts with June 22 (or the next day’s date) and flips over one card. She or he then tells briefly what they see in that card, a one or two word synopsis, and we all write that down on our calendars for that day. If you don’t have a calendar with you, just write the dates on a piece of paper and transfer it to your calendar when you get home. The next person does the next date, and so forth until we get to January 1st. (At New Year we do it until June 22, or Summer Solstice).
For example this year my calendar has the following notations:
- June 23: sexy
- June 24: happiness
- June 25: not good
- June 26: misunderstanding with a woman
- June 27: strength
- June 28: fertility, creativity
- June 29: anger, beware
- June 30: opportunity
It is fun to go back to these days as they occur to see what areas they were foretelling, and to see if they were accurate. Of course, you can be more specific, but we use the pocket Astrologer calendars mostly, and the days are really tiny, so we try to use few words. You can use any divination tool you are comfortable with, such as runes or I Ching as they work equally well. This is also a good opportunity for people who have just been introduced to divination to learn to go with first impulses upon seeing the card, without relying on any book definitions, and just to say whatever pops into their heads at first sight. One year we had exactly 7 people doing this, and I wound up with every Tuesday. I started to see a pattern – that for me, only the Tuesdays that year were the most accurate! After the divination, we generally eat lunch, or go out for lunch together. Those of us with work obligations, if this falls during the week may have to go in for half a day. We hug and say our farewells, and help our host/ess clean up. We find this is a great way to have a fun time as a coven, have no pressure on anyone to write a ritual or memorize parts, and we spend quality time with each other as friends. Building friendship in a coven is very important, since we are human beings first, and then Priest/esses second. It is important to us that we can have fun times at the beach just playing around in our worship and not always have to be solemn. Our motto is "Reverence and Mirth" and this is one of our favorite Sabbats to practice our Mirth!
If you don’t live near the beach, the lake will also work just as well. If you don’t have any lakes nearby that are suitable, perhaps you could do some guided meditation to the beach as a group in your Solstice ritual. There are many possibilities, and the way we celebrate is only one of the myriad ways. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have come home to a religion that allows me so much freedom of expression.
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