Midsummer – Liþa

Midsummer, the summer solstice, the longest day and the shortest night of the whole year. For heathens, Midsummer is one of the most auspicious tides we can celebrate throughout the year. We follow a natural religion in many ways, one that concerns itself with the turning of the seasons and the flow of the year. This is one of those tides.

The Anglo-Saxons celebrated Midsummer as Liþa, midnesumor, and midsumordæg. These celebrations were likely as important in their own right as Yule was when considering the similarity in the month structure of their calendar as recorded by Bede. The calendar was primarily lunar, with the months based on the movements of the moon. The two exceptions to this are the months of Liþa and Geola (Yule) which were double months effectively separated by the solstices. These also represent the midpoints in the seasons, Liþa as the middle of summer and Geola as the middle of winter. They used these solar points to reset their primarily lunar calendar to maintain order throughout the year; thus it was a lunisolar calendar and gives Midsummer and Yule great importance.

Today we can trace back many pre-Christian midsummer rituals throughout Europe. They were collectively incorporated into early Catholicism under St. John’s day. They existed and persisted throughout Eastern and Northern Europe where to this day you can find many individuals practicing ritualized activities surrounding Midsummer. Bonfires are a commonality as well as general frivolity such as singing, dancing, floral hats, games, etc. It is and was a celebration of fertility, plenty, and the gentleness of this time of the year.

The ritual I created for my local group for Midsummer was simple enough and I will outline it here:

(Hallowing)
May the gods guide us,
May our oaths keep us,
May our deeds free us,
May our ancestors aid us always.
May the gods banish from this land and wood all ill and wrong,
Hallow this space, shield this area from all baneful wights,
Let the gods’ blessing be over our heads!

(Light central fire)

Six months have passed since Yule and we have gathered this day, this midsummer day, in thanks and celebration. The sun rose this day, and the longest day, to beat back the night. Tonight, the shortest night, we light fires to bring that light down into our lives.

The ancient Anglo-Saxons celebrated today as Litha, the gentle time of the year, as midsomerdaeg, midsummer; the Norse peoples and many others across Europe kept the celebrations alive after conversion through St. John’s day, a festival that was distinctly heathen with its flowers and magic and bonfires.

This day we celebrate the height of the power of the sun goddess, Sunne, Sol. Sunne, the goddess who shines her light down on us and warms the earth. She rides today at her height and that glory is something worth giving thanks for.

Day is sent by Sunne, beloved of men, the glorious light of Sol, a source of hope and happiness to rich and poor, and of service to all.

We call to and welcome you Sunna,
To thee, Sunne, day rider, hail! (Hail!)
To thee, brightener, shiner, awakener, hail! (Hail!)
To thee, goddess of sunny summer so bright, hail! (Hail!)
To thee, sister to the shadowy moonlight, hail! (Hail!)

Sunne, glowing goddess of the sun so bright
Whose rays beat back the shadows of the night
The breeze through leaves on trees, gentle and warm
Green things blooming and growing on every farm
Your ride took this shining day to its full height
Around it feels warm, joyous, gentle, and right
To you we give thanks, we thank you for your ride
Your light casts out and makes the shadows all hide
Shine on us this day, Sunne, lend us your light
Shine on us this day, Sunne, lend us your might

This Midsummer we offer to you that your bright gifts to man
Shall never be taken for granted by us, long though the days span
The days will not always be so gentle nor will they be so warm
The sky will grow cold, the light of the sun will be blocked by storm
But this day, we are surrounded by your warmth and made whole
We shall not take the gift and blessing of your light for granted, Sol
Though your ride is unwaveringly regular, though gentle the days may be
Let none here today forget the gift that was bright Sunne to see

(With filled Horn)

Take this horn of golden mead and think on the blessings of the radiant sun.

(Asperge with mead from the bowl)

Sunne shine on you and let her light fill your life.

(Mark with ᛞ rune if that is your kind of thing)

May the glorious rays of the light of Day shine from Sunne, from bright Sol, day rider and shiner, bright and beautiful, let them cast away the darkness of our lives.
Hail Sunne! (Hail!)

(Libation)
From the gods, to the earth, to us
From us, to the earth, to the gods
(Pour offering)
A gift has been given, may it be well received

So let it be.

 

Sun Chariot
Trundholm Sun Chariot from Trundholm moor in Odsherred and now housed in the National Museum of Denmark.

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