Midsummer – Liþa

Midsummer was this past week, the summer solstice, the longest day and the shortest night of the whole year. For heathens, Midsummer is one of the holiest tides we can celebrate throughout the year.

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 celebrations of Liþa and Geola (Yule) which were celebrated 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:

[Say these words after you have cleared your area bu the method of your choice.]

Six months have passed since Yule and we have gathered this 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.

Hail to thee, Sunne, day rider 

Hail to thee, brightener, shiner, awakener

Hail to thee, goddess of sunny summer so bright

Hail to thee, sister to the shadowy moonlight

Sunne, we thank you for your ride this midsummer.

You chased the shadows back to hiding

Today, longest of days, we give thanks to you.

Shine on us this evening, shine on us as you ride this year.

Shine on us and let the light and day into our lives.

[Say these words to each if you will be passing a blessing bowl:]

Sunne shine on you and let her light fill your life

[Pour out the remainder of the offering onto the focal point, be it a hearg, altar, tree, or ground.]

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

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.

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