Blessed Litha

The longest day of the year. Light is triumphant, but begins it's decline. The Earth in now fertile and a lush green. The Sun King embraces the Queen of Summer, the Maiden Goddess. Their love and ecstasy is his death. The Lord of Light must die soon and change to the Dark Lord. We accept the passing of the Sun, it's waning, as we accept all changes that the turning of the "Wheel Of Life" brings.

Midsummer is a lesser Sabbat as are the Eqinoxes and the Winter Solstice. Witches and pagans alike will greet and honor the Sun God at his peak in the annual cycle. He is at his mightiest and his brightest. He will be invoked now to banish darkness from our lives. Midsummer can be the most celebratory as we rejoice in the fullness of the years abundance, the peak of light and warmth.

Again we watch the Oak King and the Holly King do battle. From Midwinter the Oak King has ruled, but now he will fall in battle to his brother. The Holly King, God of the Waning Year will rule for the next six months. The Oak King has been sacrificed in many forms. He has been burned (appropriate), blinded by mistletoe, crucified, and in ancient times a human enactor was sacrificed in actuality. The Oak King will withdraw to the Corona Borealis, The Celtic Caer Arianrhod, to turn the wheels of the heavens so that the stars will not dip below the horizon. Here he will wait for his inevitable re-birth. The Norse God Balder figures prominently in this as he was slain by a branch of mistletoe and burned in a great fire.

The Goddess, sensuous and fertile, greets and makes love to her consort the Sun God. She presides over his death, the enthronement of his dark twin, and dances the magnificent dance of life.
Midsummer is both a fire and water festival. Fire representing the God aspect and water the Goddess. Midsummer is falsely called Beltane by some. This was due to the fact that "Bonfire Night" was moved by St. Patrick from Midsummer to St. John's Eve to play down the pagan implications of Beltane (May Eve). Quite suspect is the fact that "Bealtaine" is Irish for May. Midsummer is a principal fire festival through-out Europe, the Arab States, and Bebers of North Africa. It is a lesser festival and was later to develop in the Celtic countries, as they were less "solar" oriented and influenced.

Fire, a major feature of many witches Sabbats, is used here in many forms. The most common is of rolling a flaming wheel, a powerful solar symbol, down a hill. This ceremony imitates the suns course in the sky. It is highly appropriate at Midsummer when the suns annual declension begins. In the Vale of Glamorgan it is said that if the fire is extinguished before reaching the bottom of the hill it will be a bad harvest, the opposite meaning heavy crops for the year. Some Hungarian swine-herds make fire on Midsummer Eve by rotating a wheel round a wooden axle wrapped in hemp, and drive the pigs through the fires thus made.





Midsummer In Finland
(Being of Finnish ansestry I had to include this.)

Midsummer bonfire in Mäntsälä, Finland. Bonfires are very common in Finland, where most people spend their midsummer in the countryside outside towns

Before 1316, the summer solstice was called Ukon juhla, after an old Finnish god Ukko. In Karelia, people had many bonfires side by side, the biggest of which was called Ukko-kokko (the "bonfire of Ukko"). At present the midsummer holiday is known as Juhannus , or midsommar for the Swedish-speaking minority, and is the year's most notable occasion for drunkenness and revels.
Most of Finland burns bonfires ( kokko) at lakesides and eats smoked fish from the same lakes. In the coastal areas that are the stronghold of the Finland-Swedish, these are supplanted by a maypole tradition transferred from Sweden and pickled herring.

When Finland was Christianized, the holiday was named after John the Baptist (Johannes) in order to give a Christian meaning for the pagan holiday. The traditions, however, remained quite unchanged and survive in modern-day Finland although they have lost their original purposes. In folk magic, still well known but no longer seriously practiced, midsummer was a very potent night and the time for many small rituals, mostly for young maidens seeking suitors. Will o wisps were believed to be seen at midsummer night, marking a treasure.

For more on Finnish Midsummer celebrations go here: http://virtual.finland.fi/netcomm/news/showarticle.asp?intNWSAID=26052



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