Summer Solstice (also known as Litha or Midsummer) 2023 is almost here, but have you ever wondered what Summer Solstice is and how to celebrate it with rituals?
Tuning back into these ancient festivals and living in flow with mamma nature is a wonderful way to connect to the feminine within you and honor your natural cycles and seasons as a woman. You will feel more harmony, peace, and grounding in your world. You will feel more connected to nature. And you will notice how much more energy and life force you have when you follow these natural rhythms rather than pushing against them (in the way that religious festivals like Christmas encourage us to).
In this guide, I’ll explain when Summer Solstice takes place this year, what it is, where it originates from, and I’ll offer you a list of ways to embrace the energy of this festival.
What is the summer solstice?
Summer Solstice, or Litha or Midsummer as it’s commonly known, is one of the eight seasonal festivals (or sabbats) that make up the wheel of the year. It’s the longest day of the year and officially the start of summer. Energy is at its peak on earth, which we can see in all the beauty and abundance that surrounds us in nature. At its heart, Litha is about light, abundance, illumination, radiance, growth, and celebration. It’s also a time to release anything that no longer serves you or your soul destiny.
From this day onwards, the sun will gradually retreat, and the days will grow shorter through to Winter Solstice (Yule).
The word “Solstice” is Latin which means to “stand still,” and symbolizes the earth and the sun meeting in stillness. Meanwhile, “Litha” is an old English word that means “gentle” or “navigable.” This word was used to describe the summer months when the waters are calm, and the weather is mild, making it much easier to travel.
The origins of litha
Before living on a solar timeline, we used to live in flow with the moon. But once the switch was made, many cultures placed the sun at the center of their rituals and civilization.
Stonehenge (built around 5000 years ago) is one of the primary ancient monuments on earth that celebrates the sun. Every year at Summer Solstice, the sunlight falls onto the center stone. Many people don’t realize that there are older lunar stone circles at Stonehenge that honor and track the moon.
It is believed that the Egyptians positioned the pyramids so that the sun would set between them during Summer Solstice. And the Celts are well known for hosting bonfires on hilltops to celebrate the distance between the earth and the sun, where they would sing and dance around the fire.
So Litha/Summer Solstice rituals have been practiced for thousands of years and can be traced back to ancient times.
When is the summer solstice 2023?
Summer Solstice happens this year on June 21st or 22nd, 2023 (depending on where you live). Litha always takes place between June 19th and the 23rd each year.
The wheel of the year holidays:
- Samhain (October 31st to November 1st)
- Yule/Winter Solstice (December 20th-23rd)
- Imbolc (February 1st)
- Ostara/Spring Equinox (March 20th-23rd)
- Beltane (May 1st)
- Litha/Summer Solstice (June 20th-23rd)
- Lammas (August 1st)
- Mabon/Autumn Equinox (September 20th-23rd)
Note: this is the wheel of the year if you live in the northern hemisphere. If you live in the southern hemisphere, everything is reversed. So when the northern hemisphere celebrates Summer Solstice, the southern hemisphere will celebrate Winter Solstice.
What deities are honored at Litha?
Many Goddesses and Gods are linked to Litha or Summer Solstice, depending on the tradition that’s followed.
Litha: In some traditions, Litha is seen as a Goddess who rules the Summer Solstice sabbat, which is why it’s named after her. She is linked to the sun, sexuality, fertility, growth, and abundance.
The Oak King: As a God of the sun and seasons, The Oak King is often linked to Summer Solstice, where his power is at its height.
Hathor, Aphrodite, Venus, Freya & Juno: These are Goddesses of love and fertility and are honored in rituals because Summer Solstice is seen as a time of love and fertility.
Apollo, Ra & Sol: These sun Goddesses and Gods are often revered during the Litha festival.
Symbols of litha / summer solstice
Many colors, symbols, crystals, herbs, and animals are associated with Litha, which you can incorporate into your altar and rituals to honor Summer Solstice.
Colors: Yellow, gold, orange, red, green & white
Symbols: Bonfire, flowers, wheels, feathers, seashells, rocks
Herbs & plants: Chamomile, daisy, mugwort, lavender, yarrow, meadowsweet, rose, elderflower, honeysuckle, thyme, sage, lily, fern, St. John’s wort & vervain
Animals: Bees, butterflies, birds & snakes
Crystals: Citrine, carnelian, sunstone, amber, topaz, tiger’s eye, jade, aventurine
How to celebrate litha 2023: 16 summer solstice rituals to try this year
I love to celebrate the sabbats of the wheel because it’s a wonderful way to tune into the seasons of the year and immerse yourself in nature. Rituals and ceremonies don’t have to be elaborate; they can be as simple as you like. Take and leave what you want from this list of Litha rituals below. Maybe you have another way you wish to honor Summer Solstice—let your intuition guide you.
Plan to do your ritual on the day of Summer Solstice. But if you can’t, try to complete your ritual within three days either side of Summer Solstice while the energy is still strong.
1. Let go of what you no longer need
As we come to the midpoint of the year, it’s the perfect time to reflect on what feels out of alignment for the person you have grown into and where you’re growing. This includes personal belongings, habits, beliefs, practices, hobbies, places, and people. Just because you’ve always practiced yoga, worn muted colors, or been friends with someone for years, it doesn’t mean you have to continue those things.
As you grow and move closer to your soul path, certain things will start to feel out of alignment, and you’ll feel the urge to clear them out of your life. Summer Solstice offers a supportive energy to let go of anything that no longer serves you as part of your ritual.
2. Decorate your altar with the colors & symbols of litha
Use the symbol guide above to help you decorate your altar to embody the energy of Litha, so you have a reminder of this sabbat whenever you sit down to do your sacred practice, rituals, or spellwork. Use a mix of things you can forage indoors and outdoors, whether it’s fabrics, ribbons, candles, flowers, incense, crystals, herbs, or something else.
Check out this guide if you need help setting up a sacred altar.
3. Reflect on the intentions you set at Imbolc
In Western society, it’s common to celebrate New Year on January 1st and set intentions for the coming year. But if you follow the wheel of the year and are in flow with the energy of nature, celebrating new year at this time doesn’t make any sense. It’s the middle of the cold, barren winter. We’re still meant to be hibernating, just like the animals are. This is why it’s common for witches, wiccans, and pagans to set new intentions around Imbolc (February 1st) when the earth starts to wake up and we see the first signs of Spring.
Summer Solstice is the peak point of energy in the year. From the next day onward, this energy will gradually decline. So it’s a wonderful time to look back at the intentions you set and celebrate all that you have manifested and the progress you’ve made toward your dreams on an internal and external level.
Do you still align with those intentions, or is there something else you’d rather channel your energy into over the next few months?
4. Have a bonfire
Fire is the element associated with Litha, so including this in rituals is a popular way to celebrate the Summer Solstice. You can make a small fire in your back garden or go big and host a bonfire party for your whole community. And candlelight is perfect if you want to work with fire on a smaller scale.
You might want to write down anything you wish to let go of on a piece of paper and throw it into the fire, along with any other items that you want to disconnect from.
5. Make a summer bucket list
What would you love to do, see, and experience this summer? Write it down as part of your summer bucket list, and start planning to check some of these things off. You could even do one of these things as part of your Summer Solstice ritual.
6. Watch the sun rise & set
Because Summer Solstice is a celebration of the sun, soaking up the sunlight is a wonderful way to celebrate, which is why watching the sun rise and set outdoors makes for a fitting Litha ritual.
Wake up super early, head outdoors, watch the sunrise somewhere peaceful, do some sun salutations, sunbathe, feel the warmth on your skin, and complete your day by watching the sunset and saying thank you for the light.
7. Gather herbs
One of the best Summer Solstice rituals is to get outside and gather healing herbs and plants that are linked to this sabbat.
Popular ones include: Chamomile, daisy, mugwort, lavender, yarrow, meadowsweet, rose, elderflower, honeysuckle, thyme, sage, lily, fern, St. John’s wort & vervain.
Each of these herbs has its own magical and healing properties. You can cook with many of them, make skincare, or even bundle them into your own cleansing smudge bundle, which you can clean your space with.
8. Create an earth mandala
Gather up seasonal items (flowers, stones, branches, crystals, feathers, herbs) to create an earth mandala on the ground outdoors. Outline it using chalk first if this helps you.
Bask in the sun as you do so, immerse yourself in the beauty of this season, and say a prayer for the coming months. Have fun and make sure you play—there is no right or wrong way to do this.
9. Light candles
I love lighting a candle, whether it’s morning or night, to celebrate a ritual, relax, co-facilitate magic, help me turn inward, and more. Lighting a candle as part of your Litha ritual incorporates two main elements of Summer Solstice: light & fire.
Light a large candle (or several) at dawn, and keep it burning until dusk, giving thanks for the light. Carve a sigil into your candle to symbolize your intentions for the coming half of the year. Recite an affirmation or prayer if you feel called to. You can also anoint your candle using an essential oil that fits with the season of Litha, such as lavender, rose, bergamot, or sandalwood. Scatter some of the herbs you’ve gathered around your candle and allow them to stick to the oil.
10. Brew sun tea
This is a similar process to making moon water, but instead of using the moonlight, we use the sunlight.
Fill a jar of water with tap or spring water, add some fruity tea bags and/or a collection of herbs, and place your jar outdoors in the sun, where it can steep all day. You can then collect your jar and sip on it that evening or the next day and absorb the sun’s powerful energy.
11. Sow summer seeds
Harvest season is on the way, so as part of your Summer Solstice ritual, use this window of fertility and growth to plant summer seeds. Whether you go for herbs, spices, flowers, or vegetables, plant your seeds in small containers and keep them on a window ledge or on the porch so you can give them extra care until harvest. This is a beautiful way to mirror Mother Nature and nurture something from seed to fruit.
12. Make a floral wreath or crown
Make the most of the beautiful wildflowers around and forage your favorite ones, along with twigs to make a wreath to hang on your door or your head. A flower crown makes the perfect accessory for any outfit you plan to wear to attend a Litha bonfire or Summer Solstice feast.
13. Visit the beach
During Summer Solstice each year, the sun moves into the astrological sign of Cancer, which rules water, i.e., fire meets water. This means it’s a wonderful time to head to the beach (if you’re near one) and soak up the sun while playing in the sand and sea.
Build a sandcastle, write your intention in the sand, have a barbeque or bonfire on the beach, pick up a shell or stone or bottle some sand to take home with you and place on your altar.
14. Build a fairy house
Because Litha is a time of fertility and celebration, it’s also a time when fairies come out to play. To honor the fairies, consider making a fairy house for them in your garden as part of your Summer Solstice ritual. DIY or purchase one from a craft store and hang it in a tree. Leave out treats like sweets, cookies, brownies, cakes, milk, cream, or even an alcoholic tipple to thank them.
15. Cook up a summer solstice inspired feast
All of the sabbats throughout the year can be celebrated with a seasonal feast that highlights and honors seasonal produce.
For Summer Solstice, think about infusing wildflowers and herbs into your dishes, either as a way to season or decorate (just make sure they’re edible!). Infuse flowers with water to make some delicious, refreshing summer drinks.
Fresh fruits, especially berries, are in season and full of summer’s sweetness. Make summer wine or use summer fruits to turn into jams and jellies that will preserve the magic of Litha throughout the year. You can gift these to friends as part of your Summer Solstice ritual and celebration.
Cook with seasonal vegetables like tomatoes, bell peppers, leafy greens, and zucchini. Barbeque and grill them to honor the fire element of the festival.
16. Take a summer solstice bath
Add seasonal flowers, herbs, fruits, honey, and essential oils to your bath water. Light candles and place them around your tub or the room.
While you relax in the bath, think about what you’d like to release, followed by what you’d like to call in between now and Winter Solstice.
How will you celebrate litha this year?
I hope these Summer Solstice and Litha rituals have inspired you to celebrate the sun and this special day. How will you celebrate Litha this year? Share your rituals with me in the comments below.