The summer solstice (Tuesday, June 20th) is the longest day of the year and the official start to the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere. Those two things alone are worthy of celebration. But some solstice celebrants use the magic of the summer solstice to connect back to their ancient roots and strengthen their relationship with nature.
Astrologically, the summer solstice is when the sun is at its northernmost point from the equator. But in Pagan tradition, it is believed that the summer solstice, called Midsummer or Litha, is the time of year when the sun and Green Man (a pagan nature spirit) are at their peak power.
In our heads, the Green Man looks like this tree guy:
So to celebrate the sun and natural world the way the Pagans do, we have some fun, very old school ways to party on the longest day of the year.
A popular Celtic neopagan tradition is to tell or recreate the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King. The Oak King rules from Yule until Midsummer, at which point he is then felled by the Holly King, who takes the throne from Midsummer to Yule. Then, they meet and battle again.
It’s some serious Game of Thrones stuff, people. They’re not messing around.
But before you recite this tale, it’s important to get a bonfire started. According to Judy Ann Nock, author of The Provenance Press Guide to the Wiccan Year, the people of old would light these fires to assist the sun in changing its course.
Of course, if you’re unable to light a massive bonfire in the middle of nature, lighting a candle (preferably yellow, orange, gold, or red to signify the sun and/or fire) in your backyard will do.
The Eclectic Pagans, practitioners of The Greenhaven Tradition, note that celebrating Midsummer outside is key in order to properly honor and recognize “The Green Ones” — or just nature, if you want to keep it simple. Dress in natural shades of green and include greenery, fruits, and vegetables in your celebration.
If you’re going to throw a get-together, tell your guests to prepare their favorite salads or vegetable dishes for a potluck supper. Fire up the grill and throw on some hamburgers and hot dogs — the fire from the grill also symbolically honors the sun.
Milk and cheeses were also big in Swedish and Finnish Midsummer celebrations. So yes, that absolutely means ice cream can (and will) be served!
Fairies are a big deal during Midsummer and Litha. Yeah, you heard us — fairies! Pagans believe that the Fey Folk emerge from their hillside dwellings during Midsummer to play pranks on humans.
Nock says that fairies love music and dance. We don’t know about you, but we’re getting our dancing shoes on and blasting some happy music come Tuesday.
Fairies also love bells, flowers, wind chimes, and anything that sparkles (kind of sounds like us, tbh). Decorate your outdoor space with these kinds of items to create a magical atmosphere. Put on some uplifting music, start dancing, and keep your eyes peeled for the Fey Folk!
You can also ask your guests to tie “clooties,” or prayer ribbons, to a tree in your yard as part of a healing ritual.
Use ribbons in the colors of the sun — red, yellow, and gold — and tell guests to visualize their prayer as they tie their ribbon to a branch.
Lastly, use the power of Midsummer to cast a love spell you’ve been saving. The element of fire, which is used to honor the Midsummer sun, directly relates to love, passion, and partnership. Now is the pinnacle time to ask the world to bring that into your life.
You can use fire in your love spell in the form of a red or pink candle.
Salem witch Laurie Cabot has a love spell that calls upon the fairies to help you out in your love life — a perfect spell for this holiday, if we do say so ourselves. She says to put a small piece of furniture outside where you will recite the spell (this supposedly welcomes the fairies and makes them feel at home), and repeat the following three times:
Midsummer is a Pagan holiday you can celebrate alone or with friends. Take time to appreciate the world under the sun and your small but valuable place within it.