Summer Solstice rituals are all about the Sun, life, masculine power, abundance, and transformation. They bring us hope for a good harvest and inevitable change of the seasons. In this article, you can read about Summer Solstice Pagan traditions, celebrating Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, and nature-based Litha rituals that are easy to try at home (without much preparation).
When the Sun enters 0 degrees in the sign of Cancer in the Northern hemisphere we celebrate Midsummer – the longest day of the year. Traditionally it is a holiday of joy, honoring the Sun, lighting fires, and pilgrimage to sacred wells and waters. Summer Solstice marks entering the “darker” half of the year when the days are getting shorter and shorter until the Winter Solstice around the 21st of December.
This is a part of Pagan Wheel of the Year Series.
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What is Summer Solstice?
The summer solstice is the longest day and the shortest night in the year. In the Northern hemisphere, this day falls between 20 and 23 June, and in the Southern between 20-23 of December. To find an accurate time, you can check when the Sun enters 0 degrees of the zodiac sign Cancer. During Summer Solstice the Sun is the closest to the Earth’s poles. It happens twice a year, each time in the northern and southern hemispheres.
All over the world, people have been celebrating this time of transition. Summer Solstice has many names such as Midsummer, Lithe (used by Tolkien in Lord of the rings books and adapted as Litha in modern Wicca in 1974 by Aidan Kelly), Alban Hefin (druidic), Saint John’s Eve, or Saint John’s Night (Christianity), Kupala Night or Ivan-Kupala (Slavic) and Vestalia (ancient Roman festival in honor of goddess Vesta celebrated between 7 and 15 June).
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Summer Solstice Pagan traditions
Midsummer (Summer Solstice or Litha) has been celebrated as a festival of fire and water. It used to be a joyful time when our ancestors could see the abundance of fruit, crops, and food that has been growing all around.
In many places around the world, we can find the old observatory temples that used to align with the Sun on Summer Solstice. The greatest example of that would be Stonehenge, where the avenue leading to the center is aligned with summer solstice sunrise, noon, and sunset. Also in Egypt, if viewed from the Sphinx, the Sun rises between two great pyramids.
As of today, we don’t have many records of old summer solstice traditions. It is believed that people used to light bonfires for protection and celebrate this day similarly to Beltane. It was a holiday of Sun, water, life, success, culmination, and fulfillment. The summer was in full abundance, and our ancestors most likely celebrated it with feasts, drinking, dance, and music.
One of the Summer solstice traditions talks about gathering herbs. It is believed that this is the best time for collecting plants for healing and magical purposes. Doing it at midnight, or with the morning dew, they supposedly possessed extraordinary and magical powers.
Another common theme for Midsummer was pilgrimaging to the sacred waters, springs, and wells. As a nurturing symbol of life, and an important part of a successful harvest, water was cherished and honored during that time. Possibly it was also gathered for healing purposes and rituals.
In Poland, a Slavic country where I am from, we have a couple of Summer solstice old traditions that are described in legends. The name of that day in Polish is Noc Kupały (Kupala Night), and our Slavic neighbors also call it Ivan Kupala.
Kupala has been honored as a spirit of sensuality, love, water, magic, and fertility. The origin of that God is not well documented but the word comes either from the word kǫpati (bathing) or Indoeuropean word kup which translates into desire.
Old Slavs used to celebrate Kupala Night by jumping over fires, dancing, music, and decorating with flowers. It had been a holiday of life, love, and relationships. Women used to make flower wreaths with candles and throw them into rivers for men to catch (hopefully their attention). This tradition is called Wianki and nowadays is celebrated with a big music festival in Kraków.
One of the most well-known Kupala Night’s legends talks about a fern flower that blooms only once a year on the Summer Solstice night and whoever finds it will be granted with luck and prosperity. This used to be one of my favorite polish legends and believe me, I went and look for fern flowers during nights of a couple of summer solstices.
Summer Solstice at Stonehenge
Back in 2013, I was a lucky girl! I lived in Salisbury, very close to Stonehenge, and was invited by my friends to come to Summer Solstice at Stonehenge festival!
It was beautiful. Unlike the other times, the place was open for the whole night and we could walk IN the stone circle! Many people gathered to celebrate the shortest night of the year. The place bloomed with a magical atmosphere, druids, witches, joyful faces, and music.
I remember this amazing experience. We all waited for the sunrise and spent countless hours talking to each other, dancing, and playing music.
If you happen to be in the UK, in June, close to Salisbury, I invite you to take part in Summer Solstice at Stonehenge. Magical atmosphere and best memories of your life guaranteed!
To check the up to day information about Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, visit english-heritage.org.uk website.
Summer Solstice rituals and celebration
1. Decorate your Litha altar
Summer Solstice is represented by symbols of the Sun, flowers, water, and fire elements. You can decorate your Litha altar with crafts that represent Sun, summer, and the fiery nature of that holiday.
You can decorate the altar with candles in Litha colors such as yellow, orange, red, gold, and green.
The other craft idea for that day is to make a lantern with the symbols of the sun.
Many witches use flowers as Litha decorations. You can make a wreath, bouquet, or frame the pressed plants. The most common flowers to use during Summer Solstice are Sunflower, Calendula, Saint John’s Wort, Lavender, Chamomile, Clover, Poppy, Daisy, and Carnation.
There is also a common use of Litha animals symbolism. Similarly to Beltane, you can cherish the little pollinators such as bees, moths, butterflies, and bumblebees. Other Litha animal messengers are livestock animals: horses, bulls, cows, etc. Traditionally, this holiday of agricultural abundance was honoring animals as a source of food and wealth.
2. Have a picnic with friends
During Summer Solstice we have the best weather to celebrate life outdoors. You might want to organize a picnic in nature with people that you love.
Let everyone prepare their favorite foods and drinks and enjoy this afternoon on a picnic blanket. Being close to the ground makes us appreciate the Earth’s abundance and observe life from a different perspective.
It is a great Summer Solstice ritual that you can do together with your kids and family and I guarantee, you’ll have a blissful time together. Full of chatter, laughter, and love.
3. Make a bonfire or BBQ
Who doesn’t love smoky food cooked on the live fire?
One of the most common Summer Solstice rituals is having bonfires. In the old times, people used to gather together around sacred fires that were lit for protection purposes. Our ancestors believed that during Summer Solstice, the nature spirits (such as little tricksters – the faeries) were very active. To protect their crops, livestock, homes, and families they celebrated that night around fires.
It was believed that the ashes of these fires had magical, protection properties and were later used in amulets and spells. You could also bring this old tradition into life and make a simple celebration around the bonfire.
There are also many delicious recipes that you can try. My all-time favorites are grilled vegetables with a sprinkle of rosemary for some extra magic and flavor.
What are your go-to BBQ recipes?
4. Gather Summer Solstice herbs
Gathering herbs was a big part of Summer Solstice rituals and old practices. In many places around the world, nature is in fruition, providing plants with the most benefits.
You can use Litha sabbat for collecting plants that you will later use in cooking, magic, or healing.
Herbs, such as Saint John’s Wort, Calendula, Rosemary, Lavender, Basil, Lemon Balm, Vervain, and many others can be harvested as a part of Summer Solstice rituals.
Legendary, gathering enchanted herbs on Midsummer night was considered magical. Also doing it at sunrise, when the morning dew is still around can be beneficial, as the herbs stay the most fragrant.
5. Honor Faeries and nature spirits
The summer solstice has been long considered the best time to communicate with faeries. In old times, people used to fear nature spirits and actually protect themselves from their tricks. They lit fires to stay safe from these magical beings and carried iron and steel amulets that ward them from the fae.
After Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” faeries started to be portrayed as allies and acknowledged for their magical attributes.
To attract faeries to your life you can use a little bit of faery magick. As nature spirits, they love a joyful atmosphere, music, and dance. They are mostly connected with water, earth, and air elements and are sensitive to fire. You can make a special place in your garden dedicated to these little helpers. Plant fragrant and colorful flowers and make some offerings.
Faeries love sweets. They enjoy good honey, cakes, hazelnuts, apple, berries, sweet juices, and syrups. You can leave them a simple offering and start building a magical relationship that will flourish in the future.
There are many considerations when working with faeries and you can research this topic further in books such as “The Faerie Handbook”, “The Book of Faerie Spells”, and “The Ancient Art of Faery Magick”.
6. Have a Summer Solstice ritual bath with flowers
Having a Flower bath as a part of Summer Solstice rituals is a very relaxing thought. You might want to gather some plants and herbs from your garden and decorate the water before you emerge in.
You could also add some essential oils such as rosemary, lavender, chamomile, orange, lemon, etc. Having a ritual bath surrounded by yellow, orange, or gold candles makes your bathroom a real sanctuary.
For people who don’t have bathtubs (poor me!), you can hang a fresh bundle of aromatic herbs from your shower head. I use eucalyptus, but if you don’t have one around, you can use rosemary, lavender, basil, or other beautifully scented herbs. When steam gets hot it activates the essential oils in the plant giving you a pleasant aromatic experience.
When using flowers and plants make sure they are not poisonous! You don’t want to have an allergic reaction or little burns, so always know what you’re gonna come into contact with.
7. Make a Summer Solstice Manifestation Ritual
Midsummer is a great time to do some manifestation. If you look around, everything grows abundantly! You can easily tap into that energy of life and wealth and make a small manifestation ritual for the Litha celebration.
You will need:
- green or golden candle
- some abundance herbs such as Allspice, Basil, Blackberry, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Clove, Fern, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Majoram, Nutmeg, Pine, etc (You can check the full list in “Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs”)
- almond oil
- a pin or a toothpick
- optional citrine, sunstone, or tigers eye crystal
Collect all the needed items, cleanse the environment, yourself, and all the ingredients, open the sacred space, and think about your intention. Make it very specific and try to invoke the emotions of abundance.
When you ready, craft a sigil on a candle or make a symbol that will represent your intention. Anoint the candle with almond oil, and dress with the dried herbs that you chose. You could also make a nice nest for your candle from fresh herbs and flowers.
If you choose so, you can meditate with a crystal while the candle is burning. Program it with your intention and let it sit next to the burning candle.
Caution: Always make sure that your environment is safe to work candle magic. Don’t leave it unattended and if you want a quicker spell, choose a smaller candle such as a tealight or a birthday candle.
8. Create personal Summer Solstice Spells
Litha is a time of joyful celebration. Make sure that your spellwork is directed towards positive emotions and intentions. Below you can find the most common Summer Solstice magical intentions. You can craft your own spell or find some suitable ones in the spellbook such as “The Spell Book for New Witches” or “Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells”.
Litha magical intentions:
abundance, culmination, endings, faeries, fertility, fulfillment, gardening, growth, healing, illumination, increase, inspiration, joy, life, love, magic, nature spirits, protection, recognition, sensuality, success, virility, warmth, wealth, wishes
9. Make a Summer Solstice Sun Tea
Sun Tea is a tea that is brewed in the Sunlight. And what other day is better to do it than the longest day of the year?
To make a Sun Tea, you will need some herbs. I would recommend choosing herbs that are associated with Summer Solstice. A great combination would be Mint, Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Lavender, and Ginger. But feel free to choose your favorite flavors.
When you have all ingredients ready, pick a clean jar with a lid (or a cloth on top) and put your herbs in it. Cover it with water. Bring the jar outside and leave it in direct sunlight for 3-5 hours or even a whole day. When needed, you can move the jar to the sunlight so it’s brewing at all times.
This is a great drink to include in your summer solstice rituals and maybe during the night celebration.
I hope you enjoyed these summer solstice rituals and traditions. Let me know in the comment how you’re going to celebrate this year and share this post with your friends.
BONUS – Litha Symbols printable
To get the full 10-pages Summer Solstice printable for your Book of Shadows, check out the Patreon Membership Site.
Wheel of the Year / Sabbats / Pagan Holidays book references:
- “Witch’s Wheel of the Year: Rituals for Circles, Solitaries & Covens” – Jason Mankey
- “The Modern Witchcraft Guide to the Wheel of the Year: From Samhain to Yule, Your Guide to the Wiccan Holidays” – Judy Ann Nock
- “Midsummer: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Litha” – Deborah Blake
- “Witchery” – Juliet Diaz
- “Practical Magic: A Beginner’s Guide to Crystals, Horoscopes, Psychics, and Spells” – Nikki Van De Car
- “Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World” – Judika Illes
- “The Mystical Year: Folklore, Magic and Nature” – Alison Davies
- “Year of the Witch: Connecting with Nature’s Seasons through Intuitive Magick” – Temperance Alden
- “Llewellyn’s 2021 Sabbats Almanac: Samhain 2020 to Mabon 2021” – Suzanne Ress
- “Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen” – Scott Cunningham
- “Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Correspondences: A Comprehensive & Cross-Referenced Resource for Pagans & Wiccans” – Sandra Kynes
- “Llewellyn’s Complete Formulary of Magical Oils: Over 1200 Recipes, Potions & Tinctures for Everyday Use” – Celeste Rayne Heldstab
Some of these books can be found on Kindle Unlimited. You can try your first month for free on any device!
My name is Eva Maria and I love to create magical content based on my own studies and experience. Merkaba Study is an online grimoire where you can read about crystal healing properties, spells, tarot, and more!