Midsummer (“MID-summer”) is celebrated on June 20-21, during the Summer Solstice. “Midsummer” is also referred to as “Litha”, a word derived from Liða, an Old Norse word meaning “to go”. The Irish Reconstructionist name of this festival is Meán Samhradh (“Middle of Summer”). This Minor Sabbat marks the middle of the Celtic Summer, but is actually the astronomical beginning of summer manifested by the longest day and shortest night of the year. This is a time for acknowledging the fullness of nature’s bounty and also for making changes in our life. This is also a special time for honoring and blessing the animals.
The Norse God Baldur is said to have been sacrificed at Midsummer, and reborn at Jul (Yule). The hero Sigurd was also said to have been slain by treachery at Midsummer by his blood-brothers Hagen and Gunther. At Midsummer, the Manx people were offering bundles of reeds, meadow grasses and yellow flowers to Manannán in a ritual called “paying of the rent”, accompanied with prayers for his aid and protection in fishing. Áine, the Irish goddess of summer, wealth and sovereignty, was worshiped at Midsummer, at which time people lit torches of hay upon her hill of Cnoc Áine. They carried them around the hill in a widdershins direction, and transported them home, bearing them aloft through their fields while waving the blessed fire over livestock and crops. Not surprisingly, Áine is also linked with the fertility of the land. Áine was extremely popular in the southern Ireland area of Munster, where she was considered the Queen of the Faeries.
During Midsummer, modern some Pagans makes protective solar talismans to put up on their door, nurtures theirs crops, and harvest magickal herbs from their gardens. I don’t have a garden yet, but I hope to be able to make one very soon. In accordance to the honoring of the animals tradition, I bring my two cats (one of them is my familiar) into my sacred space and gives them special treats and attention, letting them know how much I loves them. Midsummer is the high day in which I feel the less connected from the wheel of the year, but I plan to reinforce my connection with this solstice in the future.
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