Today we celebrate Litha, otherwise known as the summer solstice! This is officially the longest day of the year and is a significant time in many cultures. The sun is worshiped and our dependence on nature is reflected upon. As a time of vitality and indulgence into the beauty of nature at its peak, I saw fit to develop a Tarot spread to help you reflect on your relationship with the natural world.
Astronomically, the summer solstice is the period when day and night are of equal length, after which the days gradually begin to wane until the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. Because the Earth doesn’t orbit around the Sun completely upright, its axis is either tilted towards or away from the Sun. According to EarthSky, the North Pole is most tilted towards the Sun during the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, which is as far North as the Sun ever reaches.
Symbolically and culturally, it is a time of abundance and celebration for the long days of the summer months. However, Litha is also a bittersweet celebration, for as we appreciate the ease of the warm weather, we also know the days will begin to grow shorter until winter finds us again. This only makes it even more important to celebrate our appreciation of nature.
Many rituals and folklore have been associated with this time of year, when the sun is strong and the veil is thin between the physical and spirit world. The deities celebrated are many, ranging from the Roman goddess Juno after which June is named, to the Oak and Holly Kings, who in Celtic traditions, battle over dominance of the calendar year between the summer and winter months.
The rituals of the solstice range from the classic jump over the bonfire in England, to Native American sun dancing. St. John’s Wort, also known as chase-devil, is best harvested while naked during Litha and protects against demonic spirits. Ritual bathing is another practice we can use to cleanse ourselves of negative emotions, as the Sun is just moving into the water sign of Cancer. This balance of fire and water (Sun and Cancer), is also seen in the early European pagan tradition of setting large wheels on fire and rolling them down into a body of water. Most famously, the stone circle of Stonehenge highlights the rising sun on the solstice.
For my own practice, it seems only natural to consult the cards.
I will summarize this spread as follows: A common adage is that we as human beings are stewards of planet Earth. I would argue that it is the Earth who is the steward of the human race. How can you reciprocate the life-sustaining bounty that the natural world provides?
- The role of nature in your life (e.g. is it the nurturing Empress or a tool to be used for progress like the Chariot?)
- Your attitude, perceptions and beliefs towards the natural world
- How your current community relates to the natural world
- Your daily habits and their effect on nature
- How you can celebrate and heal through nature
- How you can give back to the natural world
Hoping this offers you a useful ritual for this special day. Happy Solstice!