Midsummer, Holy Day of Light

(Updated: May 30, 2023)

Midsummer is almost here! This Holy Day marks the longest day of the year, Summer Solstice. It’s a time for honoring the stable balance of Nature. A time for appreciating the sunlight at its strongest for all of the life force it has provided. And, a time for preparing ourselves for the steady decrease in daylight to follow.

Picture of Cristophe and Rimakej in swimwear on a sandy beach shore smiling as they welcomingly lift up two watermelon halves with spoons stuck in them towards the camera.
Midsummer Watermelon, anyone?

We ourselves like to celebrate Midsummer out in Nature. We usually do so by going on a camping trip, preferably around a body of water. The significant balance between the elements of Water and Fire is especially honored during these warmer months. Too much or too little of either one can be harmful. So, we give thanks for Nature’s water cycle, as it allows us to fully enjoy and benefit from the strength of Father Sun at his fullest. Pictured above is us celebrating Midsummer during one of our past beach camping trips along the Gulf Coast.

Midsummer’s date lands around June 21st or 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere (December 21st or 22nd in the Southern Hemisphere) depending on the year. Litha is another name for Midsummer. A monk named Bede documented in De temporum ratione (“The Reckoning of Time”) during the 8th century the Anglo-Saxon names for the months. The word Litha comes from the name they associated with this time of year.

Midsummer Traditions Around the World

Midsummer has been celebrated by many cultures since ancient times. Ancient Greece held several festivals around Midsummer. These included the celebration called Kronia, which honored Cronus, the god of agriculture. In Kemet (Ancient Egypt), Midsummer aligned with the combined life-giving rise of the Nile River and Sun God, Ra. Conducted ceremonies in Ancient China honored the force of Yin on Midsummer. This was in balance with their Winter Solstice ceremonies honoring the force of Yang. Many Native American tribes also have centuries-old Midsummer traditions, such as colorful Sun Dances.

Ancient Romans honored the Goddess Juno and the Goddess Vesta during the time of Midsummer. Juno is the goddess of women and childbirth, who blesses women with the gift of menstruation. Her name is where the month of June originated from. She is also the patroness of marriage, which has made her month a continuingly popular time for weddings. Vesta is the goddess of the hearth. Midsummer marked the only time when married women were allowed to enter the temple of the Vestal Virgins to make offerings to Vesta for her blessings on their homes.

Picture of an Ancient Roman marble statue of a woman draped in robes, showing the wear of time with a missing lower right arm and nose, on display in a museum.
Roman statue of a Vestal Virgin photographed in a museum during our 2016 visit to Italy.

Many Ancient Northern and Central European Tribes (Including Germanic, Slavic and Celtic Pagans) celebrated Midsummer with bonfires. People throughout Europe still practice this tradition. Some European Midsummer traditions even include rolling large wheels on fire into a body of water. This symbolizes the balance between fire and water, and is meant to prevent drought. Nordic seafarers would also celebrate Midsummer with huge bonfires. Plus, they took advantage of the long days for hunting, holding meetings, and for traveling to healing water wells.

Architectural Influence

Much of the knowledge of the practices and traditions of many indigenous peoples has been destroyed throughout history by colonization. But some monuments have survived to show the importance of Midsummer to these cultures. Many of the Native Central and South American temples and structures align precisely with shadows cast by the sun on the solstices. It is the same for various Native North American historical structures as well. The famous arrangement of stones, called the Bighorn Medicine Wheel, in Wyoming is one example. And of course, there are the many Neolithic and prehistoric stone structures throughout the UK, including the most widely known Stonehenge, that also align with the rising and setting of the sun on the solstices.

Picture of an erected large stone weather worn into a point-like shape towards the foggy sky, called the Heel/Helios/Sun Stone, standing in the distance on a green field of grass from the outer edge of the Stonehenge outer circle. One of the previously erect stones of this circle that had fallen in the direction of the Heel Stone is seen laying flat at the bottom of the picture with shallow pools of water on its eroded surface and moss and grass growth on and around it.
The Heel/Helios/Sun Stone at Stonehenge marking where Father Sun rises on Midsummer. Photographed during our visit there for Yule (Winter Solstice) 2020.

Midsummer Blessings

Last Midsummer (June 21st, 2022), I was called by the land to plan a prayer. Upon further spiritual connection, Cristophe and I were both later given the instructions for it to be on Midsummer and for protection. I was then introduced to an article about Native American Chief Arvol Looking Horse calling for a unity prayer to protect Earth on the exact same day. We were happy to know our prayers were joined by the prayers of so many others on such a holy day.

This Midsummer, may we truly see and feel the light. This light that warms us and recharges our own inner brightness. May we be able to appreciate the life it encourages around us. May we rejoice in the growth that came from the seeds we sowed in Spring, as our actions now mature to carry us towards the harvest to come. Be Blessed.

Picture of a Midsummer themed metal wire wreath decorated with artificial orange, red, white, and yellow sunflowers and other Summer flowers, green grass blades, strawberries, and shiny colorful dragonflies and butterflies. In the middle of the wreath is a print of an artistic drawing of strawberries surrounded by the words, "Wildberry Fields Ruby Red Patch" in multiple decorative fonts.
Our Midsummer Wreath made and gifted to us by my creative and talented mother.

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10 Replies to “Midsummer, Holy Day of Light”

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