Preparing for Litha by Greenhaventradition

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Midsummer is the Summer Solstice, also known as the Pagan holiday of Litha.  Vestalia is a Roman version.  The summer solstice occurs on June 20-21.  There are multiple themes connected with Midsummer that can inspire your ritual and other activities.  Good books include Midsummer: Magical Celebrations of the Summer Solstice and Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Beltane to Mabon.

Honoring the Green Ones

The Green ManJack-in-the-Green, the Green Lady, and the Garden Goddess are some of the vegetative aspects of deity invoked for this holiday.  At this time of year, trees, vegetables, and other plants are at their peak, festooned with green leaves and often with fruit or flowers.  These deities represent the luxurious growth and abundance of plants.

If at all possible, celebrate outdoors when honoring the Green Ones.  Dress and decorate in shades of rich green.  Include leaves, flowers, and fruits whether real or pictured on fabric or altar tools.  Crown the High Priest(ess) with a grapevine and extra fruits or leaves.

The Oak King and the Holly King

Many rituals recreate this seasonal myth.  The Oak King rules the waxing half of the year from Yule to Midsummer; the Holly King rules the waning half of the year from Midsummer to Yule.  At this time, they duel and the Holly King will defeat the Oak King.

This type of ritual theater is performed by two men who represent the Oak King and the Holly King.  Traditionally the Oak King is a younger man with lighter hair, dressed in green with accents of white or gold, decked with oak leaves and acorns.  The Holly King is an older man with dark hair, dressed in red with accents of black, decked with holly leaves and berries.  They hold a mock duel — our coven once did this incorporating a flashy bit of stage magic and it was very memorable.

The Summer Solstice

At the summer solstice, the sun has reached its farthest position from the equator, its peak of power.  This is the longest day, after which days will shorten as nights grow longer.  This marks the peak of the growing season and lets people know that harvest is around the corner.  Solar deities such as Amaterasu and Ra are often honored as part of this celebration, and many religions observe this holiday.

Celebrate solar energy by decorating with yellow, gold, orange, and red.  Use images of the sun and hold the ritual at or near noon, outside to take advantage of the sunlight.  An impressive trick is to start a small fire using a magnifying glass to focus the sun’s rays.

Fire Festival

Litha is one of the fire festivals, when people traditionally build big bonfires. Sometimes offerings are thrown into the flames or people jump over the coals.  In modern times, wiener roasts and s’mores are very popular. Given the bonfire and warm weather, Pagans often hold drum jams and

From podcasts to meetups, contemporary witches cast a spell on modern religion by Wallis Snowdon

Growing number of people practising ancient paganism in the modern world

A woman dressed as a witch walks on April 30, 2013 in a park in Prague during a traditional Celtic spring Walpurgis night celebration. Real-deal witches are becoming commonplace. (Michal Cizek/AFP via Getty ImagesAFP via Getty Images)
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From potions to podcasts and spells to social media, today’s witches are taking stereotypes fuelled by children’s stories and making them disappear.

Far from the wart-nosed, broom-riding wretches, modern witches can be found in classrooms and cubicles. Growing interest in witchcraft has generated an industry of books, podcasts and social media forums dedicated to all things magical.

“Witches have always been cool,” said Glen Fairen, a religious studies instructor at the University of Alberta, who teaches the popular course Studies in Witchcraft and the Occult.

“[But in] the past four or five years, there seems to be a growing population of folks who are both interested in witchcraft, but also folks who practice what they claim is ancient paganism in the modern world.”

Dec. 21 — generally regarded in the northern hemisphere as the shortest day of the year and the first day of winter  — is also one of the eight holidays celebrated in the Wiccan calendar.

A worshipper of the Pagan Wiccan religion, left, and a friend stand near the ancient stone monument of Stonehenge, as access to the site is given to druids, New Age followers and members of the public to mark the annual Winter Solstice in 2006. (Matt Dunham/The Associated Press)

Winter Solstice, also known as Yule, is a time for witches and warlocks to celebrate the birth of the Sun God.

“Everything has all these pagan elements to it,” said Katie Karpetz, owner of thewitchery.ca, an online retail shop specializing in witchcraft supplies. “For me, I’m just celebrating that this season of death is over. The cold is over and the sun is returning.”

She helps organize and manage The Witchery Market, a craft sale in Edmonton featuring pagan vendors. The market happens on Dec. 21 and 22 at 10433 83rd Ave.

Karpetz started studying witchcraft as a teen, but has been interested since she was a child, conjuring spiders and casting spells in the woods.

She follows the calendar for Slavic paganism, and celebrates winter solstice in a simple way.

“I’ll have my friends over and I’ll make a big dinner and set a place at the table for my deceased ancestors,” she said. “I’m not so much into ritual. I’m more into low magic, non-ritualized  READ MORE HERE:  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/edmonton-witches-wicca-magic-occult-1.5375071