Equinoxes & Solstices
December – Summer Solstice – Litha
Wednesday the 21st of December we usher in Summer Solstice, the celebration of Litha and Midsummer. The Sun reaches it’s maximum in the sign of Sagittarius and then shifts into Capricorn in the early hours of the 22nd. The Summer Solstice marks the time of the longest days and shortest nights when the Sun reaches the mid-point of the cycle that began 6 months earlier at the Winter Solstice. Summer Solstice is always a time of review as it mirrors the energy of the recent Full Moon, both being half way points in the cycle. Traditionally it was a time of rest and relaxation before the hard work of the autumn harvest.
Christmas is a Winter Solstice celebration and always feels a little strange when celebrated at the height of summer in the Southern Hemisphere. It is important to find a way to honour the ‘Spirit of Place’ here in the Southern Hemisphere by acknowledging the energy of summer. This is a time of joy and strength for the light. It is a time when the powers of nature are at their fullest. In Australia the Sturt Desert Pea is the sacred flower of this time. Incense to use for ritual are sage, mint, basil, Saint John’s Wort, sunflower, lavender. Decorations for altars dried herbs, potpourri, seashells, summer flowers, and fruits, along with the colours of blue, green, and yellow. Midsummer or the Summer Solstice is the most powerful day of the year for the Sun God.
Because this Sabbat glorifies the Sun God and the Sun, fire plays a very prominent role in this festival. The element of Fire is the most easily seen and immediately felt element of transformation.
This is a time of ascendancy of the Sun (God), at his most powerful now, while the Goddess (Earth) brings forth her fruitful bounty.
Since this sabbat revolves around the Sun, a candle may be lit for the entire day, especially if it is cloudy or raining. The fire represents the Sun and is a constant daily reminder of its importance and power.
Rituals should be performed at noon, when the Sun is highest in the sky. Midsummer is the time to formalise new relationships and is also an excellent time to re-new wedding vows. Summer Solstice is good time to open our hearts and reflect on our shadow self, especially the fears that limit us from moving forward. We need to find a way to embrace this darkness and the fears that reside here, rather than run from them. Allow the Sun to shine within and transcend our fears.
In ancient times, the Summer Solstice was a fire-festival of great importance when the burning of balefires ritually strengthened the sun. It was often marked with torchlight processions, by flaming tar barrels or by wheels bound with straw, which were set alight and rolled down steep hillsides. The Norse especially loved lengthy processions and would gather together their animals, families and lighted torches and parade through the countryside to the celebration site.
The use of fires, as well as providing magical aid to the sun, were also used to drive out evil and to bring fertility and prosperity to men, crops and herds. Blazing gorse or furze was carried around cattle to prevent disease and misfortune; while people would dance around the balefires or leap through the flames as a purifying or strengthening rite. The Celts would light balefires all over their lands from sunset the night before Midsummer until sunset the next day. Around these flames the festivities would take place.
September – Spring Equinox – Ostara
Friday the 23rd of September at 12:21 AM AEST in NSW Australia brings us the Spring Equinox also known as the festival of Ostara. The September equinox occurs the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above Earth’s Equator – from north to south. This happens either on September 22, 23, or 24 every year.
The Equinoxes are the balancing points in the cycle of the seasons, when the day and night are of equal length, reminding us of the harmony of the whole. Buds of flowers and leaf, all manner of eggs and just-born life are celebrated in decorations and imagery as we rejoice in the Earth’s reawakening after the long winter. The urge of spring is to do, create and bring in the new. Now the light overcomes darkness with lengthening days bringing the magic of new growth. Ostara is associated with childhood and new life, and the God and Goddess are perceived as children, personifying youth and innocence before their entry into adulthood. The Goddess, as the Maiden, covers the earth with flowers and love while the God grows to maturity. This is a time to honour the masculine and to celebrate everything that is great about being alive.
Spring Equinox is the time to clear the clutter from our lives, spring clean!! Release and cleanse ourselves of what does not serve us. Literally plant the seeds of our dreams and manifest our goals. Take the time to connect with nature, get out in the garden and sink your hands and feet into the warmth of the soil. Plant out your vegie and flower gardens. Create a crystal grid for the new season or try this simple Earth Meditation if you wish, to attune to the element of Earth. After the recent Eclipse this can be a very important time to ground and connect
June – Winter Solstice – Yule
Winter Solstice falls in the morning of Tuesday the 21st of June 2016 for us here in Australia, the day after the Full Moon in Sagittarius with the Moon falling this day in the Earthy sign of Capricorn… Celebrated as Yule / Winter Solstice, is the rebirth of the Sun, it is an important turning point in our planets cycle around the Sun, as it marks the shortest day, when the hours of daylight are at their least and the Sun appears to stand still. It is also the beginning of the increase in the hours of daylight, until the Summer Solstice, when darkness becomes ascendant once more.
Yule is represented by the symbol of a wheel, conveying the idea of the year turning like a wheel, The Great Wheel of the Zodiac, The Wheel of Life. The spokes of the wheel are the points of the old festivals of the year, the Solstices and Equinoxes.
Yule is deeply rooted in the cycle of the year, it is the seed time of year, the longest night and the shortest day, where the Goddess once again becomes the Great Mother and gives birth to the new Sun King. In a poetic sense it is on this the longest night of the winter, ‘the dark night of our souls’, that there springs the new spark of hope, the Sacred Fire, the Light of the World..
Fire festivals, celebrating the rebirth of the Sun, held on the Winter’s Solstice can be found throughout the ancient world. Unlike the more public outdoor festival of the Summer Solstice, Yule lends itself to a more private and domestic celebration. Yet like its midsummer counterpart, is strongly associated with fertility and the continuation of life. Here the Goddess is in her dark aspect, as ‘She Who Cuts The Thread’ or ‘Our Lady in Darkness’, calling back the Sun God. Yet, at the same time, she is in the process of giving birth to her Son-Lover who will re-fertilise her and the Earth, bringing back the light and warmth to the world.
Blessings ♥ Follow link for Winter Solstice Rituals
March – Autumnal Equinox – Mabon
March 20th 2016 in the Southern Hemisphere we celebrate Mabon ~ The Autumn Equinox. On the Autumn Equinox, day and night are of equal length. This signals the need to balance light and darkness within us. Far too often, we fear the dark and adore only the light.
As we watch leaves fluttering to the ground in the fall, we are reminded that nature’s cycles are mirrored in our lives. Autumn is a time for letting go and releasing things that have been a burden. All the religious traditions pay tribute to such acts of relinquishment. Fall is the right time to practice getting out of the way and letting Spirit take charge of our lives.
This is the moment to pay our respects to the impending dark and also give thanks to the waning sunlight.
The Druids call this celebration, Mea’n Fo’mhair, and honor The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees. Offerings of ciders, wines, herbs and fertilizer are appropriate at this time.
Wiccans celebrate the aging Goddess as she passes from Mother to Crone, and her consort the God as he prepares for death and re-birth.
Mabon is a time to reap what you have sown, of giving thanks for the harvest and the bounty the Earth provides. For finishing up old projects and plans and planting the seeds for new enterprises or a change in lifestyle. Mabon is a time of celebration and balance.
This is the time to look back not just on the past year, but also your life, and to plan for the future. In the rhythm of the year, Mabon is a time of rest and celebration, after the hard work of gathering the crops. Warm autumn days are followed by chilly nights, as the Old Sun God returns to the embrace of the Goddess.