LITHA is another name for the Summer Solstice, or Midsummer. It celebrates the Sun. It celebrates Fatherhood, which is a significant difference from other seasonal aspects which celebrate the Mother, primarily. This is a time for the Sun (the Father) to prepare for the birthing. It is the longest day of the year, from now on the days will get shorter and will wane until the coming of the Harvest and Midwinter. The Sun is at its full power on this day and so it is celebrated through symbolism representing the Sun.
At this time the Earth is pregnant with the coming bounty, however, it was known that just as pregnancies do not always turn out as expected the same can happen in the fields- crops fail, unexpected weather comes through, blight occurs... and so attention and ritual are focused on new life and successful birthing. Life cannot exist with just a mother or just a father. And so the Sun in all his glory is celebrated on this day.
The Sun represents protection and so it was common for early peoples to make protective amulets at this time. Many of these activities center around the God's eye ( hence the earlier posted recipe for the Buckeyes). The protective amulets made the year before were often buried on Midsummer's Eve and a new one made to offer protection until the next Midsummer. Rue, rowan and basil were commonly used as protective amulets and can be tied together in a cloth of white or gold and placed in the pocket to offer protection.
Fire is the obvious symbolism for Midsummer. Fire creates, transforms, destroys, purifies, consumes, gives light, and aids in cooking and cauterizing. This closely ties it to Midsummer because of the heat that it gives off. Because of this Midsummer was a time of fire rituals and Fire magik. Balefires were prominent in the Midsummer rituals of the Celts. Families and communities would gather together for feasting, would conduct protection rituals for their animals, and would have processions to sacred sites. They danced to music around and within sacred circles in celebration, reverance, and hope for the coming abundance of the harvest. It was all centered around fertility of the Earth.
Nowadays, we do not tend to think in these terms, for the sun is just the sun, the Supermarkets and food corporations provide us with abundance and nutrition, and we tend to celebrate and communicate from far away and in much smaller ways. There is not much left in regards to "community".
If you find the significance of these rituals speak to you, there are several ways you can create new traditions in these modern times to remember and honor your Ancestors and the Earth and all the Mother and Father give. It does not need to be elaborate, time-consuming, or open for others to see. They can be simple, personal, and may involve others on a small or large scale if you wish. I urge you to do some research and incorporate one new tradition into your life this Midsummer. It will bring peace, significance, and new clarity and appreciation for all that the Sun gives us. Happy Summer Solstice to you all!
*Thanks to Edain McCoy; a large portion of this article was derived from her book "Sabbats: A Witch's Approach To Living The Old Ways". **You don't have to be a "witch" to appreciate the information this book has to offer...