Litha, Lana Del Rey, and the Lionness
Written By Shawn Engel
Ah summer! Enter visions of beach days, midday popsicles, sundresses and pool parties, allowing the rising temperature to seduce our minds away from the cold of winter. On a more spiritual level, we’re called to honor the solstice and given an opportunity to explore the ancient meanings that permeate our modern culture.
The Summer Solstice, occurring June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere, is referred to as Litha by Pagans. Litha honors the time in which the sun seems to hang in the sky, the longest day of the year, where the length of daylight is equal to the night. It is from this point on that the days shrink back down all the way to winter.
Litha is one of the four Quarter Day festivals on the Pagan Wheel of the Year, the other three being Ostara (Spring), Mabon (Fall), and Yule (Winter.) It is said in ancient Celtic lore that the Oak King, who rules from Winter to Summer, is met on this day by the Holly King, who battles him and steals his throne from Summer to Winter. The two kings are brothers, each ruling either the Waxing or the Waning of the year, and at Midsummer and Midwinter, the ruling brother concedes his throne after being “slain,” returning again in six months time.
Symbolically, there is a duality between fire and water in ancient festivals, where large wheels would be lit aflame and then rolled down hills into bodies of water. There are many different types of old traditions, but for Midsummer Litha, the main theme of it’s symbolism is it’s dual nature, stemming from the opposition of darkness and light. You see this as well in the tales of the Oak and Holly Kings.
As another fertility festival in Pagan traditions, Litha also celebrates the abundance of earth, crops, and animals. It is a time to see the seeds you’ve sown in spring grow to their apex on this day. For many, these can be physical, or metaphorical.
Believe it or not, Litha’s ancient symbolism still has influences on modern day summer culture. We see this in many instances, but most notably in summer bonfires. As a festival that celebrates fire and water, beach bonfires are a direct descendant of Litha practices. And of course, another symbol we see in abundance is the sunflower, an absolute summer staple.
Why is Lana Del Rey the Queen of Summer?
Much to the shock, awe, and amazement of the Astrology community, Lana del Rey just released her birth time, which puts her at the first few degrees of Cancer!
Why is this important?
After thinking Lana del Rey was a Gemini for quite some time, astrologers and fans alike have been convinced that the queen of summer jams had to have a Cancerian flare. Cancers are a cardinal sign, which kicks off the beginning of Summer. Sharing the start date with the Summer Solstice, Cancers are the ultimate summer babies, and usher in a new wave of feeling after the end of spring Geminis.
And finding out Lana is a Cancer just makes SO MUCH SENSE.
With lyrics like:
"Swimming pool, glimmering darling/ White bikini off with my red nail polish"
"Down on the West Coast, they got a sayin'/ 'If you're not drinkin', then you're not playin'"
And just a general easy, breezy vibe like the wind picking up off of a summer ocean, Lana truly is as Summertime as it gets.
Her chart is interesting as well, because she has Cancer in both her Mercury and Mars. These are the communication and aggression planets, respectively, and adding in a summer flair with this cardinal water sign explains why she’s just so good at writing lyrics that make us yearn for the beach.
Who is Sekhmet?
Sekhmet is an ancient Egyptian Lionness Goddess who rules the West. She is a Sun Goddess of war, plagues, and healing. We see this kind of duality a lot with Goddess deities, who influence both with great destruction and creation.
There are conflicting myths detailing how Sekhmet was born, but she was either of Ra, a Sun God, who looked at the Earth and manifested her, or of Nut (the sky) and Geb (the earth.) She is said to be ruler of the West, dressed in red and holding an Ankh, the symbol of life, usually depicted with the head of a lion.
She is said to be a terrifying Goddess, who had a blood lust in war and came at her enemies with all of the power of the scorching sun, but she is also a pillar of healing and medicine. She is said to be a vital life force for creation, and while her power and temper have instilled fear in those that have wronged her, she is, at her core, a healer.
A ritual for Summer: How to embody the Goddess with fire and poetry
With the duality of night and day in Litha, the ushering in of Cancer season with Lana del Rey, and fire Goddess Sekhmet, I have created a summer ritual to get your creative juices flowing on the Summer Solstice!
You don’t have to be a poet to gain clarity and have fun with this ritual, so make sure you’re taking the pressure off so you can reap the full benefits.
What you’ll need:
- Sage, Palo Santo, or any other smoke clearing herb
- Red Candle
- Carving tool
- Gold glitter
- Carrier Oil (I use olive)
- Pen and Paper
How to perform:
- First, clear the area in which you’re performing your ritual with smoke. This will help give you balanced energy in which to work.
- Next, take your red candle and carving tool in your hands. Red symbolizes passion, and this will help get the creative juices flowing.
- With your carving tool, carve a Sun symbol into your candle. This will help invoke the power of summer. As you are carving, visualize the warmth of the sun on your shoulders, and sit with this visualization for as long as it feels comfortable.
- Next, take your carrier oil and “dress” your candle. You will do this by using both hands, coating the candle from the ends in, to bring in the creative fire.
- Once your candle is coated, sprinkle the gold glitter onto your sun carving. This will help activate it, as the gold glitter is sun ruled and representative of it’s flames.
- Once your candle is dressed, light your candle and envision the sun, yet again, shining down on your shoulders and warming you up.
- As your candle burns, take your pen and paper and start writing a stream of consciousness for your desires for the summer. Keep writing until you feel as though everything is on paper.
- When you are done, see if you can find a common theme in the brain dump. Is it love, money, career, health, etc.
- With the common thread, see if you can use your creative fire to mold it into a poem! Whenever you get stuck, focus on the flame of your candle, and see if invoking Sekhmet or Lana del Rey will push you past writers block.
- You can invoke either summer goddess by simply asking for guidance. Play around with the energies and see what you get!
- Close your ritual when you’ve finished your poem, and make sure to let your candle burn all the way down in a safe space.
Poetry and creation can be extremely healing, and coupled with the romance of summer can be a very enlightening experience. This is also a great way to manifest your desires into reality, so keep your poem in a place where you will see it daily. Think of it as a lyrical vision board! I’d love to see any poetry you’d like to share, so tag us in your finished product!
Summer Inspired Gems
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