June 21, 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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April 19, 2021