Litha - Summer Solstice
As the axial tilt draws closest to the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, the longest day of the year arrives. With this Summer Solstice comes a transformation through the power of the sun as it stands still (Latin: sol-sun; stitium-standing), rising and setting in the same place for a series of days marking one of eight sacred days on the Celtic Wheel. The Celts erected monuments that stood in geometrical alignment with the rising sun on the Summer Solstice. Celebrants gather at sunrise to witness the rising of the sun directly over the monuments.
Enormous bon fires are lit by the Druids as symbols of the sun and the victory of light over dark. This served to ward off evil spirits who roam freely from causing harm. It also brings fertility, luck, and happiness to young lovers who would leap over the flames or through rings of fire. The Solstice marks the halfway growth point of crops and to ensure their successful harvest, on this occasion the Goddess Etain (Ireland; Rhiannon, Wales; Epona, France) is celebrated with the feast of Alban Heruin comprised of roasted meats, fruits, vegetables, berries and honey enjoyed with mead. The Summer Solstice is associated with the oak tree which is said to be the wisest of all trees. The name Druid means wise as the oak, for they are filled with wisdom. During the Solstice, the High King is crowned by the Goddess as he reaches the peak of his strength with the high point of the year.