Litha celebrates the abundant growth, fertility and prosperity of mid-summer. It’s also the time of the summer solstice. At Litha, the sun and earth are celebrating in great harmony.
In Wiccan tradition, the heavily pregnant goddess basks in the soil’s colourful bounty while the god stands tall in his prime. Surrounded by the joyous bustle of new life and the promise of a generous harvest on the horizon, the world is beaming and alive.
This is a time of warmth, light, and enjoying the golden life-giving energy of the sun’s rays. As the sun reaches its peak, we have the ideal opportunity to harness its power to transform our lives.
Although Litha is a time of celebration, it can be a time of profound healing as well. Just like the sun transforms the bleak landscape to the vibrant canvas of summer, so we too can rework our lives through healing and change.
Why Litha makes Healing so Powerful
The energy of Litha is love, nurturing and appreciation, and its reward is the realisation of our efforts. Superficially, all the positive energy that’s gone into creating new life, from sowing the seeds to gently tending embryonic development, is now paying off.
But what Litha is really teaching us is that change for the better is possible when we’re willing to do the hard work upfront.
Central to the healing energy of Litha is fire and the solar power of the sun. All fire is double-edged – it gives life through providing heat, and likewise, it can destroy through heat’s intensity.
Healing can’t happen, though, unless we’re aware of how we want our lives to change and are willing to do what’s necessary to bring about transformation.
Whether it’s healing the body, mind or soul Litha is a time of cleansing, releasing and setting intentions to manifest a new beginning. As much as a fresh start can be precisely that, it can similarly imply acceptance and a new attitude towards things we cannot change. Or, in other words, freedom from resistance to what is.
Essential Herbs and Plants for Litha
Honeysuckle, lavender, lilies, oak, roses and sunflowers are all closely associated with Litha, as are the following healing herbs –
Mugwort: today, mugwort primarily gets used to enhance psychic visions and all forms of dream work. It’s also known for its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, internally, externally and around the home. Although not a hallucinogen, it has a mildly intoxicating effect, and the roots are used as a relaxant. During spell and ritual work, burning mugwort brings protective and cleansing energies.
In ancient times it got used to flavour food and drinks as well as preserve them. Mugwort can get found growing wild, and it’s readily available in stores as a dried product or in tinctures, oils essences and incense.
Vervain: is another ancient herb widely renowned for its ability to boost clairvoyance and divination. According to Hippocrates, it’s an aphrodisiac for both women and men and a cure for women’s infertility. It’s been a firm favourite in spell and ritual work for thousands of years to bring both protection and peace.
Medicinally, vervain brings antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and is used to reduce swelling, ease diarrhoea, clear oral infections and support cardiac health. It proliferates in certain areas in the wild, but it’s easy to buy in-store and online as well.
Yarrow: yarrow has been used in magic since the earliest time, particularly for protection, strengthening boundaries, and averting evil spells. It was a staple in ancient medicine and used to staunch bleeding, treat allergies, colds, fever, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal discomfort and menstrual cramps. Chewing the leaves soothes toothache and oral infections.
Because of its powerful anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and analgesic properties, yarrow is first and foremost a medicinal herb. Commonly found growing in the wild, it can get bought with ease online and off the shelf too.
Stocking up your Medicine Chest
Mid-summer is an excellent time for preparing natural medicines because most plants are healthy and at their best. If you’re opting to harvest medicinal plants and herbs, make sure that you accurately identify them. Many look similar, but their properties differ vastly. You could waste your time and end up with either useless products or potentially toxic preparations. If you’re unsure, always buy your raw ingredients for specialist retailers.
There are various ways to extract healing properties from plants and herbs. Some methods offer a more potent extraction with a longer shelf life, while others can get prepared and used in a matter of minutes.
Choose which method suits your needs from the following –
Infusions: are the most widely used means of taking natural remedies and preparing herbal teas. They can get used as cleansers and washes and bind poultices as well. Infusions use boiling water poured over the flowers, leaves and soft new stems of plants to extract water-soluble chemicals. After steeping for up to 15-minutes, plant material can get strained from the water, and it’s ready to use. Store in a cool place for 24 to 48-hours before it starts to lose its efficacy.
Decoctions: also use water to extract water-soluble chemicals, but the mixture gets boiled and steeps for a longer time. Decoctions work best for plants’ hardier parts, such as the roots, bark, and berries that take longer to break down. To get the best effect, place the plant material in a saucepan of cold water and gradually boil it. Once it reaches a rolling boil, remove it from the heat and cool it down completely. Strain and use. This method usually produces a darker liquid than infusions and lasts for only around 24 to 48-hours.
Elixirs: are made by steeping any part of a plant, or a combination of, in alcohol with raw honey. They’re left to cure for 4 to 6-months and produce a dark syrupy liquid with a shelf life of 12-months or more. Litha is an excellent time to prepare elixirs for the winter months.
Tinctures: get prepared in the same way as elixirs, but they don’t contain any sweeteners. They produce a dark liquid that can easily be decanted into dropper bottles and stored for over a year or more.
Reduce the preparation time for both elixirs and tinctures by placing them in a slow cooker or a bain-marie in a very low oven heat setting and letting them sit for up to 72-hours. The result will be similar to curing. Glycerine can get used in place of alcohol.
Charging Natural Medicines with the Energy of Litha
Here’s a great way to spend Litha! You can heighten the potency of natural remedies by charging them with the energy of the sun.
Crystals and intention are an excellent way to do this. Sun crystals include amber, diamond, ruby, sunstone, tiger’s eye and all varieties of quartz. Emerald is the stone for Litha resonating in the green splendour of mid-summer and representing the god is his prime.
Select the herbs that you want to use and pair them with crystals that complement their properties. Diamond and clear quartz can align with and amplify all herbs.
Sun water brings solar energy into your medicine chest. It’s quick and easy to make.
Get enough clear glass containers to meet your needs. Fill them with pure water and drop in a crystal of your choice. Cover them and set them out at sunrise, leaving them until midday. That’s all there is to it, and your sun water will remain charged for up to 24-hours.
Use the water to clean out your containers if you’re making an elixir or tincture or as the water for infusions or decoctions. Most crystals can get left in the water if you’re making infusions, but the boiling process might damage some when preparing decoctions.
The combination of alcohol and herbs can corrode certain crystals, too, if you’re opting for elixirs and tinctures. Check the crystal’s hardness before you leave them in. You can, however, still use the crystals on the outside of the containers where they won’t get damaged while sharing their energy.
Charging your work:
Before you start working, cast a circle of protection around your kitchen.
Assemble all your ingredients, containers and utensils and bless them.
Close your eyes and visualise the sun burning bright above your head. See its rays coming down and encapsulating everything in golden sunlight. Feel it’s warmth on your skin and breathe it in. Slowly breathe out the rays onto and into everything in front of you. See each item radiate warm golden light.
Now visualise the purpose of your remedies until you get a very clear mental picture. Extend your arms and hands with palms facing downwards and transfer that intention. Keep this intention in mind while you’re preparing your medicines.
When you’re done, give thanks to the sun. Individual crystals can get adhered to the bottle tops of elixirs while they’re curing and in storage by securing them with wax.