This is absolutely beautiful…and it’s amazing what one can portray with the shadows of the human form…and thoughtful arrangement! It leaves you speechless!
LITHA – MidSummer
Also called – Summer Solstice, Adonia, St. John’s Feast Day, Līgo, Liða, Midsommar, Ivan Kupala Day, Juhannus, Alban Hefin, Gŵyl Ganol yr Haf, Sankthans, Jaanipäev, Keskikesä, Rasos
Observed by – Europeans, Westerners
Type – Cultural, Baltic Finns, Pagan, Christian, Celtic, Norse/Germanic, Balts
Significance – Marks the ancient middle of Summer, astronomical beginning of Summer, and the nativity of St. John the Baptist.
Date – June 21, 24, 25 or a date close to the Summer Solstice on June 20–23
Celebrations – Festivals, Bonfires, Feasting, Singing, Maypole Dancing
Related to – Summer Solstice, Quarter days, Nativity of St. John the Baptist
European midsummer-related holidays, traditions, and celebrations are pre-Christian in origin. They are particularly important in Northern Europe – Sweden, Denmark, Norway Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – but are also found in Germany, Ireland, parts of Britain (Cornwall especially), France, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Ukraine, other parts of Europe, and elsewhere – such as Canada, the United States, Puerto Rico, and also in the Southern Hemisphere (mostly in Brazil, Argentina and Australia), where this imported European celebration would be more appropriately called “Midwinter”.
Midsummer is also sometimes referred to by Neopagans and others as Litha, stemming from Bede’s De temporum ratione which provides Anglo-Saxon names for the months roughly corresponding to June and July as se Ærra Liþa and se Æfterra Liþa (the “early Litha month” and the “later Litha month”) with an intercalary month of Liþa appearing after se Æfterra Liþa on leap years. The fire festival or Lith- Summer solstice is a tradition for many pagans.
Solstice celebrations still center around the day of the astronomical summer solstice. Some choose to hold the rite on June 21, even when this is not the longest day of the year, and some celebrate June 24, the day of the solstice in Roman times.
Although Midsummer is originally a pagan holiday, in Christianity it is associated with the nativity of John the Baptist, which is observed on the same day, June 24, in the Catholic, Orthodox and some Protestant churches. It is six months before Christmas because Luke 1:26 and Luke 1.36 imply that John the Baptist was born six months earlier than Jesus, although the Bible does not say at which time of the year this happened.
In Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Quebec (Canada), the traditional Midsummer day, June 24, is a public holiday. So it was formerly also in Sweden and Finland, but in these countries it was, in the 1950s, moved to the Friday and Saturday between June 19 and June 26, respectively.
The celebration of Midsummer’s Eve (St. John’s Eve among Christians) was from ancient times a festival of the summer solstice. Some people believed that golden-flowered mid-summer plants, especially Calendula, and St. John’s Wort, had miraculous healing powers and they therefore picked them on this night. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southwards again. In later years, witches were also thought to be on their way to meetings with other powerful beings.
The solstice itself has remained a special moment of the annual cycle of the year since Neolithic times. The concentration of the observance is not on the day as we reckon it, commencing at midnight or at dawn, as it is customary for cultures following lunar calendars to place the beginning of the day on the previous eve at dusk at the moment when the Sun has set. In Sweden, Finland, Latvia and Estonia, Midsummer’s Eve is the greatest festival of the year, comparable only with Walpurgis Night, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve.
In the 7th century, Saint Eligius (died 659/60) warned the recently converted inhabitants of Flanders against the age-old pagan solstice celebrations. According to the Vita by his companion Ouen, he’d say: “No Christian on the feast of Saint John or the solemnity of any other saint performs solestitia [summer solstice rites] or dancing or leaping or diabolical chants.”
As Christianity entered pagan areas, midsummer celebrations came to be often borrowed and transferred into new Christian holidays, often resulting in celebrations that mixed Christian traditions with traditions derived from pagan Midsummer festivities. The 13th-century monk of Winchcomb, Gloucestershire, who compiled a book of sermons for the feast days, recorded how St. John’s Eve was celebrated in his time:
Let us speak of the revels which are accustomed to be made on St. John’s Eve, of which there are three kinds. On St. John’s Eve in certain regions the boys collect bones and certain other rubbish, and burn them, and therefrom a smoke is produced on the air. They also make brands and go about the fields with the brands. Thirdly, the wheel which they roll.
The fires, explained the monk of Winchcombe, were to drive away dragons, which were abroad on St. John’s Eve, poisoning springs and wells. The wheel that was rolled downhill he gave its explicitly solstitial explanation:
The wheel is rolled to signify that the sun then rises to the highest point of its circle and at once turns back; thence it comes that the wheel is rolled.
On St John’s Day 1333 Petrarch watched women at Cologne rinsing their hands and arms in the Rhine “so that the threatening calamities of the coming year might be washed away by bathing in the river.”
The 8 Sabbats
There is a root from which all knowledge has emerged. Humanity has many names for it; we call it Gnosis.
gnosis (-g·no·sis): From Greek γνῶσις. Knowledge.
- The higher meaning of Gnosis is knowledge from experience, especially experience of divinity or that which is beyond the five senses.The word Gnosis does not refer to knowledge that we are told or believe in. Gnosis is conscious, experiential knowledge, not merely intellectual or conceptual knowledge, belief, or theory. This term is synonymous with the Hebrew דעת “da’ath,” the Arabic ma’rifah, the Tibetan rigpa (knowing), and the Sanskrit “jna.”
- Gnosis can also refer to the tradition that embodies the core wisdom or knowledge of humanity, although in the physical world it has not been known by that name, but instead has adopted varying appearances according to culture, time, and place.
The Greek word Gnosis (γνῶσις) implies a type of knowledge that is derived from experience, and encompasses the whole of a person. That is, it is genuine knowledge of the truth. Reality, truth, does not fit neatly into a concept, dogma, or theory, thus genuine Gnosis must also be something that one must experience. Personal experience is not transmissible in conceptual terms; a concept is merely an idea, and experience is far more than an idea. In other words, real Gnosis is an experience that defies conceptualization, belief, or any attempt to convey it. To understand it, one must experience it. This is why real spirituality is based on one’s own effort to experience the truth, and the method to reach that experience is primarily practical.
And here I will try and share with you not only gnosis through other learned eyes, but from my own as well. And the first of this sharing shall be the url link of where I got the above definition. This is a place where those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, shall see and hear the gnosis. I hope that this place gives you a good start for finding your own gnosis. At least maybe a better understanding of what it may be for you. Blessed Be!
Artist – John Collier (1850-1934) (English)
For thus it chanced one morn when all the court,
Green-suited, but with plumes that mocked the may,
Had been, their wont, a-maying and returned,
That Modred still in green, all ear and eye,
Climbed to the high top of the garden-wall
To spy some secret scandal if he might,
Excerpt from the poem “Guinevere” by ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON
The Ancient Origins of Mayday
Mayday originated as a pagan festive holy day celebrating the first spring planting.
The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane. Many pagan celebrations were abandoned or Christianized during the process of conversion in Europe. A more secular version of May Day continues to be observed in Europe and America. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the maypole dance and crowning of the Queen of the May. Various Neopagan groups celebrate reconstructed (to varying degrees) versions of these customs on May 1.
The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of Spring, May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer.
In the Roman Catholic tradition, May is observed as Mary’s month, and in these circles May Day is usually a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this connection, in works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary’s head will often be adorned with flowers in a May crowning.
Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of “May baskets”, small baskets of sweets and/or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbours’ doorsteps.
The ancient Celts and Saxons celebrated May 1st as Beltane, which means the day of fire. Bel was the Celtic god of the sun. The Saxons began their Mayday celebrations on the eve of May, April 30. It was an evening of games and feasting celebrating the end of winter and the return of the sun and fertility of the soil. Torch bearing peasants and villagers would wind their way up paths to the top of hills or mountain crags and then ignite wooden wheels, which they would roll down into the fields below.
The May eve celebrations were eventually outlawed by the Catholic Church, but were still celebrated by peasants until the late 1700’s. While good church going folk would shy away from joining in the celebrations, those less afraid of papal authority would don animal masks and various costumes. The revellers, lead by the Goddess of the Hunt, Diana (sometimes played by a pagan-priest in women’s clothing), and the Horned God, Herne, would travel up the hill shouting, chanting, singing, and blowing hunting horns. This night became known in Europe as Walpurgisnacht, or night of the witches.
The Celtic tradition of Mayday in the British Isles continued to be celebrated throughout the middle ages by rural and village folk. Here the traditions were similar with a goddess and god of the hunt. As European peasants moved away from hunting gathering societies their gods and goddesses changed to reflect a more agrarian society. Thus Diana and Herne came to be seen by medieval villagers as fertility deities of the crops and fields. Diana became the Queen of the May and Herne became Robin Goodfellow (a predecessor of Robin Hood) or the Green Man. The Queen of the May reflected the life of the fields and Robin reflected the hunting traditions of the woods. The rites of mayday were part and parcel of pagan celebrations of the seasons. The Christian church later absorbed many of these pagan rites in order to win over converts from the ‘Old Religion’.
The two most popular feast days for medieval craft guilds were the Feast of St. John – the Summer Solstice – and Mayday. Mayday was a raucous and fun time, electing a queen of the May from the eligible young women of the village, to rule the crops until harvest. Besides the selection of the May Queen was the raising of the phallic Maypole, around which the young single men and women of the village would dance holding on to the ribbons until they became entwined, with their (hoped for) new love. There was also Robin Goodfellow – the Green Man – who was the Lord of Misrule for this day. Mayday was a celebration of the common people, and Robin would be the King, Priest or Fool for a day. Priests and Lords were the butt of many jokes; mummers would make jokes and poke fun at the local authorities.
The church and state did not take kindly to these celebrations, especially during times of popular rebellion. Mayday and the Maypole were outlawed in the 1600’s. Yet the tradition still carried on in many rural areas and the trade societies still celebrated Mayday until the 18th Century. As trade societies evolved from guilds, to friendly societies and eventually into unions, the craft traditions remained strong into the early 19th century.
May Day has been celebrated in Ireland since pagan times as the feast of Bealtaine and in latter times as Mary’s day. Traditionally, bonfires were lit to mark the coming of summer and to banish the long nights of winter. Officially Irish May Day holiday is the first Monday in May. Old traditions such as bonfires are no longer widely observed, though the practice still persists in some places across the country. Limerick, Clare and many other people in other counties still keep on this tradition such as the town of Arklow in Co. Wicklow.
May Day was also celebrated by some early European settlers of the American continent. In some parts of the United States, May Baskets are made. These are small baskets usually filled with flowers or treats and left at someone’s doorstep. The giver rings the bell and runs away. The person receiving the basket tries to catch the fleeing giver; if caught, a kiss is exchanged.
During the Cold War, May Day celebrations fell out of favor due to its association with the USSR.
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