Litha Sabbat: A Ritual of Highlight and Shadow

sunspiralAs we begin to turn our attentions away from the Beltane rites we’ve just completed, and look now in preparation for the summer solstice, I would like to offer for your consideration this ritual I wrote years ago and have led several times, with several groups, all to beneficial effect. It also illustrates the ritual style developed and practiced by The Sojo Tribe.

I share this ritual because I am rather proud of it, and because it illustrates our style and techniques that have evolved over time to become powerful tools that engage all the celebrants as contributors, (regardless of their previous experience,) works with all the senses, includes both inner work and outer work within the Great Work.  I would be remiss not to give credit here to the ample influence of one of my early mentors, Diana Rice of The Lunatic Fringe, a Shamanic Witchcraft circle that offered public Sabbats for over 18 years here in NC. I was honored to have attended the last Samhain that they offered before their retirement and it continues to inspire me, lo these many years hence.

Litha Sabbat: a Summer Solstice Ritual of Highlight and Shadow

Written by: Heron Michelle

Need to procure: medium sized straw wreath, 2” Yellow florist ribbon, herbs of healing, mead, cakes, sunflowers, sparklers.
Southeast edge of the circle, golden yellow altar cloth and sunflowers, chalice of wine, plate of sun cakes, libation bowl, silver goddess and gold god candles, white spirit candle. Incense, water, salt and fire candle. Hand-held mirror. Unfinished straw wreath (Sun wheel). Cauldron of healing herbs beside the altar, animal guide cards.  Fire pit in center of circle. Cauldron of water in the Western side of circle. Metal pan and fire shovel for collecting ash. Self-drying clay set aside for later.

  • RL: ritual leader, guide and narrator.
  • Maiden and Summoner
  • 4 Quarter Callers

Set up the Circle:
Outline perimeter with flowers, 18’ in diameter. Set torches at the cardinal points. Enter through the east.
Pre-ritual class:
History and reasons for the season and then we go over the ritual.  Everyone completes their sun wheel ribbon answering this question:  “My skills and talents shone most brightly when I accomplished______________.”
Cleanse the space:
Smudge the space with burning sage.
Challenge at the gate:
How do you enter?
Answer: “With an open mind and an open heart” or “In perfect love and perfect trust.”
Anointing the forehead with pentacle, smudged with sage.  Celebrant circles deosil 3 times before finding the place in circle that feels right.
Maiden sweeps the ground with the besom while visualizing vital energy sweeping out any baneful energies of the physical/energetic space.  Summoner plays the Singing bowl.
Chant: Weave the circle well, Weave the enchantment well, sweep the circle well, sweep the circle well.
Grounding and Centering:
Take hands (thumbs deosil) around the fire.
RL: Let us begin tonight’s ritual by centering and grounding.  First we’ll take 3 group breaths from the belly.
Imagine that there is a tube running through your chakras from crown to root.  Hold the ball of your consciousness at the crown then as we exhale drop that ball down the tube…feel where it settles in your gut.  This is your center.
Now, extend that tube from the base of your spine into the earth–to it’s core.  As you inhale draw up pure white light through your chakras–set them spinning.  As you exhale, visualize any tension, fear or anxiety you may be carrying as black smoke being flushed down the tube to be cleansed by the earth and pulled back into you as vitality, confidence and power.
Consecrate the altar:
Pull up the energy from the earth, pull down from the sky, out through the hands. Awaken and prepare the elements, light spirit candle. Ring bell three times.
Erecting the Temple:
Welcome and Ritual intent:
RL: Welcome Friends!

All: Welcome!

RL: The Wheel of the year turns on. We are gathered on this sacred eve to celebrate the summer solstice.  The earth is a riot of vitality. Just as the fruits grow on the vine, the womb of the mother goddess quickens with child.  The seeds planted at Imbolc, and fertilized at Beltane, grow.  Symbolically, the god is in his prime; the powerful provider and expectant father.  The sun reaches his zenith, shining brightly through his strongest, longest day.    But today is an out-of-balanced light that casts harsh shadows.  As the sun slips over the horizon, so do we also turn towards the darkening half of the year.  We celebrate our personal zeniths–as well as our shadows.

We step aside from personal ego, release knowing, and seek wonderment. We release personal will, and seek surrender to Divine Will. We accept our greatness, then dare to strive for improvement. We hold the space, seeking the next resonance. We will celebrate our greatest accomplishments then look inward to find the source of our inner light, setting ourselves on the path to discover “what’s next?”

Let us erect the temple.

Cast the circle:
RL: Together we will cast the circle with the Awen Cone of Power. Pull vital, protective energy from the universe and release it through your voice and hands, laying a hedge of multicolored light at the circles edge.

All: Ah–oo–wen (chanted repeatedly, starting low and slow, rising in pitch and speed, to peak at the top with arms thrown to the sky.)

RL:  A ring of our energy dances around us at the circle’s edge.  See it pulsing with light and life–all colors, all vibrations.  Together we will close the sphere.  Hands to the sides, close it above us gathering in the heavens (bring hand to a peak above our heads) and below us, gathering in the underworld (sweeps hands to close them pointing to the earth.)
The circle is cast; let it be our protection, our amplification, and our magnification for our work this day. Naught but love will enter in. Naught but love will emerge.  We stand in a temple of our own making, between the worlds, in a time out of time.  Blessed be!

All: Blessed be!

Quarter call and hallowing:
Everyone faces east, holding hands at chest height with palms facing away and fingers splayed like the sun. (ritual of gestures by Scott Cunningham.)
East: Guardians of the East! Powers of air!  We ask your breezy, cleansing presence into our circle tonight.  Liberate us. Give our voices wings of flight. Hail and welcome! (Draw invoking pentagram)

All: Hail and welcome!

East: (Goes to get element from the altar) I consecrate this circle with the powers of air…(all repeat as element is carried around the circle.) Air!  I your brother of air, greet you with air and ask that you blow free any unwanted energies from our circle. (Replaces element on the altar.)

Everyone faces south, holding hands parallel to the ground, elbows straight, grasping fingers in tight fists.
South:  Guardians of the South! Powers of Fire!  We ask your passionate, transformative presence at our circle tonight.  Embolden us. Ignite our spirits. Hail and welcome! (Draws the invoking pentagram)

All: Hail and welcome!

South: (Goes to get element from the altar) I consecrate this circle with the powers of Fire. (all repeat as element is carried around the circle.)
South:  Fire! I your brother of Fire, greet you with Fire and ask that you burn free any unwanted energies from our circle. (Replaces element on the altar.)

Everyone faces west, holding hands at head height, bend elbows and turn palms upward and cup them like a chalice.  Visualize blue and sense fluidity, waves of the ocean.

West: Guardians of the West! Powers of Water!  We ask your flowing, ever-changing presence at our circle tonight.  Inspire us.  Break free the banks of our emotions.  Hail and welcome! (Draws the invoking pentagram)

All: Hail and welcome!

West: (Goes to get element from the altar) I consecrate this circle with the powers of Water…(all repeat as element is carried around the circle.)
West:  Water!  I your Sister of Water, greet you with Water and ask that you wash free any unwanted energies from our circle tonight. (Replaces element on the altar.)

Everyone faces North, holding hands in front of the body with palms down and visualizing green and feeling solidity, foundation, fertility.
North:  Guardians of the North! Powers of Earth! We ask your sturdy, comforting presence at our circle tonight.  Strengthen us.  Manifest our dreams in accordance with our will. Hail and welcome! (Draws the invoking pentagram)
All: Hail and welcome!

North: (Goes to get element from the altar) I consecrate this circle with the powers of Earth…(all repeat as element is carried around the circle.)
North:  Earth!  I your sister of Earth, greet you with Earth and ask that you ground any unwanted energies from our circle tonight. (Replaces element on the altar.)

RL:  The Great Spirit fills this place.  Spirit has never been separate or elsewhere.   Every atom, every molecule, the soil, the burrowing worm, each blade of grass, breath of air and drop of dew are spirit swirling into manifestation.  I also honor the transcendent deity–the impetus to BE, to evolve, to come together and bond in new ways.  We are animated and connected by the divine spark.

Mother Goddess! Life-giver! You who are the fertile earth! Aid our journey with your strength. Hail and Welcome! (Light the silver candle.)

All: Hail and Welcome!

Father God!  Provider! You who are the blazing sun! Aid our journey with your devotion. Hail and Welcome! (Light the gold candle.)

All: Hail and Welcome!

Ritual Body:
Outer Work: Releasing attachment to former greatness
RL: Just as the sun is at it’s zenith today, we also have achieved zeniths, or times when our strength, skills and talents gained us great accomplishments.  We were in our full power and on top of the world!  Our pride and self-confidence grew. Our egos swelled.  While ego is an important part of our psychological make-up, *attachment* to our former accomplishments can be limiting.  If not released, it begins to define us as what we were, and derails us from what we can become.  So we’ll each come forward, declare that accomplishment for which we are most proud then attach the ribbon to the wreath, then we will burn the wreath and with it our attachments to that part of ego.

Each person shares their accomplishment, reads the ribbon and then attaches it to the wheel.
“I shone most brightly when I ___________________”

After each declaration we all applaud and cheer them on.

RL:  How brightly we shine! We are strong! We are powerful!  (Everyone repeats the affirmation. The sun wheel is dropped onto the fire)  But we are not limited by this past greatness.

Walking the wheel, or dancing to raise the cone of power…

All: (Chanting) Burning, burning, higher higher, feeding pride into the fire.

RL leads to peak, then everyone sits to ground the energy. Pause to catch our breath.
Inner Work: Opening to Mystery

RL: Our attachments to previous greatness are set free.  Where they once lived within us is now an open place, a void of potential. Let us invite into that space our next greatness.  Open yourselves to the mystery of what comes next.
Affirm your connection to the earth–strengthen your grounding root.

Feel the residual heat of the Sun at your back and open yourself to the Cosmos before you.  Look deep–stretch your awareness all the way to the Galactic Center.  Where will your path take you next?

(Pause for a lengthy inner journeying – shamanic drumming)

Thank any beings you have encountered.  It is time to return to the Circle.  Be present in your body again.

Now look yourself in the eyes and see the divine within you–your light–and affirm you will continue to seek this mystery.  While we do this, let’s all softly sing…

“I am the flow, and I am the ebb, I am the weaver, and I am the web.”

RL will hold a hand mirror for each celebrant (If ritual is at night, Maiden holds up the spirit candles to illuminate their faces.)  RL will whisper in their left ear in two parts the affirmation for them to repeat.

Individually: It is my Will to seek the Mystery within me / which is the source of my Light

After the affirmation, celebrant is handed a sparkler by the Summoner, they light the sparkler from either the fire pit or the spirit candle, then walk or dance the circle, as they desire.  Each person may scry at a cauldron of water…feeling the water…ritual cleansing…

RL: By this act of your will, you are on the path of en-Light-enment.  Your coming greatness will be in the service of that path, and in service to the Divine will in your life.
Prayers and Thanksgiving:
We pass the bowl of healing herbs around the circle and holding them while praying, calling loved ones into the mind’s eye, envisioning them in good health and filled with healing light, then burn the herbs in the fire declaring wellness by name. End with “So mote it be.”
We will each take an animal spirit card to reveal which animal medicine will guide our journey through the dark half of the year.

Simple feast:
Blessing of the wine and cakes, offering a libation to the goddess, god and spirits of the land into the offering bowl.  Each offers the feast first to each other. “May the gods sustain you.” (As the chalice and cakes are passed around the circle, “You are a god/dess may you never thirst/hunger.” Answering, “Blessed be.”

Dissolving the Temple:

RL: Blessed Be this midsummer’s night!

All: Blessed Be!

RL: Summer is here and our work is complete.  It is time to dissolve our temple and step back into the flow of time and the mundane world.

Farewell to Deity:
RL: Great Spirit!  Universe weaver! You who are mother and father to all things.  Thank you for the inspiration, nurturing, protection and devotion felt here tonight.  You are carried ever with us.  Hail and farewell.

All: Hail and Farewell.

Releasing the quarters:
RL: We’ll release the quarters widdershins beginning in the north.

Everyone faces North, making Gesture of Earth. (Ritual of gestures by Scott Cunningham)
North:  Powers of the North and of Earth.  Manifest our magick, lend solidity to our purpose.  As above, so below. Thank you for your blessings tonight.  Hail and farewell!  (Draws the banishing pentagram)

All: Hail and Farewell!

Everyone faces West, making gesture of water.

West:  Powers of the west and of water.  Nourish our magick and succor our hearts.  Thank you for your blessings tonight.  Hail and farewell!  (Draws the banishing pentagram)

All: Hail and Farewell!

Everyone faces South, making gesture of fire.
South:  Powers of the South and of Fire.  Empower our magick and lend your transformation to our purpose.  Thank you for your blessings tonight.  Hail and farewell!  (Draws the banishing pentagram)

All: Hail and Farewell!

Everyone faces east, making gesture of air.
East: Powers of the East and of air.  Blow quickly our magick to its purpose. Thank you for your blessings tonight.  Hail and farewell!  (Draws the banishing pentagram)

All: Hail and Farewell!
Circle release:
RL:  We’ll release the energy of our circle to light our paths during the darkening half of the year.  With your hands, gather the bubble of energy we’ve created.  Feel it tingling in your hands as together we push it, mold it into an intense ball of energy.  Smaller and smaller, charge it with all your intent, your will.  We charge this sphere to be the light on the path before us, leading us back together again! On the count of three, release it into the universe for the highest good of all! One, two, three…RELEASE! (We throw our hands upward, and clap, to break the space.)

The circle is open, but never broken!  Merry meet, Merry part…
All:  And Merry meet again!

(We sing the song and usually frolic around a bit like a square dance….)

Grounding as needed.

Spell working: After the sun wheel is turned to ash, and cooled, we collect that ash, mix it with the self hardening clay, and fashion a sun-shaped fetish that can either be turned into a pendant, or a figurine for personal use in the furthering of the celebrants great work through The Wheel of the Year. The fetish should be hardened and charged in the summer sunlight. Powdered herbs of the sun can also be added into the mix in small quantity, like cinnamon, or painted later in gold leaf.

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