Litha is a wonderful time of the year to get your kids involved in activities to help them begin to understand a pagan path. Mid-Summer or the Summer Solstice as it is also known as usually falls around June 20-23rd or in December depending on where you are in the world. It is a celebration of the sun, the rich verdant growth of the earth, and a time when the veils are thin again and portals are wide open. In particular, the doors to the Fairy Realms are most easily passed through and the holiday is associated with the Fey and their kin. It is a time of hand fasting and protections, bond fires and bountiful offerings to the Lord and Lady, sharing gratitude for the abundance in our lives and the many blessings bestowed upon us.
I find that when working with children it is best to take hands on approaches and providing them with fun activities both helps them to learn as well as participate in the preparations for such festivities. Here are some easy crafts and decoration preparations for Litha that are kid friendly and help to highlight some of the aspects of Mid-Summer celebrations. You can incorporate as much further teaching and ritual as you please, but these are nice basic activities that can become part of your traditions.
Teaching your children about Fairies are activities that begins early on without most of us even realizing it. Western culture start exposing kids to them in bedtime stories and pictures of babies in fairy wings right from the get-go. We are a culture obsessed with the other realms even if many discount them as purely a fantasy. However, those of us who walk a different path know of other things and the value of teaching our children about the beings of all realms. A beautiful way to connect with nature and caretaking aspects of the natural world is to create fairy gardens with your children. Whether you can dedicate an area of your own garden or simply assign an old pot as your fairy spot, making it special and honoring the Fey especially during Mid-Summer will reward you and your family in so many ways.
You can buy fancy small furniture and accessories for your gardens, which can get quite pricy, or you can make your own using twigs, stones, and dollar bird houses at a local craft store. Whatever route you go, your intention of fairy fellowship, honoring, and connecting with nature is what is most important. Select plants that are happy in your environment, whether it is in the desert, woodland, or city balcony, find what works with the energies around you. This will provide the most success in both the continued growth and harmony with you and the natural world you are trying to bridge a gap. Don’t forget to leave little offerings as well to show generous hospitality once you invite your fairy friends to stay with you.
A fun project is adding painted rocks to your fairy garden or just around your door step and outdoor space. It’s a simple project that just requires some paint, brushes and a clear coat to protect your designs. You can decorate them with Solstice designs of the sun, goddess designs, nature images or whatever else you like. It’s fun an easy. Don’t get caught up on perfection, it’s about spending time with your kids and including them in the festivities.
Candied Violets for the Queen
It is said that violets are favored by the Fairy Queen and using violets in some fun little crafts is a great way to honor the queen and let her know you are thinking of her. Violets can be eaten and are on the list of edible flowers. They are fun to add to salads for an unusual pop of color, freeze them in ice cubes for some special lavender lemonade on a hot summer day, or try candying them for decorations on cupcakes or other sweet treats.
To candy violets or even rose petals are wonderful; first make sure that you are using PESTICIDE free flowers. We don’t want to poison ourselves with all of that toxic stuff. I think that it is important to ask a flower if you can pick it before you do so, honoring its sacrifice to your purpose and give a small offering of water. It will grow more flowers, but teaching respect for nature and her gifts is an important step in the process. Separate the flower from the stem carefully. Using a clean new paint brush delicately paint the entire violet or flower petal with slightly beaten egg white and immediately dust the flower while the egg white is wet with extra fine granulated sugar. Shake off any remaining sugar and place gently onto a wax or parchment covered plate. Refrigerate flowers until you are ready to use them. You can put a spot of royal icing, (powdered sugar and water or juice) on your pastry as a glue to stick the candied flower to the surface. Allow to dry a minute or two in the refrigerator.
From fairy wings to bird wings, another fun project to bring nature in closer and celebrate abundance and the full bloom of life during the summer season is to make bird feeders. There are so many simple ways of doing it from recycling plastic pop bottles and wooden spoons, to the old fashioned Popsicle stick platform version or my favorite is converting an old tea cup and saucer to either a stake or hanging feeder. I find that this version adds a little elegance to the garden and can help enhance your fairy themed area. Simply glue your saucer to a garden stake and then the cup bottom to the saucer and allow drying for 24-48 hours. Fill with your favorite bird seed. Another way is to glue the cup on its side to the center of the saucer with the handle side up and again allow drying. You can use the handle to string through some wire, heavy duty ribbon or chain and hang your new feeder. Fill it with your favorite seed mix and you have an easy feeder project. I find that searching yard, estate or garage sales as well as thrift stores for the cups and saucers is part of the fun. You can also use a mug and a dessert plate. Be creative.
Water for Bees
The bees of the world are declining and giving them a helping hand is a way to honor the season and share gratitude for the abundance the summer offers to us. Without bees we would have no food, no plants and we, along with all other living land animal would die out very quickly. Bees, like every other living creature need water, but they risk downing in large bodies of it. A beautiful way to enhance your garden and be a friendly ambassador to the bee population is to make a bee watering station. All you need is a shallow bowl, dish or plate, some non-toxic stones, glass marbles or half round glass stones and some water. It is that simple. Put the dish in a safe even surface, fill with your stones or marbles and fill with water. The bees will use the stones or marbles to stand on and drink safely from the water in between the gaps of stones.
Bees are a main contributor to the summer season in their pollination efforts which produced so many of the fruits and veggies we enjoy, to the honey we devour and at last to their wonderful bee’s wax. Making bee wax candles is a great way to combine both the bees as well as the fire element of Litha. It is easy to find sheets of bees wax and you can simply roll yourself a candle around a wick. Think about incorporating herbs of the season and spell work while you are doing this. Another variation is candle carving. This might be a project best for older kids. You can simply take a solid candle and carve shapes or designs of the summer into it. Variations again include herbs, wax of different colors, spell work, and even ribbons and charms as added non- burnable décor. If you want to decorate with non-burnables, think about using glass candle holders and decorating that. These are great additions for your Litha altar and are a way for your children to have a place in household spirituality.
Mid- Summer is full of all things green and the wealth of herbs is no different. A fragrant way to decorate any outdoor space is with herb rings. They are fast and easy and can really transform an area in just minutes. I like to use basil, time, rosemary, lavender, and mint as my options, but you choose whatever herbs you enjoy. I find that a little woodier herbs work best, but I have done it with bay, lemon balm, and parsley. I always ask my plants if they would allow for picking for my projects and give an offering of water. I don’t want to force my will upon them. I find that my projects turn out better when I do this, the stems seem to bend the way I want them and they dry nicely as opposed to molding and falling apart. Again use PESTICIDE free plants only. I cut 2 or 3 pieces of as long stems as I can get and bend them around to form a free- form circle or wreath. I secure the structure with a little green floral wire in three or four places and hang them from a beautiful ribbon. When the sun hits them it releases their oils and the herbaceous aromas fill the area. It often acts as a bonus bug repellent. I leave them up for a day or two and then continue drying them indoors if they need more time. This provides my dried herbs for the year as well as honoring the season.
Litha celebrations wouldn’t be complete without a beautiful floral crown. The day is often called St. John’s Day, as traditionally in Europe, St. John’s Wort was picked and worn in crowns to celebrate. Not all of us are as fortunate to have the herb growing in such abundance; however it is easy to substitute with whatever you have growing near you. Of course, if you have no garden, it’s fine to make silk crowns or wreaths for that matter. It is easy enough to make, actually it is the same instructions as above, using long strands secure as you go adding more and more until you have the fullness that you want and the desired look. Make sure you try it on for size, not all head sizes are the same. You can add ribbons to the back or other special accents to make your crowns truly unique. You can use it as a crown or put it on your front door as a wreath, the choice is up to you.
I have given you a slew of fun activities to bring in the season of abundance, celebrate Litha, honor the fairies and bring you closer to nature. Being pagan in its many forms is about connecting with nature and the natural world. We have diverse ways of worshiping, whether it is to gods and goddesses, nature spirits or just a connection with the natural realms, Mid-Summer is about the abundance of the plant and being grateful for all that we have under the sun. Try some or all of the projects and be creative, make them your own. Enjoy, it’s your spiritual path, not anyone else’s.
2016 copyright by Katie Pifer http://www.witchpetals.wordpress.com