DIY Rituals for the Summer Solstice

Litha is the ancient pagan celebration of midsummer. Here are eight rituals you can use to embrace the spirit of the season.

On June 21st, the sun reached its furthest point from the celestial equator, meaning that today is the longest day of the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. According to many faiths, particularly various iterations of pagan beliefs, the equinoxes and solstices at the juncture between the changing seasons are times of potent change where we can engage with the energies and magical bodies that underlie our ordinary lives.

Whether or not you believe in magic in any form, it's not hard to see that we live at the mercy of the planetary bodies around us. They determine when our skies are dark and light, and whether we're shivering in the snow or soaking up rays on a beach. Naturally, many religions and forms of spirituality have created rituals to engage with the revolving planets and the seasons, which in their cyclicality seem to represent a kind of intelligent design implemented by something much larger than us.

The summer solstice has long been known as Midsummer, and in pagan times this holiday was known as Litha. Traditionally, this is a time of new beginnings. It's associated with fire, passion, and renewed energy; but also with slowing down and releasing things that no longer serve you, letting the fires of the season cleanse away the past to make room for new growth. It's also about reconnecting with the earth, and embracing the creative and nurturing forces within and around you. Vibrationally, it's said to be a time that involves masculine energy and the root, sacral, and solar plexus chakras.

Image via Heron's Rock

Even if you've missed the summer solstice, the period of solstice celebration can take place between June 19th and June 24th, the latter date being St. John's Day in Christian tradition. To celebrate this period, there are a variety of rituals and spiritual practices of varying complexity that you can engage in.

One caveat: it's important to be careful about conducting prayers or rituals if you don't practice the faith the ritual comes from, research the true meaning behind them; and remember, you can always write your own prayers or design your own practices. With that said, here are ten ways to celebrate midsummer.

1. Light a Bonfire

During pagan times in rural England, villagers would traditionally build bonfires on Midsummer's Eve, believing that the flames could keep away evil spirits. If you jumped over the fire, you'd be promised good luck for the year.

The Irish, who often also celebrated Litha, believed that the bonfire could grant wishes. To request something from the flames, all you need to do is carry a stone in your pocket and walk around the fire three times as you whisper your requests. After you've done that, throw your stones into the fire.

Image via Pinterest

2. Commune with the Fae

Another ancient English ritual says that if you stay up all night sitting in the middle of a stone circle, you can communicate with the fae—which are, according to a pagan myth, out in larger numbers than usual at midsummer. This is because they are protecting the earth from the battle raging in the sky between the Oak King, who was in power through the winter, and the Holly King, who has arisen from slumber to take his place in the clouds.

Although they are mostly kindhearted protectors, tradition says that sometimes the fae can play tricks on humans. If you are conducting a ritual involving the fae, there are a few precautions you can take, including keeping rue in your pocket and turning your jacket inside out. If you do happen to meet a malicious spirit, tradition says that you can follow a ley line to safety.

3. Keep an All-Night Vigil

If you'd rather not take the chance of encountering a trickster from the other side, then there are many other all-night rituals you can use to embrace the season and reflect on your intentions for the coming months. For example, you can light a candle and spend the night in meditative contemplation, or turn to a prayer book to find a variety of ways to shape your thought process throughout the ritual.

Whatever you do, make sure you find some special way to honor the sunrise, for midsummer is all about honoring the balance between light and darkness while relishing in the extended presence of the light.

Image via Nightpik

3. Make Paper Boats

In South America, worshipers have traditionally celebrated Litha by filling paper boats with flowers, setting them aflame, and setting them off on doomed journeys on the river.

The practice of sending boats into the river is a common pagan ritual practiced worldwide, not only for the solstice but for honoring the goddess Hekate any time of year. Practitioners often write prayers on little pieces of paper and place them in the boats, then send their messages out to sea.

Image via princesamusang.org

4. Make a Midsummer Treat

In Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, the fairy queen Titania says:

Hop in his walks and gambol in his eyes,

Feed him with apricocks and dewberries,

With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries;

The honey bags steal from the humble-bees,

And, for night-tapers, crop their waxen thighs,

And light them at the fiery glow-worm's eyes.

In the spirit of this abundance, take advantage of the lush growth that occurs in the early days of summer and whip up a celebratory dish or two. For drinks, try traditional mead, borage wine punch, lemon lavender mojitos, a kombucha-fueled Swedish tart, or fairy nectar for a sweet non-alcoholic beverage. To take advantage of the abundance of wildflowers and fruit growing at this time, try crystallized borage flowers, grilled peaches with cardamom cream, or oranges with rosemary.

For a meal, try out a fresh fruit & fennel salad, grilled shrimp with summer squash, or any of these 15 Scandinavian recipes. At this time of natural abundance, anything with plenty of herbs, fruit, and vegetables goes.

Image via Food and Wine

5. Set up an Altar

Those who follow Wiccan or Pagan beliefs often leave out sprigs of lavender, fennel, chamomile, and rose petals for fairies, who they believe are most abundant at this turning point between the seasons. Many also create altars to celebrate the advent of the summer.

If you want to design a midsummer altar, try your best to make one outside, for this season is all about the elements and the natural world. Gather things that shine or evoke images of the sun—orange candles, lightbulbs, citronella lamps and other glowing things will all work. Some other additions might include oak trees and acorns, which traditionally symbolize energy, along with sunflowers. You might also layer the altar with incense, oils, and stones like clear quartz, yellow tourmaline, garnets, and seashells. Depending on your beliefs, you might also leave tributes to fertility goddesses like Litha, Demeter, Aphrodite, and Freya, or sun gods like Pan, Apollo, or Ra.

You can also create your own God's Eye, which are traditional crafts that you can tailor to any season by selecting specific shades of yarn, or build other crafts like solstice mandalas or sun wheels.

Image via Sage Goddess


Image via Sagegoddess.com

6. Travel to Stonehenge

Nowhere are the celebrations of the solstice more extravagant and high-profile than at Stonehenge, the mysterious testament to pagan ingenuity. Each year, Stonehenge hosts a Wiccan festival on the solstice, which begins around 4:52 a.m. when the sun rises.

It is believed that Stonehenge was constructed between 2000 and 3000 B.C., and since on the solstice the sun aligns perfectly with its Heel Stone and Altar Stone, it is believed that the solstice has been celebrated there for thousands of years. Every year, pagans, druids, and many others flock to the site to conduct rituals and worship the sun.

This year, for the first time, there is a 360-degree live stream of Stonehenge, so you can watch the sun slip through the gaps in the stones any morning of the year.

Image via Daily Express

7. Cast a Spell

The solstice is traditionally a time to conduct rituals around holy wells, wheels, or sacred streams. Simple herb magic will also work just as well.

To ensure that you're starting the season off on the right foot, try out this spell from the witch Lisa Lister, meant to encourage revitalization, healing, and empowerment. Create or find a pouch made of yellow material, and fill it with mugwort and bay leaves. Tie it up with red thread, and put it under your pillow. The yellow symbolizes the power of the sun, and the red thread signifies fire and creative energy. The bay leaves also represent the sun, and mugwort is an herb that traditionally encourages visionary revelations.

Image via Tumblr

8. Get Involved in Climate Activism

Whether it's beginning a new relationship, a new practice, or simply slowing down and letting time flow by, midsummer is a great excuse to invite something new into your life.

This is the perfect time to begin engaging with climate activism, for example. Midsummer is also about celebrating nature, which has always rebounded from bitter wintertime desolation to its current state of abundance. Now that balance is threatened, and since the solstice is a time of honoring the sanctity of the seasons, there's no better time than now to fight for the equilibrium that makes it possible for us to live on the earth. Pagan ideas can teach us a lot about conservation, as many of them revolve around working closely with the land and wasting nothing. From working on your garden at home to engaging politically, this time of year is an ideal moment to remember the power and importance of the earth—and to implement the vital changes that need to occur so we can keep living on it.

Image via WildUtopia

However you celebrate, make sure you do so mindfully. Be careful of where you pick herbs and exercise caution with fire, and however you practice, make sure that your actions honor the sanctity of all living things.

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Travel Tips

Best Jobs for People Who Love To Travel

If you want to travel but have a job that is currently holding you back, here are a few of our suggestions for the best jobs for people who love to travel.

For many people, traveling is an amazing experience, but traveling is not always feasible because of responsibilities to work.

One way to get around this roadblock is to get a job that will let you travel and see the world. Here are some of the best jobs for people who love to travel.

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Translator

A translator is a wonderful job for those who want to travel. It will bring you to many places as you work, so long as those places speak the language you can translate. The great thing about translating is the variety of work you can get by translating for specific clients or just translating for tourists in the area. You can choose what type of scene you wish to work in very easily.

Pilot

A pilot fits the definition of a job that gets to travel perfectly. Now, whether you are a private pilot or a commercial pilot, you will still get to fly all over the planet. The only major problem with this job is the requirement of flight classes. But once you get your license, you can fly freely around the world while making yourself money to fund your trips.

Travel blogger

Being a travel blogger is a temperamental job but, if done correctly, it will allow you to visit anywhere you want. Writing to fans as you travel the world can be a fun and exciting way to engage with the planet. This job can be difficult to do, though, as you must be able to write consistently and capture your audience with each post.

English teacher

This may not sound like a job that allows you to travel, but schools all around the world are always looking for more people to teach English.

In this career, you would move near the school that you would teach at and live there over the course of your time there. The interesting thing about this job is that it does not necessarily require a teaching degree, depending on the school and country in question. You also get to live in a new country for an extended period.

When it comes to the best jobs for people who love to travel, these are just a few of our suggestions. There are plenty of jobs where you can travel around the world, but these ones are far-reaching and cover a lot of different lifestyles. They might seem like pipe dreams, but hey, you never know!

Seattle, Washington is a rainy, coffee-fueled, coastal town often referred to as the "Emerald City."

Located against the ecological wonderland of Puget Sound, this cosmopolitan, seaside city is a mishmash of arts, culture, history, nature, and, of course, cloudy weather. Thanks to its proximity to nature, its greenery, and its culturally rich, big-city atmosphere, the city is becoming increasingly popular, both for tourists and those looking for a change of scenery.

The Big Stops: Tourist Seattle

If you only have a few days to visit Seattle, you'll probably want to check out the area's most famous attractions.

For nature lovers and summit-chasers, there's the imposing, wildflower-shrouded Mt. Rainier.

Mt. Rainierthebesttravelplaces.com

Mt. Rainier

For foodies, there's the popular Pike Place Market, a giant patchwork of food-sellers and friendly chaos where you can purchase everything from giant crabs' legs to bottomless amounts of coffee (more on that later).

Pike Place Marketseattle.eater.com

And finally, there's the iconic Space Needle and the Sky View Observatory, which will give you extraordinary views of the city.

Space Needlegetyourguide.com

Seattle Arts and Museums

For arts and culture lovers, Seattle has plenty to cut your teeth on. Don't miss the Chihuly Garden and Glass, a collection of extraordinary blown-glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly.

Chihuly Gardensfodors.com

Chihuly Gardens

For art, there's the giant Seattle Art Museum Downtown. Seattle also offers the Museum of Pop Culture, a nonprofit that features all your favorite icons from history, and plenty of other options.

Museum of Pop Culturesmithsonianmag.org

For some history, there's the Klondike Gold Rush Museum, which commemorates Seattle's history as a gold rush hub.

There are plenty of quirky attractions—like the giant Fremont Troll, the 18-foot sculpture in the Fremont neighborhood that cuts an imposing figure.

Fremont Trollsillyamerica.com

You could also take in the city from a boat—marine enthusiasts might enjoy visiting to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks to explore the history of this port city.

Seattle, of course, also has a gritty underground side—you may know the city from its time at the heart of the '90s grunge movement.

It also has a long, storied history that has left more than a few scars. You can literally see its underground through one of its underground tours, which will take you on a walk through the "buried city," the remnants left over from before the Great Fire of 1889.

Seattle Undergroundpinterest

Natural Wonders

Seattle is notorious for its natural wonders. For a close-up view, there's the Seattle Aquarium, a marine experience that showcases the best of what Puget Sound has to offer.

For more exposure to the beauty of Seattle's nature, try the Washington Park Arboretum, a 230-acre showcase of Seattle's wetlands and natural wonders.

Washington Park Arboretumtriposo.com

You might also pay a visit to the Alki Beach for some time with the ocean waves.

Alki BeachMetropolitangardens.blogspot.com

Or consider taking a more exhaustive adventure to Discovery Park, a giant and labyrinthine natural park at the edge of Puget Sound.

Discovery Parktrip savvy.com

Food and Drink

Food tours are also popular options for those who want to get more intimate with the city's cuisine, and Seattle is often ranked as one of the best cities for foodies.

It's also a great place for coffee-heads. You might also pay a visit to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, AKA Ultimate Starbucks, a tasting room that features a coffee library amongst other treats for coffee addicts.

Sarbucks Reserve Roasterydesigner.com

Moving to Seattle

If you're planning on moving to Seattle, locals say there's a few things you should know. First off, it is most definitely overcast the majority of the time, though the rain is rather like a mist. That makes the rare sunny day shine even more, though, locals say, in addition to fostering natural abundance.

The city is generally very congested with traffic, which can be noisy, though it offers great public transportation options, from buses to rail—regardless, you'll want to get an Orca Card for that.

Like every city, Seattle has a number of diverse and charismatic neighborhoods. For example, there's the beachy, more laid-back West Seattle.

West SeattleWest Seattle

There's the vibrant Capitol Hill, a hub of arts, culture, tech bros, and nightlife (during non-COVID times).

There's the historic and artsy Pioneer Square, featuring plenty of museums, shops, galleries, and pubs.

Pioneer Square SeattleExpedia

Fremont is a more bohemian area. Belltown is a trendy waterfront neighborhood that's close to everything.

In general, Seattle residents love the city for its proximity to nature, from beaches to glaciers, and its abundance of arts and cultural attractions. As Kimberly Kinrade said, "Seattle is for people who love culture, but refuse to sacrifice their wild nature to attain it." Residents dislike the steep cost of housing and all things that come from rising prices, including the city's large homeless population.

In general, the city is known as environmentally conscious, liberal, and dog-loving. The people are often referred to as nice but possibly a bit standoffish and cold (the "Seattle Freeze" is when you make plans to hang out and then bail, which is apparently very common). The rain can certainly get depressing, but the proximity to nature helps.

Remember, if you do happen to move: umbrellas are dead giveaways for tourists.


What's your favorite part about Seattle? What did we leave out? Let us know at @thejourniest on Twitter!

Travel

Weed World Candies Exist to Prey on Gullible Tourists

Weed is still illegal in New York, but scamming tourists is not.

You wouldn't know it walking around midtown Manhattan, but marijuana is still illegal in New York.

It does seem strange to think that perhaps the most metropolitan city in the US would be lagging behind so many other parts of the country that have legalized possession, production, and sale of cannabis and THC products, but it's true.

New York's decriminalization of marijuana has led many smokers to be more brazen with their public consumption in recent years, and Governor Cuomo recently announced plans for limited legalization for recreational use at the state level. But for the time being the sale of products containing THC is still very much illegal.

buy happiness You sure about that?

Adding to the confusion is a company that has sprung up to prey on tourist's uncertainty. Weed World trucks have multiplied at a staggering rate since they first started appearing in Midtown and the Village a few years ago. Easily a dozen RVs and vans now line the tourist-dense streets of Manhattan, advertising Girl Scout Cookies and Gorilla Glue, clad in marijuana-leaf decals and occupied by employees who are paid either to be stoned out of their minds, or just to pretend they are.

With eyes nearly in slits and an air of relaxation that suggests that customers are temporary interludes from a permanent nap, they will promise you as much as they can get away with while letting their branding do most of the work. They will sell you four lollipops for $20, which would seem like a great deal if not for the fact that they will not deliver on the strong implication that they'll get you high.

They have a Twitter account where they celebrate the supposed availability of weed and claim to "have New York locked down." They'll even sell you vape cartridges that advise you to "get medicated," and which are packed with potent doses of… flavor?

weed world truck

An employee once assured me that their candies do contain THC—maybe they wouldn't be so brazenly dishonest today—and in a drunken state I coughed up $5 to test that claim. There is a faint weedy taste to their candies, and you may find trace amounts of CBD inside, but that's it. It's a scam. There is no THC. Nothing that will give their customers the experience they're selling.

Worse than the trucks is the Weed World Candies storefront that opened in midtown in 2019. Just walking past you would swear that people were passing a massive blunt inside.

The smell is unmistakable and overpowering, except that it's fake. Whatever chemical fragrance they pumped onto the street, it was not connected to anyone smoking weed. Inside, the psychedelic wall art complemented shelves lined with suggestive candies and boxes emblazoned with pot leaf insignia.

Whatever the venue, they are all too happy to sell you overpriced hemp products and CBD creams and chocolates made to look like nugs. And if you're a tourist, or a moron like me, you might believe the scam long enough to give them money, but nothing they sell will get you high.

weed world store Hiroki Kittaka

The owners of Weed World, Judah Izrael and Bilal Muhammad—who prefers to go by "Dro Man" or "Doctor Dro"—will defend their products by claiming that they serve to promote legalization and decriminalization efforts by normalizing the idea of public sale of marijuana. But at no point in the purchasing process is the illusion that their candies will get you high broken. At no point are their customers offered literature explaining the mission of Weed World.

On their website's FAQs page, there is no mention of THC or its absence from their products, but the first question, "How much should I eat?" is answered, "It's all based on your tolerance but there's no limit." Tolerance for what? Sugar? The company—which originated in Alabama and has spread to cities around the country—mostly seems like a very profitable way to sell candy to gullible adults.

weed world wall art Nicole Mallete

The best thing I can say in their defense is that one of their trucks was recently busted by police in Saraland, Alabama, with products that "tested positive for marijuana." Assuming this isn't a screw up or deliberate frame-job by the police, it's possible that some of the Weed World trucks are using their faux activism as a front for selling actual drugs. If so, that would be the most honest thing about this company. Until that's confirmed, ignore these trucks and maybe just ask a friend for a hookup.