Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 12:24 am EDT.
The Summer Solstice is a time to reflect on the growth of the season. Seeds are planted in the Earth as well as the seeds of our souls. It’s a time of cleansing and renewal, a time of Love and growth. This is the moment of our year when there is the most LIGHT available to us. In terms of consciousness, it is when we are the most present to ourselves and who we know ourselves to be --- the Sun represents the “I am” consciousness.
The word “Solstice” is derived from the Latin words Sol+systere, meaning “Sun”+ “standing still.” The Summer Solstice is the longest day and the shortest night of the year. Following this Solstice, the days get shorter, the nights longer.
Many traditions throughout time have celebrated the Solstices — Ancient Egypt, and Aztecs of Mexico, Chinese, Chumash Indians of California, Indigenous Europeans. And western civilizations have for centuries celebrated this first day of summer often called Midsummer (see Shakespeare), or St. John’s Day. The Chinese mark the day by honoring Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light. Throughout history, with so much light being showered upon the Earth on this day, it’s been known as one of the most powerful days of the year for spiritual growth and healing.
To this day, revellers still gather at Stonehenge to see the sun rise. The Heel Stone and Slaughter Stone, set outside the main circle, align with the rising sun. And many of the ancient traditions continue - Bonfires are still lit to celebrate the Sun at its height of power and to ask the Sun not to withdraw into winter darkness.
In North America, many Native American tribes held ritual dances to honor the sun. The Sioux were known to hold one of the most spectacular rituals- The Sun Dance. Usually performed during the June solstice, preparations for the Sun Dance included cutting and raising a tree that would be considered a visible connection between the heavens and Earth, and setting up teepees in a circle to represent the cosmos. Participants abstained from food and drink during the dance itself. Their bodies were decorated in the symbolic colors of red (sunset), blue (sky), yellow (lightning), white (light), and black (night).
Fire is used symbolically throughout summer solstice celebrations in praise of the sun, to bring luck and to ward off evil spirits. And the spiral is also a symbol associated with the Solstices. Ancient dances would follow the Sun’s movement like a spiral, people joined hands weaving through the streets, winding into a decreasing spiral into the middle then unwinding back out again. The Sun moving from contraction at the center of the spiral at winter solstice to expansion at Summer Solstice and back again. Festivals in North still continue to dance and play, holding hands in formation of a spiral.
Just as the Solstice signifies the time when Mother Earth is at the fullness of her strength, fertility, and abundance, so we too can celebrate the strength in joining together, pollinate our spiritual consciousness through sharing, and becoming ceremonies of thanksgiving for the abundance that which we experience daily.
Creating a ceremony or celebration is a way for humans to give back to Creation some of the energy and blessings that we are always receiving. Mother Earth constantly provides for all of us with her incredible bounty, and the Sun’s warmth provides the light necessary for all living beings to thrive and prosper.
Some rituals to celebrate Summer Solstice:
1) As our ancestors did, celebrate by gathering of plants and healing herbs, its long been believed that they are at their most potent today. Five common Celtic sacred plants associated with Midsummer are St. John’s Wort, Vervain, Yarrow, Fern, and Mugwort.
2) Gather with others to create a circle or spiral. Exchange songs, stories, and poems with others. Dance, drum and celebrate.
3) Create a Sun Wheel or mandala (a symbol of the circle of life and connectedness) made from flowers or things found in nature.
4) Keep a sacred fire burning. You can create a big fire like a bonfire to celebrate with friends, but even a small fire, in the form of a candle or Altar of Light can be just as potent.
5) Make a Prayer Stick or Prayer Tree and place specific prayers for those who need healing on it. Make a prayer for the return to peace where there is no peace, for abundance in areas of the world where there is now poverty and scarcity.
Do all or any of the above with an intention for something that you will do to improve life – bring light and love into this world in your own creative way and begin to carry it out.
Wishing you abundance and lightness this Summer Solstice!