Is there anyone who doesn’t welcome the expansive, light-filled energy of summer? The Sun is at its peak, nature’s bursting with life, and we get to PLAY outdoors in the brightest, warmest, longest days of the year!
In the northern hemisphere, all of that summer fun officially starts on the Summer Solstice when the Sun moves into the zodiac sign of Cancer at a latitude of 23°N and the Earth’s tilt toward the Sun is at its maximum. So, at noon the Sun will be at its highest point in the sky for the whole year, and sunset will be the latest it ever is, too. This year that moment occurs on June 21st, but it can occasionally happen on June 20th or 22nd as well.
In Latin, “solstice” translates into “sol” meaning the sun, and “sistere” meaning to stand still. For an astronomical moment in time, the sun stands completely still and in fact, those days of ultimate light extend for 3 days before and after the actual Summer Solstice. Let’s hear it for those lovely, long summer evenings!
Celebrating the Summer Solstice
Since ancient times, cultures all over the world have celebrated the Summer Solstice as a time of abundance, heightened magic, and renewal. Feasting and dancing around bonfires were a common tradition – and still are today.
The Solstice has long been a time of reverence and worship as well – just as the Sun “stands still” in the cosmos, so we too can honor a sacred pause within our own being. Probably the most visible sign of that has been the thousands of people who converge on the ancient monolithic site of Stonehenge in England to watch in stillness as the Sun aligns perfectly with the Heel Stone of this mysterious stone circle.
The Solstice moment also marks the time when Mother Earth is at her fullest and the great Mother-goddesses around the world embody that expansive, fertile, nurturing energy. She bears many names… Gaia, Demeter, Ceres, Yemaya, Ama, Eve, Hera, Oya, Frigg, Ishtar, Cybele, Parvati. And she reminds us that we are all always in the process of giving birth — to books, businesses, ideas, artistic creations, you name it. Who or what have you supported, encouraged, counseled, and nurtured to fullness? Are there projects you’ve begun that are now beginning to bear fruit? Now is the time to embrace that energy, supported by the lushness of Mother Nature at Her most exuberant.
Celebrated as Gathering Day, Litha, and Vestalia in different cultures around the world, it was considered the perfect time to harness the sun’s power when it was at its most intense; to shed light on those lingering questions, missing links, and loose ends in our inspired imaginings and artistic endeavors.
As you cross this threshold into summer, ask yourself: What dreams, desires, or projects have I kept in the dark that I now can bring to light? How and where can I best let my own light shine through, unabashedly and joyfully? Who most supports me in doing that?
Your own simple Summer Solstice ritual
Here are a few simple, rite-minded ways to help you deepen your light-filled reflections and set intentions for the summer-tide ahead. And you can watch one of my old Summer Solstice YouTube videos for more ideas.
- Create sacred space by placing tealight candles in each of the 4 directions, a 3” or 6” candle in the center, and calling on some of the Solstice goddesses mentioned above. Place a small bowl of water in the West, a little pile of salt in the North (to honor the Earth), maybe a feather or incense in the East to symbolize the element of air, and a red summer flower (rose or tulip?) in the South (for fire).
- Dissolve those limitations that keep your inner light from shining fully! Name out loud those self-limiting beliefs, painful memories, annoying habits, etc. that are holding you back. Then, with a nod to the Sun’s entry into the water sign of Cancer, take a pinch of salt for each one and drop them into the water, symbolically dissolving any obstacles that stand in the way of shining your full light in the world!
- Set your Solstice intentions with a little candle magic. Go to each of the four directions where you’ve placed your tealight candles. With a pen or long nail, carve into each candle words or symbols that represent your wishes or commitments to inspire your mind (East), feed your spirit (South), soothe your heart (West), and nurture your body (North). Light each candle as you declare your intentions and place them in the center of your circle around your big pillar candle. (Check out my article on Radical Self Care for lots of ideas for mind, body, heart, and spirit activities.)
- Carve even more wishes into the big candle… whatever you weren’t able to fit on your little tealights. And if you really want to get creative, you can anoint that candle with essential oils and glitter to make it even more magical.
- Jump over your own creative “bonfire” of candles! In the spirit of Summer Solstice celebrations around the world, leap over all the candles (carefully!) into the summer months with joy and resolve.
After any ritual, it’s important to ground yourself, so give yourself a few minutes to breathe and connect with Mother Earth. Then treat yourself to that quintessential summer treat, watermelon, as you celebrate all the deliciousness that’s coming your way over the Summer months!
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Life & Relationship Coach, Deborah Roth, MA is also a Counseling Astrologer, and Interfaith Minister. She leads women’s New Moon Circles and Full Moon TeleMeditations every month and loves designing creative, meaningful rituals for individuals and couples to energize their lives and relationships.