Make the most of this year’s Summer Solstice
Incredibly, we have already moved into the sixth month of 2014, which means the Summer Solstice is once again approaching. This year, it will be celebrated by people of all beliefs and religions on June 21st.
What is the Summer Solstice?
The word Solstice is derived from the Latin meaning ‘sun stood still’ because twice a year, it appears as though the sun rises and sets in almost exactly the same place in the sky.
This phenomenon comes about because of the tilt of the earth in relation to the sun – for us in the summer, it means the longest amount of daylight and the shortest moonlight hours. In the winter, of course, the opposite occurs, but we’re not thinking about that at this time of year!
Solstice time also marks the official start of summer, although The Met Office uses the beginning of June as this milestone for its own records.
How does the Solstice affect us?
So, why does the Summer Solstice hold such reverence and what does it mean for us mortals here on earth?
Well, this time of year isn’t just about the spiritual and mystic properties of the passage of the sun. Changing amounts of daylight have a big impact on our circadian rhythms, so we’re likely to feel more energised in the warmer months and more inclined to get out and about than we might do in the winter.
Mammals are also likely to be interested in other types of natural beats in the spring and summer too, which is why the Solstice can coincide with increased birth rates and pregnancy announcements!
How have people celebrated the Solstice over the centuries?
The Summer Solstice has been seen as a time to celebrate achievements under the guidance of Mother Nature since ancient times. Celtics and Wiccans both symbolise the event with cauldron or spear symbols, while rituals carried out during this time of year are believed to originate in Paganism.
However, the arrival of the Christians didn’t spell the end of Solstice celebrations – they simply incorporated it into their own calendar and gave it slightly different associations.
Many ancient people constructed tools to help them follow the Solstice, including carvings that would be illuminated by its rays at sunrise or sunset; pillars or obelisks; ceremonial structures with holes in the ceiling; or henges.
It is believed that herbs used for healing carry more power if they were gathered during the Solstice, so this is something that has traditionally been done for centuries, as has lighting bonfires to get rid of bad luck and negativity.
Sometimes flowery headdresses were also made in time to be worn by girls at the Solstice, while children were encouraged to leave offerings of food in their gardens for fairies, who are thought to be receptive to bestowing good luck on humans on the longest day.
How can I celebrate the Summer Solstice today?
You might not want to go quite so far as constructing a henge in your garden to mark the sun’s movement, but you can still enjoy some of the same practices as our ancestors at this time of year. For example, it would be nice to gather herbs and wildflowers to make scented bags for your wardrobes or wreaths for your door.
You could also hold a bonfire party with your friends to get outdoors and connect with nature, swapping November-style fireworks for scented herbal offerings to throw on the flames.
Of course, you could also travel to Stonehenge, which is arguably the very best setting in England when it comes to celebrating the Solstice, such is the celebratory atmosphere generated there. English Heritage is once again providing Managed Open Access, so check the website for more details.
If you can’t get to Stonehenge, just choose your own spot with an unrestricted view of the horizon – like a park or even the top of a tall building – to sit back and enjoy it. Do make sure you take eye safety precautions, though.
Using the Solstice for change
It’s fun to watch the rising and setting of the sun on the longest day of the year, but to get maximum rewards from the experience, you should use this phenomenon as a time to evaluate your life too.
For example, think about any New Year’s resolutions you made in January. How close are you to achieving them with half the year gone? Do you need to re-examine them or make more if you’ve easily met them?
Try to think about good things you could do before the Vernal Equinox to improve your wellbeing and that of your loved ones.
You might want to start a journal in which you do free writing each morning, or jot down all the things you’ve got to feel happy about to boost your positive thinking.
It may also be a good time to start yoga – starting with Sun Salutations, of course! – or another healing therapy such as Reiki, while you’re feeling particularly grounded to the earth and nature.
And don’t forget that Summer Solstice can also be the perfect time to look for a new job, as you’re likely to project really positive energy to prospective employers.
To chat about the Summer Solstice with one of our spiritual experts, just visit PsychicsOnline – and in the meantime, enjoy the show!