For years I’ve been hearing about the SUMMER SOLSTICE (SS) but not really understanding what it was or why it mattered so I started doing a l’il diggin’. Here’s some cool info…
SS is also called: -Litha -Midsummer -Alban Heruin
The SS is the longest day of the year BUT only if you are in the northern hemisphere of our planet. Today the North Pole is tipped more toward the sun than on any other day of 2013. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, like Brazil and Australia, then it’s the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice! Pretty wacky! So when we are talking about the SS it only applies if you are living ABOVE the equator.
On June 21 or 22 (or December 21/22 in the southern hemisphere) – the sun reaches its zenith in the sky and seems to just hang there without moving. “Solstice” comes from the Latin word solstitium, “sun stands still.”
SS is the time when the sun is most powerful, and new life has begun to grow within the earth. This is a time of year of brightness and warmth. Crops are growing in their fields with the heat of the sun, but may require water to keep them alive. The power of the sun at Midsummer is at its most potent, and the earth is fertile with the bounty of growing life. After today, the nights will once more begin to grow longer, and the sun will move further away in the sky.
Traveling the Heavens: Midsummer was celebrated with hilltop bonfires and that it was a time to honor the space, the connection, between earth and the sky.
Fire and Water: In addition to the polarity between land and sky, Litha is a time to find a balance between fire and water. In Ceisiwr Serith’s book The Pagan Family, European traditions celebrated this time of year by setting large wheels on fire and then rolling them down a hill into a body of water. This may be because this is when the sun is at its strongest yet also the day at which it begins to weaken. Another possibility is that the water mitigates the heat of the sun, and subordinating the sun wheel to water may prevent drought.
OUR ANCESTORS’ RITUALS & CEREMONIES
For many of the ancients, the SS wasn’t just an excuse to party or pray—it was essential to their well-being. Most agricultural societies marked the high point of summer in some way. The travels of the sun were marked and recorded.
Egyptians: The ancient Egyptians built the Great Pyramids so that the sun, when viewed from the Sphinx, sets precisely between two of the pyramids on the summer solstice.
Saxon Traditions: When the Saxons invaded the British Isles, they brought with them the tradition of calling the month of June ‘Aerra Litha’. They marked Midsummer with huge bonfires that celebrated the power of the sun over darkness. For people in Scandinavian countries and in the farther reaches of the Northern hemisphere, Midsummer was very important. The nearly endless hours of light in June are a happy contrast to the constant darkness found six months later in the middle of winter.
Pagans: In some traditions, Litha is a time at which there is a battle between light and dark. The Oak King is seen as the ruler of the year between winter solstice and summer solstice, and the Holly King from summer to winter. At each solstice they battle for power, and while the Oak King may be in charge of things at the beginning of June, by the end of Midsummer he is defeated by the Holly King.
Roman Festivals: Romans celebrated this time as sacred to Juno, the wife of Jupiter and goddess of women and childbirth. She is also called ‘Juno Luna’ and blesses women with the privilege of menstruation. (now you know who to blame 😉 The month of June was named for her, and because Juno was the patroness of marriage, her month remains an ever-popular time for weddings. This time of year was also sacred to Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The matrons of Rome entered her temple on Midsummer and made offerings of salted meal for eight days, in hopes Vesta would bless their homes.
Inca of South America: The Inca of South America celebrated the corresponding winter solstice with a ceremony called Inti Raymi, which included food offerings and sacrifices of animals, and maybe even people.
Mayans: Archaeologists have discovered the remains of an astronomical observatory in a long-buried Maya city in Guatemala in which the buildings were designed to align with the sun during the solstices. During such times, the city’s populace gathered at the observatory to watch as their king appeared to command the heavens.
United Kingdom’ Druids: Perhaps the most famous is Stonehenge which has been associated with the winter and summer solstices for about 5,000 years. Stone circles such as Stonehenge were oriented to highlight the rising of the sun on the day of the summer solstice. Observers in the center of the standing stones can still watch the summer solstice sunrise over the Heel Stone, which stands just outside the main ring of Stonehenge.
For many modern cultures—and Americans in particular—the solstices and equinoxes, although growing in popularity, still no longer attract the same kind of attention they once did.
Jarita Holbrook, a cultural astronomer at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said, “The only people who really pay attention to what’s going on outside on a regular basis are the neo-pagans in America and farmers, because it’s important for their growing and harvest seasons. We’re pretty much an indoor culture at this point … so we have less of a connection to the sky.”
THE SOLUTION – NINE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO SAVOR THE SUMMER SOLSTICE….
1. GET OUT! If you find yourself inside turn right back around and go outside. Turn off the electrical stuff and turn onto nature. Touch trees and rocks. Stick you feet in water, even if it’s a bowl you’ve emptied onto the ground. Bring your kids, your partner, your neighbors, everyone out! Cook and eat outside. This is a wonderful way to ground yourself and eliminate stress. Take advantage of the extra hours of daylight and spend as much time as you can outdoors.
2. PLAY WITH HERBS. Herbs and flowers picked during the summer solstice were believed by people in medieval times to carry healing energy above and beyond any normal healing properties. Play a bit and grow your own herbal medicine garden during summer. Learn more about using plants to heal minor injuries and illnesses, such as scratches and headaches. There are many good books about using plants for medicinal purposes, such as National Geographic’s Guide to Medicinal Herbs (2012), which details what does––and what does not–– really have healing properties.
SIDENOTE: While growing your herbs and veggie garden, remember to thank the pollinators. Summer is a time of high pollination because so many trees and plants are flowering. And yet, in recent years many bees have suffered from disease, in particular colony collapse disorder, threatening the future of pollination by bees. Find out all you can about what is being done to protect bees and give bee keepers who practice natural, organic and chemical-free beekeeping your support by buying their products.
3. MEDITATE This is a day of inner power and brightness. Find yourself a quiet spot and meditate on the darkness and the light both in the world and in your personal life. Celebrate the turning of the Wheel of the Year with fire and water, night and day, and other symbols of the triumph of light over darkness.
4. CUT SOME FLOWERS Connecting with nature and the sun is a very important part of the SS. Many times we neglect the beautiful flowers around us. I invite you to go outside and look for beautiful flowers or some other type of plant that you can cut and bring indoors. You can buy flowers but it’s MUCH more powerful if you bring them in on your own.
5. LIFE CHECK-IN The SS heralds the beginning of summer, which represents the time of fulfillment. It’s an excellent time to take stock of your life and assess how your goals and aims are going. You can do it yourself of if you feel stuck hire a coach to help. From the year’s earlier New Year’s resolutions to the big goals in your life, ask yourself how you’re doing in achieving these things for yourself and others you care about. Are you still aligned with your goals or have you strayed from them? Be honest with your goal appraisal––set aside those goals that aren’t taking you in the direction you want to go now. We all grow and change over time; make sure you’re not hanging onto goals that no longer fit the person you have become. Take this opportunity to reinvigorate them and to make any necessary changes to achieve your aims in life.
6. START LOOKING FOR A NEW JOB TODAY If your current job is not fulfilling to you, you owe it to yourself to start looking around to see what is available that you would be a better match for you. If you need more experience, training or information, make today the day you begin overcoming such obstacles so that you can start doing what you really want to do. To help move you forward, consider starting a gratitude journal to recognize all the wonderful things in your life. This tool will help you notice and increase your energy. Speaking of energy…
7. CONSOLIDATE YOUR ENERGY Summer is considered to be a time to develop yourself, to set yourself free and to nurture yourself. As the crops begin ripening, this is a time for self-maturation and for consolidating your energies. Take the easier nature of summer as a reason to let go of weight, refresh your home (perhaps a new layout, maybe even a new home), re-adjust your nutritional intake and find an exercise you really click with, rather than doing one everyone else is doing. Start using fresh fruits and vegetables of summer as your base. Use this as an opportunity to align your thinking about food to involve eating more greens, more locally grown foods, more organic foods and less processed foods.
8. WHO LOVES A BONFIRE? A bonfire is part of the tradition of the summer solstice. Fire has always been a source of protection for human beings, scaring off the beings of the night, both real and magical. Nowadays you can reinvent the bonfire as a great reason to hold a summer solstice party with friends. Just be sure to choose a location where it is both safe and permitted to burn a bonfire––check with the local authority first. In some places there will a fire ban due to the dry conditions, so make plans to have a party without the bonfire if this happens.
9. HONOR THE SUN, BABY If you enjoy doing yoga, there’s a set of exercises known as the “sun salutation”. These exercises exercise both your body and your soul, balancing both in harmony through meditation and physical movement in one. Begin this exercise on the morning of the summer solstice and aim to make it a daily habit from this time on. It takes only a few minutes but it feels sooooo GREAT afterwards, ESPECIALLY if you do it outside!
I hope you have LOVED reading today’s ButterflyMoms blog! <3
CALL TO ACTION…
If you LOVED this blog for goodness sakes hit the LIKE button and FORWARD it to friends!
Usually the best conversations happen in the comments section so make sure you leave your comments below! Cannot wait to get your thoughts and feelings about the SS! <#
Great big hugs,
ELSE IS GOING ON? MORE WAYS TO FEED YOUR SOUL…
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YUM! SUMMER FRUITS & VEG!!!!
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WHAT IS BUTTERFLYMOMS?
ButterflyMoms is a community of people who realize they are souls first and human being second. They want to explore more about themselves, to find out what makes them happy and how they can lead a life of purpose. It is simply about FEEDING YOUR SOUL. Although it has the name “MOMS” in the title it is more about being nurturing to your own transformation, as the butterfly is to its own metamorphosis. This community is led by Maria Salomão-Schmidt whose transformation was ignited by the birth and death of her BELOVED thirteen month old daughter Sophia (Sophalicious), the original butterfly.
*Every Friday Morning, as a way of honoring her daughter Sophia’s soul, Maria writes the weekly BUTTERFLYMOMS BLOG. Hundreds of people read it every week to feed their souls. Maria started writing the blog in May 2009 and has written EVERY Friday since. Maria is a Reiki master and every time you read it you are showered with healing love. Tell your friends… http://butterflymoms.wordpress.com and spread the love!!! FEED YOUR SOUL!!!!!
Use your voice…
I invite you add your comments below about what your dream is and how you can do one thing to move it forward. This whole process is about connection and moving forward.