Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice

Carolyn McVickar Edwards

Both the solstices — the times when the sun reaches the nadir and apex of our consciousness — are excuses to play.  Richard Heinberg in Celebrate the Solstice, talks about play as the exploring, stretching, and transcending of the boundaries we take for granted in our bodies, minds, and relationships with self, family, friends, spirit, and earth. 

Summer Solstice softens us into rough and tumble, silly jumping, floppy being rather than directed doing.  It’s time for tag, tossing, balancing, splashing, letting go of seriousness and calculation.  At Summer Solstice we’re sending strict, rule-bound Saturn on vacation.  We’re making love in honor of the joyful, sacred connectedness of life. 

We’re on purpose celebrating the forces of life in flowers, bees, trees, moving water, the ocean.  It’s Fire and Water time — bonfires on the beach, lit tea candles in bowls, oranges and blues — and the ritualistic antidote to the tightness of our own insides and the strictures and illnesses of civilization itself. 

It’s time to nurture the self-worth that comes not from appearances or worldly success, but from heartfulness towards the self. 

Summer Solstice is a propitious time to worship the Earth — best get up early in the morning when the Great Goddess Mother, in her Death-in-Life aspect, holds the dying Oak King — god of the year born at Winter Solstice — in her leafy arms. 

The ancient seasonal festivals are always essentially reconciliations of  opposites — yin, yang, dark, light, inner, outer.  Our celebrations help us consciously attend to healing what we’ve been denying and abusing in our lives, and make inner and outer spaces for nurture, intuition, and ecstacy. 

Visit a sacred site: hill, tree, rock, cave, mountain, ocean); bring the kids; pray, chant, drum, dance.  Connect to the land you live on:  plant, tend, decorate, look after, clean up.  Study an animal.  Watch the sunrise and sunset — high ground is best.  Play cooperative games.  Make a ceremony:  to release — burn, tear, bury, give way, cut hair; to invite — annoint, sprinkle, water, plant, draw, sculpt, dance.  Tell stories.  Read poems.  Sing.  Comes the summer over the field!

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Winter Solstice Celebrations

The winter solstice, the day the “sun stands still,” marks the longest night of the year.  Celebrations honoring this moment of transition and renewal date back thousands of years.  Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, and Winter Solstice are all feasts of light that “teach” the sun to return in force.  Nix the electricity, sit together, sing together, jump over fire or candles with your wish for the year, burn the word that says what you want to be rid of, feast, relax.

Sprinkle glitter or cornmeal around a tree outside.  Leaf to leaf, root to root, seed to seed, may all that we have be all that we need.

Prune the dead branches from a tree or bush.  Deadwood, deadwood, cut away — strength and blossom come to stay.

Bake and eat a treat.  Into the oven we slide this treat.  May all hold close and life be sweet.

Hang the mistletoe.  Hug and kiss, hug and kiss.  May this whole house be full of bliss.

A reader tells me her family and their friends this year made a spiral of greenery on the play room floor lit by the kids’ glitter-encrusted candles.  After walking the mini-labryinth, they fed the roses (instead of spreading cornmeal) — because slim suntime makes the flowers need extra food.  Then they cut away the deadwood, slid their “sun bread” into the oven, and cuddled under the mistletoe — in the excitement, even the ten year old boys went along with this last part of the program!

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