Summer Solstice – June 20-23

“School’s out!” is perhaps the most memorable way of marking this time of year for many of us. And it’s very much a seasonal marker of completion. 

The summer Solstice is the day when the light is at its fullest, and paradoxically, it’s also the start of its waning. Even so, the days are long and full, the nights hot and dry. In spite of the onset of the Sun’s dying strength, it’s a season of abundance. 

The festivities are much like Beltane, but whereas Beltane celebrations had a playful and carefree feeling about them, the hot midsummer season lends itself more to a fiery, sweaty, breathless sort of passion. Litha, another name for midsummer, is from the name of a goddess of fertility, power, and abundance. This name accurately describes the characteristics of the season, and reflects what is going on inside us. 

We take time off from work during this season and go on vacation. The land around us is reaching its peak of fertility. We connect with that sense of power around us and inside us. It’s an erotic, sexual, and sensual time of year. Even our clothing is looser and lighter, and will be more frequently absent from our bodies. 

Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a romantic farce that takes place on June 23, expresses well the tone of this season. Like Beltane, it’s a time to enjoy the playful and sensual fullness of the season, with the exception that you’re also aware that the daylight will soon be decreasing. And so it should be, as the seasons continue to fold into one another. 

Commemorating the Summer Solstice

Just as you may welcome the dawn at the Winter Solstice, so you may say farewell to the sun at dusk of the Summer solstice. Take a drum rattle, or flute with you to a high point where you can witness the sunset, and meditate for a few minutes as the sun heads for the horizon. Then, as it settles in for the night, say farewell in your own way, singing, playing an instrument, or in stillness and silence, knowing that even though the days will still be long and hot for a while longer, the light will be decreasing steadily. 

These are still days of fire, so once more a fire ceremony – much like our predecessors enjoyed – is a fitting celebration. This is a time to reflect back on the cycle of the growing light, from Imbolc to now, and see what’s manifesting from the seeds that were germinated at that time. Did you finish that project that was instigated at Imbolc? If so, dance around the fire and drum and play music to celebrate. If not, do a release ceremony, using the fire to transform that which is holding you back from finishing it, represented in written or other symbolic form. 

When the sun is directly overhead, a simple gesture is to stand with feet wide apart, arms open wide with palms facing up to the sky, head tilted back with eyes closed, and in this position, embrace the warmth of the sun. It’s a very honoring gesture, one that makes you feel good, and one that can be repeated several times during the period of the solstice.

This article is an excerpt from Sacred Ceremony: How to Create Ceremonies for Healing, Transitions and Celebrations.

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