Archive for June 21st, 2013

21
Jun
13

summer solstice

Stonehedge Solstice

Summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere on June 21, 2013, at 12:04 am (CDT). As a major celestial event, the Summer Solstice results in the longest day and the shortest night of the year.

rune dagaz 1Sol+stice derives from a combination of Latin words meaning “sun” and “to stand still.” As the days lengthen, the sun rises higher and higher until it seems to stand still in the sky. It is signified by the rune Dagaz, whose fortnight commenced on June 14 and will conclude on June 28.

Civilizations have for centuries celebrated the first day of summer, otherwise known as the Summer Solstice, Midsummer, Litha, or the Christian St. John’s Day (in commemoration of the nativity of St. John the Baptist).

Traditionally, there have been three types of observances: the collection of herbs that will be needed through the rest of the year; bathing in (or the dipping of medicinal herbs in) water; and the lighting of bonfires to enhance the power of the sun.

Perhaps the most enduring modern ties with Summer Solstice are the Druids’ celebration of the day as the “wedding of Heaven and Earth”, resulting in the present day belief of a “lucky” wedding in June. Today, the day is still celebrated around the world–most notably in England at Stonehenge and Avebury, where thousands gather to welcome the sunrise on the Summer Solstice.

Ancient pagans call the Midsummer moon the “Honey Moon” for the mead made from fermented honey that was part of wedding ceremonies performed at the Summer Solstice. They celebrated Midsummer with bonfires, when couples would leap through the flames, believing their crops would grow as high as the couples were able to jump.

Pagans often wore protective garlands of herbs and flowers to thwart evil spirits. One of the most powerful was a plant called “chase-devil,” which is known today as St. John’s Wort and still used by modern herbalists as a mood stabilizer.

I think it is reflective of my basic nature that I have never given the Summer Solstice more than just a passing notice. Just as the future inevitably will bring unknown misfortunes, the year from here on out will bring shorter days and longer periods of darkness. The Winter Solstice is my special holiday because of the optimism the day embraces.

The Summer Solstice, on the other hand, is a time of live-for-today and putting out-of-mind the coming darkness, even though we’re sure it will come. I have always admired the ability of some to live in the moment, despite the coming darkness. It’s very Zen, but not me.

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to The Beatles performing “Sun King, Mean Mr. Mustard, et al”