Summer Solstice, June 20th or 21st (also referred to as Litha or Midsummer) is a powerful window for letting go of the old and bringing in the new and where our spiritual dedication and internal fire gets its own fiery cleanse. This time of year marks the height of Summertime and happens when the axial tilt of the Earth is closest to the sun, making it the longest day of the year. Ever noticed that Summer has you changing the way you eat, feel, think and act? Our moods are brighter, meals are lighter, and we’re following in the steps of nature’s path.
It is a time for the seeds that we planted and watered in Winter and witnessed sprout and grow in Spring, to reach their full potential as they expand toward the sun. Being the most ‘yang’ and energetic time of year, it is also the best time of year to be social, go on adventures, and otherwise celebrate and feel gratitude for life.
Since ancient times, many cultures around the world celebrate the Summer Solstice as it is marked as the most powerful seasonal transition of the year. Both Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids have hinted of their solstice celebrations by their specific design in relation to the sun’s transitions. If you have Celtic ancestry, you were likely participating in the festivals held this time of year that were dedicated to the Goddess Etain (Ireland), Rhiannon (Wales), or Epona (France).
These Goddesses, though they had different names according to different Celtic tribes, were symbolic of abundance, wealth, fertility, and hopes for a good harvest season. The Celts also saw the sun as powerful enough this time of year to burn away negativity – conjoining with the belief of releasing what no longer serves you at this time and throughout the rest of the year.
This special time is about celebrating the halfway point of the year and the tremendous gift of sunlight (though the ancient Greeks celebrated the Summer Solstice as the first day of the year).
Litha, the pagan celebration of the Midsummer holiday, is derived from the Old English word lithe, meaning gentle or serene. In pagan culture, Midsummer was observed as the day to celebrate the power of the sun, and it heralds the season energetically characterized by fire, light, energy and expansion. The pagan’s would honor all things related to the sun, fire, and summer’s blissful energy with lazy picnics, crafting flower crowns, and lighting a multitude of candles to represent the sun (or even floating them safely in handmade stick rafts upon the water!)
Historically bonfires would be lit and lovers would hold hands and jump through the flames to bestow good luck and blessings of fertility onto their union. It was also common (and still is in some cultures) to renew union vows as part of solstice celebrations to let go of all that is no longer of service to the individual or their union at this time and welcome in the sparks of energy collected from the sun.
In conjunction with exploring your own family traditions (or in lieu of if you are not able), here are some of my favorite things to do during this time:
- Wake at sunrise to greet the sun, feel its warmth on your face and heart
- Plan an outdoor feast that includes edible flowers in salad
- Create a flower crown either to wear or to decorate your home with during the season
- Host a bonfire, or build a fire (safely!) and invite your friends or loved ones to join you as you let go of negativity, old stories, and other things you feel hold you back from your truest self
- Create a balance of fire with water by taking cooler baths and swimming in the rivers, lakes, ocean, and streams
What are your favorite ways to sink into the energy of the Summer Solstice and welcome in the abundance, expansion, and celebrations this time of year? How do you stay connected with your inner flame? I’d love to hear!