Friday Foraging 24: Summer Solstice edition

Blessings of the Summer Solstice to you all!

Here in the Northern hemisphere, we have reached the longest day, the hinge and turning point of the year, which is one of the most significant festivals for modern Pagans around the world. Those in the Southern hemisphere are celebrating the Winter Solstice today, of course, so if anyone reading is from “down under”, happy Winter Solstice to you!

But what is the Summer Solstice anyway? The Old Farmer’s Almanac has the details in their post Summer Solstice 2019: the First Day of Summer:

“In the Northern Hemisphere, the June solstice (aka summer solstice) occurs when the Sun reaches both its highest and northernmost points in the sky. It marks the start of summer in the northern half of the globe. (In contrast, the June solstice in the Southern Hemisphere is when the Sun is at its lowest point in the sky, marking the start of winter.)

The word “solstice” comes from Latin solstitium—from sol (Sun) and stitium (still or stopped), reflecting the fact that on the solstice, the Sun appears to stop moving in the sky as it reaches its northern- or southernmost point. After the solstice, the Sun appears to reverse course and head back in the opposite direction.”

How to celebrate the Summer Solstice is up to you, but if you want to go beyond the usual ritual scripts, consider how else you might want to work with the energies of this season as they manifest in your natural ecology.

Dana at The Druid’s Garden has some wonderful suggestions for Working With and Honoring the Sun at Solstice:

“The sun’s rays come over the horizon, on the solstice, the most sacred of days. The solstice goes my many names, the day of high light, midsummer, Alban Hefin. Across the globe and through time, it has been celebrated since before recorded history. In the light of the sun, we have strength, warmth, growth, energy, abundance, healing, and wisdom. The sun has been shining down upon our beautiful planet has been shining for at least four billion years and we can expect it to remain unchanged for another five billion years. The sun is also enormous–it accounts for 99.86% of the mass of our solar system.  It is such an incredible thing that it’s hard to image in the scope of the sun as it compares to of human lives or human history.  You might say that the sun is one of the most constant things we’ve had–since before humans were humans, since we can trace our ancestry back to some fish crawling up out of the ocean, the sun has been offering its light and warmth to us in its steady and powerful way. The same sun that shines upon you today has shined upon your every ancestor before you. You can see why ancient cultures all over the world celebrated the time of the greatest light and honored the sun as a deity–for without the sun, we would not exist.”

Celebrating the seasonal festivals in a time of climate crisis brings with it new challenges for those who seek to walk a nature-based path. How do we honour the powers of nature and the seasons while at the same time acknowledging our destruction of them, and the devastation those same powers can bring in their wake?

John Beckett at Under the Ancient Oaks writes about Celebrating the Summer Solstice in an Era of Climate Change:

“When I look up at the Summer Solstice sun, I remember that I’m looking at the same sun that shined down on my ancestors: people who survived wars, plagues, and famine; an ice age and floods. They even managed to survive corrupt and incompetent leaders. What they did in the past, we can do in the future. Humans are very resilient creatures….

…It’s fun and easy to celebrate in the good times.

It’s necessary to celebrate in the hard times.”

John also has an excellent Summer Solstice Solitary Ritual for those who want to celebrate the Solstice but don’t have a local group to do so with.

Responding to climate crisis is not a simple thing, and requires us to think holistically. Wolf, writing at Anima Monday, provides a useful guide: A Whole Person Response to Ecological Catastrophe, including things to do for your body, mind, spirit, emotions and community, for instance:

  • “Decolonize your lifestyle and all of your relations.
  • Vote for people who really care about nature.
  • Lobby local politicians to achieve 100% renewable energy (or whatever issue affects your community).
  • Pressure companies to clean up their act.
  • Avoid vehicles powered by fossil fuels. Walk, use bicycles or share public transportation. Avoid air travel.
  • Participate in petitions, activist groups, demonstrations.”

And as Summer Solstice also takes place in Pride Month, with London Pride coming up soon, it’s worth looking back at LGBT+ history and remembering that while Pride is a celebration, its roots lie in resistance. Yewtree at Dowsing for Divinity reminds us that Pride is a Protest:

“Pride started as a riot. As everyone knows (or should know by now), Pride commemorates a riot at the Stonewall Inn. A riot that lasted six whole days, and changed the course of the gay rights movement from one of assimilationism to the celebration of queerness. And two of the main leaders, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson, were Latinx and Black drag queens.”

May the Sun shine upon you this Summer Solstice, and may the inner light illumnate your hearts!

 

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