The word solstice translates from Latin as ‘sun stands still’, and this is the pause in the turning of the wheel. We give thanks for warmth, light and growth on the longest day of the year, before it begins to move imperceptibly back towards the darker nights.
Our ancestors lit fires on the hilltops to give thanks for the life-giving energy of the Sun: fire representing the power of the sun. Communities gathered to dance around the fires, share songs and stories and leap the flames. It is a time of gratitude, of opening and awareness, of growth, expansion and high energy. There is also a sense that at this heightened time the veils between the worlds are thin, and there is the potential for dreamy, wild happenings; think Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Summer Solstice is a sacred time at Stonehenge: when the Sun rises, it lines up with the heel stone and the first rays shine through the archway in the centre of the great stone circle. Many people gather here to celebrate and give thanks, but you can create your own Summer Solstice celebration with friends and family at home, marking this magical time:
1. Sun salutations – start the day with some yoga sun salutations, the series of moves that open up the body and give thanks to the healing energy of the Sun. To make your practice even more special, why not wake early, take your mat outside and do your sun salutations as the Sun rises.
2. Light a bonfire – Gather with loved ones around a fire, preferably outside. Take time to honour the power and strength of the Sun, perhaps inviting everyone to bring some wood to feed the flames.
3. Gather herbs for a healing tincture – This is a time to gather healing plants. When the Sun is at its highest and strongest point, their healing properties are supercharged. Plants associated with this time of year are St. John’s Wort, Yarrow, Mugwort and Verbena.
4. Have a no-interruptions day – The celebrations that mark the turning of the wheel of the year offer a great opportunity to spend special family time. Use this sacred day to ‘switch off’: turn off the TV, phones and computers, and get together with loved ones to just be. However you choose to spend your special day, set the intention in the morning to be present for one another, have fun, listen, and enjoy your connection to one another.
5. Dress up in reds, oranges, yellows and golds – celebrate the Sun God and Earth Goddess within each of you by getting dressed up in vibrant, energising colours. Why not accessorise with some home-made crowns decorated with pretty coloured flowers and jewels.
6. Make a Midsummer altar – This is an enjoyable craft activity to enjoy as a family and creates a sacred space in your home to draw all that wonderful Sun energy into your hearts. Have a morning gathering objects like sunflowers, summer fruits such as strawberries and vegetables. Add red or gold candles and gold trinkets or goblets, anything that sparkles and resonates with you.
7. Plan a summer of growth – Take advantage of this special ‘pause’ to collect your energies, thoughts and creativity and plan ways to channel them into avenues of growth and expansion; for you, for your family; for your community and for the planet. This is a lovely activity to share, firing ideas together, and if you have a community group you might like to vision a shared creative venture.
8. Dance and drum together – Summer Solstice is a time of expansion, joy and bliss. Make the most of these heightened levels of energy to let loose for a while. Invite people over for a Summer Solstice dance, singsong or drumming session – or all combined. Because it’s such a potent magical time of year, after a few songs people should hopefully lose their inhibitions and enjoy just being free and alive, dancing under the setting sun.
9. Camp out all night – A great activity to share with older children – what could be more irresistible than the promise of staying up late and having a midnight feast under the stars! Or camp out so that you can wake at dawn on Summer Solstice and watch the Sun rise. If you can, light a little campfire and toast some marshmallows while sharing stories.
10. Make sacred Sun water – Fill a clean glass bowl with mineral or spring water and leave outside from dawn on Summer Solstice until noon. You can add crystals to supercharge your water even further. Store your Sun water in dark glass bottles and splash on your skin whenever you need energy or feel depleted, especially on dark days. You can use it as a healing tincture for animals and children too, just stroke a little on their brow.