Happy Summer Solstice! I love this time of year especially because the days are long, the sunsets are beautiful and my garden is in bloom! I know that sounds odd; after all, hasn’t most of the country been experiencing spring blooms since the Spring Equinox in March? Growing up in Texas, I was accustomed to bluebonnets blooming in April. I was to later learn that Minnesotans were looking at piles of snow in April! And to add insult to injury, several years ago Minnesota was subjected to a snowstorm May 2. Yikes! Actually Minnesotans have seen snow as late as June, but that was back in 1935! So I’m feeling confident; the odds of a snowstorm are zero and my garden is blooming!
‘Just living is not enough,’ said the butterfly.
‘One must have sunshine, freedom,
and a little flower.’
Hans Christian Andersen
The Summer Solstice, also known as “Midsummer,” is the longest day of the year, the day when the Sun is at its highest point. Solstice comes from the Latin term solstitium (“sun stands still). The date of the Summer Solstice is always somewhere between June 20 and 22 and signals life at its most expansive.
The solstice serves as a reminder of the reverence and understanding that early people had for the sky. Ancient cultures knew that the sun’s path across the sky, the length of daylight, and the location of the sunrise and sunset all shifted in a regular way throughout the year; these were used as markers to determine when to plant and harvest crops.
Some 5,000 years ago, people placed huge stones, or megaliths, in a circle on a broad plain in what is now England, aligning them with the June solstice sunrise. It is believed that this unique stone circle, called Stonehenge, was erected to establish the date of the Summer Solstice. Some historians point to Stonehenge as evidence that ancient humans used the June Solstice as a way to organize their calendars. Viewed from its center, the sun rises at a particular point on the horizon on the day of the June Solstice, suggesting that the builders of Stonehenge may have used the solstice as a starting-point to count the days of the year.
While we may never comprehend the full significance of Stonehenge, we do know that this knowledge wasn’t limited to just one part of the world. Around the same time Stonehenge was being constructed in England, two great pyramids and then the Sphinx were built on Egyptian sands. Standing at the Sphinx on the summer solstice and gazing toward the two pyramids, you will see the sun set exactly between them.
And while these ancient peoples built monuments to follow the sun’s yearly progress, today we know that the solstice is an astronomical event, caused by Earth’s tilt on its axis and its motion in orbit around the sun.
Celebrations surrounding this time also have a time-honored history. Northern European countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland acknowledge the earth’s fertility with bonfires; they decorate their homes with flower garlands, greenery, and tree branches. In Sweden and many parts of Finland, people dance around Maypoles. In the United States, the Summer Solstice is often celebrated by local festivals and gatherings with family and friends.
From a Feng Shui perspective, the Summer Solstice signifies the shift from the Wood energy of spring to the Fire energy of summer. Represented by the sun, the Fire Element reflects warmth, brilliance and vitality. In humans, it represents excitement, enthusiasm and generosity.
In the Feng Shui Bagua, this vital life force is found in the Fame and Reputation sector. This area signifies the public aspect of your life – your reputation, your integrity, how you are perceived and what people say about you. The color red holds the highest vibrational energy of any of the colors and represents the Fire Element. This Element reflects warmth, brilliance and vitality. In humans, it represents excitement, enthusiasm and generosity.
As we enjoy the beauty and bounty brought by the energy of the Summer Solstice, it is an auspicious time to focus on the Fame and Reputation area of your home. Energetically enhanced, it can provide extra support in this area of your life during this time. Consider adding a vase of red flowers in that gua with the intention of supporting personal growth and expansion. Use this powerful Fire energy to help you reflect on what it is you want to bring to the world and what you would like to be known and remembered for.
One way of celebrating the Solstice is to consider it a sacred time of reflection,
release, restoration and renewal.
Sarah Ban Breathnach