Summer Solstice 21 June 2021

A Summer Solstice Blessing

It's the midsummer evenings, the shortest of night,

where our planet is blessed with the greatest of light.

The sun at its power, sharing its wealth

with the Earth growing in abundance and health.

The tree's leaves are green; the birds are in song,

the days are as warm as they are long.

We honor the animals, the plants, and living things,

the sun and the water and for the life that it brings.

May you find well-being and may you find peace,

in days after solstice, as the light does decrease,

May the blessings of the solstice be yours, I pray,

and the light warms your heart and soul every day.

The word solstice comes from the Latin words sol (sun) and sisto (stop). The summer solstice was once called the 'Great Gathering,' where many would come together to celebrate the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer. Observed and honored by various ancient civilizations, the summer solstice celebrations continue to this day from 20th to 22nd June in the Northern Hemisphere and 20th to 23rd December in the Southern Hemisphere. During these dates, the sun reaches its highest position in the sky. Due to the tilt of the Earth's axis almost aligning with the sun, this marks the almost equal duration of day and night as the sun crosses the line of the equator while moving over the relevant hemispheres. The point on the horizon where the sun appears to rise and set stops and reverses direction after this day. The beginning of the astronomical summer marks the return of brighter evenings ending with the autumn equinox on 22nd September.

The hunter-gatherers of the Stone Age were early observers of the heavens. The beginning of a year was often marked by the summer solstice (longest day) and winter solstice (shortest day). Both solstices were equally crucial to our ancestors, with colossal stone constructions built around various parts of the globe to participate with these two significant dates. The most well-known monument dedicated to the Summer Solstice is Stonehenge in the UK. However, in 1998 it was announced the oldest known stone monument believed to have an astronomical purpose, dated from 4500 to 4000 BC, had been found at Nabta, a site on the edge of a dried-out lake in the western desert of southern Egypt.

A stone circle with four sets of vertical sighting stones indicated the Summer Solstice when the sun was directly overhead. Two sets of these stones are aligned in a north-south direction, with a second pair giving a line of sight towards the point on the horizon where the sun rises at the summer solstice. About a mile away from the circle is an east-west alignment between one megalithic structure and two others. Two more lines of twelve stones lead north-east and south-east, but their significance is currently unknown. The Egyptians were particularly interested in the summer solstice due to it marking the beginning of the River Nile's flood season (providing the moisture to sustain their planted crops), the deity, creator of life, and ruler of the Sun - Ra, and the appearance of Sirius in the night sky.

It wasn't just the ancient Egyptians who celebrated the summer solstice. The ancient Greeks would hold a festival for Cronus, the god of agriculture. Ancient Romans celebrations were called Vestalia, a religious festival in honor of the goddess of the hearth, Vesta. During this time, married women were allowed to enter the temple of Vesta and leave offerings to the goddess in exchange for blessing for their family. Ancient China associated the summer solstice with feminine energy 'yin.' Ancient pagans would welcome the summer solstice with bonfires, flowers, and st john's wood in the hope it would boost the sun's energy for a good harvest, as well as banishing evil spirits. Pagans believed their magical rituals were thought to work best throughout the summer solstice. Vikings would hunt, meet to discuss legal matters, and resolve legal disputes around the summer solstice. In addition, many Native American tribes performed ceremonial sun dances around trees, which still occurs today.

The position of the sun was also used to tell the time. Sundials were invented to show the hours of the day based on the sun's shadow as it moved across the sky. People do still use sundials today, although it is not as popular as it once was.

History Professor Ronald Hutton's sentiment regarding the summer solstice is particularly charming. He states, " it was a time when the normal laws of nature of divinity could be suspended when spirits and fairies could contact humans when humans could exceed the usual limitations of their world.'

Times have changed dramatically since our ancestors were here, with many if not all of these extraordinary skills being lost due to the many inventions created over recent years. To me and many of us today, the sun indicates happiness and joy. It is hard not to notice the sun's positive impact when it shines its beauty on us. Spirits are lifted, people walk with more of a spring in their step, people's diaries become fuller due to the increase in invitations to gatherings, the world in general looks more beautiful, life seems pretty good, and we all seem more content. The sun is a true blessing and has excellent benefits for our health by releasing serotonin, lowering blood pressure, and of course, increasing our vitamin D.

It is no wonder the Summer Solstice has been celebrated for centuries.

☀️Wishing you a very happy Summer Solstice ☀️

Love & Light


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