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THE SUMMER SOLSTICE   

The Summer Solstice in the Northern hemisphere falls this year on June 21 2013 at 5.04am UTC

Consult your local time zone calendars for the precise moment. However it is the sunrise that is generally the point of celebration of the Summer Solstice.

In the Southern hemisphere the Midwinter Solstice celebration falls on the same date though sunrise and the all important sunset times will vary, as will sunrise and sunset for the Summer celebrations in the Northern hemisphere in different regions.

The Summer Solstice

Alban Heruin, Litha, Midsummer or Summer Solstice around June 20-22 each year

Focus: Power, joy and courage, male potency, success, marriage, fertility of all kinds, especially for older women and for anyone approaching middle age; for happiness, strength, energy, self-confidence, identity, health, wealth and career; also for maximising opportunities, seizing chances and enjoying the present.

This power can be harnessed for tackling seemingly insoluble problems, bringing light and life and hope; also for tackling major global problems such as global warming, famine, disease and preventing cruelty to people under oppressive regimes and intensive farming methods where livestock suffer.

Keywords: Power, leadership, authority

Element: Fire

Direction: South

Cycle of the Wheel The Goddess gives birth to the Dark Twin and so becomes the Mother Goddess. In turn the God is now the God King and they enter into a formal sacred marriage in which he promises to lay down his life for the Goddess, the land and her people. The God reaches his height of power and God and Goddess are equal at their coronation.

But by the end of the day the God knows that henceforward he will grow weaker.

Energies: The high turning point as full power begins to wane from this day

Symbols: Brightly-coloured flowers, oak boughs or tall broad indigenous trees, golden fern pollen that is said to reveal buried treasure wherever it falls, scarlet, orange and yellow ribbons, gold coloured coins and any gold jewellery that can be empowered at the festival, any golden fruit or vegetables.

Animal: Bear

Tree: Oak

Incenses, flower and herbs: Chamomile, dill, elder, fennel, lavender, frankincense, orange, marigolds, rosemary, sage and sagebrush, St. Johnís Wort, lemon verbena and vervain, any golden, red or orange flowers

Candle colours: Red, orange, gold

Crystals: Amber, carnelian or red jasper, sun stone; also sparkling crystal quartz spheres

Celtic Tradition:

Litha means light and Alban Heruin the light of the shore as the sun floods over the land ripening the crops. But it is bittersweet for the Sun God and Goddess who want the day to last forever. Because she loved him, bonfires were lit and sun wheels made of flaming cart wheels were rolled down the hillsides to prolong the light on this longest of days.

The Goddess, or her representative, cast her bouquet of summer flowers on a hilltop fire to add her power to the sun.

The cauldron was the symbol of the goddess giving forth her bounty on the Solstice and may be filled with small golden coloured fruits and crystals as coven gifts.

The height of the festival has always been first light falling on Solstice morn, like a shaft of gold across standing stones and stone circles, linking the dimensions.

Stonehenge is oriented to mark the sunrise and moonrise at the Summer and Winter solstices, built long before the time of the Celts.

Druidic ceremonies based, it is believed on Celtic ones, are held at Dawn and Noon on the Summer Solstice at sacred circles such as Stonehenge and some groups and individuals still keep vigil from sunset on the previous evening.

At sunset of the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, another significant ritual point the Heel (Sun) Stone outside the circles casts a shadow on the Altar Stone, thus marking the beginning of the dying of the year.

Norse and Anglo Saxon Associations:

Overseas trading, raiding and fishing reached its height at this time.

As the longest day of the year, transferred to the Midsummer celebrations of modern Scandinavia, the ancient Midsummer tree, linked to the Green man, formed the centre of dancing and music.

In the ancient Germanic tradition mountain and cliff top fires were lit on the Eve before the Solstice and later on St Johnís Eve 23 June to give power to the sun

The Norse god of light Baldur was slain by his blind brother Hodur.

In the traditional version of the legend, the young sun god was doomed to remain in the Underworld until the last battle, Ragnarok. But ore positive version tells that Hel, the guardian of the underworld, so moved by the tears of his mother that she allowed the Goddess of Spring, Ostara, to restore him each year to the world at Yule for half of the year.

Christian:

The Christian festival of Midsummer is very close to St Johnís Day on June 24th. Johnís own mother was long beyond childbearing years and thus regarded as a virgin birth. In the early Christian Celtic tradition, John was linked with the dark brother of the Solar deity who would in a variation of the Celtic myth cycle after the Longest Day rule the waning year.

The ancient maybe pre Celtic myth of the Oak King who ruled form Midwinter to Midsummer and the Holly King who ruled form Midsummer to Midwinter became linked to the Christian tradition and oak fires were burned at Midsummer right until Victorian times

Married women who wanted to get pregnant would walk naked in a garden at midnight and pick the golden herb of midsummer, St Johnís Wort, on the Eve of St John. Young girls would not eat anything all day and they would pick the same herb to put under their pillow to dream of their true love.

Mediterranean:

In the Basque region of Northern Spain, the Sun is still revered in folk custom as Grandmother Sun. Her worship has been transferred to the Virgin Mary who is associated with mother Mari, the Storm Goddess in whose wise bosom Grandmother Sun sleeps at night.

On Midsummer Eve sun vigils were held until recently to see the Sun Goddess touch the mountain tops and dance at Dawn. The watchers would then bathe in streams in the magical Midsummer waters that are still believed to have healing and empowering properties.

Juno the Roman Mother Goddess was patron of marriage and of childbirth and she protected women from birth to the grave. June, her month, is considered to be the most fortunate for marriages

Ritual activity:

This works as well whether you are celebrating the festival alone or with others and is based on an old Scandinavian folk custom.

  • At dawn set a basket of seven different species of flowers or seven different colours where they will catch the first light of the Summer Solstice.

  •  At noon each person should weave the seven kinds of flowers on to a small circle of wire, using threads in red, yellow, green and blue to attach them

  • As you/they weave silently name for each flower over and over again in your mind or a whisper your/ their dearest secret wish for fulfilment in the next twelve months whether for lasting love, a child, the success of a creative venture, happiness, travel, success , health or spiritual wisdom.

  • When finished the circlet/s should be hung on a shady tree and you/the group should circle the tree nine times deosil or sun wise, nine times in the opposite direction and then nine times deosil, clapping rhythm till the world spins, chantingí Come to me as I dance the Midsummer Tree, come to me in my sleep, come to me in my waking, that when I next dance the Midsummer tree, I shall know the joy of the seven flowers sweet.í

  • If you are working alone you can adapt the chant to fit your desire, for example if for lasting love, Ďthat when next I dance the Midsummer tree, it shall be my wedding day.í

  • At sundown take your wreath from the tree and hang it over your bed. Go straight to bed when it is dark/ Picture yourself walking as you drift into sleep  along a pathway of flowers into mist that slowly clears to reveal how and when you will attain your desire. This may continue in your dreams

  • Leave the wreath on the wall of your bedroom till it fades and then release the petals to the wind or use the flowers in incense

Other activities

  • Make sun water by leaving out still mineral water in a bowl covered with film or mesh from dawn till noon (or for up to eight hours on a darker day). Add clear quartz or citrine crystals to the water when you put it out (the previous evening if you prefer) and remove these at noon.

  • Use the water as an energiser in baths and drinks in the days ahead and to splash on the centre of your hairline to open your Crown chakra and clear your aura when you feel tired or doubt yourself.

  • Light a gold candle and set any small gold items of jewellery round it if the day is dark or cloudy until the candle burns though. If it is a sunny Solstice leave the jewellery in the sunlight after dawn for  a few hours to transfer the power of the sun into your life as you wear the jewellery in the days ahead.

  • Cast golden flowers or herbs into the air from a hill or open place, a handful at a time, making empowerments for courage and achievement to the winds and naming for each handful a plan to begin or bring to fruition starting tomorrow.

  • Light sun oils, frankincense, juniper, rosemary, orange or benzoin or burn them as incense to bring the sun power into your home or workplace as darkness finally falls. Vow not to let the joy of the day fade from your life and relight one of the oils or incenses whenever you do feel sad or anxious.

Southern hemisphere activities

If you live in the Southern hemisphere you may like to incorporate some of the above into your Midwinter celebrations especially as in some areas the weather will be warm and sunny and flowers still blooming.

But you might also like to try:

  • As the Winter Solstice night draws in, light a dark candle and in it burn threads or herbs to represent all you need to leave behind; at sunset light a gold candle from it, using a taper and then extinguish the dark candle. If you are working with friends or family, they can in turn light their candles from the Solstice candle, making wishes for the future.

  • On the day of the Midwinter Solstice, go out into the countryside, woodland or the bush and gather evergreen boughs with friends and family to represent the potential of new life.

  • As darkness falls create a small fire outdoors or in a tiny metal pot and burn sprigs of indigenous evergreen trees as well as the traditional yew, oak, holly, pine needles and rosemary herb. In this way you are showing your faith that the sun will shine again-and ritually assisting it to regain power. As you toss on each fragrant handful, name someone who cannot be with you and those causes dear to your heart that will benefit from the renewed power of the sun.

  • On Solstice night, fill a metal bowl with water and either alone or with friends or family in the age-old tradition take it in turns to drip wax from the candles on to the surface of the water. You will gain an image as the liquid was falls on the surface and a second more permanent image as the wax sets. The first will indicate an area that will bear fruit over the coming days and the second ways in which you can maximise the energies of the ascending light. Wash out the bowl between readings.

  • From clay create your own santons. These are tiny French nativity-type figures that include tiny statues of local characters and family members. The scene can be adapted to the rebirth of the Sun/Goddess myths; paint them and set them around your tree or in a cave made from rocks and crystals.

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