Originally posted 6/20/2016
Happy summer solstice!
Today the longest day of the year when we will feel the sun the longest. Combined with the full moon, we are receiving a lot of solar and lunar light. Many religions and mythologies celebrate this time of solar force as a celebration of fire, male force (the sun associated with divine masculine force), and female fertility with the earth ready to burst with the fruits and coming harvest of later summer. In Celtic Myth, the Oak King rules the waxing sun time of the year and the solstice or “litha” is the threshold of passing power to his brother the Holly King who rules the waning sun time. A few deities from other cultures who are associated with the summer solstice are: Hindu goddess of light Aditi, Greek and Roman sun god Apollo, Sami goddess Beiwe who gives light to plants and thus life to reindeer who are central in Sami culture, Greek hearth goddess Hestia, Egyptian sun god Horus, Roman goddess Juno, Celtic god bright and strong handed Lugh, and Roman hearth goddess of the state Vesta. There is an overarching theme of tending the fire: the solar as a divine illuminating force within the self, the creative fires, the fires of hearth, home, and family, especially as the summer solstice welcomes the time of Cancer, ruler of home and family.
From this point as the daily sunlight wanes looking toward fall and winter, it is time to enjoy. The light changes quickly. There is that familiar feeling of turning the corner of the season and anticipating fall even though we are just coming to summer’s gifts. Enjoy the gifts of summer! Carpe diem. This can also be a time of great individual creativity as the fire solar element is strong and there is a gentle shift toward the lunar and the lengthening of the nights. To bring awareness to the difference between solar and lunar mental consciousness can create a fertile dance. The solar is linear, direct, illuminating, often about the hero’s journey of the individual. What drives our creative fires? How will those creative fires be directed? With seeds grown into plants and flowers, what harvest and fruits are being anticipated? The lunar is non-linear, spiraling, playing and pausing as a means of problem solving. Lunar knows it is necessary to embrace self care in order to nurture others. Can we be more being honest about our habits, making adjustments in sleep, diet, exercise, substance use, how emotions are expressed? The full moon at this summer solstice will bring more attention to the lunar angle of summer solstice’s expression meaning it may be useful to keep non-linear ways of seeing handy along with checking in with your own self care. The summer solstice threshold is a time to pause, to celebrate, to consider how you will rededicate yourself to what you are in relationship with: a partner, yourself, a spiritual study, another study, family, work, community, gaia, the path you walk. Whatever this threshold crossing means to you personally, each earth holiday is an opportunity to share the celebration in community. Happiness exists only when it is shared.
How to celebrate? Light a fire (safely) or light a candle to mark the solar energy. Fires are traditionally burned from the night previous through solstice evening. Traditional herbs of summer solstice are sage, mint, St John’s wort, sunflower, lavender, mistletoe (the Holly King gathering power at the threshold time), oak, rowan, fir. Offerings can be herbs, seashells, summer flowers, fruits, round cakes with bright flavors like lemon are good too. St. John’s wort leaves have tiny holes that let in more light and in spirit this plant is a sun warrior bringing more light to the internal self and creating a protective aura of light. Sunflower opens the heart and chest to the sun allowing the individual self to shine out to the world. Oak as a gateway guardian holds the keys to entering other time and space and its leaves makes a delicious ritual tea. Lavender, sage, and mint are all cooling. This is a good time to consider personal constitutions and how to use plants to bring a more neutral calm state to the body by cooling a warm constitution, moistening the dry. It’s the perfect time to start making chilled summer drinks. See the basil mint lemonade below. Try it with other herbs too- lavender or lemon balm would all be lovely. Enjoy the longest day with bright light inside and out. Summer blessings!
BASIL MINT LEMONADE
1/3 C lime juice, from about 3 limes
1T dried loose peppermint tea, steeped in 1 C hot water, 15- 30 minutes, strained
1 T dried basil, steeped in 1 C hot water, 15- 30 minutes, strained
3 T maple syrup
6 C soda water
1C fresh mint, washed and picked from stems
1. Make basil and peppermint teas.
2. After steeping and straining teas, pour teas into a 1/2 gallon jar. Add lime juice and
maple syrup. Mix well.
3. Add soda water. Stir.
4. Fill four 16 oz glasses with fresh mint. Divide lemonade between glasses.