Explaining the spiritual significance of the summer solstice
Find your solstice power
Summer solstice is a day infused with the energising power of the sun. This year June 21 marks the solstice, also called midsummer, when pagans from all creeds celebrate the longest day of the year. The word 'solstice' means the 'sun standing still', as it appears to do for a short time on this day. The sun reaches its highest point in the sky and its power is at its most potent. Midsummer is celebrated with bonfires (emulating the warmth of the sun), and people gathering to give thanks for what is considered a high point of the year. Summer solstice is a time when the fields are filled with ripening crops and the powers of darkness are at their weakest, burned away by the sun's power. It is a time for you to become energised and focus on the spiritual strengths, positive changes and decisions that you've begun building throughout the first half of the year.
Sun worship Today we feel elated to see the sun peeping out from behind the dreary clouds; it fills us with a sense of wellbeing. Our ancient ancestors felt the same way, but to them the idea of being a 'sun worshipper' meant much more than topping up their tan. For them, the sun could be the difference between life and death. In ancient times the power of the sun was revered for its life-giving ability to make crops grow, bring light to the earth and provide warmth. Naturally the sun was worshipped by a number of religions, most notably in ancient Egypt, where the sun god, Ra, ruled over the heavens and the other gods. Ancient Celtic druids are thought to have been sun worshippers, while the Greeks revered Helios, their sun god who rode across the sky in his chariot every dawn, bringing behind him the sun. Native Americans performed sun dances to encourage the sun to shine down upon them. Mayan culture celebrated the sun as its ruling deity and their kings claimed to be sons of the sun. The widespread Persian and later Roman 1st century cult of Mithras had sun worship at its heart.
The common theme among all these religions is the idea of the sun as highest divinity. Although we no longer worship the sun in such a literal way, the solstice is a good time to tap into its energy. Midsummer is a time to take stock of your life and build upon the changes you've already set in motion.
Summer Solstice power boosters Try these spiritual tips for making the most of your solstice.
Slow down: Give yourself time during this solstice to step out of the whirl of everyday life. Think about where you want to go in life and what you want to achieve. Meditate outdoors for ten minutes upon the direction you hope your life will take in the next six months, leading up to the winter solstice. What is going well in your life? What could be improved upon? Think about how you can bring your goals to fruition.
Embrace the moment: the solstice is a single moment - when the sun is highest; the peak of light. The day's celebrations are focussed around this moment. It's important to be fully present in every moment of your life. Feel gratitude for the small things that enrich your life. Stand with your bare feet on the grass outdoors and repeat in your head, 'I give thanks for the joy in my life; I ask goodness to flow into my life.'
Rhythms of nature: The summer solstice symbolises the time in the year when darkness is vanquished and the light (literally) reigns supreme. But it also acknowledges that the following days will grow shorter and the darkness will begin to return (winter solstice). This is to remind us of the rhythm of life: birth, growth, death, renewal. If you accept change as a natural part of life, instead of fighting against it, you will find peace. Repeat in your mind, 'I wish for only those people, places, thoughts and emotions that are for my highest good to be present in my life; I release everything else.'
Step into your power: Above all, the sun signifies energy and a renewal of power. Imagine the warming rays of the sun shining on you, feel them energise and inspire you. Do something powerful. Powerful acts include: helping someone in need, facing your fears, rising above pettiness, healing rifts between people. Set yourself a goal to fulfil or a fear to overcome and give yourself a deadline of December 25 (winter solstice) to have achieved your aim.