Updated: Feb 15
The wisdom in the Summer Solstice
The first day of summer is magical for children. It means pools are open, the air is warm and the watermelon will be delicious. The seasonal turn is an invitation to tune into nature -- and the Holy -- in mystical and powerful ways that connect us to our ancestors and their reverence for this day. Come -- let us bask in the warmth before it disappears -- because nothing stays the same.
In scientific terms, the solstice -- the time when the earth’s axis is closest to the sun -- occurs twice each year. The June Solstice will be the Northern Hemisphere’s summer solstice as the earth’s rotational axis allows for increased sun exposure throughout the 24-hour day cycle. Conversely, the June Solstice heralds in winter for the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the growing season explodes as the longer days hold space for warm air and sun-kissed plants seem to grow overnight.
Everything is alive, awake and abundant. The Summer Solstice takes on a whole new meaning when seen through the eyes of our ancestors, who were attuned to the power of this day and the wisdom it holds. Nature taught them to live in sync with the rhythms of the earth. Historical relics from around the world reflect the importance of the earth’s cycles to ancient people. One of the most popular sites is Stonehenge, where thousands gather on the solstice to see the sun rise and align perfectly with the stones. Native Americans used medicine wheels to chart the earth’s movement, with the solstice captured at its most center point. The ancients celebrated the longest day with authentic gratitude, then with fierce determination and focus, began to prepare for the darkness it ushered in.
It may seem counterintuitive to view the Summer Solstice as a signal to prepare for the darkness, as we in the Northern Hemisphere prepare for warmth and being outdoors. The frantic pace of planting, growing, and harvesting was a matter of life and death that we in the modern world don't understand -- our grocery stores always carry what we need.
Even though the food industry has far removed us from the miracle of the growing season, the Summer Solstice’s gifts are not exclusive to humans. The ebb and flow of energy, which mirrors the ebb and flow of life, binds humanity's life cycle to the Earth’s life cycle. Just watch the squirrel scurrying around to pick up fallen nuts. Once she’s gathered a mouthful she bounces over the land and then slows, seeming to search for something. When she finds the perfect spot, she begins to dig -- a shallow hole big enough to place her stash of nuts. She gently pats down the mound of dirt after depositing her loot into the little hole and quickly bounds off toward the tree in search of more.
This same squirrel may be seen frolicking along the grass while playing with her litter mates or napping in the shade during the hottest part of the day. Yet time and again, she returns to the task of foraging, digging and burying. She knows the darkness is coming.
Pause and re-read the part about the squirrel until her understanding of life resonates with you on a deeper level. The squirrel’s constant preparation may be compared to frugal living and sound financial planning. You may try to save funds for “rainy days” -- those times when the unexpected can blind side and cripple you financially. You may also save for material goals, like a nicer car or a bigger house or even retirement when your hard work is rewarded with a leisurely life of your choosing.
Preparation for the darkness is not only about financial responsibility. Your rainy days may never come but the darkness always will. The squirrel knows this -- we humans do not. We take for granted that what is now will always be. We encase grief and loss in a desperate attempt to force it into the schedule, then we implode when it doesn’t work.
Change and loss do not work that way, beloved. The Summer Solstice is a dichotomy -- one where we lift our face toward the sun and rejoice for the bounty that all of life provides. Then we accept the shift -- do you feel it? It’s ever so slight, but we turned. Where we are now on the path is unknown, but we know this…
Loved ones will be born and die.
Pets will grow old and leave us.
Friends will come and go.
The body will change with age.
Because nothing stays the same.
Happy Solstice, Beloved. Frolic in the sun this day, gather your harvest, and prepare your mind, body and spirit as we turn toward the darkness.