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Reflections and different perspectives on Summer Solstice

June 30, 2007 by Lightwaves

Solstice head 200WMichael McCarthy is moved to celebrate the longest day of light, and finds inspiration in festivities from other cultures.

Since my arrival at the Ashram for the beginning of the YDC in January, I’ve watched the returning light gradually awaken the Earth from her slumber. I’ve seen the snow melt, the birds return, the trees burst into blossom, and the garden offer the first early greens for harvest.

As I walked the Ashram grounds, I was continually amazed at this simple relationship between light and life. With the sun high in the sky and life buzzing all around me, I could do nothing else but delight in the mystery and accept my place in the wonderful web of life. For all that I had been given I wanted to give thanks.

After a little research, I discovered that celebrating life in conjunction with the longest day of the year is an age-old tradition. In the Northern Hemisphere the number of daylight hours reaches its peak on June 21st. This day is known as the Summer Solstice. Solstice comes from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), referring to the sun’s position in the sky moving neither towards nor away from the North Pole.

Over a thousand years ago the Solstice was widely celebrated on the 24th of June due to the different angle of the Earth’s position relative to the sun. The Ancient Celts celebrated this day as Alban Heruin (“Light of the Shore”). When Christianity began to spread throughout Europe, the Church assimilated this festival into the religious calendar and it became known as the Feast of St. John the Baptist.

In North America, many aboriginal relics survive to tell the tale of a culture in tune with the cycles of the sun. The Bighorn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming is a stone circle that was used to chart the movement of the sun. It contains significant alignments on the Solstice. Males in the Hopi tribe dressed up as dancing spirits that symbolized fertility and rain. The Natchez tribe celebrated a First Fruits Ceremony to welcome the summer harvest.

solstice main2 250HIn Europe, pagan rituals have continued to exist over the years under the more mundane name Midsummer’s Eve. On June 21st towns would gather to light bonfires and dance around the flames. Couples would jump over the flames to invoke fertility and a bountiful harvest. This magical night was a celebration of the divine forces of masculine and feminine, Sun and Earth, and how they are joined through growth.

Here at the Ashram we took the time to celebrate the Solstice with a bonfire of our own. It was an evening blessed with gratitude and devotion. There was a sense of community and support as we shared stories around the campfire. On this, the longest day of the year, we gathered to share in the divine light that continues to brighten our days.

By Michael McCarthy

No Comments »

  1. So lovely to hear the sounds, see familiar places and faces, of the Ashram and the activities. Thank you it continues the connection when I am not there!

    Om Om
    In the Light

    Comment by Debb Morrison — July 5, 2007 @ 12:05 am

  2. Michael;
    Nice job on the redesigned newsletter. It looks really clean and the pictures stand out beautifully against a white background.
    Love your piece about the solstice, too. You worked some good information in without losing a conversational tone.
    Wish I’d been at the solstice celebration!
    Light to you,

    Comment by Daphne — July 5, 2007 @ 12:06 pm

  3. Beautiful issue you guys! I’m missing you all, wish I could be there to see the Ashram in it’s full summer bloom, but I’m keeping the light here where I am, always.

    In Gratitude and Peace, Love and Light,

    (mmm…strawberrie short cake *heavenly moan*)

    Comment by Jessica Moynham — July 11, 2007 @ 4:18 pm

  4. Fantastic update.
    The new format is inviting and engaging.
    In addition, it sounds as though the ashram is experiencing a wonderful time right now.
    Thanks for sharing it with me.
    Keep up the good work.

    Comment by Kevin — July 11, 2007 @ 6:27 pm

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