Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Happy Summer Solstice

Happy Summer Solstice Cover At the time of Summer Solstice, also known as Midsummer, or Litha, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted closest to the sun. It is a time of fertility and celebration: bonfires, maypoles, dancing, and outdoor festivals have been traditional during this time for most of human history. In some modern pagan faiths it is believed that this holiday represents the highest ascendency of masculine divinity.

Here are some recent quotes on this day from the press, along with some words from those who celebrate the Summer Solstice as a holiday.

“Most people know that June 21, the summer solstice, is the longest day of the year. Few people realize why marking that day was important to people in the past and why it continues to be important to those whose beliefs are tied to the Earth’s cycles … By celebrating the summer solstice (and other seasonal markers), pagans acknowledge that all people are part of the ecosystem, dependent on the Earth and the seasons.” – Christine Hennebury, The Telegram

“An exuberant gathering in Britain of 20,000 people has welcomed the first rays of dawn on the year’s longest day. It’s the summer solstice, the first day of summer. And in a modern version of an ancient sun-worshiping tradition, partygoers, pagans and druids gathered at Stonehenge. The still-mysterious collection of 3,000-year-old giant pillars rests on a plain southwest of London. New Yorker Jeanette Montesano, 23, is a self-described pagan and compares the Stonehenge trek to the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, though not nearly as big and a lot more fun. Couples snuggled on the lawn, dancers gyrated to drums and whistles and floodlights bathed the stones in pink and purple.” – The Associated Press

“For the summer solstice ritual, Henderson will wear long, deep-hued robes, lead ceremonial chants and offer praise to the sun god, Bel, and the river goddess, Danu, in a pretty corner of the Botsford Recreational Preserve in Scio Township … Ann Arbor’s 20-member druid grove, started in 1994, is part of a small, international movement to revive pagan and druid practice. The Ann Arbor congregation, called the Shining Lakes Grove, is part of a larger international druid movement spread across 58 groves in the United States, Canada and Britain. The archdruid, who heads the organization, is a guy named Skip.” – Tamara Audi, Detroit Free Press

“It’s a day celebrated in as many different ways as there are different cultures. Whether it’s marked with drumming, dancing, fires, food, festivals or just people coming together to note the occasion, it’s a chance for humans to deepen their spiritual understanding and reaffirm their connection to the natural world, said Sara Heartsong, a native Las Crucen.” – Jason Gibbs, Las Cruces Sun-News

“For many Latvians, the midsummer festival is the most important feast of the year. Based on pre-Christian traditions of sun worship, it is currently dedicated to John the Baptist (whence its alternative name of “Jani”), but its rituals are purely pagan. In the afternoon of June 23, Latvians crowned with wreaths of oak leaves flock to the countryside. In pre-Christian times the oak was regarded as a holy tree, and it still features widely in Latvian folk songs and on the five-lat (9.52 dollars) bank note. As the evening draws in, Ligo celebrants light bonfires and sing folk songs or jump through the flames. They also grill shashliks and consume copious quantities of alcohol, although these are not generally interpreted as being specifically pagan traditions.” – Earth Times

“Although our Pagan ancestors probably preferred June 24 (and indeed most European folk festivals today use this date), the sensibility of modern Witches seems to prefer the actual solstice point, beginning the celebration on its eve, or the sunset immediately preceding the solstice point. Again, it gives modern Pagans a range of dates to choose from with, hopefully, a weekend embedded in it … Altogether, Midsummer is a favorite holiday for many Witches in that it is so hospitable to outdoor celebrations. The warm summer night seems to invite it. And if the celebrants are not, in fact, skyclad, then you may be fairly certain that the long ritual robes of winter have yielded place to short, tunic-style apparel.” – Mike Nichols, A Midsummer’s Celebration

A blessed Midsummer to you all!

Recommended books (Free download):

Aleister Crowley - Magick
John Alan Halloran - Sumerian Lexicon
Montague Summers - Malleus Maleficarum