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Celebrating the Summer Solstice by Martine Alexis
As this day arrives, the world is still facing a huge challenge and will be forever changed. Humanity is always resilient and resourceful though, so even in the frightening face of Covid -19 we can continue to seek out joy and do things to honour the earth and mark the energies at each point on the Wheel Of The Year.
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the Summer Solstice of June 21st-also known as the Festival of Litha- is the longest day and the shortest night of the year. On this day the Sun is at it’s apex and it’s fullest power! From this day onward, the sunlight will wane. Each day after this Solstice marks the receding of the Sun- until the time of it’s rebirth after the Winter Solstice of December 21st, which marks the shortest day and the longest night.
The Battle of the Oak and The Holly Kings
When we mark these points on the Wheel of The Year, we’re embracing death and re birth, the eternal cycle of life and our inclusion in this.We also commemorate the legendary ‘battle’ between the Oak and the Holly Kings. The two ‘Kings’ fight to rule over the seasons as the Wheel of the Year turns.
The Oak King reigns until The Summer Solstice when, once again, the Holly King returns to reign over the darker days to come..until The Winter Solstice when the Oak King will in turn vanquish the Holly King again.
This battle symbolises the eternal cycle of life and the duality of Light and Darkness. We acknowledge and embrace that the Light and Darkness co exists and battles for our Earth, We also acknowledge that it co exists and does battle within ourselves.
This year, that battle may be harder and more profound for us than it has for many years…..
We Are All Part Of The Wheel of The Year
Marking, observing and paying homage to these changes between the seasons attunes us even more to this eternal cycle- and reminds us that we are part of it.I feel that in this particular time, it’s more important than ever that we acknowledge that life on earth is a cycle. Whilst illnesses and events shape our world, the rhythms of nature are eternal
As I write, we face overwhelming challenges and so many of us are afraid. Coronavirus has already made vast changes in society. Something huge that has awakened and come into focus in this time is our dual- and so often sadly conflicted- relationship with nature. During this period of having to shelter at home our deep, deep desire to be out, breathing in nature has never been so obvious! However, it’s also brought into sharp focus that nature herself has been given some breathing space from us!
We really need to wake up now and try our absolute best make something positive happen from this terrible time. We simply have to realise The Earth is not some separate entity from us.
We don’t just live on The Earth – we live with The Earth.
Summer Solstice Celebrations
We’ve marked the Summer Solstice with ritual since ancient times and we continue to do so today. Traditionally, the most prominent part of Solstice rituals focus on the exact point of the sunrise on this day.
Here in The British Isles, we’ve always been very blessed to be able gather at our powerful sacred sites to mark and celebrate the Summer Solstice and the other festivals of the Wheel of the Year. This year will be different in that there will be no mass gathering of worshipers at Stonehenge. Even at an empty Solstice Stonehenge, The Sun will still rise between the ancient pillars though and the energy will be changed and felt deeply in the land as it always has….
The same will happen at one of our other most special and sacred places, Glastonbury Tor in Somerset, England. No doubt there will be a safely distanced and very respectful gathering of people who love the land but The Wheel Of The Year will turn anyway…..
It’s one of the most important spiritual and energetic sites in the world. Legends have grown up around The Tor- such as it being the resting place of The Holy Grail, it’s associations with King Arthur and of being the portal to another dimension. It’s claimed as the home of Gwynn Ap Nudd, who rules the Otherworld of The Fair Folk and who leads The Wild Hunt….
Celebrating Summer Solstice
Even if it’s not possible to be at sacred sites or to gather in groups together at the moment, do try to greet the rising of The Sun outside if you can. Feel the earth beneath your feet to ground yourself and connect to The Earth just as you raise your arms to salute The Sun. Feel and the energy of The Sun and The Earth connecting with you at the same time
Remember, you’re not observing this. You’re part of this
Things You Can Do At Home
As mentioned, this day is the height of the Oak King’s power, Even if you can’t leave your home,you may want to decorate. You can light golden or yellow candles around your home or table to represent The Sun. Any candles you light before dawn can be extinguished and re lit later if you’re able to go outside for the sunrise I also like to burn the ‘warmer’ essential oils to fragrance my home on this day. Orange, bergamot and benzoin help you to bring the feeling of ‘sun energy’ into your house. You can also burn the more ‘protective’ rosemary or frankincense and ask the Universe to give this protection to you and your home.
A Summer Solstice Ritual For You
As this is is a festival of Sun and Fire, I like to work with the fire at Litha to ‘let go’ of what’s no longer needed or wanted in my life. I take small pieces of paper and write on them exactly what I’m asking the Universe to help me with. These can be things like life lessons I’ve completed or things that have now run their course in my life. All of these are to be consigned to the flames at dawn in order to let them go…..
Some of you may be at places where there are larger communal fires, some of you may be at home and have a fireplace, or you may only have a small bowl of flame or some golden candles. Whichever of these you have around you, please always be very careful and sensible with flames at all times.
As you cast your pieces of paper into the fire, focus on the power of the Sun and of the transformation of the seasons. Be aware that as the Oak King’s power fades into the darker days toward The Winter Solstice and the growing power of the Holly King- so the things you’ve written down and offered to the flames will also fade from your life ..