Summer solstice is an exciting astronomical event that heralds the start of summer, it is the longest day of the year. This is the closest to the sun that we’ll be all year. The sun is at its strongest at the summer solstice, it is energizing and intense. That means that we are being bathed in the energy of the sun. The sun is, literally, all fire.
“Litha”, also known as midsummer (summer solstice ), is the name given to the Wiccan Sabbat. Wicca is a subset of Paganism, a community based on the worship of nature or the earth. The themes of Litha are: abundance, growth, masculine energy, love, and magic.
To celebrate Litha, you can decorate your house with flowers, herbs, and fruits and keep one candle lit through the day to honor the sun. A traditional picnic is a great way to bask in the warmth of the day, eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Ancient Pagans celebrated solstice with bonfires and torchlight processions. Bells have been used for millennia to warn, guard, announce, and protect. Bells take in all the solstice energy and then offer back protection for the home when placed on door knobs.
Meditation is a great tool to use on this energetic day. Find a moment for yourself, preferably early in the morning, sit outside in the sun to focus, be present, and connect with the sun’s powerful energy. Research shows that an hour of natural light in the morning will help you sleep better. Being outside will also help your body regulate melatonin, which can reduce your stress level.
Getting outside for 30 minutes between 8am and noon increases blood levels of natural opiates called endorphins which increases immunity. Sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D which increases bone health and regulates mood. Many believe that sunlight might increase the levels of antidepressants in the brain.
One of the most famous ancient sites associated with solstice is Stonehenge. During the solstice, the rising sun shines directly into the center of the stone circle. This alignment suggests that Stonehenge was built with the solstices in mind and that it served as a celestial observatory and a calendar. It is thought that the people who built Stonehenge were farmers and herders. The changing of the seasons would have been of immense significance to them, both practically (the seasons dictate what they could grow and when) and spiritually.
The summer solstice is an important time for our garden, many fruits and vegetables are ready for harvest. Historically, the summer solstice has been a celebration of the bounty in the garden, when people who spent all spring planting can take a step back and enjoy watching their hard work pay off.
I plan to celebrate the solstice with my grandchildren by making “sun s’mores,” we’ll place chocolate and marshmallows on graham crackers on foil outside in the sun. We will also make “sun prints” using special photo sensitive paper and pressed flowers. We’ll finger knit a chain and add a bell for our door knobs. We’ll spend the day outside soaking up the sun with a picnic and a swim.
Kate Emery General is a retired chef/restaurant owner that was born and raised in Casper, Wyoming. Kate loves her grandchildren, knitting and watercolor painting. Kate and her husband , Matt are longtime residents of Cambridge’s West End where they enjoy swimming and bicycling.