A very happy Summer Solstice to everyone in the southern hemisphere! (Happy Winter Solstice to you northerners.) According to our European ancestors, now is the time to celebrate the abundant ripe energy of the earth. (If you are looking for a forest loving Santa-free Christmas story, read the previous blog post.)
I live in Byron Bay, once called Cavvanbah by the Bunjalung people, on the most easterly point of Australia. For the local Arakwal and wider Bunjalung clans, this time of year may have been thought of differently. They knew six or more seasons and marked the changes according to bio-indicators rather than a calendar, such as what was flowering or which bird was migrating. I hope to learn more about this, but while I am ignorant, I will ponder what my ancient pagan ancestors believed. Here is a pastiche of information I have sewn together rather roughly.
The mythic Green Man or the Great Horned God was
born at the winter solstice, unites with the Goddess in marriage at Bealtaine, and dies at the summer solstice to bring fertility to the land as the Sacred King.
The consort of the Goddess and symbol of male energy in the form of the divine, The Horned God reigns. He is the lord of the woodlands, the hunt and animals. He provides for the tribe through the hunt and is honored or rewarded for his deed by being permitted to copulate with the Goddess through the Great Rite. The Horned God is is the lord of life, death and the underworld. And is the Sun to the Goddess’ Moon. He alternates with the Goddess in ruling over the fertility cycle of birth, death and rebirth. He is born at the winter solstice, unites with the Goddess in marriage at Bealtaine, and dies at the summer solstice to bring fertility to the land as the Sacred King. He is not just a Celtic representation of the God, nor does he solely belong to Wicca, as he has been associated with many deities throughout the world.He is not just a Celtic representation of the God, nor does he solely belong to Wicca, as he has been associated with many deities throughout the world.
A friend gave me a wonderful book years ago called “Circle Round” by Starhawk et al and she says: The Summer Solstice is the longest day and the shortest night. The sun has grown to its full strength, and summer begins…The Summer Solstice reminds us that nothing lasts forever. We do not live in the unchanging twilight realm of Faery, but in the living, dying and fading, and growing realm of earth. Whenever something is completed, we must let it go.
Because the things we love don’t last forever, we love them all the more while they are here. But letting go of things and people is never easy. The Summer Solstice is a time to practice giving things away, letting go of what is completed and done…
So what did our ancestors get up to and what do modern earth lovers do at this time? Here are some ideas.
NeoDruidic Solstice / Solar Devotional activities
There are many routes by which we can open our minds and souls to the Sun within the context of a modern Druidic spirituality. Here are some starters for personal contemplative and ritual techniques:
- Meditate on the Sun, its actuality, physical glory and spiritual dimensions in your life. Leave the gods and goddesses, heroes and lore for later. If you cannot approach the Sun in it’s devastatingly present and neces-sary actuality in your life, you are not spiritually ready to appropriate the mythic lore associated with the Solar Principle for personal work. Start by learning to -not- ignore the real Sun.
- Compose a Salutation of the Sun that you can do at sunrise or sunset, or any time, even while you’re driving to or from work. Sunrise or sunset rites and salutations can be very powerful and personally transformative. Ask a Yoga or OTO practitioner about their experiences with solar devotions. Just as important, share your experiences others.
- Observe and mark the seasonal progress of the Sun, particularly its rising and setting, from one or several of your favorite locations. The external component of this activity can be referred to as “Henge Building”, even if you are not dragging boulders around but simply keeping notes of the sun’s rise/set points, apparent altitude or shadow lengths on certain days. In so doing, you are bringing the external and the internal solar aspects together in a magical way; you are building a trans-dimensional solar-temple in your life.
- Get yourself a big (4″) magnifying glass and learn to light your Sacred Fire from the Sun’s rays. Solar Need-Fire building is a rite in itself. Experiment with using the burning- glass to purify your tools and to “store” the Solar Principle in a quartz crystal: putting something away for a rainy day (or The Dark Night of the Soul…).
- Begin your personal quest for the perfect Summer Solstice sunrise…