Solstice blessings to you all.
“Solstice” (Latin: “solstitium”) means sun-stopping. The point on the horizon where the sun appears to rise and set, stops and reverses direction after this day. On the solstice, the sun does not rise precisely in the east, but rises to the north of east and sets to the north of west, meaning it’s visible in the sky for a longer period of time.
This year the exact moment of the Summer Solstice (Winter Solstice in the Southern hemisphere) is 22:43 British Summer Time (GMT+1). At that precise moment the Sun is in line with the most Northerly point, the tropic of Cancer.
For those following the tropical zodiac, it is the point in which the Star Sign of Cancer is entered. However, because the Sun takes up 1 degree of the sky it is a one day transition. So people born in that transition are said to be on the cusp. So they may show influences of both Gemini and Cancer. This happens every month, so about 1 in 30 people are born on the cusp.
However, during the week either side of the Solstice there are merely seconds between the length of days, which gradually darken or lighten more and more towards the Equinox, depending on how far North or South you live.
One of the world’s oldest evidence of the summer solstice’s importance in culture is Stonehenge in England, a megalithic structure which clearly marks the moment of the June solstice.
On the June solstice, the midnight sun is visible throughout the night, in all areas from just south of the Arctic Circle to the North Pole.
On the other side of the planet, south of the Antarctic Circle there’s Polar Night, meaning no Sunlight at all, on the June solstice.
A tropical year is the time it takes the Earth to orbit once around the Sun. It is around 365.242199 days long, but varies slightly from year to year because of the influence of other planets. The exact orbital and daily rotational motion of the Earth, such as the “wobble” in the Earth’s axis, also contributes to the changing solstice dates.
For many in the Northern Solstice is Midsummer, a time of magic when much of the land is alive with colour. Pale saplings are now vibrant and alive. It is no wonder then, that it is the setting for the most wonderful of Shakespeare’s plays and one that gives a real insight into the folklore of our ancestors.
I have had a most rare vision. I had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was… The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was.
(Bottom, Act 4 Scene 1, A Midsummer’s Nights Dream)
The Solstice has special meaning for me. Back in 2014 I was in a bad place. I left a religious cult and made some bad decisions in my life. I wanted to get it back on track. I tried going to a mainstream church, but it wasn’t for me. But then I thought about the Druids and, like many, I did associate them with the Solstice. So me, my wife and son went to our first Druid ritual celebration with the Setantii Grove in Heaton Park, Manchester. It was a wonderful sunny day and for the first time I actually felt enlightened by spirit.
I help organise my own small Seed Group now and founded the Order of Celtic Wolves, after another personal moment of inspiration. I miss them dearly since lockdown, but as an asthma sufferer have been in self isolation. Tonight, though, like many I am joining the English Heritage Virtual Event at Stonehenge. For many, who haven’t managed the trip, it is a wonderful opportunity to share in a joint experience. If you can, I urge you to join us.