I first took part in a Summer Solstice celebration a few years back when the yoga studio I went to held a specific workshop for it, so I thought “I will give it a go, why not”. I must admit I felt pretty apprehensive as I didn’t know what to expect and have never really acknowledged this day too much before, but my goodness was I pleased that I went. You know that feeling around New Year when you are setting your intentions and goals for the coming year, and it all feels like a ‘fresh start’? Well that is exactly what it felt like for me: A mid-year re-set.
The workshop was a couple of hours, with no more than 10 in the class. We sat around a beautiful display of candles and flowers writing down our intentions and the things we want to let go of (this was so liberating), we then burnt those pieces of paper containing the things that we wanted to let go, and followed it with a beautiful yoga sequence designed to invigorate and empower.
This was such a lovely workshop to take part in, and whilst there will not be any option of joining in one this year with coronavirus and lock down measures still in place, my intention is to give you the resources to create your own little haven for a couple of hours and have a summer solstice celebration, all in the comfort of your own home. How perfect!
But first let’s take a look at the solstice, traditions and the significance of Stonehenge.
What is summer solstice?
Summer solstice is the longest day of the year and marks the beginning of the Summer Season. In the northern hemisphere this takes place between the 20th and 22nd June each year. This year it falls on 20th June when the UK will enjoy 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight, bliss! It is the day in which day and night will be of almost equal length. It occurs twice each year (one being the summer solstice in June, and the other the winter solstice in December) when the movement of the sun’s path (as seen from Earth) comes to a stop before it reverses direction. The term ‘solstice’ derives from the Latin word ‘solstitium’, meaning ‘sun standing still’.
Traditionally, the summer solstice period fell between the planting and harvesting of crops, leaving people who worked the land time to relax.
There are many ways to celebrate the summer solstice, my recommendation would be to find what works well and sits right for you. I know that personally, if it feels too deep and ritual-like it would put me off. So the one I am sharing with you today is the type of activity I would complete and feel comfortable with. Ideas of celebrations include:
- Dancing in bare feet on grass or on a sandy beach.
- Joining together with your tribe for a fire ceremony.
- Taking a ritual dip in a lake or the sea, acting as a way of cleansing and releasing the past.
- Getting up at dawn, and completing anywhere from 3-108 repetitions of the Surya Namaskar sequence, whilst facing east.
Stonehenge in Wiltshire is the most popular place for Pagans (who have always believed that midsummer day holds a special power) to celebrate the longest day because it famously aligns to the solstices. The rising sun only reaches the middle of the stones one day of the year when it shines on the central altar.
While crowds of around 10,000 traditionally greet the moment dawn breaks with a mixture of cheers and silent meditation, this year the English Heritage have been forced to cancel the event due to Coronavirus. It will however, still be being streamed live on their social media channels, and there will be footage broadcast with a programme of activities later in the day.
A haven in your own home
So as I mentioned, I thought it would be a great idea to share a little celebration that you could do in your own home to mark this time.
Do a Review
This is the ideal day to be still and take check of where you are at as a midpoint for the year. Take some time to journal some answers to the following questions:
- Acknowledge how far you have come so far this year: What are your achievements?
- What lessons have you learnt?
- What are your grateful for?
- What would you like to let go of?
Set Your Intentions
After taking some time to look back over the year so far, a great way to move forwards is to set your intentions for the rest of the year. You could split this up in to what you’d like to achieve by the end of the year, and also what you’d like to achieve in 3 months time by the Autumn Equinox. 90 days is such a perfect time to set up a plan to achieve your goals, and the changing of the seasons acts as a natural time to achieve goals by too. Remember to connect to your “why” to ensure your intentions are as effective as possible.
Celebrate with this 35 minutes Vinyasa Routine designed for power, celebration and gratitude.
Finish off a wonderful celebration with this beautiful summer solstice guided meditation.
I would recommend setting aside 2 hours to enjoy this wonderful flow of activities as this will really allow you to be in the moment and give the celebration your full attention. Trust me when I say that you won’t regret it.
Carry it on
Summer solstice is all about rejoicing in the outdoors and enjoying the extra daylight, so whilst you could take time to celebrate this event on 20th June, it is also a great opportunity to re-vamp your routine or outlook for the coming months. Although the solstice also marks the start of us heading towards Autumn Equinox and the shortest day of the year, this doesn’t actually happen until December and will happen so gradually that we won’t notice the change for quite a while yet. So why not use those extra daylights hours to get up earlier, whether it be to enjoy a yoga practice, take part in some meditation, or just simply do something that makes you feel good. We know that as Winter hits we definitely feel like we just want to hibernate, so we could absolutely capitalise on this time. It is also the perfect time to get outdoors more, perhaps taking part in a new activity such as hiking, or gardening as well as many more. You can’t help but feel that there are so many opportunities that this time of year presents, so carrying it on past this event could be of huge benefit to us all: Physically, mentally and spiritually.
Let this be your time
So this year, let the summer solstice be a time of nourishment and support. Revel in the beauty of nature, and of your life.