Tomorrow is the Solstice, June 21st, the mid-way point through the year. This is one of the four markers of the seasons, when the Sun moves into the cardinal signs, Aries (March), Cancer (June), Libra (September) and Capricorn (December).
These markers are incredibly important in western astrology as the zodiac is aligned with these four points in the astrological calendar and the dates remain the same year after year.
Earlier this week I read a fascinating and well-written article on the Guardian website, which reveals that some cities around the world align with the Sun during the Solstice. This was relatively unknown to me, although I was aware of many ancient monuments that were built in alignment with sun rise during the Solstice.
The article was so impressive that I’m sharing some of it with you. You can read the rest of the article here: Beyond Stonehenge, the cities built to celebrate the sun.
I would highly recommend it if you are interested in the significance of the Solstice and how we continue to honour and celebrate the Sun at this time of year. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“The summer solstice by definition transcends borders, religions, ethnicities. It unites rather than divides. Reassuringly, it harks back to a time long before Hinduism and Buddhism had entered the world’s consciousness, far earlier than the three great Abrahamic faiths that divided the planet’s population into rival God-fearing monotheists.
In our endlessly, celestially revolving world the solstice demands a moment of stillness and reflection. Its very etymology – from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still) – indicates that almost miraculous point of transition, sandwiched between cycles of movement, when the sun appears from Earth to have reached its most northerly or southerly excursion relative to the celestial equator and then, after “standing still”, reverses course. It is the longest day, the triumph of the sun, a celebration of midsummer and a marker that the days will start to shorten.
For a fleeting moment the entire year is on hold, a moment of flux and suspense beautifully caught in Margaret Atwood’s Solstice Poem:
This is the solstice, the still point
of the sun, its cusp and midnight,
the year’s threshold
and unlocking, where the past
lets go of and becomes the future;
the place of caught breath, the door
of a vanished house left ajar.
The summer solstice once marked the beginning of calendars, the season of harvest, the ancient middle of summer: a time to celebrate fertility and the life-giving strength of the sun in a pre-industrial environment. In today’s less rural world, for many people that ancient connection with the cycle of nature has been lost. Yet our fascination with the solstice remains curiously undimmed, as though deeply embedded in our ancestral memory.”
For me personally, there is something so hopeful about the Solstice. It’s partly linked to the fact that this ancient tradition of honouring the Sun does connect us to the distant past and the comforting repetition of the Sun’s movement can be relied on year in, year out.
Also, it represents the symbolism of the promise of a new day. The quality of the moment when the sun rises and the light returns, brings with it hope and a feeling of peace that the dark hours are behind you. I keep promising myself that I’ll go and watch the sunrise in Stonehenge one year.
A pilgrimage to an ancient site in honour of the life-giving Sun.