Summer Solstice: The Wheel of the Year

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June 20-21

Related holidays: Litha, Midsummer, Gathering Day, Feast of St. John

“Everything and everyone who has fulfilled its purpose must change.”

Symbols and symbolism of Summer: Roses, wheels/circles/disks, sunflowers, first fruits and vegetables, fire, the phoenix, salamanders and serpents, cats, bathing in ocean/water, change, beauty, love, intensity, sacrifice, wishes and dreams, art, offerings, renewal, spirals, stone circles

Some deities associated with summer and the sun: Sunna (Germanic), Sul/Sulis (Celtic), Lugh (Celtic), Brigid (Celtic), Corn Goddess (Mesoamerican), Quetzalcoatl (Mesoamerican), Holly King–Oak King (Celtic), Bast (Egyptian), St. John the Baptist (Christian), Apollo (Greek), Amaterasu (Japan)

Plants sacred to the summer solstice: Gathering these herbs on the Summer Solstice/Midsummer increases their magical potency.

  • Mistletoe – Highly revered by the Druids; used for protection and luck.
  • Oak – Associated with growth, expansion, fertility and prosperity. (The Oak King)
  • St. John’s Wort – Sunshine in plant-form; used for protection against negativity and melancholy.
  • Mugwort – Used to induce dreams, visions, and psychic abilities
  • Vervain – Common in protection and love spells.
  • Yarrow – When worn or carried, yarrow banishes fear and promotes courage.

Meanings of the Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice marks the height of the Sun’s power but also the turning point in the year when that power begins to wane. It is the longest day of the year and has been celebrated with bonfires, singing and festivals by peoples across the globe. The earth is green and holds the promise of a bountiful harvest. The Mother Goddess is heavily pregnant, and the God is at the pinnacle of his power.

At the Summer Solstice, we recognize that everything must change. Take time on this day to look back on what has been achieved in the previous year. We may relish our happy memories and great accomplishments even as we let them go in order to make room for new energy, new love and new experiences.

In earth-based traditions, this is a time to let go and practice generosity. People may gather for give-aways, letting objects, art, and crafts move into new relationships. Similarly, we can clear our minds and hearts of those ideas, feelings and events which are holding us back from our true creativity, love and power.

This summer is often associated with the God, the Divine Masculine, and with fathers in general. The Summer Solstice is a time to get in touch with your own creativity, your own potency and vitality, what makes you beautiful and powerful in your own right.

Stories of the Summer Solstice

On the Summer Solstice, the Sun enters into the sign of Cancer, a water sign which rules the mysterious, the imagination and our feeling nature. This may be why the Lady of the Lake and the Arthurian legends are associated with this time of year.

Victoria Crouch writes: “Water deities were very popular in Celtic society because they controlled the essence of life itself. The spontaneous movements of natural water showed, to the Celts, the sheer power of the goddesses, nymphs and faeries that lived within. Offerings to water for good luck were commonplace and even today, we throw coins into wishing wells, and refer to the Lady of the Lake as "Lady Luck". The Lady of the Lake is best known for her presentation to King Arthur of his magical sword, Excalibur, as she raised the sword up to the sky from her Lake.”

Her symbols include the golden apple for immortality and the red apple for transformation. Even though we associate this time of year with the fiery heat of the sun, it is also connected to water. If we let ourselves wander into the mysterious, watery realms of life, we may discover our true destiny, power and unlimited creative potential.

Magic and action for the Summer Solstice

Expressing your creativity and giving forth your gifts to the world are important ways to celebrate this holy day. Collage is such a great way of getting in touch with our subconscious and intuitive knowing, as we pick images and construct them seemingly at random. But the messages are often complex, clear and insightful.

To make a collage that explores some of the themes of the Summer Solstice, gather magazines, scissors, glue and a piece of cardstock. Decide on a theme, and then let yourself rip or cut out any images or words that speak to you. Use your intuition and trust the rightness of whatever comes through. After you glue the images down, you can put the collage on you Summer altar and do a little magic with it.

Take time each day to gaze at your collage. See what it has to say to you. You may even want to journal about it. Next, send the collage energy. Depending on the theme, you can imagine a color or quality that you are calling in, and with your imagination, picture that color, energy, or quality showering down on the collage, charging it with your magical intention. Do this every day for a few minutes, and feel the power of your intention growing and working in your life!


Interesting themes for a Summer Solstice collage include:

The sources of your creativity * What community means to you * The Divine Mother * The Divine Masculine * Completion * The gifts and skills you bring to the world *

Further Journaling questions for the Summer Solstice

  • Explore the associations you have with the words “light” and “darkness.” Make lists of associations and then write about the dis/agreements you discover in those lists.
  • What would it mean for you to do what you love? What are your coping mechanisms when you feel afraid or uncertain?
  • Write about a time when you felt proud of something you did.
  • Write about the father you had or the one you wished that you’d had.
  • How do you give yourself nurturing? How do you receive it from others?

Imbolc: Festival of Lights

February 2

In the wheel of the year, we are entering the holy time of Imbolc. It is the “quickening” time, when intention and devotion rise up within us to meet the year ahead. Today we know Imbolc as Groundhog's Day, when we wait to see if the Groundhog sees his shadow to let us know how long it will be until Spring appears.

And we may indeed feel the promise of Spring, as crocuses pop up here and there and the days seem visibly longer. This is traditionally a time to renew commitments and connect more deeply with your path – whether spiritual, philosophical or vocational. This is a good time to consider what you are here to serve.

Imbolc is an ancient festival of light, and it can also be a time of purification and cleansing in readiness to breathe life into actions and ideas with the coming of the spring. We have been dreaming up new visions, gathering our resources and strength through the winter, and now we begin to see the ways our dreams could take form in the coming year.

To align with the energy of Imbolc, take some time to connect with your personal mission statement for the year and see if it feels right to commit to that. Don't have a personal mission statement for the year? Well, go ahead and make one.

Sit down with a pen and paper and breathe deeply. You are going to move into a state where you can listen to your inner-voice. Ask yourself, your body, your heart: What do I need to cultivate this year? What wisdom is there for me to find in the year ahead? You may also ask yourself, What is sacred to me, at this time in my life? How can I serve that energy? What is my Deep Self/Higher Self calling for me to be?

Take some time to write about this, remembering to listen to your deep self and write whatever comes without censoring or judging the content. Use this writing to craft a short, simple personal mission statement for 2016. You can use this mission statement as a way to check in with yourself before making decisions. Does this action serve my mission for the year?

The Longest Night

Yule, or the Winter Solstice, is the longest night of the year, but it signifies the return of the power of the Sun for now the days will begin to grow longer. At this magical time of year when the Sun is reborn, we can feel sustained even in the darkest of times by our faith that life will continue in its round, luscious cycle

The Wheel of the Year: Mabon

The Autumn Equinox has been celebrated across the world for millennia as a festival of harvest. It is a time when the day and night forces are in perfect balance, but now the nights will grow longer and the days shorten as we approach the winter. At this time of year, we gather together to celebrate the plentiful harvests, to draw strength for the coming winter, and to recognize the gifts of the ancestors...

Beltane: The Green Gate

Beltane is a celebration of sacred unions filling our souls with abundance and the generous fertility of the land. We can mark this point on the wheel by stepping fully through the gate from the dark half into the light half of the year, which is moving from our inner-exploration to outer action. Take a closer look at your relationship with your body, connect with what you desire, and let yourself sink into your senses. This time of year can activate your sexuality and bring the energy of abundance and prosperity into your life. 

A Beltane Ritual

  • Consider an area of your life that you would like to fill with the energy of vitality, life-force and creativity. Such an area could be a relationship, your work/career, having children, or a specific project you’d like to begin.
  • Set a clear intention, such as “to bring more vitality and creativity to my relationship with X” or “to step fully into my power as a writer and let go of self-defeating tendencies that keep me from that power”.
  • Build an altar with this intention, intuitively choosing objects that seem to resonate with your intention and vision. You can also use old magazines to make a collage with this intention. The idea is to create a physical representation of your desires. You may want to journal about this vision or write about the objects that you chose. Or you may just take the time to sit with the energy of your altar or collage. Giving voice to your desires is a powerful way to work with the spirit of Beltane, so singing, playing music or simply speaking your intentions will give them more power.
  • Make offerings of plants, food, or incense to your spirit-helpers.

For the next few days or weeks, take time every day to visit your altar or collage. As you sit with it, let yourself imagine a channel of energy flowing back and forth between you and it. Imagine that you are feeding your vision what it needs to grow, much like watering and tending a seedling. Imagine it in turn feeding you with the energy you need to manifest your vision. Listen for what it needs from you. Take small steps in your outer life toward this vision, and be sure to celebrate your successes –whether they be small or large in scope.

THE WHEEL OF THE YEAR

The Spring Equinox is a celebration that occurs when the day and night are of equal length. It is a time signifying renewal, balance and rebirth. Known as Ostara in pagan circles, the name comes to us from a Germanic Goddess of spring and fertility. The symbols of this holiday are seeds, eggs, and magical rabbits. Sound familiar?