Summer solstice is a unique time of celebration in Europe: it marks the official start of summer in many countries, and people have been celebrating it since ancient times. It puts us back in touch with nature, and many use it as a time to reflect and connect with themselves and each other as well as the planet.
But what is summer solstice exactly, why should you care — and how can you use it as a time to carry out your own reflections and meditations on nature?
Summer solstice, explained
The summer solstice (especially in my country, Britain) is synonymous with images of people flocking to Stonehenge, one of the most ancient sights in the world. Officially the longest day in the northern hemisphere, the summer solstice marks the official start of summer.
I know what you’re thinking: Does Britain even have a summer? And why should we — and many other countries — care so much about the summer solstice?
Britain does have a summer (albeit a very short one), and the solstice was a key cultural event in numerous European societies thousands of years ago. Despite the fact that we’re now in 2020, many still celebrate it. They recognize its astronomical importance as well as its valuable spiritual meanings.
And it’s these spiritual meanings that form the basis of this article. Let’s take a look at how to partake in the deeper meaning behind solstice so that you can use this time to celebrate solstice and further your own spiritual aims.
Celebrate the sun
Our sun is a true life-giver. It lights up the world, it nourishes us, it keeps us alive, warms our oceans, gives energy to our plants, and it even emits vitamin D.
Celebrating the sun, of course, means celebrating nature. And while many people flock outdoors to fields and hills during the solstice to give thanks to the sun, that may not be possible if you’re under lockdown. You could instead spend some time in your garden over solstice, giving thanks to the sun, but your thanks could also be more symbolic, too. For example, you could light some candles in your house.
You could also just go for a walk and absorb the sights, sounds, and smells of summer. Take in the wonderful colors of the flowers, watch the bees go about their daily business, and breathe in the fresh air.
Don’t forget to watch the sunset, too. It deepens our connection with nature and reminds us that, no matter how bad life gets down here, we’re part of this infinite, everlasting wholeness, this deeper mystery that we can’t even explain. It can also be good for our mental health. No matter what happens, the sun will always rise and set each day, year after year, millennia after millennia.
Start a garden
So, we’ve got so much to thank the sun for. One thing in particular sticks out: The sun gives our crops energy.
There’s no better time than now to start a garden and grow your own fruit and vegetables! The summer is in full swing and the sun is shining. You’ll also feel a real sense of achievement once it’s done, and you could even get other people involved to help you out.
Go here to learn more about how to start a garden.
Visit local farms
The sun does so much for us — in fact, it does more than many of us realize.
A really cool way to spend the summer solstice and show appreciation for nature is to go and visit a local farm. It will give you an opportunity to learn more about what goes on at a farm, including how plants are grown and what farms mean to the community.
It will also give you the chance to further your connection with nature. You’ll be away from the stress and anxiety of the city, and at one with fresh air and fresh produce.
Use the time to reflect
Every single one of us is on a unique journey. Just like our ancestors thousands of years ago, we’re part of nature’s plan.
Solstice is a great time to reflect and think about your personal journey; where you’ve come from, where you are now and where you’re going. Although the reasons for the worldwide lockdown aren’t very nice, the fact that many of us have been forced to stay indoors these past few months should give us further recourse to reflect. What will we do differently when all this is over? What do we have to be thankful for?
Start something new — set goals
One thing I like to do during solstice is set new goals. I like to use the time to reflect and take stock of my year so far, and then look forward with new goals.
After all, the solstice symbolizes new beginnings. In Europe, the first half of the year is over, the longest day of the year is done. From now on, the days are getting shorter, the darker nights are creeping in.
Lastly, just chill
Another thing I love about the summer solstice is that, unlike, say, a music festival, it’s a celebration that isn’t rushed. Instead, the summer solstice is a time to relax, wind down, and take it easy.
Solstice reminds me a lot of mindfulness. It’s about just letting go for a few hours, of listening to your thoughts but not acting on them. Let them come and go. Surrender and relax. You’ve worked hard for this, and now is the time to partake in the wonder of nature.
Summer solstice takes place on Monday, 21th June. If you celebrate it, do let us know what you got up to in the comments!