Today is the celebration of the Summer Solstice, also known as Midsummer, or Litha. It is at this time that the Northern Hemisphere is closest to the sun (the opposite being true for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere). It is a time of fertility and celebration: bonfires, maypoles, dancing, and outdoor festivals have been traditional during this time for most of human history. In some modern Pagan faiths it is believed that this holiday represents the highest ascendency of masculine divinity.
Druids at Stonehenge on the Summer Solstice
Here are some recent quotes on this day from the press, along with some words from those who celebrate the Summer Solstice as a holiday.
“…an estimated 20,000 people will witness the sunrise following an all-night party at the ancient stone circle on Salisbury Plain. Every summer the event draws an eclectic mix including Druids, hippies and hedonists as well as people who want to experience what has become a traditional start to the longest day of the year…Revellers have been known to frolic naked. Some chant, some shout, while others sit meditating.” – Craig Evry, This is Wiltshire
“The summer solstice was first marked in ancient times as a kick-off-your-boots holiday in the long summer days of relative ease between the hard labor of planting and harvest. It influenced the placement of pyramids and helped to shape the modern calendar.” – Leslie Baldacci, Chicago Sun-Times
“While astronomers calculated the approximately 23.5? tilt of the Earth that means the summer solstice, ancient Europeans marked the day for religious celebration…The solstice, which falls on June 21 this year, has been a time to ask the gods for a bountiful harvest.” – Erin White, Arizona Daily Star
“Altogether, Midsummer is a favorite holiday for many Witches in that it is so hospitable to outdoor celebrations. The warm summer night seems to invite it. And if the celebrants are not, in fact, skyclad, then you may be fairly certain that the long ritual robes of winter have yielded place to short, tunic-style apparel. As with the longer gowns, tradition dictates that one should wear nothing underneath?the next best thing to skyclad, to be sure. (Incidentally, now you know the real answer to the old Scottish joke, ‘What is worn beneath the kilt?’)” – Mike Nichols, The Witches’ Sabbats
“And when has astronomy ever done more for the lifting of the spirit? The suspended moments of time’s zenith are sacraments of life’s goodness. Haste, duty, and the hassles of work have no admittance here. In the coming week, you will remember with love all those with whom you have found your ease in such suspension — companions of summer. And in recalling such release, you will look for more. Ironically, this is how you deepen your feeling of responsibility for the world. It is the one thing you have learned: to be at peace is the way to prepare to work for peace.” – James Carroll, The Boston Globe
“The three hikers headed his way had on nothing but backpacks, boots and smiles on their faces. “It was three college-aged guys,” Sawyer said. “I asked them what in the world would bring them into the woods dressed like that, and they said on the summer solstice, you’re always supposed to hike naked. In our short conversation – during which I maintained eye contact – they told me this was a pagan ritual of the Druid The merry men were soon on their way. Indeed, they were partway down the trail before Sawyer regained his senses, swung the camera around and snapped a shot of them “naturally fading” into the distance. Hence the evidence he has shown to his co-workers.” – Sam Venable, Knoxville News Sentinel
“It is through this season that we can see the beauty of life, the intensity of being, the rapture of passion, the exhilaration of awareness, possibilities of creation and the surprising tenderness of love. For it is passion and love that have driven humankind to realize some of its greatest treasures and its most extreme violations. It is only through awareness and conscious action that passion can bring us to the zenith of existence. This is the time to experience our passions and the force within, to be conscious of how we use them and the gifts they can bring and experience our own true power.” – Christina Aubin, Witchvox.com
A blessed Midsummer to you all!