Astronomers have calculated the precise time of the June solstice as 4:13 AM CDT (09:13 UTC) today. This is the moment when the apparent path of the Sun appears to be at its northernmost point. Today is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere.
The biannual solstices have traditionally been significant times of social celebration and holidays. The solstices are physical evidence of the opposition of dark and light; contraction and expansion; cold and heat. The variances are the result of our Earth transiting its orbit around the Sun. Although we learn about our planet’s place in the solar system in grade school, solstices and equinoxes act as cultural reminders and place-keepers so we can better appreciate our place in the Universe. This allows some measure of personal meaning as the Earth spirals its way around the galaxy.
Throughout time, civilizations, religions, and wisdom traditions have celebrated solstices as sacred times to reflect, release the past, restore the life-force, and renew the spirit. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, this is more so during the December solstice than the one in June. Today’s solstice will recognize more of the physical aspects including outdoor work and recreation. The exceptions being native and pagan celebrations such as Litha and Midsummer.
If one is inclined to celebrate June solstice, we can reflect upon the passage of the seasons and make plans for the rest of the summer or winter. In the north we can take a day trip or go for a swim. In the south we can have a winter feast and enjoy cold weather activities. Anywhere on Earth we can contemplate and meditate upon our existance and celebrate life.
Although plants and animals experience rebirth during the spring equinoxes, life comes to a peak during the summer solstices; and finds rest during the winter solstices. They are like chapters in the annual books of our lives. In the summer, life is growing and striving under the intense rays of the Sun. We are most aware of the presence of life. In the winter, most plants are hibernating, with cold and snow being the reminders of rest and sleep.
Today I wish you a Happy June Solstice.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes F. Scott Fitzgerald. “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”