June 21 – June 22
Also called Alban Hefin or Midsummer in Welsh which means “the light of summer”.
The summer solstice is a very ancient and special time when the sun is at it’s peak and again, likely one of the oldest celebrations on earth. The Northern hemisphere experiences the longest day of the year and the sun touches the northernmost point on the horizon. In many northern points of the hemisphere such as Scotland, it is barely dark at midnight. Summer solstice in most places seemed to be a continuation of the celebrations that took place on Beltane. Making flower garlands, dancing, celebrations with food, music and bonfires were frequent activities. The Irish goddess Aine seems to have been celebrated at this time and her name means “brightness”. She was most likely a significant sun goddess at one time. It was thought that Aine and her tribe came out to celebrate in the festivities on the summer solstice, some tales say in the morning and others say at night. Many ancient stone circles and monuments align with the summer solstice including the Ring of Brodgar, Stonehenge, Dombeg, Carnac and Callanish Stones. The Ring of Brodgar in Orkney, Scotland specifically has been locally known for centuries as “The Temple of the Sun”. Tales of midsummer adventures enchants the imagination and it’s no surprise it inspired one of the greatest writers, Shakespeare, in his famous “Midsummer Night’s Dream”. In Wales, a tradition was passed down through the ages to set a wheel, a sun symbol, on fire and hurl it down a local hill representing the sun on its descent. The long evenings likely brought people out in force and celebrations would have spilled between houses and streets. These celebrations may have led to the origins of classic spiral folk dances like “Threading the Needle”. Spiral symbols have often been synonymous with the sun and in essence, our life force.
Ways to Celebrate:
Set up your altar accordingly: Decorate your home or space with seasonal symbols and colors of nature. Common decorations are sun flowers or any bright flower, honey, the oak tree, mistletoe and colors yellow, purple and pink. Find unique items that have strong symbology for you.
Vacation: If you’re able, get out of town for a few days! Celebrate life! Relax in a hot tub, go fishing or boating, go dancing and drinking or other fun recreational activities! Make the most out of this season and the longest of days!
Make mead: Mead was considered a solar drink given that it was flavored and made with honey from bees who were active in the warm season. Likely this was also due to alcohol’s ability to warm the stomach as well. Find your favorite recipe and make mead!
Create a craft: Make something representative of the season! Create a sun wheel representing the connectedness of all life! Make a summer themed jewelry piece, soap, bath bombs or smudge sticks with fresh summer herbs or wildflowers, paint a picture of the sunrise or sunset, make a summer bouquet, necklace or flower crown.
Connect with others: Prepare a Summer Solstice dinner. Listen to appropriate seasonal music. Light candles. Some common dishes are stuffed chicken, fruit salad, summer pudding, lavender or strawberry cheesecake and passion punch. Enjoy your family and friends. Cook something different you’ve never tried before or try a new wine! Go out to a restaurant you’e never been too. Call up and meet friends or family you haven’t seen in a while to encourage meaningful and new conversation. Have a summer barbecue! Attend a pagan social event. Mark this season with something unique to make it feel like more of a special occasion.
Write in your journal: In nearly every culture, the summer solstice in particular has been recognized in one way or another since ancient times. Reflect on our history as the human race and recognize our individual connection in the infinite expanse of time. Take this time to write in your journal.
Make an offering: Make a seasonal mandala with natural objects in a local park or in your own yard. If inclined, you could include bird seed, fruit, berries or nuts for local wildlife in your mandala.
Kindle a bonfire: Have a bonfire outside if possible, although indoors is fine as well if you have a fireplace. Stay up and watch the sun go down on this longest day of the year!
Nature walk and meditation: Take a meditative walk through nature enjoying all the active life around you! If so desired, collect natural objects to build crafts at home or add to a summer inspired altar. Go berry picking in this prime growing season!
“The world will pass away, but love and music last forever.” -Scottish proverb
For more information check out The Compleat Meadmaker by Ken Schramm!
Writer and Herbalist
A founding member of Discover Druidry, Isla is a writer, photographer and avid gardener. She wrote the Celtic Druidry Handbook: An Evidence Based Guide.