The northern hemisphere's longest day of the year is today, June 21, 2018. Though this will be our longest day, the length of those days varies considerably depending on where you live. Here in Maryland we'll have about 16 hours of daylight, while the Florida Keys will have under 14 and the most northern parts of Alaska will have 24 hours of sun!.
There are perceptions that the summer solstice has an equal number of dark and light hours (12 and 12), that is is the hottest day of the year, and that with patience, you can balance an raw egg on end. All of these are false. The hours of light and dark won't be exactly equal unless you live in a very limited geographic area and the length of the day doesn't effect the temperature. I admit I've tried to balance the egg more than once and I've never beens successful.
The summer solstice means different things to each of us. For some it is simply Mother Nature's official start to summer. Others head to Stonehenge to wait for the perfect moment when the sun rises over the Heel Stone and hits the central Altar Stone. There are celebrations and parades, including the Santa Barbara and the Fremont Solstice Parade, which includes a naked bike ride. Others spend quiet moments, meditating, journaling and expressing gratitude. In Sweden, they gather flowers and herbs on the day of the solstice, and some make them into wreaths for their hair or add them to food and decorations for festivities that last all day, often ending with a bonfire. Here in Baltimore, listening to jazz in the exquisite gardens at the Rawlings Conservatory has always been one of my favorite ways to celebrate!
How delightful that we can adapt those celebrations in our own way. I've already done my daily meditation and journaling, I will be gathering herbs and flowers for recipes and decorations and i may fashion a wreath if there is time. I will listen to jazz as I prepare my favorite solstice recipes for an evening picnic, and it is very likely that Zippy will join me to howl at the moon, with or without the bonfire. Our area frowns on open flames.
My celebration begins before the actual day. Gratitude, vulnerability and contrast are on my mind as the day approaches. The solsitce promises another season, rich with nature's abundance. Many don't live in areas where there are four distinct seasons, and many don't want to! But I am grateful for the annual reminders of life's passages - birth, growth, maturity, death and decay, and back to the renewal of birth - all keep me aware. They also provide seasonal contrasts and variety, which adds so much to life.
There is a sense of vulnerability during these times. What is more vulnerable than a seed, bursting forth from its safe dark shell to expose its inner most essence? Seeds provide a metaphor for what we can become if we do our inner exploration and allow our most personal gifts to be exposed and shared. It takes courage and faith to share who we are with the world.
And then there is contrast - yin/yang. The hot forces of the summer's yang need to be balanced with the coolness of yin. If we are aware of these contrasts, we can be better prepared. This year in particular, from the raging molten lava of the volcanic eruptions in Hawaii, to the anger and rage resulting from our current political situation, we need to find ways to bring balance.
In an earlier post I referred to the serenity prayer - to let go of what we can't control, to take action if we can make a difference. There is little we can do when volcanoes rage, but we can take action to improve the political situation.
It is imperative for our health to detach as much as possible while gathering and processing information. We all have different sources. It is best to find factual information that doesn't incite anger, fear or violence. Internal rage can do more damage to you than it will to any issue you are hoping to resolve.
The solstice is a time of opportunity and growth. Have the faith to open your heart and share your talents, creativity and unique gifts. We can all contribute to making this world a better place. What seeds will you plant during the solstice? How will you nourish them and encourage their growth? What ideas and talents do you have that no one else can share with your special grace and flair? What gifts will you harvest in the coming months?
I journal daily and add seeds at the bottom of my pages so I can return to review the dates when new ideas, relationships, and projects first appeared. Many of my seeds don't even sprout, but others grow roots, fruit, and even create seeds that become spin off projects and experience. I love processing and seeing the visuals of the seeds is an exciting way to process!
I hope your solstice will be filled with joy, hope and celebrations with loved ones, and the seeds you plant in the next few weeks will result in a bountiful harvest in the months ahead.
My hydrangeas are so gorgeous so I thought I'd share!
The name Hydrangea comes from the Greek word for water, "hydra", and “angos,”, the word for vessel.
The hydrangea is a flower of duplicity, both in form and meaning. It's large and showy pompom is mad of tiny, delicate, four petaled flowers. It has two meanings as well. It has been associated with sincere and heart felt emotions and gratitude, but a contrary meaning if one of coldness and frigidity.
At one time, families were cautioned not to place hydrangeas near their front door if they had single daughters. The flowers guaranteed the maidens would never marry.
Hydrangeas contain cyanide. DO NOT eat them. One of my first thoughts was how darling the delicate flower segments would be candied, like violets or lavender (recipes for both are hidden somewhere on this site, by the way.) But I am always cautious and do research. Sadly, they are poisonous and can't be candied or used in salads or desserts. Luckily, there are plenty of other herbs and flowers available.
They do come in handy for other purposes though. In addition to making gorgeous fresh bouquets, they can be dried and used in wreathes, bouquets and garlands, but they are best made while the flowers are just beginning to dry, and placed where they won't be touched or moved. Once dried, they are very fragile.
"To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing."
So many, myself included, are distracted with the fear based events of the day - the political situation, the media's successful attempts to keep us uncomfortable and distracted. These distractions rob us of the our energy.
One of the last things we think about is our talents, our gifts, what we have been brought on this earth to share to add value to our own lives and the lives of those impacted by our voice. Too many of us our silent.
Lack of confidence in our opinions and perspectives is also a factor. The fear of being judged keeps many of us silent. There was a time that one negative comment could stop me cold. A quote from Aristotle - "To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing" - created a shift in my perception. Now I collect criticism. It means I am extending my reach beyond what is safe. Leaving our comfort zones is the only way any of us will ever truly have an impact.
If we blend in the mushy middle of what is always safe, our voice will remain common and essentially useless. Our talents, gifts and opinions are valuable when they are used to make others think. Sometimes their not agreeing with us will ultimately have more value than rubber stamping our cautious, guarded options. We have an obligation to share our gifts in a way that makes us vulnerable and valuable.
Welcome!! I’m Mikell (pronounced Michael). If you love spicing up your life with herbs, recipes, decorating and crafts, symbolism and rituals like I do, I hope you’ll sign up for my newsletter and free Enhancing Your Life with Herbs e-book!
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!