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Celebrating the summer solstice
Today in the northern hemisphere it's the Summer Solstice, also known as Midsummer, or Litha - the day of the year with the longest amount of daylight, and the shortest night.
This is another turning point in the cycle of the seasons, and the energy changes again – a moment of maximum expansion, that carries within itself the seed of contraction.
The sun is at its highest power, but from now on days will start to shorten until the Winter Solstice, and the longest night of the year, in a never-ending cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
Nature’s growth is at its peak. There’s a sense of abundance, and everything is verdant and lush. Flowers are in bloom, and the first vegetables are ready for picking, nourished by sunlight. This is a time to honour the sun and its light, and bask in it.
In ancient times, people held celebrations on midsummer’s eve. They gathered together to light fires on hill tops, took part in candlelit processions and carnivals, and stayed up to watch the sunrise.
The oak tree is associated with the summer solstice. In some folklore and mythological traditions, the Oak King embodies summer, while the Holly King embodies winter. During the year the two kings engage in constant battle.
The Oak King is strongest at midsummer, then at the Autumn Equinox the Holly King gathers strength, reaching his maximum strength at midwinter, until the Oak King regains power at the Spring equinox, and the whole cycle starts again, in a metaphor of the balance of light and dark, growth, and crop renewal.
During the year nature goes from expansion to contraction. The summer solstice is the culmination of growth, but also the time when decline starts to advance.
I love the seasons and find them so inspiring not just for the diverse beauty that they bring to the world, but also for their cyclical nature - a reminder that life is not a straight line, but a series of cycles, and the same is true for creativity, personal energy, growth, and the healing process.
But society pushes us to constantly do, take action, move forward, expand, grow...and it's exhausting.
I celebrate the seasons and the wheel of the year to remind myself of nature’s cycles so that I can embrace all the phases, and a slower pace of life.
I find it easy to be grateful for the birth and growth part of the cycle, the expansion, but not so much for the contraction. I try to be graceful about it, knowing that it's an essential part of the process, and I also try to be gentle with myself when grace doesn't come easy.
So today, the summer solstice, I lit a candle on my altar to celebrate the peaks, the ups, the growth and expansion, with much gratitude for all their gifts.
And even if I'm not actually at my peak in terms of personal energy nor creativity, when I tune in with the seasons, honour their rhythm, and make space to connect with my own cyclical nature, I end up with a feeling of acceptance and hope, and remind myself that this is just one phase, and it will pass.
I'll leave you with some photos of the countryside here in France, and a peek into my garden.
The vegetation is so green and lush at the moment, and country lanes are edged with waist-high ferns, cow parsley, and foxgloves.
In my garden, roses and lavender are doing particularly well this year, and the breeze carries a sweet, wonderful smell - I can't share that, but I hope the photos can bring a moment of beauty and stillness into your life.
Solstice blessing to you all.
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