This weekend is Summer Solstice and New Moon. I have noticed a real rise in celebration of solstices, especially the Summer Solstice which seems to be going hand in hand with the rise of outdoor swimming and people celebrating Summer Solstice with an outdoor swim. I must admit this is something I do too and have done for several years. I am in the water for sunrise (I traditionally celebrate on 21st June rather than the astronomical solstice), I greet the rise of the sun, often chant something and then on the shoreline myself and a couple of friends will have a shoreline altar and have some kind of little ritual.
Today I am wondering what is leading to the increase in celebrations of the solstices, I notice that the solstices seem to be more popular than the equinoxes or other festivals. Although there does also seem to be an increase in the celebration of Samhain and moving away from the commercial aspect that America has brought to Halloween and the custom of trick or treating.
Are we looking for a spiritual aspect to our lives? It has been well documented that there has been a fall in church congregations across the world. I’m not going to get in to the aspects of religion and the church here, but it has got me thinking, why are we celebrating the solstices and other what are often termed “pagan” festivals? Does it bring a sense of belonging? A sense of coming together? Are we feeling the need for this more than ever with all that is going on in the world? I don’t just mean the current pandemic, but the heightened awareness of so much, the racism across the world, the climate crisis, so much is going on around us. Is it because we have been “locked down” that we have become more aware? I wrote a blog quite early on in the pandemic with a hope that we would pause and re-evaluate and then felt dashed at the amount of rubbish that has been left and the queues at shops like Primark and then became acutely aware of my judging.
Returning to lockdown briefly, I know that this has given many, although not all, an opportunity to connect with nature, I like to think that we are part of nature, we are just one of all the beings that inhabit our beautiful planet. Prior to lockdown I do feel that more and more people were taking time outdoors, more and more celebrations were being held outdoors and it felt to me that more and more people were making that connection – is this bringing us to celebrating solstices and so on?
This rambling of my musings brings me to my next question – if you do celebrate a solstice – why? How do you choose what you do? Are you following the masses? Are you finding your own way? Often at times when the wheel of the year is turning and we meet with one of these festivals I write a blog or post on Facebook with ideas on how to celebrate. This weekend I’m thinking differently and perhaps partly because this year I will be doing things a bit differently. Traditionally I have seen the sun as masculine and moon as feminine as many of you who will be reading this do too, especially the moon and I often talk about her sacred feminine connection to women and our cycles. However, in the Norse Cosmology it’s the opposite way round the sun is female the Goddess Sunna and the Moon Male – Mani. I have to confess that I still work with the moon as a feminine aspect but that’s ok and this is where this long winded ramble is taking me, are you following the crowd or are you doing what feels right for you? Do you question what you are doing? Do you take time to get to know what or who you are celebrating? Do you request an audience with these Deities? Do you thank them? Provide an offering?
My plan was to invite you to do your own research, to find out what resonated with you, to find out the history of the celebrations that you participate in. I asked a friend what she thought about this idea which led to a discussion about how we learn. She is a listener, I’ve been having conversations with my other half quite a bit recently about this too. We are both big book lovers, but I have noticed a change in him, he’s becoming more and more screen orientated (which sometimes really does my head in!) but the point I’m making is I’m quite reluctant to learn via the internet, I often don’t easily find the information I’m looking for, that I go round and round in circles, don’t always find it’s logical and so many other things and find my patience short. However, buy a book and I will happily read it, dip in and out of it, refer to it. Sometimes I think I have way too many books, but I’m not sure that is possible, some of them I return to time and time again. I will happily look at several books to find the information to get different view points and so on. Going back to my friend she listens to podcasts I have many that do, they don’t work for me, I love to listen to a poem being read out loud, or a short story, something I can sink into but not factually information and not for too long, again with a book I can be there for hours. So, we all learn differently, it has been said about the concentration time that we have is reducing that we take in information differently from a screen to a book. All I know is what works for me.
I’m going to end my ramblings now and leave you with this invite. If you do celebrate festivals, ask yourself why and how do they actually feel for you? Do you want to do it differently? If you do celebrate the summer solstice I invite you to journey to or meditate on the spirit of the summer solstice and see what it brings to you. I encourage you and invite you to learn in your own way rather then thinking that you have to be listening to the latest trendy podcast, or read the latest cool book, learn and research in your own way with what’s comfortable for you and celebrate whatever you wish to celebrate in a way that speaks to you.