Summer solstice – the time when you get naked, jump over fires and feast, all  the while rising at dawn to greet the sun with a massive fertility ritual. So that’s a vague definition of what the summer solstice is about but what can we do in our daily lives to carry over the meaning of the summer solstice?

Apart from holding a circle or taking part in a formal ritual to mark the occasion, the solstice (and the other significant days of the year) are useful tools to ground us back to reality and mother earth. We are so busy commuting, working, browsing tablets, watching tv and surfing computers it must surely have been easier for earlier pagans to find the time celebrate these days. Heck, they could take three days off to ensure a feast had been laid worthy of a king. These days, a few scones and home baked cakes are special enough.

Credit: Instagram @mikebanawa
Credit: Instagram @mikebanawa

And maybe that is the problem with modern life. That we prioritise so much ahead of our own spirituality and our own inner growth. A medieval pagan might have rose at dawn, milked the cows, gathered fruit, lit the fire, gathered fruit, drawn water, gathered fruit and then walked ten miles to a little hamlet to celebrate the summer solstice. We reach home at 7pm and even though knackered, manage to find enough time to escape our world via Game of Thrones or Call of Duty but not enough to celebrate our connection to the earth. It’s surely a matter of priorities when we say that we barely have enough time to celebrate the Summer Solstice.

But just because we do not believe we have enough time for a formal ritual there are a hundred different ways to stop ourselves forgetting it altogether.

  • Light candles at dawn and dusk
  • Rise at dawn to watch the sunrise
  • Get out to watch the sunset
  • Make a special effort to light a fire in the fireplace. Not the usual coal options but one made entirely of natural wood.
  • Eat only foodstuffs that are in season and which would naturally be harvested at this time e.g. berries
  • Rather than eat inside, make a conscious decision to eat outside
  • Sit outside for a while with no phone, tablet or laptop and just take time to be. Feel the sun and the world whizz by while you contemplate the meaning of your existence with zen like attention.
  • Make an offering to the earth –  this could be as simple as burying some bread in the earth.
  • Turn off the TV for the day and resolve to take a walk in nature. Forests are beautiful this time of year.
  • If you are working on the solstice itself, do not be afraid to carry out your celebrations the weekend.

What is important is that we reflect on ourselves and make an effort to connect to the cycles of the earth. It does us good when we consciously decide that we are going to allocate some time to grow ourselves from the inward out, rather than focusing our attention solely on external goods and services to make us feel good. Because the truth is the solstice can serve as a powerful reminder that we are already happy, that we are part of something greater.

Cutting ourselves off from the earth and our inward thoughts makes us dependent on outside things to validate ourselves. Our happiness is decided by whom we are with, what car we drive, our latest gadget, holiday or the size of our home. All these things are only temporary. They are fleeting and give us a false set of values on which to base our happiness.

When we sit quietly with ourselves and the earth, natural happiness can be found in recognising that we are perfect just the way we are. We are right where we are meant to be and we have the ability to change nearly anything we want in our lives. No amount of Game of Thrones can teach us that.