News & Articles

Periodically we'll publish local pagan news, as well as articles written by ourselves and members of our local community.

 

The summer solstice has been honoured around the world for millennia. In Britain and Ireland its marked by hundreds of earthworks, henges stone circles and rows, and it has a history of celebration from the Neolithic going through the Iron Age druids, through folklore and into the present day where it is honoured by pagans and heathens of many varieties. Solstice means solar standstill, and at this time the suns position from dawn to dusk does its highest arc in the sky, from its most north easterly at dawn to its most north westerly at sunset, before gradually rising further south day on day until the winter solstice. During this time when it is at its most northern arc, its position at dawn appears to 'stand still' until its journey south becomes discernible again. In many ways this can be seen as time where life force and the solar energies are at their height- a time of enthusiasm, celebration and empowerment, but also a time out of time, when the spirit world and our connection to our own souls may become more apparent.

 

Lighting fires has always been a popular practice at the summer solstice, and one that survived through to the modern era before being taken up with increasing enthusiasm in recent years. In Ireland there are many hills and ancient monuments sacred to or astronomically aligned to the summer solstice, but there are two especially famous hills, Knockainey, sacred to the fire goddess Aine, a faery queen, and Knoc Gréin, sacred to the solar goddess Greine. These two hills near each other in county Limerick were likely to have been beacon hills long ago, with twin fires honouring the sun at this time. Across Britain there are also many 'beacon' hills, which are likely to have been used for the same purposes.  An agricultural tradition across Britain and Ireland was to drive cattle in between two fires at this time to purify and bless them, and a custom among young men in particular was to leap the flames as well to be blessed and as a sign of fiery prowess.

 

There is something about the summer solstice that get many people's blood up-   as the celebrations at Stonehenge can attest- and this is a great time to reinvigorate and re-empower our lives. Try spending some time meditating on the sun- don't look at it directly, but imagine the suns rays piercing your heart and filling your body with light, as a healing and empowering exercise. Folklore also tells us that this is a time of faery revels, so now is also a good time to go out on to the land and make offerings to the spirits of place and the faery or elven kin in your area, as well as acknowledge the numinous in your life, whether present in nature, or as gods and goddesses of the sun sky and fertile earth.

 

In the modern world, we may feel less dependent on the agricultural cycles of the past, yet our lives still revolve around the earths fertility even if we shop and eat from a world wide larder. However, taking the time to acknowledge the sun and its effects on us all can make us more conscious of our connection the seasons and the cycles of life. Just remembering that our very existence depends on this vast ancient explosion that is our sun can be consciousness expanding all by itself...and making time to weave in these spiritual moments into our lives in a way that is relevant to us today, not only taps us in to the traditions of our ancestors, but continues and evolves those traditions in an every growing and renewing thread that enriches us all for generations to come.

Blessed be!

Danu's new book 'The Magic of the Summer Solstice' is out now, with traditional folklore, magic and recipes as well modern meditations and ceremonies, to help you celebrate the solstice in a way that feels relevant for you, today.
©DanuForest2015

Available from Watkins Publishing: http://www.watkinspublishing.com/shop/the-magic-of-the-summer-solstice-by-danu-forest-digital-exclusive/