Summer Solstice 2023
by the Rev. Angie Buchanan, Earth Traditions Church
Summer Solstice is a time of celebration for the “People of the Earth – Pagans. Our gardens are planted, and we celebrate by gathering with friends, feasting, dancing around bonfires, singing, and preparing for the hot summer days ahead.
The word “solstice” comes from the Latin solstitium—from sol (Sun) and stitium (still or stopped). The date of the Summer Solstice varies slightly from year to year. This year it falls on Wed, Jun 21st at 9:57 AM CDT. During this Solstice time, the Sun has reached its highest and northernmost points in the sky and its path does not change for a brief period of time; it appears to “stand still.”
Secularly, the Summer Solstice marks the start of summer in the northern half of the globe. However, in the Celtic traditions, which saw the year divided by dark and light halves, this time of Solstice was also known as “Midsummer.” It marked the midpoint of the growing season, halfway between planting and harvest. This is the longest day of the year and the shortest night.
June is the time of ripe, luscious strawberries, and the Full Moon in June is known as the Strawberry Moon. June, being a respite between planting and harvest, is also the time of love, wedding nuptials, and the drinking of mead, a fermented beverage made primarily from honey, water, and yeast – so the Full Moon in June is also sometimes referred to as the “Honeymoon.”
Yet despite the celebratory nature, as with all natural cycles, there is an undertone of darkness in the light. While we celebrate the power of the sun, we also note its decline. From here on the hours of sunlight will decrease. But for now, we will live in the moment and taste the sweetness of life.
In Summertime, a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872 - 1906
When summertime has come, and all
The world is in the magic thrall
Of perfumed airs that lull each sense
To fits of drowsy indolence;
When skies are deepest blue above,
And flow’rs aflush,—then most I love
To start, while early dews are damp,
And wend my way in woodland tramp
Where forests rustle, tree on tree,
And sing their silent songs to me;
Where pathways meet and pathways part,—
To walk with Nature heart by heart,
Till wearied out at last I lie
Where some sweet stream steals singing by
A mossy bank; where violets vie
In color with the summer sky,—
Or take my rod and line and hook,
And wander to some darkling brook,
Where all day long the willows dream,
And idly droop to kiss the stream,
And there to loll from morn till night—
Unheeding nibble, run, or bite—
Just for the joy of being there
And drinking in the summer air,
The summer sounds, and summer sights,
That set a restless mind to rights
When grief and pain and raging doubt
Of men and creeds have worn it out;
The birds’ song and the water’s drone,
The humming bee’s low monotone,
The murmur of the passing breeze,
And all the sounds akin to these,
That make a man in summer time
Feel only fit for rest and rhyme.
Joy springs all radiant in my breast;
Though pauper poor, than king more blest,
The tide beats in my soul so strong
That happiness breaks forth in song,
And rings aloud the welkin blue
With all the songs I ever knew.
O time of rapture! time of song!
How swiftly glide thy days along
Adown the current of the years,
Above the rocks of grief and tears!
‘Tis wealth enough of joy for me
In summertime to simply be.