Celebration of the Summer Solstice
The Summer Solstice marks the beginning of the time of the Holly King, who will rule from now until the Winter Solstice, when the Oak King returns. You may choose to celebrate the Oak King’s final day by placing a little mistletoe on your altar. If you do so, make sure that the mistletoe is untouched by human hands when harvested.
At this time of year the Holly King returns from his half-year of rest in Caer Arianrhod, according to the Welsh tradition. Caer Arianrhod is the Castle of the ever-turning Silver Wheel of Arianrhod (pronounced ‘ah-ree-AHN-rod’). This is the place of life, death and rebirth, watched over by the Moon Goddess Arianrhod. In northern parts of the British Isles it is said that Caer Arianrhod is visible in the night sky as the Aurora Borealis.
The Summer Solstice is a time for working magic of manifestation. As you celebrate, choose songs, dances and chants that attract greater purpose, guidance, and the manifestation of dreams and desires. Meditations and chants at this time of the year are directed at allowing your will and the will of the Gods and Goddesses to become attuned to one another.
Spiritual Significance of the Summer Solstice
The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year. After this day, the movement of the Wheel is towards the darker part of the year. So this day is the gate of moving from light to darkness, just as the Winter Solstice is the gate of moving from darkness to light. At this time of year we honor the manifestation of the seeds we have planted earlier in the year. It is a time of the balance between inner self and outer self. Midsummer is a good time to do energy work; especially energy work that involves bringing things to fruition. It is also an excellent time to express thanks to your God or Goddess for bringing new gifts into your life.
The Summer Solstice marks the surrender of the Oak King to the Holly King. Henceforth the days will get shorter and the nights will get longer. The dark half of the Wheel of the Year is a time of inner contemplation. It is a time of reflecting on that divine spark that we all carry within ourselves. The Summer Solstice is the time of year when the light of your inner True Self has reached its peak, and will begin to enter into another period of silent contemplation as the year begins to darken again. Use this time to focus your intention and will on manifestation. What is it you hope to achieve in your life? Are your actions helping you to achieve these things? If not, the Summer Solstice reminds us to trim away those things that are no longer productive.
Symbols of Midsummer
The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year. For this reason, any symbols associated with the Sun would be appropriate. Altars decorated with flowers of the season are also appropriate, as are bonfires, drum circles and dancing.
The element of Fire, representing the Sun, is often seen at Midsummer celebrations. Lit candles, bonfires, or solar emblems adorn many altars at this time of year. The fires of the Sun symbolize the power of creativity and passion. This is also a time of rebirth. Since this day marks the beginning of the darker half of the year, the rebirth symbolized here usually involves darker, earthier things such as salamanders, toads and serpents.
Sunflowers are also a common sight at this time of year, as are solar colors like red, orange, yellow and white. Honeysuckles and daisies are flowers that symbolize the Sun and its colors. Since these flowers are commonly in bloom at this time of year, they would be appropriate items with which to adorn your altar.
Bears and eagles also represent the Sun. Eagles are among the highest-flying birds, and many Native American legends had eagles soaring up to the Sun. Bears leave their caves most often in the summer months, and are therefore also associated with the Sun. Additionally, the spiritual associations with this holiday involve rebirth and new growth. In a sense, such spiritual rebirth involves stepping out of the caves of our unconscious minds and into the light of conscious awareness.
Oak trees and their gifts are also common symbols of this holiday. The Oak is the King of the Forest and is prized for its strength and endurance. It is part of the sacred Druid trinity of Oak, Ash and Thorn and is a symbol of wisdom. One possible meaning of the word “Druid” is “Wise Ones of the Oak,” and this is reflected in the Gaelic word for oak, “duir.” Oak wreaths, bowls of acorns, and mistletoe are therefore common symbols and decorations for the Summer Solstice.
Gods and Goddesses of Midsummer
Cernunnos, the Horned God is a twin god. Together the Oak King and the Holly King represent both aspects of Cernunnos, also known as the Green Man. At the Summer Solstice we honor Cernunnos in the passing Oak King aspect and the coming Holly King aspect.
Aine, the Irish Goddess of love, peace, prosperity and sovereignty, is often honored on Midsummer’s Eve with a feast. This feast is usually a potluck in which each participant brings a favorite dish or a gift from their home garden.
Although not as common, Arianrhod is also sometimes associated with this holiday. She is the Moon Goddess, and oversees death, birth and rebirth from the Spiral Castle. She sits at her spinning wheel, spinning the silver threads of life. Each thread of her wheel represents a line of probability; a dimension and a path of life.
This is also a good time to invoke other Sun Gods, such as Balor or Lugh, or Sun Goddesses such as Aine or Grian.
Colors of Midsummer
Colors for the Summer Solstice include yellows, representing the Sun, and greens, representing living things and healing energy. Sometimes silver, representing the Moon Goddess Arianrhod, is also used.
Rituals and Traditions of Midsummer
There is evidence to suggest that the Summer Solstice was not celebrated by the ancient Celts, but was imported later. It is certainly celebrated today. It is a time when the Sun Gods are at the peak of their powers, but at the same time, their powers begin to wane and we witness the ascendancy of the Moon Goddesses.
Traditions of Midsummer include feasting and bonfires. Drumming and dance circles are also common. Any ritual involving transformation, balance of power, rebirth or manifestation is appropriate at this time of year.
|DATE||HIGH DAY||COMMON PAGAN NAME||MEANING|
|Winter Solstice||Alban Arthan||Yule||Rebirth|
|Vernal Equinox||Alban Eiler||Ostara||Youth|
|May 1||Beltane||Beltane||Young Adulthood|
|Summer Solstice||Alban Heruin||Litha or Midsummer||Adulthood|
|August 1||Lughnasadh||Lughnasadh or Lammas||Maturity|
|Autumnal Equinox||Alban Elved||Mabon||Old Age|