An Irish Blessing
When the first light of sun – Bless you.
When the long day is done – Bless you.
In your smiles and your tears – Bless you.
Through each day of your years – Bless you.
The Summer Solstice is known by many names, including Midsummer and Litha in the Celtic tradition. It occurs on or around 21st June in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the longest day and shortest night and occurs when the Earth’s axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun at its maximum of 23°26’. In the Northern Hemisphere, this is when the sun reaches the Tropic of Cancer. Astrologically, the June Solstice marks the Sun’s entry into the cardinal, water sign of Cancer.
The Summer Solstice is when the sun peaks to its highest point in the sky and also marks the time when the daylight will begin to shorten and we’re on the journey to autumn and winter. The word Solstice originates from the Latin word ‘Solstitium’, which means ‘sun standing still’.
The Druids believed this day represented the marriage of Heaven and Earth. As with Halloween, Midsummer was seen as a time when the veil between the physical and non-physical worlds is thin, allowing easier communication between the two worlds.
The Celts also respected the phases of the moon and they referred to June’s full moon as the ‘Mead Moon’ or the ‘Honey Moon’. It was a time of gathering honey and making mead. June was also a popular month for marriage, following the fertility festival in May. This is where the term ‘honeymoon’ originates.
In Celtic tradition, the Summer Solstice is a time to celebrate nature, fertility, the Earth and her ever-changing seasons as part of the ‘wheel of the year’. As with other ancient cultures and traditions, it is a reminder of the journey of life, an acknowledgement that we are governed by the cycles of time – birth, childhood, adulthood, old age, death…
To pass down wisdom, ancient peoples would hold celebrations to honour the cycles and seasons, which would incorporate storytelling accompanied with music. This would act as a reminder to the people of the importance of respecting ancient wisdom and that it is the cycles which govern mankind and not the other way around.
A Midsummer Meditation
On this Solstice day the Otherworld is very close, just a whisper away. In the Northern Hemisphere, this is the longest day of the year and the shortest night. The sun is at the height of its powers. It is the time of year when there is the greatest light and the least darkness. It is the mid-point, the point of balance.
If you stand outside at midday, the sun is directly overhead and there is hardly any shadow cast at all. All living creatures cast shadows and only spirits have none, so this day was traditionally seen as bringing us nearer to resembling spirits in our worldly reality.
This is a day to absorb the brightness of the midsummer sun. We can ask for the sun to shine upon anyone who is feeling a lack of light and also upon any darkness within ourselves – giving thanks for the sun which sustains us and allowing the creative force of the sun to fill all the cells of the body.
Through stories and song, music and poetry, a living bridge is forged between ourselves, this world and the Otherworld – bringing spiritual power and earthly power together – the marriage of Heaven and Earth spoken of earlier. When our awareness of the sacred link between spirit and matter gets broken, we lose the sense of enchantment. We become disconnected and then, as we know, things get into a very sorry state!
Harp and Word, when woven together have traditionally been seen as making this bridge into the Otherworld. Of all musical instruments, the harp is particularly enchanting and is often accompanied by magical birds. Birds are seen as living in two worlds. They are representatives of the element air, while at the same time, their flight is like the ascension into heaven.