Summer Solstice, 2020

Well, another solstice has come around (mid-summer for the north, mid-winter for friends in the southern half of the planet!), and again falling on work days for me-- neither time nor energy for any special activities-- just a little mindfulness of the occasion, a little research again into the customs of the Latvian half of my forebears, and selecting a few photos that reflect some part of the spirit of the occasion. 

Solstice Flowers, Geum, Avens, Wheelbarrow

Mid-summer celebrations have long been important to Northern Europeans and their scattered progeny-- where summer seasons are (variably) short, and/or winters long and cold, summer is welcome and crucial. While milder parts have early harvest of vegetables already, colder zones might be finishing last year's stored provisions, supplemented with wild and garden greens. Everyone can revel in the sun (Saule, a feminine deity in Latvian tradition) at the height of her powers, with the land bursting with life, green and flowering, with long hours of daylight to complete the many agricultural tasks of the short summer.

solstice flowers, Erysimum, wallflower, viola, viola elegantula,

In Latvia, the celebrations have been settled just after the actual solstice: (22) 23, 24 June, influenced by the Christian feast day of St. John the Baptist, but with mostly pre-Christian traditions. The two or three days include herb harvesting (this practise occurs in various countries, with the belief that herbs are at their most potent at this time), making wreaths of flowers and symbolic leaves (to adorn people and animals for strength and protection), celebratory foods, bonfires (keep the flames high to send the light into the next solar year, leap over the fire for good luck), staying up till dawn, singing special songs for fertility, luck, prevention of disasters, and more. Notice a theme? Okay, a couple of themes, one is the obvious love of celebration. Beyond that, locally centred agricultural societies are very vulnerable to minor and major setbacks due to the vagaries of weather or human error--this leads to observances which closely monitor the seasons, try to assure harvests, but also seek to influence 'luck', currying favour with beneficial forces and diminishing the power of negative spirits or personalities. At their best, these practises celebrate and strengthen our connection to the rest of nature, and rich cultural traditions. At worst they can ossify into fearful superstition--let's keep to the former in our modern adaptations!

solstice flowers, potentilla, cinquefoil, sempervivum, phlox

I'll see how my schedule goes this week-- maybe I'll get a chance to try my hand at wreaths, and/or gathering some herbs for teas!.. meantime, some June flowers to celebrate the collaboration of Sun and Earth! (I'm generally more excited by winter solstice, which signifies the slow return of the sun, the summer date tells me it is all downhill from here 😉 )... 

solstice flowers, potentilla, cinquefoil, dandelions, rock garden,

solstice flowers,taraxacum pseudoroseum, pink dandelion, geum coccineum, dandelions

A Blessed and Happy Solstice to you! May you enjoy the long days of summer, take spiritual and practical advantage of the bounty of the sun! For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere- take the time of long, dark nights to look inward, celebrate the dark, look forward to the light.....