5 practices for a modern magical day
Summer Solstice: The Longest Day of the Year
The summer solstice (or midsummer) is the “longest day”; or the one with the greatest time gap between sunrise and sunset. With the Earth’s axis tilting most closely to the sun. This occurs each year on June 20 or 21 in the Northern Hemisphere, and December 21 or 22 in the Southern Hemisphere; with these dates switching for the shortest day of the year, or winter solstice.
The 2022 summer solstice falls on Tuesday, June 21. Under the astronomical definition, this is the day summer starts; although meteorologists consider summer being between June 1 and 31 August. Midsummer marks the end of six months of the days getting longer since the winter solstice. After this peak, nighttime gets back in the driver’s seat and the days shorten once more.
Solstices are beautiful natural, rhythmical reminders of life’s ups and downs; and that everything changes and is impermanent.
The traditional significance of the summer solstice
People around the world have noticed the movements of the sun across our skies for millennia. We marked the change in seasons at the summer and winter solstices; and the spring and autumn equinoxes in between them. Midsummer is historically the time for farmers to harvest or sow certain crops; with many plants in full ripeness or bloom.
Different civilizations celebrated the year’s longest day in their own unique ways. In pre-Christian times, European pagans marked it with bonfires. Lighting them was thought to support the sun in ripening crops for the rest of the growing season; to banish evil spirits; and even to lead women to their future husbands! Magic was also considered to be strongest at this time of year.
The layout of huge stones at the UK’s mystical Stonehenge site (built around 3,000 BC) lines up with the sun on the solstices. It’s where British Druids celebrate midsummer; with large annual gatherings at Stonehenge for these solar milestones.