Solstice - A Festival For Everyone

No matter where you are on Earth, no matter what your political views or religion, your gender or your economic status, you are influenced by the changing of the seasons. Specifically, the solstice, which occurs twice each year, between December the 20th and 23rd, and June 20th and 22nd. Our brains are able to measure the lengthening and shortening of the days, making necessary changes to metabolic function to match the needs of the season. That's why we're usually more hungry in winter, when we need extra energy stores to stay warm.

If, like me, you are living in the southern hemisphere, you are approaching the summer solstice. The days stretch to their longest point, as the sun reaches its peak for the year. We are experiencing more active hours each day than we did during the dark of the winter.

If you are living in the northern hemisphere, you are approaching the winter solstice. The nights grow long, the sun having waned to its lowest point in the sky. The number of active, daylight hours are fewer.

Working with Solstice Energy

Consider the following:
  • Is the seasonal energy where you are, rising (summer), or falling (winter)?
  • Are you more comfortable with summer solstice? Or winter solstice? 
  • Is it easier to get things done at a certain time of year?
  • How can you plan your year around your peaking/waning solar energies?
  • Broadly speaking, in winter we make our plans and requests; and in summer we give thanks and enjoy our harvest. How you experience each solstice will depend on your own personality, culture and even environment. Some people naturally peak in winter. I call them 'winter babies,' (you know who you are).

Summer Solstice

I love the smell of summer: jasmine, strawberries and hot eucalypts. As the peaking sun poaches the juices of spring, everything erupts with presence and potency. Nature's volume is turned up. Cicadas screech from the underworld, as if the sun in its zenith has penetrated their world. The energy around us, quickening since winter solstice, quivers with heat and radiance. We can draw on this energy to help us bring our plans to fruition, like the fruiting trees and plants. Even if you prefer staying inside by the A/C, you can still harvest the peaking energies of the sun.

Personally, this is my most active time of the year. I'm a summer baby, born just after the summer solstice. The heat energises my life, getting me moving and getting me outside. From my perspective, it's the pleasant half of the year. My mood peaks, my energy peaks, even my health peaks. I have the energy to complete projects that have dragged their feet all year. 

Here are some suggestions on how to consciously work with summer solstice energies:
  • Summer foods banquet: The most obvious way to celebrate the season is to procure some seasonal foods and create a feast. I think of summer berries, apples and tomatoes. 
  • Honour the year: This is the perfect ceremony to accompany your summer banquet. Grab some friends and take turns talking about your happy events and accomplishments for the year. If you prefer to dine solo, then use a journal or drawing pad.  
  • Start a new project: If this is your peak energy time of year, then start a new project. Especially things you may have been planning all year. Now is the time. 
  • Preserve bulk quantities of fresh food: A great way to attune to the cycles of nature, even if you aren't exactly living in the midst of it, is to cook with the seasons. Buying fresh seasonal food and preserving it can be surprisingly easy and rewarding. Preserved zucchinis, capsicums and tomatoes made into pasta sauce are a staple of mine. I also enjoy preserving things like apricots, plums, peaches, pears, apples and cucumber. Pesto is also a favourite of mine. I cook for one, so learning how to preserve foods has helped me to prevent waste. Especially of fruit and things like cucumber, which don't keep for long. 

Winter Solstice

You might be reading from the northern hemisphere, where it's winter solstice. All has come to rest and energy is pulled within. Coats are zipped up, shutters closed and heaters cranked up. It feels natural during this time to hibernate a little, whatever that means to you. The energy of life is slowed, but not quite stopped. Life goes on, at a less obvious pace. Like the trees and flowers, we rest and renew ourselves. It's a great time for planning the following year.

I drag myself through this time of year. I'm sensitive to the cold, preferring to stay inside my home wrapped in a blanket. My energy drops and it gets harder to perform physical tasks like housework. My mood drops and I feel inclined toward introverted activities. The cold enables a time of deep rest, allowing me to recharge my inner batteries. Activity occurs 'underground,' as I spend time thinking about the projects I wish to bring to completion. I know that by November I'll be ready to charge forward again. Winter helps me to prepare the way for the creative cycle ahead. 

The winter solstice is different for everyone. In some countries people can pretty much go on as normal, while in other countries people are dealing with freezing temperatures, snow, ice and closed roads. Contemplate your own environment as you plan your solstice. The energies of winter are no less creative than summer, just different. 

Here are some suggestions for celebrating winter solstice:
  • Winter banquet: Again, food is at the top of the list. This is because people have always gathered to eat whenever there's anything to celebrate. Although modern supermarkets have made most foods available all year round, it's still good to learn about what's in season. You'll find it fresher, with a lighter carbon footprint. Aligning yourself to nature's cycles can be enriching at a primal level. If you've made preserves at summer's peak, then it's a good time to enjoy them. I much prefer preserved apples in winter, than powdery out-of-season supermarket apples. 
  • Relinquishing: During the winter season I like to think about what excess baggage might be weighing me down. This might mean releasing excess stuff, clothing or ways of thinking and being. There are practical reasons for clearing out the old in winter. When the weather warms us into action again, it makes spring cleaning that much easier. And clearing the cupboards of last year's preserves makes way for the next round.
  • Planning the next growth cycle: For me, winter is for planning. When the cold Melbourne weather slows me down and I'm less inclined to go outside, it can feel like I'm wasting time and being lazy. But things are still happening on an inner level. The seeds of the next growth cycle are maturing in the dark. I like to scrawl half-baked plans into cheap exercise books. By the time my energy quickens again in spring, I've already laid the groundwork for multiple projects, some of which take off. Although my major writing projects tend to slow down a little in winter, I still consume books. It's a great excuse to be on the couch under a blanket. 

Why Bother?

Take a look at our world. With its divisions of religion, race, politics, gender, education and age. People are marked off into groups and teams, often divided from or competing with one another. The solstices are experienced by everyone. Acknowledging them can be an expression of unity with all life on Earth. 

Additionally, they remind us that everything will be brought to balance and that we can't escape the cycles of nature. We might be fortunate enough to stay inside and evade the ravages of the seasons, but on an inner level, those seasons are still experienced in a way that affects our energy levels. It's useful to acknowledge where you are in the solar cycle, and how you personally relate to it. 

Solstice for a New Earth

This year has been strange no matter which solstice you're currently experiencing. COVID has dropped entire countries into pandemonium. All countries are adapting to conditions that are changing faster than ever before. People are talking about the 'new normal.' People in the metaphysical world are talking about the 'New Earth.'

It's summer-time, so I'm feeling optimistic! I like to think we are moving into the New Earth prophesied by the Age of Aquarius: the age of the individual. I believe this new age augers in a time when humanity is increasingly guided by principles that value and protect life. I hope that an age of light is dawning, where we can determine our potentials, as well as potential harms, more clearly. A world where the technological age of light also corresponds with an ethical age of light. 

My Side of the Sun Cycle

As a resident of the southern hemisphere, for me it's summer solstice. As a resident of Melbourne, Australia, we're all celebrating being released from stage four lockdown. It was recently announced that we're no longer required to wear masks. We're gradually starting to turn our faces to the sun like sunflowers, drying our upper lips and bringing colour to our winter cheeks and whitened chins. We're leaping ecstatically through the proverbial field of flowers. People are filling the shops again, rubbing their hands together with anti-germ gel. They're growing in confidence to re-enter the new world, getting back out to work, getting their hair done, getting to the Doctor, going out for a meal and all of the other things that have been off the table for many months. So this summer solstice I feel I have a lot to be thankful for. 

Whatever end of the cycle you're in, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well. This year has been a bit of a roller-coaster for everyone. May we glide into 2021 with renewed hope and optimism. Personally, I hope we are indeed ushering in a new world that is better than the old one. Because it's clear that we need to.

Be Well X.

Leanne Margaret ⓒ 2020


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