Earlier this morning, we marked the Summer Solstice. Astronomically, it looks like this:
The Summer Solstice occurs exactly when the Earth’s axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun at its maximum of 23° 26′. The seasonal significance of the Summer Solstice is in the reversal of the gradual shortening of nights and lengthening of days. That occurred early this morning – June 21st at 2:14am Mountain Standard Time (5:14am EDT, 9:14am UTC).
The sunrise today (where I live) will be 5:17am and sunset will be 7:33pm – 14 hours and 16 minutes of sunlight. On Winter Solstice, six loooong months ago, sunrise was at 7:20am and sunset was at 5:22pm, 10 hours and 2 minutes of sunlight. For a few days, we shift a little on sunrise and sunset and hold steady at 14 hours and 16 minutes.
On Saturday the 25th, though, the sunrise will lock in at one minute later, signalling the waning of the year. But that’s Saturday and today we have 856 minutes of sunlight to enjoy (or to take shelter from)!!
(Don’t forget to hover on the images!*)
In the Northern Hemisphere ”summer” comes earlier than the Summer Solstice (the astronomical event).
“Solar summer” began in early May, and is the quarter of the year when the most amount of sunlight is entering the northern hemisphere. Astronomical summer essentially marks the midpoint of solar summer.
“Meteorological summer” is the warmest quarter of the year based on daily normal temperatures. This exact period varies slightly from place to place; but, in general, meteorological summer starts the first week in June and ends the first week in September
To be sure, “early May” and “first week in June” are not precise enough to plan a gathering around so the sun(ning) critters chose today, June 21st (because the Solstice happened in the middle of the night when it is dark!!).
Let’s join them in the sun …
The Midsummer, or Litha, is one of the eight pagan festivals or “sabbats” from the Wheel of the Year. It is a “quarter day” along with the equinoxes and the winter solstice. The Summer Solstice is a time for a celebration of the abundance of summer.
Midsummer is the time when we celebrate the bounty of the earth and the power of the sun. Our fields are flourishing, fruits are blossoming on the trees, herb bushes are fragrant and full of life.
It’s the time of year when the crops are growing heartily and the earth has warmed up. we can spend long sunny afternoons enjoying the outdoors, and getting back to nature under the long daylight hours.
Lisa Thiel – Litha (The Summer Solstice Song)
I am the fire that burns within your soul
I am the Holy light that fills and makes you whole
I am the Flame within, that never dies
I am the sun that will ever arise
Power of the Sun we honor you this night
We leap across the fire to keep our spirits bright
Power of the Sun, fire in the night
We leave behind, that which blinds, to restore our sight
I am the fire that clears away the old
I am the holy light that guides you to your soul
I am the Flame Of Love for which you yearn
I am the sun that will always return
To all my pagan and non-pagan friends alike: “A Sunny Solstice to You and may your bonfires burn brightly tonight!!”
This post is a rerun, with revised dates, because the holidays – and their celebratory posts – are on an infinite loop … or more precisely, the Wheel of The Year. ;)
*Hover text for those on tablets and smartphones:
– Pig: ‘Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.’ ~ Henry James
– Cat: ‘To the library. Books and summertime go together.’ ~ Lisa Schroeder
– Summer border: “Here comes the Sun … doo doo doo doo … here comes the sun … doo doo doo doo. And I say … it’s all right.”
– Dog: ‘It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.’ ~ Maud Hart Lovelace
– Fence Cat: ‘Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…’ ~ Susan Polis Schutz
– Summer border, chorus, summer border: “Sun, sun, sun, here it comes. Sun, sun, sun, here it comes.”
– Lion: ‘Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.’ ~ Buddha
– Giraffes: ‘The sun always shines above the clouds.’ ~ Paul F. Davis
– Kittens: ‘Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.’ ~ Ray Bradbury
– Turtles: ‘They can be like the sun, words. They can do for the heart what light can for a field.’ ~ Juan de la Cruz
– Dragonfly: ‘Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.’ ~ William Shakespeare
(Crossposted from Views from North Central Blogistan)