“HRAM-HRIM-HROOM-HRUM-HRAIM-HRAUM-HRAHA,” one of the many chants, rituals, dances, and traditions we hear and see during the longest day of the year… the Summer Solstice. This is the Bija mantra for the Sun, the light of light, our awareness, our expression. It brings forth the life-giving power that comes from the Sun, and it is our life force.
The Summer Solstice is the time when Earth is at its most incline towards the Sun. The Northern Hemisphere tilts towards the Sun reaching for its life-sustaining nourishment of warmth and light as all creation celebrates and bows in its honor. It is a reminder that without this Star, all life as we know it would not exist. It is to be revered and honored for its power and magnificence.
From the days of our ancient ancestors to today, this day has been marked with great celebration throughout the World. There are numerous cultural rituals honoring the Sun. Thousands flock to Stonehenge every year on the Summer Solstice to watch its rise and set, though in reality, it is neither rising nor setting but just our illusion as the Earth rotates and completes its daily dance with the Sun. Others build bonfires and spend the day in prayer bowing to what many consider a god….Ra!
Ancient Egyptians worshipped Ra, the Sun god, creator of all things. They believed in the morning when Ra appeared in the East (sunrise), he rode in a boat named “Madjet,” which means “becoming strong.” In the evening when he rode into the West (sunset), the name changed to “Semektet,” or “becoming weak,” thus dying and being replaced by the mystical light of the Moon to shine upon the World. Interesting since the Sun, astrologically speaking, represents our external expression, and the Moon, the embodiment of our internal emotions.
It can be said that the Summer Solstice is a day that truly unifies us as humans living on this incredible planet that is the result of such an intelligent design. It is a day when we celebrate the life-giving energy and abundance of the Sun as we see the crops that were harvested multiply. We pay reverence to its vitality, light, and warmth. We dance and sing. We feel alive. Mother Earth is producing and we rejoice!
The Sun is life for everything, including our bodies. Though we must take precautions when exposing ourselves for prolonged periods, it is good practice to spend at least 10 minutes a day basking in its rays to receive the benefits to the body. It provides us with Vitamin D and replenishes our energy. When we do not have sunlight for a length of time, we may become lazy, depressed, uninspired. We lack the energy and the motivation to initiate any kind of creative project. But when the Sun shines we feel joyous, powerful, vital. We feel good in a “special way.”
Midsummer is also celebrated at this time and is associated with not only the Summer Solstice but the birth of Saint John the Baptist. Though this is said to be celebrated on June 24th, it is honored between the time of the 21st and the 24th as some believe the longest day of the year is, in fact, the latter. According to Christian belief, Saint John was the giver of life, the “light of awareness.” He brought the light of Spirit through Baptism.
One of the most beautiful symbols during this time of year is the Sunflower! It bends and stretches and dances its way into the most direct position in front of the Sun as a symbol of unwavering spiritual faith and worship. It is the happiest of flowers and grows tall as it stretches higher and higher towards the “life-giver,” showing its reverence and loyalty to the source of all warmth and Light. The Sunflower is symbolic of reaching for our highest Spiritual knowledge.
The Summer Solstice marks the start of the Sun’s journey into Cancer, which is the energy of unconditional love, compassion, and forgiveness. Its purpose is to provide security. It looks inward to our emotions. Cancer is the Mother, the birthing of life. It loves, nurtures, and heals. The Moon, ruler of Cancer, is associated with the harvest. And so like the Sun cultivates our lives externally, the Moon ripens our internal self, our intuition, our emotions. When we look to the Dalai Lama, (Cancer), there is an understanding of just how deeply compassionate, forgiving, and loving this energy is. It teaches us the importance of developing acceptance, forgiveness and compassion for ourselves, as this, in turn, translates in the same manner towards others. We learn to walk in their shoes without judgment in order to develop understanding and forgiveness.
Cancer is our home! A time of abundant energy for celebrating love and family. We enjoy picnics, weddings, family reunions. During this energy, it is a good time to connect to family and childhood memories, to enjoy summer activities with laughter and love. We look towards the Sun, like the Sunflower, and reach for the promise of our highest aspirations. We turn to the Moon to go inward to “feel” the security of sharing love with others.
So how can we honor the Sun? Taking a few minutes every day, if possible, to sit outside, closing the eyes and feeling its warmth, vitality, power as it energizes every cell in our body. We release any stagnant energy, negative energy, pain in the body by breathing in slowly and deeply, inhaling its light, exhaling to clear the mind. We rejuvenate.
In yoga, during the Summer Solstice and the first week of Cancer, perform a practice of Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutations) focusing on Sun energy. Then switch to a more lunar practice connecting to the inner emotions, intuition. Allow for a nurturing foundation for healing.
And most importantly…….bask in the warmth and vitality of the Sun and embrace the love and acceptance of self, family, and the World.
Debbie Peluso obtained her Bachelors degree from the University of Metaphysics in association with the University of Sedona in Arizona. She is a certified practitioner in Meditation, metaphysical/spiritual counseling, and is a working astrologer and co-owner of Zion Yoga Studio in the Washington, D.C. area. Visit Debbie at zionyogastudio.com