Blessings of the upcoming solstice to all! Solstice falls on June 21 (or 20th depending on where you live). It will be summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, and winter solstice in the southern hemisphere. The exact dates and times are June 21, 2017 at 4:24 AM UTC which is 00:24 AM EDT, and converts to June 20 at 11:24 PM CDT / 10:24 PM MDT / 9:24 PM PDT / 6:24 PM HT. When the Sun reaches a point where it is furthest away from the celestial equator at 23.5° declination, it is at the zenith on summer solstice and at the nadir on winter solstice.
Above is a diagram of the Earth’s seasons as seen from the north. Far left: summer solstice for the Northern Hemisphere. Front right: summer solstice for the Southern Hemisphere. (Image by Tauʻolunga – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=927625)
When the Sun is at the zenith, it is the time of maximum daylight and the beginning of summer; when the Sun is at its nadir, it is the time of minimum daylight and the beginning of winter. The solstices mark the time when the Sun achieves maximum declination and appears to pause for three days before changing direction, and so the term “solstice” comes from the Latin solstitium: sol = Sun, and stitium/statum = “to make stand still.”
Also known as Midsummer Night, summer solstice is associated with the first harvest, and thus represents a time to pause, enjoy, and appreciate what has been created in the past six months. In the process, it is a good time to evaluate one’s progress and make any necessary changes. The three days on either side of the solstice are supercharged with subtle, spiritual energy, but these days can also reflect some shakiness, which is even truer as the planetary transits now and in the next few months are so potentially precarious, as I’ll write more about in my next blog. So anyway, it’s important to stay grounded and focused more than ever, and it’s imperative that we are extra mindful to empower and protect our mental and physical health now and through the summer months ahead (winter months ahead in the southern hemisphere).
In Vedic astrology, the waxing half of the solar year is called uttarayana, which extends from winter to summer solstice, and the waning half of the solar year is called dakshinayana, which extends from summer to winter solstice. Therefore, on June 21, uttarayana is beginning in the northern hemisphere, and dakshinayana in the southern. It is said that uttarayana is ideal for the worship of and focus on Lord Shiva, nature’s active/yang principle; and that dakshinayana is best for worship of and focus on Shakti Maa, nature’s receptive/yin principle.
According to Muhurta, Vedic astrology’s Electional astrology system, uttarayana is considered the most fruitful half of the year for initiating anything of worldly consequence, such as moving into a new home or starting a new business; but the last three days of either ayana are to be avoided for beginning important events, which means that from June 21 through June 24 this month, we should do our best to avoid setting into motion any vital events that are to have lasting value.
Solstices generate subtle magnetic changes within us and out there in the world: as above, so below, as within, so without. Many of us are feeling these shifting energies now and in the past several days, whether we are moving toward summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, or winter solstice in the southern. In the summer solstice, the life energy is bursting forth, and in the winter solstice, it will soon begin spiraling inward. Summer solstice, which is happening where I live, is the time of year when the Sun — our inner and outer Light — is achieving maximum potency.
Summer Solstice is kind of like a “full Sun,” so it feels a bit like the intense expansive energy of a full Moon. It’s an important time to stop, give thanks, enjoy, and share the bounty of nature’s blessings. I usually have both a sunrise meditation and a sunset picnic on this longest day of the year! Many will be participating in spiritual rituals and ceremonies at this time, and these are highly recommended to help us access and align with the profound love and light generated in this powerful seasonal still point.