Summer solstice in the city

Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It is the triumph of the sun but also the waning of the year back into winter. The people used to light bonfires on this day, little suns, to cheer the sun as it began its descent into the night. It was said that herbs gathered on this day were twice as potent, divining rods cut today were always right, babies conceived today were healthier and more beautiful, and secret dreams wished to tonight’s stars were destined to come true. So make a wish. Say aloud your audacious dream, for yourself or for this world we live in. Today’s the day.

It is pouring rain today in Chicago. The sun, in its triumph, is taking a bath. But last night the first fireflies came out, the sidewalks are stained purple from squashed mulberries, the blue cornflowers sway along the train tracks, and all your gardens are looking mighty fine. Happy summer!

The eight seasonal festivals of the year (the two solstices, two equinoxes, and their four midpoints, the cross-quartertimes) can be seen as points of focus within the year, pauses in which to revel in the season, to remember how our bodies and our lives are linked to the yearly cycling of the earth’s body. Festivals are a time for the individual identity to be integrated into the activity of the group, magical acts that establish relation: from individual to community, from human to nature, from human to divine, and between the visible and invisible worlds. 

Our progression through a human life and our experience of the seasons where we live are two things that are uniquely our own and are simultaneously universal. We have the right to celebrate the passage of our bodies through birth, adolescence, aging, and death and the right to celebrate the earth through spring, summer, fall, and winter. 

Our lives, much more than we care to admit, are a reflection of the land upon which we live and the part of the earth where we reside. On a different planet, in a different galaxy, there would be different astronomical events and different tales. We would not have our same solstices, equinoxes, and cross-quarter times if we lived on a planet with three moons and a long elliptical orbit around our sun. We would not worship like this if we were an organism that lived underwater. These rites are the rites of our planet and our species, our rhythm and time signature. 

Today is the longest day, the sweetest day, the brightest day. The little sun in you, your solar plexus, is at its zenith. Who are you and why are you here? What do you wish to shine brightly into the world? 

Samara Reigh