Monday, 4 June 2012

Summer solstice!

Solstice, or Litha means a stopping or standing still of the sun. It is the longest day of the year and the time when the sun is at its maximum elevation.
As the sun spirals its longest dance,
Cleanse us
As nature shows bounty and fertility
Bless us
Let all things live with loving intent
And to fulfil their truest destiny
Wiccan blessing for Summer
This date has had spiritual significance for thousands of years as humans have been amazed by the great power of the sun. The Celts celebrated with bonfires that would add to the sun's energy, Christians placed the feast of St John the Baptist towards the end of June and it is also the festival of Li, the Chinese Goddess of light.
Like other religious groups, Pagans are in awe of the incredible strength of the sun and the divine powers that create life. For Pagans this spoke in the Wheel of the Year is a significant point. The Goddess took over the earth from the horned God at the beginning of spring and she is now at the height of her power and fertility. For some Pagans the Summer Solstice marks the marriage of the God and Goddess and see their union as the force that creates the harvest's fruits.
This is a time to celebrate growth and life but for Pagans, who see balance in the world and are deeply aware of the ongoing shifting of the seasons it is also time to acknowledge that the sun will now begin to decline once more towards winter.

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

Revellers typically gather at Stonehenge, the ancient stone circle in Wiltshire, to see the sun rise. The Heel Stone and Slaughter Stone, set outside the main circle, align with the rising sun.

The time to celebrate the sun in all its beauty and power, as its also the longest day, the daylight hours will slowly decrease about a min a day until we reach winter solstice (the shortest day).

Now the weather is good (we hope) its even more of an excuse to celebrate outdoors and to learn and enjoy outdoor crafts.

Gathering the elderflower!

We have been outside gathering the elderflower heads to make into cordial (and champagne!). This is such a good way to celebrate with children, it enables them to use their skills at identifying the correct plants and those around them (our child is 3 and she did this with ease). Its a great way to see nature, go for a walk and be able to install a understanding of where and what can be used for food and drink. Also a great way to use maths at a basic level.

We used this recipe, it was amazingly simple,quick and easy! you will be hooked and amazed if you try it.

one for the adults!

Fruit picking
again another fantastic way to celebrate solstice is to go fruit picking, there are loads of places around to go and do this and of course the "fruits of your labour" can be made into many recipes/cakes and jams. If you make jam, these of course may be used for presents for Lammas!
Sun catchers
These can be made very simply. you can cut out the shapes you wish, and use coloured tissue paper on them so the sun can shine through. Another method, is to use sticky back plastic, sprinkle what you want on them and then stick the other side down. Tricky sticky, but worth it. Paper mache also looks great as a sun catcher, or pretty bowls etc.

Grow sunflowers!
Always a hit! such pride watching these grow.
Watch the sunrise
If your brave enough to welcome the sun. If you don't want to travel to a big stone circle, may research your area? are there any places of interest? small circles/old stones/ round barrows.....or just a special place to you, the garden maybe.
maybe camp out (even in your garden! ) this will always be great fun to small people, and watch the sun come up. Sunrise is early during the summer months however!

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