The Summer Solstice occurs on or around 21 June, and marks the point where the sun appears highest in the sky. This is due to the axial tilt of the earth as it orbits the sun throughout the year. On the Summer Solstice, the Northern Hemisphere is most inclined to the sun, and therefore receives the most light, making it the longest day and shortest night of the year.
The word “solstice” comes from the Latin sol sistere, meaning “the sun stands still”, as it indeed appears to do in the sky, leading to up to 15 hours of daylight. The Summer Solstice is celebrated by cultures around the world, from Scandinavia to Japan, and is perhaps the most prominent festival in modern Paganism.
This year, there will be a full moon on the same night as the Summer Solstice (20 June), a very rare event last seen in 1948. The combination of the longest day and the bright full moon will mean that the night (barring cloud cover) should hardly get dark at all. For many below the Arctic circle, this might be the closest we get to the “midnight sun” experienced by those in more Northern lands.
In some forms of Druidry, the full moon is a time for meditating on peace. The Druid Network has a full moon peace meditation on their website, which you can add into your usual Summer Solstice ritual, or do as a separate meditation.
In light of increasingly tense social and political events around the world, from the rise of the right-wing in the UK and US, to the horrific shooting in Orlando and the murder of MP Jo Cox, peace is much needed in the world today, and is an appropriate wish to meditate or pray about this Solstice.
May this moment of the bright sun remind us, as Megan Manson of the blog Pagan Tama says, “despite our differences in race, culture and religion, we are all truly children of the Sun, that same Sun that rises and sets over every nation, and gives light, warmth and life to all peoples and all creatures of Earth.”
Deep within the still centre of my being, may I find peace.
Silently within the quiet of the Grove, may I share peace.
Gently within the wider circle of humankind, may I radiate peace. (OBOD peace prayer)