BY MARILYNN PRESTON

When was the last time you fired up a pile of logs and celebrated the summer solstice? Probably never. It’s an ancient ritual that has fallen out of fashion, not unlike human sacrifice.

But this year, inflamed and shaken as we are, there are many good reasons to think about the meaning and the symbolism of summer solstice and why honoring it still matters – especially to your well-being.

It might lead you to plan a summer solstice celebration of your own. At Stonehenge, thousands will gather and energize with 108 sun salutations. In Ukraine, celebrants will test their bravery and strength by jumping over flames. In Estonia, women will dance around in flower wreaths, something I hope the men will be doing, too.

Whatever ritual you come up with – a single candle with turkey burgers and potato salad works, too – the idea behind summer solstice celebrations is to honor the light, the sun, outside you and inside you, because the power of the sun to grow seeds is the same power you have to nurture your own growth, imagination and inner strength.

Geography alert! Everything I’m about to report about the June 21 summer solstice only applies to the Northern Hemisphere. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you’ll be celebrating around Dec. 22.

Which is a good reminder that even as you read this, the Earth is moving, the sun is rising and setting, and nature is in a constant state of flux, as are we all.

WHAT IS THE SUMMER SOLSTICE?

In ancient times – now known as “Before the Internet” – summer solstice was the most powerful day of the year. It’s also the longest day of the year, with the sun – our Sun, deserving a capital S – at its strongest.

The longest day … the shortest night … the solar high point is traditionally seen as a time of fertility in all realms, a time to ripen, a time to reconnect to the fire of transformation in a way that has little to do with paganism or Reaganism and everything to do with personal growth and energy.

“Symbolically, the summer solstice represents awakening, enlightenment, and the triumph of light over dark,” writes Morgan Garza on one of many websites I cherry-picked my way through, loving my research, hoping for the light-over-dark part to triumph soon.

“Everything in the universe is made of energy,” Garza explains, well within the bounds of modern science. “We also flow with the cycles of life and death in nature.”

(If this is turning too woo-woo for you, feel free to leave now and read up on quantum physics.)

THE SOLSTICE IS A GOOD TIME TO CHANGE YOUR DIRECTION

The word “solstice” is derived from the Latin noun sol (sun) and the verb sistere (to stand). The summer solstice marks the moment when our sun appears to stop going in one direction – and seems to actually stand still – then appears to reverse directions.

Is there anything in your life now that you’d like to start doing differently?

Stand still. Think about what you eat. Are you prioritizing real food? Think about your relationships, your stress level, your activities, your health.

If the sun – 865,000 miles in diameter and 109 times larger than Earth – can change directions, so can you. That’s the theory, the thinking, the hope and belief behind summer solstice celebrations since men lived in caves and women did all the cleaning up.

THE JOY OF DOING NOTHING

“The warmth of the sun and the long, hot days continually remind us of how good it is to find a balance between intense activity and lazy, idle hours doing nothing,” Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw write in “Celebrating the Great Mother.”

“It’s a good time to remember that we, like the sun, contain the power to nurture and sustain, and that we have a responsibility to burn as brightly as we can.”

Whom will you nurture this summer, what will you sustain and what will you let go of because it no longer serves you?

Is this the summer you decide to burn as brightly as you can?

And please don’t forget the triumph of light over dark. That needs your fire, too.


– Marilynn Preston is the author of Energy Express, America’s longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new book “All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being” is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at creators.com/books/all-is-well to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit www.MarilynnPreston.com.