Summer solstice explained and five ways to harness its energy
The word “solstice” is derived from Latin, with sol meaning sun and stitium or sistere meaning still or stopped. The summer solstice, sometimes called midsummer or Litha, occurs when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, giving us the longest day of the year as a result of Earth’s tilted axis and its orbit around the Sun.
Due to Earth’s tilt, the sun doesn’t rise and fall at the same points on the horizon each morning and evening; these positions move northward or southward in the sky as Earth travels around the sun. Put simply, the Northern Hemisphere experiences summer when the North Pole is tilted towards the sun, and those in the Southern Hemisphere experience summer six months later when the South Pole is directed towards the sun.
The timing of the summer solstice is not based on a specific calendar; it’s dependent on when the sun reaches its southernmost point from the equator, meaning that the solstice won’t always be on the same day. Currently in the Southern Hemisphere, it shifts between December 21, 22, and 23 and this year it falls on Wednesday, December 22 in Australia — in which we’ll see approximately 14.5 hours of daylight (depending on where you live). The sun is expected to rise at 4:49 am in Brisbane, 5:07 am in Perth, 5:28 am in Hobart, 5:41 am in Sydney, 5:45 am in Canberra, 5:54 am in Melbourne and 6:19 am in Darwin.
Beyond being the day with the longest period of sunlight, the summer solstice is a magical time marking the start of the astronomical summer and has been celebrated for centuries all around the world — recognised as a universal symbol of light, life, growth, and the prospect of a bountiful harvest.
Some cultures centred their celebrations around fertility and the life-giving powers of the sun. For instance, in ancient China, ceremonies honoured the earth and the feminine force known as yin. Similarly, the ancient Romans’ festivities focused on Vesta, goddess of the hearth, home, and family; whereas the rituals of other cultures (such as the ancient Egyptians and ancient Mesopotamians) were anchored in nature and nourishment.
How to channel the solar energy this summer solstice
The summer solstice represents the transition from renewal (during the spring equinox) to growth, signifying the time when Mother Nature is at her most abundant and our spirits are energised. Through honouring this day of light, we energetically set in motion a period of awakening in our consciousness which lasts all summer. Whether you want to recreate the midsummer ceremonies of the past or create new rituals, keep reading for ideas on how to harness the day’s power to illuminate the light within you and trust that, just like the sun, we will rise each day no matter what life throws our way.
Growing pains surface as a result of any type of change, regardless of whether we experience that change physically, emotionally or energetically. To navigate the discomfort of change and reconcile such shifts, look to the calming quality of nature to soothe yourself. This summer solstice, enjoy the feeling of the sun on your face and soil on your feet by reconnecting with the rhythms of the Earth through grounding. If near water, this can also make for a refreshing dip to reawaken your senses.
Both yoga and meditation are known to unify the mind, body and breath; strengthening the mind-body connection and helping to rebalance energy within us as we find our centre amidst a time of transition. Even better, take these practices outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and uplifting sunshine as you connect to yourself. Unsure where to start? We recommend Retreat Guide Sonja Kyra-Bleau’s Salute the Rising Sun yoga flow for an energising start to your day.
Charge your crystals:
Crystals and gemstones are used to absorb, focus and direct natural energies, and the summer solstice is an opportune time to let the sun cleanse and clear your crystals of any stagnant energy of the past. Leave them outside to charge and try incorporating them in your self-care rituals to harness their power.
Given that the morning of the summer solstice is so energetically charged, it’s an especially powerful time to express gratitude for what you have in the present and visualise what you’d like to have in the future through manifestation. Once you have an idea of what that is, use intention setting as a tool to manifest the summer (and life) you want.
Build a bonfire:
A ritual as ancient as the sun itself and one that’s still observed in many European countries today (often accompanied with dancing, singing and feasting). In many cultures, lighting and gathering around bonfires is believed to purify both the land and spirit, while flame-gazing is known to evoke a sense of calm and stillness.
If you’re looking for something on a smaller scale, try variations of this tradition by lighting candles in your home, or writing something that’s burdening you onto a piece of paper and then watch the paper burn until it’s reduced to embers — and in doing so, release what you no longer want to carry into the new astronomical season.
Following the summer solstice the days will grow shorter again, leading to the autumn equinox (the event in which day and night are of equal length) and will continue growing shorter still until the winter solstice, a time of rest and reflection.