Many of you have asked how I interpret birth charts for starseed origin – I had tried to answer that question over and over but it’s one of those things that is just very hard to explain when writing it out. So, I’ve tried to answer that question in a new YouTube video!
The Summer Solstice is a sacred time of year where northern cultures celebrate the life-giving Sun and gratiously accept the Sun’s abundance. This is a time of creation, growth, development and expansion.
During the month of June, the days are long and productive and the night is very short, if it exists at all. While I write this post, it is 12:30 am and yet the night sky is not black. Night time during the month of June is very light where I live, the sky is dark blue and the glow of dawn is always present towards the north. The Sun barely dips below the horizon at around 11 pm for about 4 hours before it begins to rise again.
What does the Summer Solstice symbolize?
For northern people, the summer is a time of abundance, life and celebration but also it’s a time of labour, spiritual expansion and of preparation, duty and self-sacrifice. Traditionally, summer was an opportunity to work as much as possible in order to prepare for the scarcity of the upcoming winter. The Sun has risen higher and higher in the sky until it reaches it peak on June 21st, the summer solstice. After June 21st, the Sun begins it’s descent into the darkness of winter.
The Sun has always symbolized life because our ancient ancestors recognized that all life depended on the Sun’s light. As the Sun rose higher in sky and it’s rays became warmer, life on Earth begins to flourish again. During this time, everything is growing and becoming highly productive. People were no different.
The mythology surrounding the Summer Solstice
In Norse tradition, Odin sought the divine powers of manifestation held by the Norns, three beings with the ability to shape destiny. The Norns sculpted destiny by carving runes into the trunk of the Tree of the World aka Yggdrasil. Yggdrasil is said to grow from the Well of Url and span the entirity of the Nine Worlds, with Asgard cradled by the upper branches. Odin became envious of the Norns’ powers of conscious manifestation and sought to influence destiny for himself.
The runes were only known to the Norns and it was said that the runes only reveal themselves to those that are worthy of their power. Odin suspended himself from Yggdrasil, piercing his skin with his own spear and forbiding anyone from helping him. He hung himself from the tree for 9 days until after the ninth day, he began to see the shape of the runes forming in his mind’s eye. Through his vision, Odin learned the secrets of the runes and conscious manifestation. The Summer Solstice is a pagan celebration of Odin’s discovery of the runes and of conscious manifestation.
How is the Summer Solstice celebrated in Northern Europe?
Summer Solstice is typically celebrated in Northern European traditions by the raising of a Maypole – a large tree decorated with summer greenery, flowers and coloured ribbons signifying one’s intentions. This Maypole is a symbol representing the Yggdrasil, Odin’s self sacrifice and conscious manifestation. Ribbons attached to the top of the maypole are held by individuals as they dance around the base of the tree. These ribbons represent Odin hanging himself from Yggdrasil as an act of self-sacrifice.
During the three days of celebration, a huge bonfire was lit for three days. It was customary to gather foliage and flowers to create sun wheels or wreaths and hang them in the home and to wear them as crowns or necklaces. It is said that healing plants and herbs collected during the Summer Solstice are at their most potent. The Summer Solstice marks the beginning of the harvest.
How is the Summer Solstice celebrated in North America?
In North American tradition, the celebrations of the Summer Solstice are eerily similar to those found in Northern Europe. During the summer solstice, many northern groups of indigenous americans hold a ceremony called the Sun Dance. The Sun Dance ceremony is a traditional ceremony that involves self-sacrifice as a method of spiritual expansion. In preparation for the Sun Dance ceremony, a tall tree is decorated with foliage, coloured pieces of cloth are tied to top and the tree is erected at the center of the ceremonial grounds. This tree symbolizes the Tree of Life. Sun Dance participants dress in traditional clothing, tie bracelets of herbs around their wrists and ankles, then they wear a crown of herbs on their heads. Sun Dance participants then pierce their skin and suspend themselves from the tree until an altered state of consciousness is reached and they experience a vision. ***Sounds like the Odin myth -doesn’t it?!***
The Sun Dance ceremony includes a sacred fire that is kept lit for the entire three day celebration. It is also customary at this time to begin harvesting from land – some plants are ready to be picked! During the Sun Dance time, wild strawberries and wild saskatoon berries are ripe and ready for harvest.
It’s easy to see the similarities in the two celebrations and I often wonder if these cultural practices are so old that they originate from a time when the people of the North were of one circumpolar culture. Through the study of Ojibwe mythology and northern European mythology, many similarities can be noted. The celebrations of the solstices is only one of those similarities, another major similarity is the Earth Diver myth which is present in cultures throughout northern Europe, Asia and North America.
How can we celebrate the Summer Solstice today?
I feel that it is extremely important to preserve these ancient traditions that have been apart of our collective northern culture for thousands of years – it would be an absolute shame to forget it now!
Harvest foliage and flowers. A Summer Solstice tradition of picking plants and flowers to create beautiful wreaths that represent the Medicine Wheel or Sun Wheel. Wear the wreaths as crowns or decorate your home with them. Spend the day counting your blessings, being grateful and enjoying nature’s bounty. At the end of your celebrations, toss your wreaths into the sacred bonfire and give thanks for the productive summer ahead.
Have a bonfire. You can go all out and have a traditional, 3-day bonfire that is maintained the entire time. It is customary to do this with a group of people so that each one can have a turn tending the fire through the summer night. Tending the fire is an honour that many people thoroughly enjoy as it ignites ancient emotions. When you are alone, awake and staring into the fire – your mind begins to wander. This is a form of meditation that is believed to tie you directly with your ancestors. It is believed that your ancestors are sitting around the fire with you, sharing stories and enjoying it’s warm, dancing flame – WITH YOU!
Pick wild berries or harvest healing herbs. Always be grateful for every plant that you harvest and treat it like the precious gift that it is. Wild berries are extremely potent in nutrients and antioxidants. They are often smaller than domestic berries but have a concentrated taste! It is time consuming work to harvest enough wild berries to make jam or fruit leather with. It reminds us of how hard our ancestors had to work just to stay alive. While I pick berries and harvesting herbs, I like to think of my ancestors and thank them for their hard work – without them, I wouldn’t be here. If you harvest herbs, bundle them together and hang them from the ceiling in your home to dry.
Erect a Maypole, symbolizing the Tree of Life. The size of the
tree can vary depending on the space and the number of hands you have available to help you erect it. It is customary in Native American tradition that the tree be chosen and cut down by young women. In Northern European tradition the maypole is erected for young women. In both traditions, young women play an integral role, as they AND the maypole represent life. Decorate the tree with foliage and flowers. Cut
pieces of coloured cloth into strips and tie them to the top of the tree. As you do this, think of all that you are grateful for. Once the tree is erected, participants can dance around the tree in a clockwise direction. The dancing can be joyous and modern or traditional and solemn – it’s up to you! If you make the strips of cloth long enough, each person can hold a piece while they dance around the tree.
Self Sacrifice as a means for Conscious Manifesation. A major theme of this time of year for northern people is self sacrifice. During the summer months, everyone is wishing to enjoy themselves. It’s finally warm and everything is so beautiful and alive. Summer is when northern people tend to fall in love and conceive new life. Summer is a time when it would be easy to relax and enjoy one’s self. However, northern people know that we just cannot spend the summer enjoying ourselves. We must work hard to prepare for the tough winter that we know is coming. Thus self sacrifice is necessary for life. Physical work is necessary for the conscious manifestation of abundance. We must place our wants behind our needs. During the summer, northern people spent the long days working in order to ensure that there would be enough food to survive the winter. In modern times, we can do physical labour with the intention of consciously manifesting our desires. During the summer, the energy on earth is conducive with conscious manifestation.
Thank you so much for reading!!!! Please share how you celebrate the Summer Solstice in the comments section!
Celebrate the Winter Solstice with me and your ancestors! Let’s bring light to the darkest night!!!!
What is the Winter Solstice?
The Winter Solstice occurs on December 21st of every year, it is the time of year that the north pole is tilted farthest from the Sun. This is the shortest day and the longest night of the year! In the northern hemisphere, December 21st is the beginning of winter (for me, the snow has been here for over a month).
What does the Winter Solstice symbolize?
For northern people living (not so) long ago, winter could be a time of scarcity, famine and death. Each day leading up to the solstice, the Sun would get lower in the sky at midday, sometimes disappearing completely below the horizon (if you’re far north enough). Today at noon, the sun was barely above the treeline – leaving long shadows and a sunset that began at 3:30pm.
Nights in winter are long, dark and cold – tonight’s forecast is -30. I’m grateful for the glowing warmth of my home. I can only imagine how our ancestors felt – grateful for warmth and food. When food was plentiful, they held feasts and ceremonies with grateful intentions.
The Winter Solstice is the end and beginning of our annual cycle through the seasons, symbolizing both death and (re)birth. Northern cultures often celebrate the seasonal cycle of the northern environment. This annual cycle of the seasons is often symbolized by a wheel in northern pagan cultures. The medicine wheel in North American cultures and the sun wheel in northern European cultures symbolize the seasonal cycle of life.
All life on earth depends on the Sun. Early northern cultures recognized the Sun’s importance to all life.
For three days following the winter solstice, the Sun will appear to rise to the same height in the sky before getting higher in the sky with each passing day until Summer Solstice. Traditionally during these three days, a sacred fire was lit to bring light to the darkness.
How was the Winter Solstice celebrated in the past?
The Winter Solstice was celebrated by pagan cultures around the globe, mostly located in the northern hemisphere.
Winter Solstice was celebrated by the Romans with Saturnalia, the Japanese with Toji, Northern Europeans celebrated Yule and several Native American tribes celebrated Winter Solstice.
Winter Solstice celebrations typically included adorning the home with symbols of life (despite the cold winter) – like boughs of evergreen trees, winter berries, misletoe, holly and in north america also juniper and cedar.
Native American Traditions
Ceremonies to commemorate their Gods and the Sun often included sacrifices, sweat lodges, singing, feasting and the lighting of a large sacred fire. In Native American tradition, the sacred fire was lit at Winter Solstice on top of the ashes saved from last year’s fire. The fire was maintained for 3 days straight. People will take turns staying up at night with the fire. During their time with the fire – they think about their life over the past year and how they can improve for the next year. They focus on what they would like to achieve in the upcoming year. They make their intentions for the upcoming year by holding a handful of evergreen leaves and then tossing them into the fire. The intentions are believed to be carried into the spirit world with the smoke.
Northern European Tradition
In Northern European tradition, a fire is lit using the log from the yule tree. Intentions are carved into the log and then the log is burned. As the log burns, it is believed that the intentions are carried into the spirit world with the rising smoke. A small piece of the log is saved in order to start the next year’s yule fire with it.
When the Christianization of Europe occured, Winter Solstice celebrations were replaced with Christmas. As many people now know, Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th. The date of his birth was moved to correspond with Winter Solstice so that the conversion of pagans would be easier. Christmas replaced Saturnalia and Yule but retained much of the original traditions.
When European colonization of the Americas occured, Native American celebrations of Winter Solstice were also replaced by Christmas, as many Natives converted to Christianity.
How can WE celebrate the Winter Solstice today?
In the past, the Winter Solstice was the start of a celebration that continued until the beginning of January. Today, this time of year corresponds with the Christmas/New Year celebrations. Many of our Christmas traditions that don’t include Christmas Mass or the Nativity – are traditions from our pagan past.
For example – the Christmas tree, mistletoe, holly, yule logs, Santa Claus and even Christmas stockings are all linked to the pagan celebration of Yule. Even the hedonistic New Years celebrations likely have pagan roots.
Here are some tips you can use to bring back the ancient celebration of Winter Solstice:
Sun Symbols. Stars were originally included in Winter Solsticecelebrations because they symbolized the Sun, the giver of all life on Earth. This is why we have a star on top of our Christmas tree (and why Christianity tries to replace it with an angel). Traditionally in my town, everyone had a yellow star in their window for the entire month of December. It symbolizes the Sun. Of course, Christianity has also appropriated this custom as the “Advent Star”.
Sacred Fire. Bring light to the darknest night. The 3 day long solstice fire is likely not practical for many people today living in cities. However, you can symbolize this solstice fire by lighting a candle every evening for three days. You can even save this
candle for the next year and use it to light your next year’s candles. This custom may have evolved into the “Advent Candles”. Another wonderful custom of ‘bringing light to the darkest night’ is to make ice lanterns with votive candles to light up your yard.
Decorate your home with winter evergreens. Evergreen trees /plants and winter berries indigenous to the circumpolar northern climate were considered special because they remained green and living during the winter. Decorating your home with these plants symbolizes life during the darkness. You can do this by making a wreath using evergreens, low bush cranberries (lignonberries) and floral wire or by bringing in a live evergreen tree.
Feast with Gratitude. The meal for the
Winter Solstice was prepared with intentions for the New Year. All food was prepared with love and positive intentions are infused into everything you do to prepare the meal. A plate of this meal is often served to the “winter spirits”. This brings me to my next tip…
Offerings to the Winter Spirits. Winter spirits are said to be tricksters, they have the ability to play pranks and tricks on the humans. By offering the winter spirits food and gifts, we are trying to please them so that they may spare us from their pranks in the New Year. This custom of making offerings to the winter spirits may have evolved into leaving cookies and milk for Santa Claus. The winter spirits in both Native American (Ojibwe) and Northern European traditions are quite similar – little humanoids that look like elves and an old (potentially dangerous) Shaman (or magical being). It is likely that these spirits have evolved into Santa Claus and his elves.
Gift Giving. The ultimate celebration of gratitude is GIFT GIVING! Share your love and light!
How are you planning on celebrating the Winter Solstice? I am so interested to hear how others celebrate this holiday. Please share some of your traditions in the comments section!