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Tony Grist

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The Summer Solstice [Jun. 21st, 2006|10:50 am]
Tony Grist
It used to be a "mystery". Now it isn't. Over that past few years we seem to have settled what all those stone age and bronze age monuments- from Stonehenge to Newgrange- were for. They were for  predicting  and celebrating the Winter Solstice. The fact the some of them also link to the Summer Solstice is accidental.

The Winter Solstice is the crux of the year. The sun was going away;  now it's coming back. The world isn't going to end after all. We're saved. 

The Summer Solstice on the other hand is just another nice warm day like all the others. There's nothing about it that packs any psychological, religious or cosmological punch. It doesn't relate to the agricultural cycle either.  Think about it too deeply- this is the day that marks the beginning of the sun's journey into the underworld- and you could actually get a wee bit depressed.

The cult of high summer is a modern thing- holidays and beaches and  turning brown for the heck of it. Our ancestors weren't into any of that.  If they had choice in the matter they kept to the shade. 

So there's nothing ancient or ancestral about the Summer Solstice party at Stonehenge. Not that I'm knocking it;  it looks like fun. Good old King Arthur Pendragon, the Druid (I've got lots of time for him) was interviewed on the BBC but seemed a bit hazy when it came to explaining what he was doing there.

As well he might.

Because the Winter Solstice/Yule/Christmas always was and still is the one that matters.
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Comments:
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-06-21 11:15 am (UTC)
When we used to celebrate the Wheel of the Year with rituals the one for the Summer Solstice always came out really dark and doomy.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-06-22 10:37 am (UTC)
I think the Aussies and all other Southern hemisphereans ought to run the calendar back to front. Yule in the middle of summer? how mad is that?
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[User Picture]From: methodius
2006-06-21 04:53 pm (UTC)
We're having quite a warm winter solstice today.

It's nearly 7:00 pm, it's dark, and yet I'm wearuing shorts and haven't got the heater on.

I'm not sure whether tonight will be the longes night or whether last night was. I suppose the newspaper will tell me if I have a look.

I forgot to look to see where the sun set tonight, and it will be moving south from there now. Tomorrow will do - must plant an evergreen tree there to stop the sun shining in my window on winter afternoons.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-06-22 10:39 am (UTC)
I've always understood that the longest/shortest night was the one between the 20th and the 21st.

But what with the the way the calendar shifts about that could be notional and approximate.
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[User Picture]From: solar_diablo
2006-06-21 06:39 pm (UTC)
I wonder how much of this sentiment is dependent on geography. I'm not a pagan, but I always sort of like reaching this point in the year, because (living in the Sonoran desert as I do) it means that although the summer will continually get hotter, the sun's power is now waning and we can start looking forward to cooler temperatures (still four months away, though).
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-06-22 10:42 am (UTC)
Oh, yes, geography is terribly important.

My years as a practising pagan made me extra sensitive to geography. How, for example, a ritual that made perfect sense in a northern wood made no sense at all on a southern plain.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2006-06-21 07:21 pm (UTC)
In past years, I have always hated the solstice, because the days start getting shorter, and all too soon it won't be light when I get up.

This year, everything has changed because of Nanook. He's been getting up earlier and earlier. This morning, he woke up at 1 AM (probably as part of his personal solstice celebration!) and expected me to let him out. (I won't let him out till after 5, because I fear him being taken by coyotes.) I expect him to start sleeping in when the days get longer.
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[User Picture]From: zoe_1418
2006-06-21 08:48 pm (UTC)
This guy also likes to get up with the birds...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-06-22 10:43 am (UTC)
One of the cool things about rabbits is they don't "speak", so I've no idea whether they're active at night or not.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2006-06-22 12:46 pm (UTC)
And they are caged, so they are not hunting your toes in the covers.:)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-06-22 01:59 pm (UTC)
Ours actually have the run of the house, but confine themselves to a couple of rooms downstairs.
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[User Picture]From: four_thorns
2006-06-22 02:47 pm (UTC)
but... didn't you have a post about a year ago on the significance of the summer solstice?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-06-22 03:06 pm (UTC)
Did I?

Ho hum.....

*Twiddles fingers and gazes sidelong out the window*
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