Written by: Lorna Meek, Edited by Kimberly Anne
In the Northern Hemisphere, Midsummer’s Day, otherwise known as Summer Solstice, is celebrated between the 20th and 23rd of June. On the Celtic Wheel, Midsummer is one of eight seasonal festivals and celebrates the longest day and shortest night of the year. As a teenager, my friends and I loved to go down to the river, to our favourite muddied bank that we called our ‘beach’. We would build and sit around a fire, drink, play music, make each other laugh and stay up until sunrise.
Precious images of those days are forever etched in my memory, so full of expectation and excitement and of course, summer sun. It symbolised the start of what we hoped would be a fantastic summer of adventure, a starting point from where things could only get better. Actually, it signifies summer’s peak, as opposed to a starting point, when nature is in its fullest bloom, after which the slow descension into darkness begins and life recedes again.
I’m glad I didn’t think of it that way back then, as living with Scottish weather, the idea that summer had already reached its height, even before school had finished would have been nothing short of utterly depressing and deflated my youthful, hopeful heart. As this was the early 90s and without mainstream social media and instant global connectivity, we felt like we’d created it; like Summer Solstice was ours. My parents didn’t celebrate it and as far as I knew at that time, no one else did. Of course, it wasn’t long before I discovered that we were not the only ones!
I view our Solstice social gatherings now as an act of remembering and more interestingly, remembering something that we hadn’t realised we had forgotten. We didn’t necessarily know that sitting around the fire, in nature, and sharing stories until the sun came up, was part of ancient Celtic culture, but we knew there was magic in it and it made us feel alive and connected to each other and to the land. As in all indigenous traditions across the world, connection to the earth is at the heart of it.
We didn’t necessarily know that sitting around the fire, in nature and sharing stories until the sun came up, was part of ancient Celtic culture, but we knew there was magic in it and it made us feel alive and connected to each other and to the land. As in all indigenous traditions across the world, connection to the earth is at the heart of it.
When I am feeling connected to nature and the earth I have a greater ability to trust my instincts and my intuition which ultimately makes me feel authentically myself. I feel more creative and free, I’m not second-guessing or judging myself, nor am I listening too much to my inner critic or to the views and opinions of anyone else. I am at peace and believe this is my natural state to be in. The eight Celtic festivals of Solstice (both Summer and Winter), Equinox (both Spring and Autumn), Imbolc, Beltain, Lammas, and Samhain are seasonal reminders of this and by opening our hearts to the cycles of nature we can experience greater connectedness to all of life.
Each celebration offers an opportunity to reflect on how we are living and lay plans for change. These cycles, like those of the moon and Mother Nature herself, are of feminine energy. Moving through the Celtic Wheel of the year there are subtle shifts in energy that often we are not conscious of, however, they do affect us. If we can aim to be more in flow with them we can keep our own feminine cycles more in balance.
There are so many simple, yet powerful practices to reconnect to this nature-based wisdom and one is to be still for a little while, as often as you can. There is power in slowing down and taking time to just be, especially in these times when purpose and productivity are always high on the agenda. ‘Solstice’ meaning ‘the standing of the sun’, is literally when the sun stands still for 3 days and we can make our own earth connection by also taking an opportunity to stop.
Women are so overscheduled, juggling kids and dogs and work and studies and elderly parents and chores and mentally running appointment systems for entire families that we just need to stop. It’s no wonder we are exhausted, stressed out, anxious, emotionally and physically wrung out. Our feminine nature is in desperate need of a booster from the ultimate feminine, Mother Nature herself. After all, we are one with her, so if we take care of her, she will nurture us in return.
Sometimes ditching something in the diary, for sitting staring out of the window, watching a squirrel climb a tree, is absolutely the way to go. Try sitting out on the grass, but not to drink coffee, read a book, or chat on the phone – just to sit. Take the time to engage all of your senses; fill your lungs with fresh air, listen to the birds, hear their song and feel the earth beneath you. A huge component of Celtic nature-based wisdom is the mindful awareness of and gratitude for the 5 elements that govern our lives – Air, Fire, Earth, Water, and Spirit.
Observe and try to pay more attention to nature. It is amazing how much more you can feel a part of her cyclical flow when you do this. Here, dogs can come in very handy if you’re wishing to avoid the inquisitive looks while out walking. Almost every morning since the beginning of Spring, I’ve been playing hopscotch with snails on my morning dog walk.
I desperately want to avoid the dreaded crack, crunch, squish sounds of squashed snails and some are out there sliding along, shell-less. It’s a death trap for them. What it requires me to do is to be ultra-careful and deliberate with where I place my feet as well as forcing me to notice the beauty of the dewy grass, buttercups, forget-me-nots, other wildflowers, and beasties that I might otherwise trample through disturbingly. It has become one of the most joyful moments in my day.
Often when I feel drawn to do something like sing out in the garden, take a dip in a cold loch, drum to a plant, or have a silent conversation with a tree, I have no idea why I’m doing it but I have come to trust myself and my intuition. All these things feel right and meaningful for me and much improve my daily health and wellbeing.
I figure the occasional eye-roll is worth it.