In astronomical terms, the summer solstice marks the beginning of summer in the Northern hemisphere. Just to confuse things a little, you may also hear this time of year referred to as ‘midsummer.’ This year, the summer solstice falls on Friday 21st June and will mark the longest day and the shortest night of the year. This means that the light reaches its peak, after which we cross over the threshold into the second half of the year. Light after the summer solstice begins its slow but sure decline towards the shortest day of the year on December 21st, winter solstice.
Transitioning to the second half of the year can provoke a sense of sadness, overwhelm or leave us feeling unprepared and rushed (anyone else wondering where the first half of the year went?!) Us humans commonly have a preference for the light (not to mention warmth) so thinking of its retreat is not easy. However the earth, if we allow it, can be a good teacher of balance. Year on year we witness darkness and light rise and fall, and give way to one another through the seasonal cycle, always moving, always changing and always returning.
Being aware of what is going on in our outer world can help us to connect to and learn more about our inner worlds. In this article I will discuss where we are currently in the seasonal cycle and suggest ways in which we can use this to cultivate inner reflection and growth.
This time of year is associated with the element of fire. Fire aids transformation. It can literally and metaphorically burn away things that we no longer need. Emotionally this may include any limitations or barriers, old thought or behaviour patterns and experiences in our lives that we feel ready to transform.
Just like all of the elements, fire has more and less helpful qualities. In balance, fire energy can stimulate the motivation required to bring new projects to life. Fire can clear our path and cultivate clarity. It helps kindle ideas, enthusiasm, creativity and positive action. In excess, fire energy can bring an intensity to our emotions that may feel chaotic or out of control.
The word I have chosen to summarise this time of year is bloom. As we look around us we may notice all the ways in which the earth is blooming right now. The increased light up to this point has provided favourable conditions for life to be nourished. Flowers are abundant, colours are rich, new life is flourishing and fruits begin to ripen.
Other words associated with this time of year include: expansion, flourish, abundance, celebration, full, ripe, peak, growth
This time of year can be a guide for inner reflection. It may help to spend some time in nature, and just notice and observe the season that we are in. What words would you use to describe it? Be aware of what feelings it brings up for you. This will be different for us all, depending on where we are in our journey. Below I have provided some points of reflection that relate to the themes of the season. Work with them as suits you best but it may be helpful to do so outside or after having spent a moment in nature or somewhere quiet.
- The light is at its peak now. Acknowledge any areas of growth in your life so far this year. What is beginning to flourish or expand? What feels strong? What are you grateful for in this moment? Some years this is going to feel easier than others to reflect on but see if you can approach this with the kindness and fairness you would if helping a friend to answer these questions. If it suits take your journal and see what follows as you write the sentence, ‘As the light peaks, I am celebrating…’
- This time of year is associated with fire energy. Have a read through the qualities of fire in the section above and then in your journal see what follows as your write the sentence, ‘Fire energy can help to ignite, breakthrough or transform. I would like the help of fire to…’
- The earth is in bloom. If you can now or later find something that is blooming and just observe it. In your journal see what follows as you write the sentence, ‘To bloom I need…’
To summarise, being aware of what is going on in our outer world can help us to connect to and learn more about our inner worlds. The energy of the summer solstice offers us a chance to reflect on areas of growth and celebration, how we can use fire energy to support our goals moving forward and what we need to help us bloom as we move into the second half of the year.