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Thoughts on the Summer Solstice

'm not a summertime person, really.  I hate the heat and, quite frankly, there's not much hunting to be

done  during the summer and usually summer is the start of fire season here  in the West.  Even so, this year I find that I've been enjoying the  spring and summer because La Nina has made this summer cool (relatively  speaking) and wet for us in the Northwest. So, I'm able to take a  breather and actually enjoy the green landscape plus work on my  garden.  

But all this got me thinking about solstice  from a historical perspective.  So, whether you call it Midsummer,  Lithia, or just the summer solstice, I like looking at the roots of the  celebration.

Prehistoric Times

There's little doubt that  humans in prehistoric times recognized the solstice and celebrated the  day with the most amount of sunlight. Stonehenge and Externsteine  were places where people could observe and mark the longest day of the  year. The altar at Externsteine has a keyhole that lights up at dawn on  the summer solstice.  And Stonehenge is definitely a monument to the  sun.  The heel stone gateway capture's the sun's rays on June 21st. 

Almost  all prehistoric peoples worshiped the sun in some capacity. Bonfires  were common both in prehistoric times and later to welcome the  solstice.  

Medieval and Viking Times

During the Viking era, northern peoples held a Thing and used the time to solve legal matters and disputes.   Bonfires were common as were visiting wells that were thought to have  magical properties. In northern Europe, it was customary to light a wheel encased with straw and roll it down a hill  to determine if the harvest would be good or poor.  If the wheel went  out before it reached the bottom, it would mean a poor harvest.   Methinks it'd be a good idea to pick a short hill.  Obviously with the  droughts in the West, that would be a foolhardy thing to do.  At least I  won't be doing that anytime soon.

Midsummer in Sweden

Not unsurprisingly, Midsummer celebrations are alive and well in Sweden.   A direct descendant of the Viking era solstice celebrations, Midsummer  is celebrated with feasts, music, dance, the Maypole, and honoring  nature.  Not surprisingly, the Church didn't squash the tradition, it  merely usurped it and made it the feast of John the Baptist. Midsummer  celebrations still has kept their fertility roots, thus hearkening back  to the much older tradition.  After all, who wants to let something like  Christian conversion ruin a good thing?

My Own Midsummer Celebration

Solstices  tend to be a special time for me.  I'll be cooking a pork tenderloin  and maybe make some special foods.  I'll be honoring Freyja, Freyja,  Sunna, Mani, and Tyr on summer solstice. Perhaps I'll used the time to  reflect on what I want to accomplish before hunting season is upon us.  I'll make offerings for a safe and fruitful season as well.

I hope you have a good solstice and let me know how you do to celebrate.


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