elebrating the Summer Solstice has been a tradition as early as the Stone Age, around 2.5 million years ago. Early civilizations honored the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and even built monuments to the sun’s movement (I’m looking at you Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids!).
Around the world, cultures have celebrated this special day with feasts, bonfires, and other rituals. It seems everyone knew it was an important time of the year worthy of taking notice. In Egypt, it marked the beginning of flood season from the Nile. While in South America they observed the day with paper boats on the river being filled with flowers and then set on fire. It was even considered the start of the New Year by the Greeks and an important time for conducting legal matters for the Vikings.
The word solstice comes from Latin meaning “when the sun seems to stand still.” With so many hours of sunlight it can feel a bit like being suspended in time or like a pause at the peak time of the year before we begin our descent into winter. Summer Solstice is one of four solar holidays determined by the placement of Earth’s orbit to the Sun, the others being Autumnal Equinox, Winter Solstice, and Spring Equinox.
Astronomically, the Summer Solstice occurs for the Northern Hemisphere when the Earth’s orbit tilts the North Pole 23.4 degrees towards the Sun. Astrologically, this also marks the Sun’s move into the tropical zodiac sign of Cancer.
Like an astrological transit such as the new moon, the solstice happens at the same time everywhere on Earth. This year it is exact on Friday, June 21 at 10:54 a.m. CDT. Summer solstice, or Litha in Pagan and Wiccan traditions, marks a turning point of seasons, though it also represents an internal change of tides (that was an attempt at an astrology-Cancer joke!).
In astrology, the Sun represents what we “shine” into the world, as well as our consciousness and identity. Similar to the Sun in our solar system, our natal Sun orients us, though to ourselves. It points us towards clues about our life purpose and our reason for being on Earth.
I often struggle with horoscopes as I think they tend to over simplify something incredibly complex such as personality. Often when we over-identify with one part of ourselves, then we tend to push away anything that seems different or contrary to that. In reality, we are comprised of many conflicting paradoxes that we face through appreciating our seeming opposing internal energies.
So, while our Sun sign doesn’t define us, it does give us clues to our unique superpowers and light, and how we may want to be seen. Understanding the Sun in our natal astrology charts help us connect more to what lights us up and our sense of identity and purpose.
Suggestions for celebrating your natal Sun this Summer Solstice:
Explore the planets in relationship to your Sun. In my astrological lineage, called archetypal astrology, knowing which planets touch your Sun are often as influential, if not more so, than the sign the sun is in. Take some time to explore what energies interact with your Sun that may even surprise you in the different ways you want to express yourself. Perhaps you are a Capricorn, but have Uranus opposite your Sun. This could shift a lot of your identity around stability with a tug-of-war for freedom, an important thing to know about yourself, so you don’t put yourself into a box! (Don’t know how to do this? Might be time for an astrology reading, hint, hint!)
Understand the house your Sun is in. The house your Sun is in often reveals what area of life you feel particularly energized by. Though it’s important to note you would need to know birth time to figure this one out. I like to think of our personalities as a stew and each layer of our astrology chart adds more and more complexity to the flavor. With an Aries Sun in the 7th house, someone may feel particularly comfortable in one-on-one connecting, though if we were identified with the independence of the Aries, may miss how much we crave relationship and partnership.
Find out when your next Solar Return occurs. The Solar Return, aka birthday, is an annual transit where the degree of the Sun in the sky lines up with the same degree as our Sun when we were born. Our birthday may or may not fall on the same day as our Solar Return because the Gregorian calendar is not based on degrees of the zodiac. I often think of my Solar Return as my personal New Year as it can be a recharge time for life force energy and a renewed sense of purpose. An example would be someone whose birthday is on June 30, and their Sun was at 10 degrees Cancer; however, this year the Sun moves to 10 degrees Cancer on June 29. So technically the Solar Return, would be on June 29, though their birthday would be June 30.
Study your Progressed Sun for this year or for the Summer Solstice. This is a much more advanced astrological technique, but it is my favorite for understanding themes for recent or upcoming birth years, or any day of the year for that matter. While used often for predictions, I like to use it more as a tool for preparation or understanding past or current experiences. Find your Progressed Sun by forwarding your birthday one day for every year old you are, though most astrology apps will do this for you. Then compare the Progressed Sun, or entire chart, to the chart when you were born. Changes in sign or house with the Progressed Sun often signify major shifts in life direction or meaning. When my Progressed Sun moved from Gemini to Cancer a few years ago, I finished my graduate degree, got a cat, and have pretty much been a hermit ever since!
However you decide to celebrate from dawn to dusk on the Summer Solstice, may it be filled with both external and internal light.
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