What Does the Summer Solstice Mean?

The intersection of earthly and astrological seasons has been regarded as sacred since ancient times

Photo: jessicaphoto / Getty Images

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As we go about our days, moving through our routines and making plans, the Earth is in constant motion. Forever spinning around and around the Sun. Getting lighter and darker every 24 hours. And, over the course of an entire year, moving through four key phases: spring equinox, summer solstice, fall equinox, and winter solstice.

These phases have been recognized and celebrated for millennia. Ancient civilizations revered the beginning of each of these astrological phases and understood their alignment with the rhythms of the Earth. These events are understood to be the reason behind the construction of Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, the Sphinx, and Giza pyramids, each built in a manner that marks these turning  points.

What does the summer solstice mean?

June 21st marks the summer solstice for the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice for the southern hemisphere. The word “solstice” comes from the Latin words sol (“Sun”) and sistere (“to stand still”). For several days before and after the summer solstice, the Sun literally appears to stand still in the sky.

At this sacred time, the Earth’s axis reaches its maximum tilt toward the Sun, which has reached its highest point in our sky. It is here that we meet our longest and most sun-filled day of the year in the northern hemisphere and our shortest and darkest day of the year for those in the southern hemisphere.

The summer solstice ushers us into the second phase of the Earth’s journey around the Sun, continuing the new beginning of the equinox in March. This day marks a turning point for the Earth. She has been building in one direction and has reached her peak. It is now it is a matter of shifting into her next chapter, her next stage, her next phase of being.

This shifting of our surroundings is an invitation to lean into the shift that is occurring within each of us, too. It is through honoring the constant motion of the Earth and all of nature that we can honor our own cycles of change, growth, expansion, shedding, releasing, shifting, and more. Giving ourselves permission to change, just as the Earth does. Giving ourselves permission to let go when we know it is time, and to begin again when we are inspired to do so. 

How astrology relates to nature

The intelligence of nature is astounding. As the Earth meets the next phase of her journey around the Sun, we humans enter the next season of our astrological year. In the northern hemisphere, Aries initiates us into spring under the spring equinox, Cancer begins summer under the summer solstice, Libra initiates fall as we meet the autumnal equinox, and Capricorn leads us into winter as we reach the winter solstice. For the Southern Hemisphere, we switch directions with Aries begin autumn, Cancer initiates winter, and so on.

Any zodiac sign that begins when the Earth shifts into a new phase represents initiation and new beginning. Cancer season, in particular, speaks to initiation and beginning through emotion, inviting us to nourish our inner worlds. This moment of standing still invites us inward to also become still and fully present with where and who we are, with what the moment is asking of us, and to reintroduce ourselves to who we have become. Ask yourself, how have I changed since the March equinox, and where am I  ready to go next?

We can only meet our next chapter when we are fully present in our current, and we can only walk forward when we have both our feet fully grounded on the surface beneath us. 

The start of Cancer season

Cancer season takes us out of our minds and deeper into our bodies. It is a time of warmth, compassion, emotion, self-nurturing, and nourishment. It asks us to tap into our own healer, our own home, and our own comfort and source of safety. Knowing that when we allow ourselves the nourishment that our minds, bodies, and souls have been craving, incredible healing occurs. And where we meet healing, we meet new layers of ourselves as we let go of the old. We meet the beautiful open space of potential, new chapters, and a new self.

Whether you are in the northern hemisphere moving into light-filled moments or the southern hemisphere meeting the darkest days of the year, the invitation is the same, expressed through a different lens: it’s time to meet yourself. To honor your cycles. To let yourself change. And to remember that you are your own greatest guidance system.

The Earth never doubts where she is or where she is going next. She never doubts that she will bloom again after releasing her leaves or that she will be reborn again and again and again, exploring herself in different ways. She knows she is never trapped in one way of being, in one chapter that was always designed to be just that, a chapter in the ever-shifting and evolving story of her life.

How to honor the summer solstice

Let this be a time when you, like nature, trust in your own evolution and innate wisdom. Intention sits at the core of everything we do. Let these questions guide you into your next steps:
What is your intention as you are called forward to celebrate this sacred day? 
Is it to honor the Earth?
Celebrate your journey and how far you have come?
Connect with your oneness with nature?
Understand what new chapter you are stepping into?
What are you honoring?
What is your intention?
What is your heart whispering?

Whether that means you are drawn to a beautiful yoga flow, a meditation, journaling, future visioning, or something else. If you are guided to connect with the summer solstice, trust that the same guidance that led you here knows where to take you, too.

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