June Solstice: Longest and Shortest Day of the Year

The June solstice is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the Winter Solstice the Southern Hemisphere.

Illustration image

The June Solstice. (Not to scale)

The date varies between June 20 and June 22, depending on the year, and the local time zone.

June Solstice in Aurora, Illinois, USA was on
Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 11:24 pm CDT (Change city)

June Solstice in Universal Coordinated Time was on
Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 04:24 UTC

Zenith Furthest Away from the Equator

A solstice happens when the sun’s zenith is at its furthest point from the equator. On the June solstice, it reaches its northernmost point and the Earth’s North Pole tilts directly towards the sun, at about 23.4 degrees.

It’s also known as the northern solstice because it occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere.

Meaning of Solstice

‘Solstice’ (Latin: ‘solstitium’) means ‘sun-stopping’. The point on the horizon where the sun appears to rise and set, stops and reverses direction after this day. On the solstice, the sun does not rise precisely in the east, but rises to the north of east and sets to the north of west, meaning it’s visible in the sky for a longer period of time.

Although the June solstice marks the first day of astronomical summer, it’s more common to use meteorological definitions of seasons, making the solstice midsummer or midwinter.

Illustration image
Stonehenge in England.
©bigstockphoto.com/dubassy

Solstices in Culture

Over the centuries, the June solstice has inspired countless festivals, midsummer celebrations and religious holidays.

One of the world’s oldest evidence of the Summer Solstice’s importance in culture is Stonehenge in England, a megalithic structure which clearly marks the moment of the June Solstice.

In the Southern Hemisphere, where the June solstice is known as the shortest day of the year, it marks the first day of astronomical winter, but the middle of winter in meteorological terms.

Midnight Sun or Polar Night?

On the June solstice, the midnight sun is visible (weather permitting) throughout the night, in all areas from just south of the Arctic Circle to the North Pole.

On the other side of the planet, south of the Antarctic Circle there’s Polar Night, meaning no Sunlight at all, on the June Solstice.

Solstice Dates Vary

Even though most people consider June 21 as the date of the June Solstice, it can happen anytime between June 20 and June 22, depending on which time zone you’re in. June 22 Solstices are rare – the last June 22 Solstice in UTC time took place in 1975 and there won’t be another one until 2203.

The varying dates of the solstice are mainly due to the calendar system – most western countries use the Gregorian calendar which has 365 days in a normal year and 366 days in a Leap Year.

A tropical year is the time it takes the Earth to orbit once around the Sun. It is around 365.242199 days long, but varies slightly from year to year because of the influence of other planets. The exact orbital and daily rotational motion of the Earth, such as the “wobble” in the Earth’s axis (precession of the equinoxes), also contributes to the changing solstice dates.

Moving to Other Seasons

Equinox and solstice illustration.
Equinoxes and Solstices

After the June solstice, the sun follows a lower and lower path through the sky each day in the Northern Hemisphere until it reaches the point where the length of daylight is about 12 hours and eight to nine minutes in areas that are about 30 degrees north or south of the equator.

Areas 60 degrees north or south of the equator have daylight for about 12 hours and 16 minutes. This is the September Equinox, the Autumnal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere.

Earth does not move at a constant speed in its elliptical orbit. Therefore the seasons are not of equal length: the times taken for the sun to move from the March Equinox to the June Solstice, to the September equinox, to the December solstice, and back to the March equinox are roughly 92.8, 93.6, 89.8 and 89.0 days respectively.

The consolation in the Northern Hemisphere is that spring and summer last longer than autumn and winter.

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The Witches Spell for Monday, June 19th – A Midsummer Night’s Fire Ritual

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A Midsummer Night’s Fire Ritual

The Summer Solstice, known to some as Litha, Midsummer, or Alban Heruin, is the longest day of the year. It’s the time when the sun is most powerful, and new life has begun to grow within the earth. After today, the nights will once more begin to grow longer, and the sun will move further away in the sky.

If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, consecrate a space, or call the quarters, now is the time to do so.

This ritual is a great one to perform outside, so if you have the opportunity to do this without scaring the neighbors, take advantage of it.
Begin this ritual by preparing the wood for a fire, without lighting it yet. While the ideal situation would have you setting a huge bonfire alight, realistically not everyone can do that. If you’re limited, use a table top brazier or fire-safe pot, and light your fire there instead.
Say either to yourself or out loud:

Today, to celebrate Midsummer, I honor the Earth itself. I am surrounded by tall trees. There is a clear sky above me and cool dirt beneath me, and I am connected to all three. I light this fire as the Ancients did so long ago.

At this point, start your fire. Say:

The Wheel of the Year has turned once more
The light has grown for six long months
Until today.
Today is Litha, called Alban Heruin by my ancestors.
A time for celebration.
Tomorrow the light will begin to fade

As the Wheel of the Year
Turns on and ever on.
Turn to the East, and say:
From the east comes the wind,
Cool and clear.
It brings new seeds to the garden
Bees to the pollen
And birds to the trees.
Turn to Face South, and say:
The sun rises high in the summer sky
And lights our way even into the night
Today the sun casts three rays
The light of fire upon the land, the sea, and the heavens
Turn to face West, saying:
From the west, the mist rolls in
Bringing rain and fog
The life-giving water without which
We would cease to be.
Finally, turn to the North, and say:
Beneath my feet is the Earth,
Soil dark and fertile
The womb in which life begins
And will later die, then return anew.

Build up the fire even more, so that you have a good strong blaze going.

If you wish to make an offering to the gods, now is the time to do it. For this sample, we’re including the use of a triple goddess in the invocation, but this is where you should substitute the names of the deities of your personal tradition.

Say:

Alban Heruin is a time of rededication
To the gods. The triple goddess watches over me.
She is known by many names.
She is the Morrighan, Brighid, and Cerridwen.
She is the washer at the ford,
She is the guardian of the hearth,
She is the one who stirs the cauldron of inspiration.
I give honor to You, O mighty ones,
By all your names, known and unknown.
Bless me with Your wisdom
And give life and abundance to me
As the sun gives life and abundance to the Earth.
I make this offering to you
To show my allegiance
To show my honor
To show my dedication
To You.

Cast your offering into fire. Conclude the ritual by saying:

Today, at Litha, I celebrate the life
And love of the gods
And of the Earth and Sun.

Take a few moments to reflect upon what you have offered, and what the gifts of the gods mean to you. When you are ready, if you have cast a circle, dismantle it or dismiss the quarters at this time. Allow your fire to go out on its own.

 

 

by Patti Wigington
Published on ThoughtCo

Let’s Talk Witch – Midsummer

Die Hüterin unserer Erde

Let’s Talk Witch – Midsummer

 

Midsummer is the sabbat that falls on the Summer Solstice (on or around June 21) and is also known as Litha. It is the longest day of the year, with the most light and the least dark, and the earth is at her most fertile. The land is full of energy and life; the goddess as mother is pregnant, and her consort the god is at the height of his powers. It is time to party and rejoice! (Like we really need an excuse for that.)

Midsummer is a time to celebrate family and love. It is a traditional day for handfasting rites (Pagan wedding ceremonies), and some Witches do divination now to help them find their true loves. If you’ve already found yours, be sure to celebrate that, too!

The Summer Solstice is also said to be the optimal day on which to harvest your magickal and medicinal herbs for use in the year ahead (which works really well if your growing season is such that these plants are actually ready to be harvested, of course-where I live, we just take a ritual clipping of each plant and call it good).

In the Pagan mythos, Midsummer marks the end of the waxing part of the year, ruled by the Oak King, and starts the waning half of the year, ruled by the Holly King. (At Midsummer’s counterpart, the Winter Solstice, or Yule, this is reversed, and the Oak King battles the Holly King to regain his throne.)

Witches celebrate Midsummer with strawberries and mead and feasts of summer foods. It is traditional to throw lavender into the bonfire as a sacrifice to the Old Gods (if at all possible, you have to have a bonfire). Some years my group throws in scraps of paper with the crap we want out of our lives written on them-willing sacrifices that we hope will leave more room for the positive potential of the energetic summer season.
Whether you celebrate alone or with others, be sure to take advantage of the powerful energy from earth and sun that is so abundant at this time of year, and take a moment to give thanks for all the blessings you are harvesting in your own life.

 


Everyday Witch A to Z: An Amusing, Inspiring & Informative Guide to the Wonderful World of Witchcraft

Deborah Blake

Good Monday Morning To All Our Dear, Precious Family & Friends! May You Have A Very Blessed Day!

Hope Your Summer Was Awesome

Summer Solstice

Summer brings the Earth’s orbit
much closer to the sun.
On the longest day of the year,
let us praise what is above.

 

In ancient days, the sun was a god,
known by many names.
All would honor their dependence
upon that fiery blaze.

 

So join me now, as in days of old
on this summer day,
brothers and sisters of the grove,
let us give our thanks.

 

Gather branches of the fallen oak
to build a roaring fire.
Let us dance and sing around it,
while Sun and fire fuel desire.

 

Gather lavender and make a wish
then throw it in the flames,
thinking kindly of our fellow man
without naming any names.

 

Drink the honeysuckle Sun warmed tea
mixed with chamomile from the meadows,
make our crowns and chains of daisy
adorned with lily, dandelion and rose.

 

Litha, Summer Solstice,
It’s a midsummer dream,
where we dance with the goddess
and the man of green.

 

As the days begin to shorten from here,
and the cold starts to creep like ivy
my spiritual fire’s as hot as the sun,
and I’ll keep it burning deep inside me.

 

—Tina King, Author
All Poetry

Winter Solstice:The Longest Night (Southern Hemisphere)

Winter Solstice:The Longest Night

The longest night of the year is honored by many traditions as a sacred time.

In the past, it’s been a night to gather ’round the fire or set out candles to call back the Sun. It’s on the 21st in 2016.

Is this where the date for Christmas came from? The indigenous Europeans had already been celebrating the birth of the Sun as part of Yule for thousands of years.

Endings and Darkness

In Latin, solstice means sun set still and Winter Solstice is the great stillness before the Sun’s strength builds, and days grow longer.

It can be a time to rest and reflect. It’s the fruitful dark out of which new life can eventually emerge. In ancient times and for some today, the darkness itself is the spiritual cradle into which the Sun is reborn.

Father Time with his sickle appears briefly and bids us farewell before the newborn babe appears at New Years. Everything lies dormant in the silent night, a sacred time of rest before the awakening, and the slow build toward longer days.

Keeping the Faith

This time of year is associated with light — string lights, sparklers and of course, candles.

There’s the advent wreath of the Christian faith and the all-night bonfire for the burning of the Yule log, a tradition with roots in Northern European pre-Christian times. The lights are reminders of the inner light and hope for the return of sunny days.
Winter Blues

The timeless traditions during the dark season of lights and celebrations are thought to be an attempt to balance out the sunless gloom of winter.

Seasonal depression is brought on by a lack of sunlight, and a drop in serotonin levels.

In Roman times, the Feast of Saturnalia was meant to counteract the heavy dark and the season’s reminder of mortality. Named for Saturn, the ultimate buzz-kill at any party, their feast turned normal Saturnian boundaries and order on its head.

Masters became servants, and gambling and excess were encouraged.

Creating Warmth

The many seasonal gatherings help to carry us through the dark time of the year. There’s a melancholy that can be overwhelming without the promise of a new beginning. It’s normal to feel that tinge of sorrow at life’s endings, here at the dying of the year.

Parties and holiday gatherings remind us that we’re all in it together. We long for a sense of belonging, being part of a tribe, feeling that deep bond of family.

The Reason for Seasons

The Earth is tilted on its axis like a top, which astronomers figured out is at 23 degrees. The seasons are flip-flopped, with Winter Solstice coming in December for the Northern hemisphere and in June for the Southern hemisphere.

That’s why Australians are wearing jumpers in summer and swimsuits in winter, and our seasons are reversed. To avoid confusion, sometimes they’re called June and December solstice.

A Sun is Born

At Newgrange cairn in Ireland, the sun’s rays shine onto the triple-spiral symbol in the burial chamber. The megalithic mound is womb shaped, and the triple-spiral is thought to come from the earlier Goddess cultures, representing the triplicity of Mother, Maiden, and Crone.

The light of the Sun begins a new solar cycle at Winter Solstice. The rays shine into the dark and nurture the newborn life there to be cultivated. And this is mirrored in nature, as the seeds are buried in the darkness of the Earth, to emerge once again with the life-giving rays of the Sun.
Birthing Dreams

The longest night is a fruitful time for setting intentions, to be birthed with the newborn Sun. What you conceive now can grow with the Sun, and gain momentum in Spring. You might start a tradition of setting Winter Solstice intentions, and in one year, see how many have come into being. Put them in a special tin or box that has meaning for you.

The dark before the dawn, just like New Moons, can be a powerful moment of magic, drawing in what you’d like to see happen in the new year.

 

by Molly Hall
Published on ThoughtCo