The sun’s rays come over the horizon, on the solstice, the most sacred of days. The solstice goes my many names, the day of high light, midsummer, Alban Hefin. Across the globe and through time, it has been celebrated since before recorded history. In the light of the sun, we have strength, warmth, growth, energy, abundance, healing, and wisdom. The sun has been shining down upon our beautiful planet has been shining for at least four billion years and we can expect it to remain unchanged for another five billion years. The sun is also enormous–it accounts for 99.86% of the mass of our solar system. It is such an incredible thing that it’s hard to image in the scope of the sun as it compares to of human lives or human history. You might say that the sun is one of the most constant things we’ve had–since before humans were humans, since we can trace our ancestry back to some fish crawling up out of the ocean, the sun has been offering its light and warmth to us in its steady and powerful way. The same sun that shines upon you today has shined upon your every ancestor before you. You can see why ancient cultures all over the world celebrated the time of the greatest light and honored the sun as a deity–for without the sun, we would not exist.
Thus, on this sacred day, many choose to honor the sun in some way. In the last few years, I’ve shared some sunrise rituals and a sunrise journey ritual. These sunrise rituals certainly offer us a glimpse of that first ray of the light, the power of the sun as it shines forth–and are excellent for people who want to rise early and see the dawn’s first light. Today’s post is for those who are looking for additional ways to honor and celebrate the solstice through a variety of “small rituals” and “solstice activities” that you can do to celebrate this most sacred of days.
Honoring the Sunrise, Noon, and Sunset
A simple way to mark the Solstice (either one, actually) is to honor the rising, high point, and setting of the sun. You can do this as elaborately or as simply as you want. A very simple way is to use a drum or singing bowl, and simply allow the sound to come forth. You can also do this with a simple ritual (chanting “Awens”, saying the druid’s prayer, doing the AODA’s Sphere of Protection, saying the OBOD’s Druid’s Prayer for Peace, etc). Or, you can do this with movement or anything else that you like. Choose something meaningful to you, and allow the energy to flow.
Make a Sundial and Attune with the Sun
You can honor the sun by creating a permanent or temporary sundial. Sundials are some of the oldest forms of time pieces, and they are a wonderful way to connect with the movement of the sun across time. There are two ways to make a sundial: working with the sun or working with sacred geometry.
To work directly with the sun, you simply need a timer or clock that can go off on the hour (or on the half hour, if you prefer). You will want whatever you are using for your sundial and place it in the full sun. You can do this with simple materials, like a pencil and a paper plate. Or, you can get more elaborate and plan on carving into or painting a wood round or stone as a final product. Put your dial into an area that gets full sun. On each hour, mark it. I do this in pencil, and then later, if I’m doing a more permanent dial, I can come back to it and mark it more permanently after I have the marks. After the hours of the day, you will have a sundial–but that sundial isn’t yet complete. The sun’s position in the sky changes, so to really do this perfectly, you would do this again at the winter solstice. Draw a line between the marks for summer and winter, and those are your times for the dial. While it takes you a full season to complete the sundial doing this method, it is a wonderful way to work with the sun directly. If you want to get *really* fancy, do this at the equinox (either one) and then you can also have a mid point for the equinox. What is wonderful about this approach is that you have done this by observing and marking the path of the sun at three sacred points of the year–and honoring the energies of each of those points. This, truly, is a sacred sundial.
The alternative is to use human knowledge and sacred geometry–so you make the dial in advance, and then place it out on the solstice, marking it. To make one for your latitude, you will need to use a calculator, like the ones on this page. Many of the instructions online work from the premise that you want to create a sundial and use it to tell time–so you start with the latitude, which gives you angles, and you create the points. It is a fairly easy thing to do once you know where to put the marks and there are plenty of tools out there for you to try.
Sunbathing Energy Ritual
Find a quiet place in nature where you won’t be disturbed and where you can lay in the full sunlight. You can lay on the earth or on a blanket if you prefer. This is best done at noon, as that is the time of highest energy, but anytime the sun is shining down on the solstice (or the day before or after) the ritual will work. This ritual is best with minimal or no clothing so your body can best absorb vitamin D from the sun, but use your best judgement.
Begin by honoring the sun however you see fit. Singing bowl, sphere of protection or grove opening, calling to the power of the solar current and the fire, etc. Once you have honored the sun, lay down and simply absorb the sun’s rays. Feel the sun soaking into your skin, the heat and light of the sun warming you. Flip over and again, simply lay and absorb the sun.
I will note that some people can do this longer than others. I happen to have rather fair Irish skin, so I do this ritual only for about 5-10 minutes per side. Its enough to get the energy and enough to not get a sunburn.
After you have concluded sunbathing, thank the sun for his light, saying anything that you would like (let the words flow through you).
Energizing Liquids and Objects
For those of you who’d prefer not to lay in the full sun, you can get the effects of the above ritual (and save those effects for a later time) by using the sun to empower and bless a liquid. For this, I like to get a bottle of my Dandelion wine or other alcoholic beverage. I place it in the noontime sun for 30 or so minutes, allowing the sun’s rays to fully permeate the bottle (yes, I know that too long, and the rays will damage the contents. But this is an energetic blessing!) After the blessing, thank the sun. Now you have a bit of bottled sunshine, and you can open it and drink it anytime you like.
A variant of this is to create a solstice tea. Combine any number of sacred herbs, particularly herbs that are in their full power during the summer solstice (chamomile, mint, elderflower, rose petals, a small amount of yarrow, etc). By this I mean herbs that are in bloom during the solstice. Get a large mason jar, and fill it with pure water. Add the herbs and let it sit out in the sun. For this particular blend, I will actually allow it to sit out all day–from the moment the sun is visible to the moment it sets. Then, as darkness sets in, I will drink the tea. (You can also freeze this tea to use at a later point, say, for ritual at the Winter Solstice).
The same kind of “energizing” can be done with simple ritual tools, stones, anything that you’d like to put a burst of energy into. The nice thing about working with the sun is that it has so much energy that it radiates and it gives that energy constantly. You placing that energy into an object will never be a problem for the sun!
A Solstice Frolick
Another fun thing to do at the solstice is to go for a frolick. A frolick is different than a walk or hike–the point of the frolick isn’t to go anywhere. It is simply to experience the simple joy of being outside on a beautiful day with the sun shining down. Maybe even get a bit lost for a while. For the frolick, go somewhere you love or somewhere new, somewhere where nature has power and strength. Spend time wandering without any real goal; take whatever trail you fancy, or maybe take no trail at all. Allow yourself to experience the wonder and awe of the living earth. Wear ridiculous clothes. Play panpipes. Pay close attention to how the sun’s rays shine down through the leaves, or on the surfaces. Explore every nook and cranny. Note the movement of the sun.
Set a Solstice Standing Stone
The druids of old understood that standing stones have power. Setting a standing stone at the solstice is a particularly powerful act. A stone, buried 1/3 of the way in the earth, channels the powerful and healing solar current into the earth, intermingling with the telluric current. It allows the healing rays of the sun to shine forth, powerfully and meaningfully. You can set the stone as a sacred act, with as much ritual and fanfare as you like. When I set stones, I usually determine in advance where the stone should be placed using inner listening and spirit communication. open up a sacred grove, sit with the stone and the earth for a time, and then set the stone. I bless the stone with the four elements, sing to it, and then spend time in meditation. When the work is done, I close out the sacred grove. Stones can be set anywhere for blessing, energizing, or healing: in a sacred garden, a sacred grove, a field, a refugia garden, a place in need of land healing.
I hope these solstice activities offer you some ideas and suggestions. Readers, I’d love to hear more about how you celebrate the solstice!