The word solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still) as the Sun appears to pause in its analemmic path before reversing direction at the change of season.
This year the sun “stands still” on June 20-21, 2013 (10:04 p.m. pacific daylight savings time), the Summer Solstice in northern latitudes, graciously beaming its vital light as it reaches its highest declination.
We experience this turning point as the longest day, and shortest night, of the year.
Stonehenge is perhaps the most recognized ancient monument dedicated to the solstice cycles. Ancient sky watchers observed the sun rising from the same northeast position on the horizon for three consecutive days, and noted its highest elevation in the noon sky. When viewed from the center of the circle, the midsummer sun rises over the Heelstone heralding its highest ascension in the northern skies.
The Druids called this summer turning point Alban Hefin meaning “the light of the shore,” referring to the mystical dimension where three realms meet: earth, sea and sky. During this time the Sun, represented in myth by the Oak King, is at his peak of its power.
However, this moment of glory is fleeting as its path starts to decline after three days, until the Summer King’s influence “falls” to his dark twin, the Holly King, in the autumn.
Like other cross-quarter holidays such as Beltane and Samhain, Alban Hefin, also called Litha, was seen as a point in time when the veils between the worlds was thin. It was a time to collect magical and healing herbs like elderberry, stonecrop, vervain, yarrow, and most importantly Hypericum, more commonly known as St. John’s Wort, whose yellow flowers are filled with energy of the sun at it peak.
As its name indicates, the namesake of this herb is John the Baptist, whose feast day follows three days after the solstice on June 24 when the cheery flower is in full bloom. Not only are the forces of light—symbolized by the sun—present in the plant, but under the additional association with St. John, it becomes especially potent.
According to R. Folkard, the plant is “a preservative against evil spirits, phantoms, specters, storms and thunder.”
In Biblical traditions, St. John the Baptist was born six months before Jesus Christ, astronomically marking opposites ends of the Milky Way. Like the Ancient Celtic counterparts, the Oak and Holly Kings, St. John and Jesus are solar deities whose coronations coincide with the solstices. Whether pagan or Christian, these two male forces reign over the solstices in a perpetual cycle of life, death and rebirth.
As I described in my previous post on the Winter Solstice, the Earth-Sun relationship is one of infinite expanding and contracting energies.
Like a great cosmic breath, the Winter Solstice is the completion of the exhale, and the Summer Solstice is the fulfillment of the inhale. Furthermore, there is a similar shifting of the seasons of our galaxy known as the Great Year or Yuga cycle. The 2012 Winter Solstice coincided with the last day of the Mayan Long Count calendar, which tracks the five worlds or galactic seasons of the Great Year. It marked the final breath of the contraction of consciousness, and the initial breath of the next inhalation towards the expansion of consciousness.
During the final thirteen years of the last baktun of the Mayan Long Count, the Winter Solstice has aligned with the Galactic Center in Sagittarius, while the Summer Solstice has occurred at the opposite point, the “anti-galactic center” in Gemini. Many researchers believe this period has marked a change of world ages and potentially signals the return of expanding consciousness.
Thus it seems that the 2013 Summer Solstice may be the first galactic “refill” station in which this new breath of consciousness transmit a higher frequency to our local Sun as it aligns with the anti-galactic center located in the constellation of Gemini.
These crossing points between the Milky Way and the Earth’s solstices on the ecliptic are understood in shamanic traditions to serve as doors to the spirit or underworlds. Just as there are portals that link the Earth and Sun, there appear to be energetic “star gates” that link our Sun to its galactic counterparts—especially at critical points in time and space. Mythology of the stars associated with these portals may help us understand the galactic wave of information that is transmitted and downloaded to our local star as it aligns with two nakshatras of Gemini: Mrigashira meaning “deer head” and Ardra “meaning “tear drop.” Both of these nakshatras are associated with the constellation of the great hunter, Orion, whose stars have been depicted and described in mythological legends throughout the world. From prehistoric cave paintings in France, to the neolithic Cernunnos of the ancient Celts in Europe, to Osiris in Egypt, Orion in Greece, Mithras in Rome, and Shiva-Rudra in India, the deer (or bull) hunter is portrayed a shamanic protector of life.
Like his counterpart archer, the Centaur, who stands at Galactic Center at the star gates of Scorpio and Sagittarius, Orion is positioned in the stars aiming his bow and arrows across the night sky. These mythological guardians protect both ends of the Milky Way, sometimes called the River of Heaven or Deer Jump (Hungarian), and hold the key to opening the doorway between the seasons, ascending and descending cycles, and possible interstellar dimensions.
Even the Freemasons and Founding Fathers understood the power of these asterisms, aligning significant architectural structures, such as the Washington Monument, to them. Many researchers, such as William Henry and Wayne Hershel, propose that the design of these buildings draw in stellar energy from specific asterisms in order open star gates here on Earth.
This summer the solstice occurs in the gentle nakshatra Mrigashira, whose deity, Soma, is the god of the shimmering white nectar of immortality. With its special prinana shakti, the power to give fulfillment, this nakshatra promises bliss and enlightenment. In addition, the Sun is traveling with three benefics in Gemini, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury, creating a powerful yoga that imbues those planets with galactic blessings of fulfillment as well.
Last weekend, as the Sun entered the Gemini degrees of Mrigashira to joined these benefics, Seattle was blessed with a rare sun halo or rainbow around the sun. I was fortunate to view this rainbow light which opened my heart and filled me with a inexplicable bliss. This phenomenon seemed like a positive omen for the upcoming blessings of this year’s Summer Solstice. Researcher William Henry describes the rainbow as representing a vehicle or doorway to ascension.
In Scaling the Path of the Shimmering Gods, Chad Stuemke recounts his alien abduction experience as journeying across a “rainbow bridge.” His quote from Steve McFadden’s Legend of Rainbow Warriors resonated with my experience:
For some traditional native people including the Navajo and Hopi, the Sunbow or Whirling Rainbow is considered to be a sign from the Creator, marking a time of great change or transition on the Earth. This full-circle rainbow around the Sun, some elders say, can be understood as a sign to people of the necessity to live a life in respect to harmony with all the creations that make life possible: plants, animals, waters, minerals, fires, winds, and other human beings.
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes! May the light of the Summer Sun fill you with bliss and open rainbow doors to your own expanding consciousness! Namaste!
This article has been adapted for elephant journal; the original can be found here.
Liz Durkin has studied Eastern astrological and healing traditions for the past 20 years. She examines astrological and astronomical events with a perspective steeped in the principles of alchemy. As a student of Jyotisha, the “science of light,” she refers to the long history of ancient seers and mystics who understood the language of the universe.