Celebrating the solstice can be deep, sacred, and generate connection.
My true understanding, love, and appreciation for rituals started during my time spent living in the Andes mountains of Ecuador with a shaman and his family.
Their entire house was infused with natural light. Large windows without screens lined the exterior walls, and there were skylights across the ceiling of the wide hallway and in all the bedrooms.
Every view had the mountains in the background when looking past the sprawling farm. Pastures of cows, alpaca, and chickens. Orchards of avocado, lemon, and lime trees. Fields of corn, string beans, melons, squash, and colorful wildflowers.
What impressed me the most about their culture was their connection to the cosmos, the earth, and the elements.
Everything had a purpose and sacredness.
Each morning, the shaman’s wife and their two-year-old son performed a ritual of cleansing the house’s energy with white sage. She carried a large, red clay bowl with loose, smoking sage leaves. As they walked through the house room by room, her son would assist by fanning the earthy smelling white smoke with a black condor feather that was nearly as big as he was.
It was a highlight of my day having them come to the threshold of my open bedroom door, smiling, and politely asking if I wanted my room cleansed. I would happily invite them in and smile with delight as I watched this heartwarming duo perform their magic.
I have to admit, the room felt lighter as if something had lifted or shifted when they had finished.
White sage has been used in ceremonies and rituals for centuries by shamans and medicine men due to its protective and purifying properties.
I ended each of my days in solitude performing this sage burning ritual. By doing this, it felt as if the day’s slate had been wiped clean and space had been opened for a peaceful night’s sleep.
The ancient ritual of burning sage and the summer solstice both offer us an opportunity of cleansing and renewal.
Summer solstice—June 20th in the northern hemisphere—marks the first day of summer and the longest day of the year.
Solstice comes from the Latin words sol, meaning sun, and sistere, meaning to come to a stop or stand still. On the day of the June solstice, the sun reaches its northernmost position, as seen from Earth. At that moment, it stands still at the Tropic of Cancer. It then reverses its direction and starts moving south again.
The opposite happens during the December solstice. Then, the sun reaches its southernmost position in the sky, the Tropic of Capricorn, stands still, and then reverses its direction toward the north.
When we flow with nature and the cycles of the seasons, the winter solstice marks a time of introspection, while summer solstice is a time of outward expression. The sunshine and warmth beckon us to come out to play.
It’s also a great time to be aware of our solar plexus.
Our solar plexus chakra is just above our navel and below our rib cage. This is what is considered our personal power center—it’s where our confidence and our personal identity take shape and how we express to the world. Think of it as our own personal sun shining within us. It’s not surprising that the solar plexus chakra is associated with the element of fire and that it also governs our digestive organs.
A great way to pull all of these things together and utilize the power of this day is to have a solstice celebration and share it with people who are dear to your heart.
Here’s a list of supplies for a solstice celebration:
1. Small stick candles. I like to select colors that represent the sun, and the elements earth, air, water, and fire—gold, green, white, blue, and red.
2. Dried white sage stick for smudging.
3. Stones and a basket to place them in. My favorites stones for summer solstice are citrine for warmth and joy, carnelian to take the energy of the sun into your body, tiger’s eye to bring strength and motivation, and sunstone for personal power, freedom, expanded consciousness, and restoring the enjoyment of life.
4. Yellow flowers. Small dry ones and big fresh ones like sunflowers to put in a vase.
5. Dried grapevine wreath—a heart-shaped one is fun for this celebration.
6. Tea bags for sun tea.
7. Healthy snacks of your choice.
8. Yellow pad of paper.
9. Red pens. The color red is associated with our root chakra and manifesting.
10. Red string for wealth, fortune, and prosperity.
11. I Ching coins to help balance our yin and yang within and to bring in wealth.
12. A fire pit or fire-safe bowl and wood.
Ways to prep for the celebration:
1. Check the weather report—this is best enjoyed outside in the sun.
2. Make a fun music mix. Pretty much any of the Buddha Bar music is great for this. Or plan to stream any music you love.
3. Dry the small yellow flowers. I used my dehydrator for this. Pre-dried ones could also be used.
4. Cleanse the stones in a mixture of sea salt and a little water, rinse, dry them, and put them into a basket.
5. Early in the day, I make a jar of sun tea. One of my favorites to use for this is Yogi brand Sweet Tangerine Positive Energy tea.
6. Cut pieces of red string long enough to comfortably tie around a wrist with a little extra and tie an I Ching coin in the middle of each piece of string. One per guest.
7. Put your sun flowers into a vase. They represent good luck, long life, and lasting happiness.
As guests arrive, take one of the red strings with the I Ching coin on it and tie it around their wrists.
Invite them to pick a stone from the basket (have descriptions handy). This is fun because their intuition usually picks the exact stone they need!
Relax, have fun, and when you’re ready, invite everyone to take a piece of the yellow paper and a red pen, and spend a little time writing out things to release that are no longer serving or beneficial in our lives. We can also write down things we’d like to bring into our lives. Fold this paper containing our intentions, wrap it around one of the dried flowers, and attach it to the wreath.
The guests will then select one of the candles representing the elements and take their place around the now burning fire.
Have the wreath with everyone’s intentions attached to it and the sage smudge stick nearby. The host can start the fire ceremony by sharing a little about the solstice, transformation, renewal, and our solar plexus chakra.
Then, light the sage stick and smudge guests one by one, going around the circle (or it can be passed to allow them to smudge themselves).
Move into the candle lighting, starting with the gold candle representing the sun. Tip the lit sun candle to light the person’s candle next to you, and proceed until everyone’s is lit.
As a group, ask the cosmos (or preferred word) for assistance with the intentions and either the host or a chosen person can then place the wreath into the burning fire. Feel the intentions being heard as they are released within the burning fire. There is power in numbers, so have faith.
It’s so much fun sharing this ritual with friends, listening to music, dancing, and grazing on healthy snacks.
Feel free to add your own twist to this celebration. Happy summer solstice!