Summer Solstice: Between Science, Myth, and Religion

Summer Solstice: Between Science, Myth, and Religion

Solstice comes from the Latin “sol” (sun) and “sister” (to stop) and our star stops right at the top.

The summer solstice is the astronomical phenomenon that represents a specific moment, the one when the sun, in its apparent movement, reaches its highest point relative to the horizon. This event occurs every year during the month of June and marks the beginning of the northern astronomical summer (our hemisphere) and the southern astronomical winter.

In 2023 the solstice falls at 16.57 on June 21 (in Italy we will have a long day of 15 hours 14 minutes, in Stockholm 22 hours of daylight, in London 18, in Paris 17 …), depending on the location Geographical for multiple places. But the most specific phenomenon is the so-called “midnight sun”, that is, sunlight will remain visible, in the Arctic Circle, above the horizon for about 24 hours. It should be noted that the moment of the solar solstice is delayed every year by about six hours from the previous year, due to the “beginning of the equinoxes”, which is an interesting astronomical pattern that has affected human civilization since its inception and which I have been talking about extensively. I talked about it in other forums.

The six-hour delay problem was addressed by introducing a leap year every four years, thus returning the solstice to its starting point after each four-year cycle. Because of this continuous alignment, the solstice does not always fall on June 21, but it can also fall on June 20, as it did in 2020.

Summer Solstice Legends

Due to the special position of the Sun, the longest day of the year has always been associated with esoteric rituals and ancient traditions. In this regard, many legends have been circulated linking this memory to natural powers and hidden powers. It is the day when light triumphs over darkness, but it is also the day after which the duration of light begins to diminish, until the opposite date, the winter solstice which falls between December 21 and 22, when the sun begins its journey again.

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In general, according to some esoteric interpreters, more inspired by folk and folkloric aspects, during the summer solstice dream and reality merge: the sun, representing the known universe, and the moon, which instead refers to the unconscious, will communicate with each other, creating communication portals between dimensions different from space and time. Important and highly developed civilizations such as the Incas, Mayas, and Aztecs would have erected various sundial “clocks” and various observation points, of which the summer solstice is one of the most symbolic moments of the year. On a very high site machu picchu, The Peruvian Marvel, numbered among the seven wonders of the modern world, can still be seen to this day Torreon That is, a semicircular stone skillfully chiseled for specific use for solar observations, as wellAntihuatana A type of sundial carved into the rock with special illumination on the day of the summer solstice.

The first complete astronomical observations are attributed to the Sumerians, Babylonians and Egyptians. The latter, in particular, created a highly developed system of measurement, placing pyramids and obelisks according to the position of the Sun and other stars. Based on solar astronomical observations, the priests of the pharaoh were able to predict the floods of the Nile and, accordingly, were able to accurately plan agricultural work. For the ancient Chinese, the summer solstice was the moment when the Earth’s YIN, the energy associated with the feminine principle, reached its highest awe, while the YANG energy associated with the masculine principle was at its lowest. In the East, as in the West, in contrast to the winter solstice, where the “male” solar and heavenly deities were celebrated, the summer solstice was considered a celebration associated above all with Mother Earth and the “female” deities. According to the researcher Rene Guenon, Deepening and comparing Greek and Hindu traditions, the summer solstice, from an esoteric point of view, represented the “gate of men”, associated with the sign of Cancer, in contrast to the “gate of the gods”, which corresponded to the winter solstice. and the sign of Capricorn.

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The ancient Romans celebrated Giano Bieverente, who was depicted with a key in one hand and a staff in the other, a symbol of the elements of water and fire. In fact, the Roman tradition envisioned bathing in natural streams of water and jumping over blazing bonfires for the purposes of purification and inner renewal. Celtic civilizations built important megalithic structures to capture the moment when the star of our planetary system reaches its zenith. One of the most mysterious and in tune with the summer solstice is certainly Stonehenge, the famous archaeological site in the United Kingdom. In this place, it is possible to witness a very rare phenomenon: on the day of the summer solstice, a ray of sunlight penetrates through the tripartite, that is, the structure consisting of two vertical units interconnected by an arch, and strikes the central altar of the site. There is no doubt that the ancient builders of the so-called “magic circle” at Stonehenge possessed in-depth knowledge of astronomy and astrology. It is probably a kind of “ritual sign”, which had a calendar function for the ancient Celtic inhabitants of the place. The massive complex at Stonehenge is full of mysteries that have not yet been fully solved: the stones aligned at the points where the sun rises on the summer and winter solstices, and on the spring and autumn equinoxes, so it is assumed that they were a real astronomical observatory. However, throughout central and northern Europe, ancient Celtic rites, in which the element of fire predominates, are passed down and then combined into the so-called “midsummer” or “Saint John the Baptist” celebrations that are celebrated in many countries on more or less dates It oscillates between June 21st and 25th. This confirms the general tendency of the Christian faith to adapt different worship practices of classical or pagan origin to their own needs. Mistletoe was frequently used in summer solstice rituals, and is mentioned in Norse mythology regarding Balder, the Norse god of light. Druids associated mistletoe with the eternity of heavenly lightning and during ceremonies, the branches of this evergreen had to be wrapped in a linen cloth and not touched directly with the hand.

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I would like to conclude this brief discussion, recalling the saint whom the Catholic Church venerates on June 21: San Luigi Gonzaga (I may be a little biased!). It is reported that he was born into a wealthy noble family in the 16th century, who gave up everything to enter the Society of Jesus and then devote his short life to serving others… He is said to have been so austere and penitent that the only command his superiors could give him was “no penance”….

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