Summer Solstice in Pine Hill Preserve

I am enchanted by the universal sacredness of our shared celestial bodies. These orbiting spheres have coaxed the evolution of human understanding about our outer world while also providing inspiration to our inner world for tens of thousands of years. It is an ancient thread of our humanness: the wonder of looking upward into the unfathomable expanse and responding to it with a brilliant collection of curiosity, scientific study, ritual, reverence, and awe that has yet to grow old - such is the mystery of nature.

When I speak of universal "sacredness" I do not mean "spiritual" or "religious", although it certainly takes on that shape. I mean it as something that carries a significance tethered uniquely to the human experience; be it an object, a person, a place, a moment, or this day - the day of the Summer Solstice.

The Summer Solstice marks the sun's zenith - The day that the Northern Hemisphere receives the most amount of daylight. It is an astrological event whose observance has endured since the Stone Age. It has gone by many names: Midsummer by Celtic, Germanic, and Slavic Europeans, Litha by Wiccans and Neopegans, St. John's Day by Christians. It has also been a harbinger of many religious and social festivities: Kronia in ancient Greece, Vestalia in ancient Rome, the ceremonial Sun Dance of the Sioux. In Egypt, the solstice sun reaches its zenith between the two Great Pyramids, aligning itself with the Sphinx on the Giza plateau.

Even though there are so many ways in which the Solstice has been codified along the avenues of our cultural cosway, I find the unifying nature of this day to be the most compelling reason to celebrate. The simple knowing that I'm taking part in an ancient tradition of humanity is the very root of universal sacredness. I will never know the specific ways in which my far removed Celtic and Indigenous ancestors honored the solstice, what their dances and songs were, but in my own way, I can contribute to the custom of looking up with wonder, practicing presence with nature, gathering with others, and letting that ancient thread continue through me.

Photos from my simple Summer Solstice gathering with dear friends at the Pine Hill Nature Preserve: