Thursday, June 21, 2012

Happy Solstice!

Ready for the Solstice in Virginia Beach
credit:Lorraine Eaton | The Virginian-Pilot
At 7:09 PM EDT last night, summer "officially" began. If you live anywhere in Southern Ontario, however, you would be excused if you let out a little scoffing noise upon reading that information, for it has been almost unbearably hot in these parts for at least a few days. Tomorrow Sarah and I are heading for the Ottawa Valley to visit her mom and attend Art Fayre; it's been even hotter there than it has in Toronto. How hot is it? Well, I'll tell you: it's been so hot up that way that our friend Nat had to give her ducklings a watermelon to eat in order to help them stay cool.

Solstice Eve, Stonehenge
One of these years I would love to be at Stonehenge to mark the Summer Solstice. Believed to have been used as an important religious site by early Britons more than 4,000 years ago, Stonehenge once again became the site of Pagan celebrations in the 20th century. This picture appears on the website A Celebration of Women and was taken on the eve of last year's Solstice. This year the celebration was considerably more soggy as it rained there overnight and an unfortunate cloud cover kept the crowd in attendance from seeing the actual sunrise this morning. That's a real shame, because the BBC website tells us that on Solstice (or "Litha") "the central Altar stone at Stonehenge aligns with the Heel stone, the Slaughter stone and the rising sun to the north east". It is, by all accounts, a spectacular and magical sight to behold.

Aquelarre (Witch Coven), Zugarramurdi, Spain, 1998
credit: Reuters
The Solstice (derived from Latin, it literally means "the standing still of the sun") was a day earlier than normal this year. The "longest day of the year" was actually yesterday in Canada, but the night of June 20-21 was the shortest anywhere you live in the Northern Hemisphere. Sarah's mom is taking us to a Solstice party on Saturday night (we're bringing some fireworks as our contribution); while it won't be quite as Pagan an event as the ones pictured on this page I expect the hosts will certainly give it the old College try. Just as long as we don't have to enter a fire-filled cave, I expect I will be fine.

And now the bad news: it's all downhill from here. The days will get shorter and shorter until it's very nearly Christmas. Get out there while you can!


  1. Ooh - that cave looks spooky! I would love to see Stonehenge at the solstice one year, too.

    1. You know, I'd totally visit that cave. Just not, you know, this weekend!


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