Recently, we were invited to a celebration of the Summer Solstice at the beach. I was thrilled at the chance to get the kids out into nature to rejoice the new season.
Although it was drizzling as the ceremony began, spirits weren’t dampened. The coastal breeze, lapping waves, breathtaking views and rhythmic drum beats created an ethereal and relaxing atmosphere on a patch of beach long abandoned by the day’s sun worshipers.
Ushering in a the new season after a fresh rain under a glorious sunset with friends and family is good for the heart and soul.
The gathering took place within a circle drawn in the sand. With a small bonfire, dancing, drumming, singing and prayer, the event incorporated a range of Nature religion traditions, including Shamanic and Native American. The organizer of the event, Zan Benham, is an inter-faith minister.
Here are the boys keeping the beat:
There was a sage smudging for those looking to cleanse themselves of any negative thoughts, bad spirits or negative energy. This is a practice based in Native-American tradition.
The event not only made for a great opportunity for spiritual renewal for the kids, but also provided many educational benefits, as well as cultural enrichment.
Below is information and related links about the spirituality, the culture and the science behind the solstice and, more generally, seasonal change:
The Spirituality of the Solstice
Honoring the solstice can remind us just how precious and fleeting each day and season on Earth is. The gifts of nature need to be appreciated, and not taken for granted.
The acknowledgment of the solstice is a confirmation that we are all interconnected components of nature in a larger whole, not separate and unaffected by each part.
The Culture of the Solstice
The summer solstice has long been recognized and celebrated by many cultures around the world. For many cultures, the solstice was a celebration of the sun’s role in growing crops.
Ancient architecture design reveals the historical significance of the celebration. Ancient Egyptians, for example, built the Great Pyramids so that the sun, when viewed from the Sphinx, sets precisely between two of the Pyramids on the summer solstice. For the ancient Egyptians, the solstice signaled the start of the Nile’s flooding season, when the river overflowed its banks and enriched the soil.
Recently, archaeologists discovered the ruins of an astronomical observatory which had been buried under a rain forest in Guatemala. The buildings were designed to align with the sun during the solstices.
More famously, Stonehenge in the U.K. has enabled observers in the center of the standing stones to watch the summer solstice sun rise over the Heel Stone, which stands just outside the main ring of Stonehenge for about 5000 years.
The Science of the Solstice
There are many online resources which are great for learning about the science of the seasons:
- Learn the Scientific Reasons Behind the Earth’s Seasons
- Sunrise, Sunset: Learning About Seasons
- Global Views of the Seasons
For younger kids, check out the video by PBS Kids’ The Cat in the Hat: Magical Garden of Seasons.
I hope that you and your global kids are enjoying the season!