Tomorrow we transition into summer through the portal of the Solstice, the longest day of the year. Like the wedding day, a mother’s labor and baby’s birth day, and moving day, today is the transitional marker that separates the old stage of life or season from the new. As such, it carries a vulnerability and potency that is available to us when we intentionally choose to connect to its energy.
In honoring the Solstice this year, I turned to one of my favorite books for celebrating rituals with children called “Circle Round”, by Stawhawk, Diane Baker, and Anne Hill. They write:
“The Summer Solstice reminds us that nothing lasts forever. We do not live in the unchanging twilight realm of Faery, but in the living, dying, fading, and growing realm of earth. Whenever something is completed we must let it go.
“Because the things we love don’t last forever, we love them all the more while they are here.
“But letting go of things and people we love is never easy. The Summer Solstice is a time to practice giving things away, letting go of what is completed and done – whether it’s our old toys, a flower, or a part of our life, like being a baby or a little kid.
“Letting go or something doesn’t mean just getting rid of it. When we let go, we allow someone to change and grow and become different. A mother lets go of a grown child so that the child become independent. Mom can be happy her child has grown up well and strong, but she still might be sad that her baby is gone forever.
“At the Summer Solstice, we remember that those times of feeling happy and sad are very special and sacred to the Goddess because they are times when we are changing, as the Goddess is always changing.” (pp. 201-202)
Transitions, when approached consciously, provide opportunities to practice the art of letting go. And when we aren’t in the midst of a rite of passage or personal transition (becoming an adolescent, getting married, leaving a career), we’re offered the seasonal, archetypal transitions to practice letting go and making room for the new parts of ourselves to emerge. Not only do we practice letting go of what is completed and done, as stated above, we let go of aspects of ourselves that are no longer serving us.
For my family’s Solstice celebration, we create symbols and rituals that honor the Solstice and facilitate our process of letting go of habitual behaviors that are no longer serving us. As children respond most immediately to rituals that inspire their imagination, we create sun candles and fairy wands that would invite the summer fairies to our fairy mound.
We explain to our kids that when we write down the things we want to let go of, we ask the fairies to help carry these things into the fairy realm where they are transformed. We then write down our negative habits onto leaves that we throw into the fire at sunset.
We dress in white (the symbol of transition) and walk to the circle of stones on the fairy mound that Everest and my husband create earlier in the evening. Then we purify ourselves with water from the creek and recite prayers.
Our older son takes his role as guardian of the circle of fairy stones on the mound very seriously.
Then we light the fire and toss in our letting go leaves. “The Solstice is a fire festival. For thousands of years, people all over Europe celebrated the Solstice by lighting huge bonfires. The bonfire reminds us of the heat of the summer sun.” (p, 202)
It was a meaningful ritual for us and exciting that our boys are at an age where they can appreciate and understand the value of these important life cycle celebrations.
Sheryl Paul, M.A., has counseled thousands of people worldwide via her private practice, her bestselling books, and her website, http://conscious-transitions.com. She has appeared several times on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, as well as on “Good Morning America” and other top television, radio, and newspapers around the globe. Her home study course for pregnant women and new mothers, Birthing a New Mother: A Roadmap from Preconception Through the First Year to Calm Your Anxiety, Prepare Your Marriage, and Become the Mother you Want to Be, can be found at http://birthinganewmother.com. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and two sons.