by Sheyna Haisman-Holmes
Today, June 21st is the Summer Solstice! We have reached the longest day and shortest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and this marks the beginning of summer. We can look back on the shortest day of the year at Winter Solstice in December when we were experiencing so many storms and celebrate that we are on the other side! Summer Solstice is celebrated across the world and is a joyous time to enjoy the outdoors and the warm embrace of the sun.
We have been in kapha season since the Spring Equinox in March. This solstice leads us from kapha season to the start of pitta season; We are leaving the concentration of water & earth elements and entering fire. We, like the earth, are experiencing the drying up of wetness from the winter and spring. Next, we will transition into vata season at the Fall Equinox in September where the air element steps back in as a dominant element.
Other holidays and celebrations around this time are Midsummer, Litha and St. Johns Day. Midsummer/Litha is a Pagan holiday with European roots. It is recognized as the midpoint of growing season, the time between having sowed seeds and the harvesting of them. St. Johns Day is a celebration of St. John the Baptist on June 24th. Although it has Catholic roots, St. Johns Day is a time in the solstice portal that can be celebrated as a continuation of solstice and Midsummer/Litha festivities. Solstices and equinoxes are potent times to drop into the wheel of the year and celebrate with presence and gratitude. Stone monuments and temples have been constructed over human history to mark and celebrate these year markers. It is a time to celebrate and give thanks for food, healthy crops, flowers, sunshine, refreshing waters and renewal.
Some rituals to celebrate solstice:
-Eat strawberries! Seasonal fruits and berries are so abundant at this time
-Have a beach bonfire. Celebrate the fire element! Fire rituals help bless and protect the crops that are in the middle of growing season
-Cleanse your face in the morning dew that collected on leaves and flowers
-Watch the sunset and sunrise
-Collect herbs-most potent at dawn/sunrise
-Make and offer flower wreaths or bundles to the waters
-Visit springs to celebrate the clarity and purification that water brings
-Jump into a body of water! Rivers, creeks, lakes or the ocean
The solstice is celebrated for longer than one day, so don't worry if you don't get to participate in rituals today. Although today is the most potent day as the solstice, this is a celebration of the time of year and the energy that surrounds it. A week of this peak energy is sure to be felt.
With the heat of pitta season, the balancing act of the doshas teaches us to embrace cooling foods and habits. This will be different for everyone based on your personal primary doshas, but we are all affected by the increase of heat and can follow seasonal eating habits.
Some seasonal foods that help balance pitta dosha:
Favor: cucumbers, celery, coconut, cabbage, cilantro, watermelon, kale, apricots, lime, melons, strawberries, avocado, artichoke, asparagus, cauliflower, dandelion greens, okra, parsley, peas, spaghetti squash, watercress, zucchini, popcorn, soaked and peeled almonds, coconut oil, cardamom, cumin, mint, fennel
Avoid: sour tastes, bananas, green grapes, grapefruit, lemons, raw beets, eggplant, hot peppers, tomatoes, turnips, buckwheat, corn, sour cream, nuts, hot spices. Sour berries like raspberries and cherries can be aggravating, but not if they are ripe enough where they are sweet tasting
Happy Summer Solstice! May we all celebrate the peak of the sunshine and the warmth and abundance that this season brings :)