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Summer Solstice Rituals and Symbols in Spain

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Rituals are the most valuable gifts that our ancestors gave us. Summer solstice rituals are special ones between all, which deserves attention. 

The other day a friend of mine gifted to me an online visualization meditation via a zoom gathering, in which he brought us to 2027. What I have experienced was beautiful.

I was living in a house very similar to a birdhouse on a tree. With each sunrise and sunset, I was singing a song from my heart, as a service to life. While I was walking, my feet were kissing the ground as Thich Nhat Hanh said. Then I was realizing that life has converted to a ritual for me.

What else we would have if we do not have rituals in our lives? Rituals open my heart, body, and soul. They make me feel the importance of life and invite me to live as life deserves it.

Our ancestors very well knew it, so they left us this great heritage of rituals and ceremonies.

This blog post is an invitation to live the ritual of our ancestors and to witness the excitement and light that these rituals bring to our lives. Specifically to the summer solstice, which is almost here.

Solstices are very important as they are one of the earliest astronomical observations in human history and they have been celebrated since ancient times.

What is a solstice?

In Latin, solstice means “sun standing still.”

It is time every summer when the sun reaches its highest point in our sky and each winter when it reaches its lowest point.

Why they are important?

We are part of mother nature; we are not separated and the realities of nature also work for us. It is easier for us to observe the changes in nature, such as seasons, movements of Sun and moon, and sea levels than observe similar kinds of changes inside each of us as human beings.

Otherwise, life can seem and felt as being amidst the chaos, whereas if we can focus the ever-changing cycles of life than we can begin to gain perspective and feel a part of this beautiful harmonic order with all its ups and downs.

So, these astronomical events; solstices correspond with each of our own rhythms, just be aware and recognize it and celebrate it with a ritual is the best thing we can do for ourselves, at this special time of the year.

What summer solstice symbolize?

Before we have talked in the blog about Beltane, spring equinox time, where the return of Mother Spirit celebrated. Now it is the return of Father Spirit when the Sun is on the top. The summer solstice is the symbol of enlightenment, unity, and wholeness so it’s a celebration of the sun and connection to nature.

Celebrations from around the world

The summer solstice is being celebrated all around the world since ancient cultures such as Spain (fiestas de San Joan), Portugal (fogueiras de São João), Norway (Jonsok), Denmark (Sankthans), Sweeden (Midsommar), Finland (Juhannus), Estonia (Jaanipäev) and United Kingdom (Midsummer).

After Christianity, some cultures mixed this celebration of Summer Solstice with the birth of Saint John, the Baptist which made these rituals even more symbolic than before.

The importance of Saint John the Baptist

Saint John is a prophet and was born six months before Jesus; therefore, the feast of John the Baptist is on 24 June, six months before Christmas. John the Baptist announced the good news of the arrival of Jesus and baptized him.

How summer solstice is celebrated in Spain?

The summer solstice is the birthday of Saint John; la fiesta de San Joan. It is a big ceremony which has been protected by celebrating, again and again, each year by taking care of details.

It is a beautiful, exciting, crazy, celebrative, Spanish way of entering to summer, which takes place on the 23rd of June at night.

Sant Joan has 3 symbols – fire, water, and herbs. Fire symbolizes purity, water symbolizes healing and herbs symbolize remedy.

Fire

Bonfire is in the heart of the celebrations of San Joan in Spain. The main reason behind the bonfires is to give more power to the sun, as from this day, it will begin to lose its power. The sun is the symbol of fertility and wealth, and so it must be given strength. The strength is provided by bonfires and fireworks lit throughout the city for Sant Joan.

Sant Joan is often described by Catalans as the ‘Nit del Foc’ – meaning the ‘Night of Fire’.

In Catalunya, they have a beautiful ritual: Flama del Canigó. As mentioned here

‘The fire of Flama del Canigó (Canigou Flame) is never extinguished. It keeps burning throughout the year at the Perpignan Castellet until 22 June, when it is carried to the mountain’s summit. At midnight the fire from the flame is shared out among those present. Straightaway they set off, splitting and spreading the fire to light the Sant Joan bonfires in hundreds of towns, villages, and cities.’

All around the city you would see temporary fireworks shops open up throughout the city, with queues down the street. This is a great symbol showing how Spanish people take this festival seriously.

Water

At midnight, at 12 o’clock, people have a bath in the waters of rivers, seas or fountains, because it is believed that the nature that night is blessed and having a bath, water would bring health and protect them from the illnesses.

Herbs

It is believed that during Sant Joan, the healing qualities of herbs are enhanced one hundred times. This is why they are specially picked on the night of Sant Joan.

As the Cantabrian legend says:

‘On the night of San Juan, mythological beings, the little horses of the devil (Caballucos del Diablu), appear around the bonfire with excessive anger. With their dragonfly wings, in search of four-leaf clovers, to snatch the luck from the others. If you manage to catch one of these beings, you will be lucky all your life, but when you die you will go straight to hell. 

The way to get rid of them is to find a four-leaf clover and many people look for the precious amulet in the morning and, as the saying goes: 

‘If you find the yerbuca (Hypericum perforatum), on the morning of San Juan, you will get rid of snakes and Caballucos the devil.’’

How you can celebrate?

This year because of the special situation of the pandemic, there will not be any bonfires in Spain. This does not mean that we can not celebrate. 

Wherever you are, you can celebrate this special day of the summer solstice. Here are some ways to celebrate:

  • You can reflect your last 3 months/6 months/9 months, write your accomplishments, and your lessons learned. 
  • Light a fire, could be a bonfire or a small candle fire, is not important. The intention is the important one. You can burn your reflection to let it go and you can do this with the intention of purification. 
  • You can set new intentions for summertime. Do not forget, summer is a celebration and harvest time. You can set your intentions with these in mind. 
  • Celebrate with your loved ones. Tell the legends of the ancestors, sing, dance, eat good food, drink, and share. 
  • Pick the herbs at night and if you are lucky maybe four-leaf clovers and Hypericum perforatum.
  • Enter the water at 12.00, midnight with your intention and awareness of the ritual. Let the water heal and protect you. 
  • The summer solstice at Stonehenge will stream live on Sunday morning, June 21, 05:07, on English Heritage’s social media accounts

What about you, what are your plans? How will you celebrate the Summer Solstice? Let us know in the comments. 

 

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