Mid Summer- The Importance of Rituals
My Swedish heritage gave me a value of rituals from a young age. Many rituals miss the point and are mainly driven by the materialistic world we live in. Many celebrations have lost meaning and lack any true connection to today’s world, where most people don’t even know why we celebrate them.
The word “Solstice” comes from the Latin words, sol sistere – “sun stand still.” Summer solstice marks the longest day of the year. It’s a time to celebrate the earth, the harvest, the sexual awareness and the potency of all life. This is reflected in the midsummer rituals of picking herbs and flowers, because it is said that this special day brings added vigor, and potency to the herbs for medicine and spells. I remember as a little girl that we always used to go out before bedtime and pick seven different flowers between six different stone walls. Before going to bed, you put the seven flowers under you pillow and were told that we will dream about our future husband. What I love the most is that women will wear braided circlets of clover and flowers on their hair during the day and night celebration. It’s also very common for women to dress in white in honor of the light that our sun provides us.
Fire and water are important elements of the midsummer ritual. At night the pagan fires will burn brightly in honor of the sun. It is said that you should swim in the lake water on midsummer, since this is healing, cleansing and protective. Wine has always been an important part of our mid-summer celebration and, for me, it’s a time for reflection of one’s own transformation. Special potent moments are known in yoga as sandhyas- a sacred junction of transition and transformation. On an even larger scale, sandhyas are the changing flow of the sun, moon and cosmos.
Our ancestors knew about this incredible energy and the sense of harmony that follows when honoring the earth’s transitions. This is why most holidays (holy days) are around the solar and lunar cycles. When I host a group of people in Sonoma County, I make sure to incorporate a daily ritual, because every day is a celebration to our transformation. For me, the link between yoga and wine has a deeper meaning than most might consider. It’s the representation of fire and water, the sun and the moon and the feminine and masculine. Next time you raise your glasses in celebration, take time to reflect and honor this beautiful cosmos we live in that gives us not only life and meaning but also delicious wine to drink and to honor. Life is about balance, and I teach my students to enjoy all sides of life. We do yoga to honor ourself and the connection with the divine within, then we drink wine to honor the divine earth and cosmos that provide us with bountiful grapes, flowers and herbs. . . transforming within us to a healing medicine.
One of my favorite winery is Gustafson Winery and they will host a Midsummer Picnic. For more info: http://www.gfvineyard.com/Events.php