Ancient Traditions To Help You Celebrate Summer Solstice

prehistoric monument stonehenge

The summer solstice marks the longest day of the year, during which the axial tilt of the Earth puts the western hemisphere closest to the Sun. For time immemorial, it has been a day of celebration for many cultures across the world. But if you’re unsure of how to celebrate the summer solstice of 2019, here are some of the ancient rituals and celebrations practiced by our ancestors on the midsummer’s night.

Summer Solstice Meaning

The word solstice comes from the Latin words “sol,” meaning sun, and “stitium” or “sistere,” meaning still or stopped. In ancient times, our ancestors likely used this day as a marker to decide when to plant crops, noticing that the sun switched from a southward to northward trajectory in the sky.

But more importantly, the solstice was a time of celebration and a break from the norm. Many cultures believed that magic took place on the night of the summer solstice, with fairies showing themselves to humans, while evil spirits were dispelled from their lives.

Ancient Festivities on the Summer Solstice

In ancient Greece, the summer solstice marked the start of a new year and the month-long countdown to the Olympics. The Greeks also observed the festival of Kronia, during which they worshipped Cronus, the god of agriculture. At this time slaves were given equal rights to their owners, who allowed them to participate in games and festivities, sometimes even reversing roles and serving them – it was undoubtedly a welcomed holiday.

In ancient Egypt, the summer solstice represented the coming of the brightest star, Sirius. Not long after, the Nile would begin to flood its banks, marking a season of abundance from the land. The Egyptians believed Sirius was responsible for the floods and considered it the start of a new year.

The ancient Romans celebrated the festival of Vestalia, in honor of the goddess of the hearth. Married women brought offerings to the temple of Vesta, hoping the goddess would bestow blessings upon their families. Vesta was the protector of married women and virginity, and was exclusively a goddess for women.

In addition to the offerings made in Vesta’s temple, women would bake a sacred cake, which followed a strict recipe. Water from a sacred spring would be used, and prevented from coming into contact with the Earth, as it was carried in blessed jugs.

Hyperdimensional Geometry of Stonehenge

Summer Solstice Parties

In northern Europe, Pagans celebrated the occasion with bonfires, believing they banished evil spirits and demons and cultivated magic. Bonfires are a recurrent theme across various cultures’ summer solstice celebrations, which almost always involved feasting and dancing.

The Celts would also gather around bonfires, believing they opened a path toward light. Launching oneself over the fire would purify the soul, and burn away impurities and problems.

 

jumping over bonfire at folk festival

Pagans also believed medicinal plants were most effective during the summer solstice, including St. John’s wort, verbena, and rue – a necessary ingredient to ward off fairies that lead you astray.

Pagan solstice ceremonies in Slavic nations such as Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, encouraged couples to jump over bonfires while holding hands. If the couple maintained their grip, their relationship was considered strong, portending success and happiness. But if they lost their grasp, their relationship was doomed.

Single women would also create rings of flowers to be released into a river, where bachelors waited on the other side to catch them, hoping to find a partner.

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

Of course, we would be remiss not to mention Stonehenge when talking about the summer solstice and Paganism. While the famous, monolithic site is still a bit of a mystery, it’s clear that the solstices were an impetus in its construction. On the night of the summer solstice, the sunset will align with the heel stone of the monument, and continue to shine through the others.

Some historians believe the construction of Stonehenge, which lasted between 3,000 and 2,000 BCE, was a societal ceremony. They believe it brought people together and was a show of communal strength to foreigners. And during the summer solstice, people from all over the country came on pilgrimages to celebrate.

Other Cultures Celebrate June Solstice

Native Americans celebrated the summer solstice as well, with the Sioux’s famous Sundance taking place during the day. In fact, the Bighorn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming was designed to align with the sunrise and sunset during the solstice, where tribes would converge for sun gazing dances around a sacred cottonwood tree. The tree was symbolic of the connection between heaven and Earth.

In ancient China, summer solstice was represented by “yin,” or feminine energy, compared to the winter solstice’s “yang,” masculine energy. The Chinese celebrated the Earth with a number of festivities on this day.

But while many seemed to be partying and engaging in decadent celebration, up north Vikings would discuss legal matters and resolve disputes. True to their character, this was prime time to conduct trade, shipping, fishing, and of course, raids.

The Vikings likely used this time for productivity because of the extremely long days during the summer, when the sun only sets for a few hours, especially above the Arctic Circle. They have to make up for lost time somehow, when the opposite is true during the winter.

The Longest Day of the Year

It’s possible one of the reasons the summer solstice has historically been a time of celebration and joy is because of the sheer amount of sunlight received. The solstice marks the longest day of the year and is the culmination of six months of gradually increased daylight as winter recedes.

The vitamin D we receive from sunlight is like our body’s own photosynthesis, benefitting our mood, immune system, bones, and heart. It’s no wonder people use artificial modalities to receive light in places where it’s scarce throughout the year; it’s necessary to our physical and mental wellbeing.

So, no matter what you do to celebrate the summer solstice this year, remember it should be a time of renewal, peak happiness, reverence for humanity, and exposure to the sun – at least that’s how our ancient ancestors saw it.



What is Soul Retrieval?

article migration image soul retrieval png

“Every book… has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.” ~Carlos Ruis Zafon

It has been said, “The best things in life are free.” We can all agree it’s nice to be surprised with a gift; but not just any gift. The gift that arrives in your life precisely when you are ready to receive it. The gift that is clearly a message to you and for you.

In this case, the gift is Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self by Sandra Ingerman.

With graceful delivery of rarely discussed phenomena, Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self combines shamanism and psychology to explain the effects of trauma that cause parts of the soul to leave the body and the process by which the part(s) can be retrieved.

WHAT CAUSES SOUL LOSS?

According to Ingerman, “The basic premise is whenever we experience trauma, a part of our vital essence separates from us in order to survive the experience by escaping the full impact of the pain.”

This quiet occurrence, known as soul loss, takes the form of a perpetual feeling and experience of incompleteness and disconnection.

Ingerman says, “Anytime someone says, ‘I have never been the same’ since a certain event, and they don’t mean this in a good way, soul loss has probably occurred.”

SANDRA INGERMAN ON SOUL LOSS

Sandra Ingerman holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist, professional mental health counselor, the author of more than ten books and a board-certified expert on traumatic stress who was awarded the 2007 Peace Award from the Global Foundation for Integrative Medicine.

As a leading authority on soul loss and soul retrieval, Ingerman’s highly regarded career spans 35 years of conducting workshops and soul retrievals around the world.

For Ingerman, the leading practitioner of soul retrieval whose own spiritual journey to recapture her soul led her on various spiritual paths, the answer was found in the ancient tradition of Shamanism which views soul loss as an important cause of illness and death.

The word shaman, originating from the Tungus Tribe of Siberia, means “one who sees in the dark.”

WHAT IS SOUL LOSS?

Sandra Ingerman’s Abstract on Shamanism states that, “There are many common symptoms of soul loss. Some of the more common ones would be dissociation where a person does not feel fully in his or her body and alive and fully engaged in life. Other symptoms include chronic depression, suicidal tendencies, post-traumatic stress syndrome, immune deficiency problems, and grief that just does not heal. Addictions are also a sign of soul loss.”

For those who have lost parts of themselves, knowingly or unknowingly, “tremendous amounts of psychic energy” are unconsciously spent looking for the lost parts.

WHAT IS SOUL RETRIEVAL?

During the soul retrieval process, the shaman moves into an altered state of consciousness to travel to realities outside of normal perception (non-ordinary reality), also known as hidden spirit worlds, to retrieve the lost part of the soul.

In some cases, there is reluctance of the soul to return, or the soul may not even know a separation has occurred; while in most cases, the soul does want to return. It is, however, important to note when the “soul returns, it comes back with all the pain it experienced when leaving.”

Once the lost soul is located, the Shaman will “acknowledge the former pain and gently negotiate the soul’s return to the body.” The Shaman then brings the soul back to normal reality and (literally) blows the missing soul part back into body through the head or heart.

If a person is trained in shamanic journeying they can ask their helping spirits to perform a soul retrieval in their behalf. Or anyone can ask for a healing dream where one sets the intention to request a soul retrieval to be performed during the dream state.

If these two processes do not create change or healing then working with a trained shamanic practitioner is recommended.

Although Ingerman is very clear that you should not try to practice soul retrieval based solely on the reading of this book, in an exclusive interview, Ingerman and I discuss what can be done when someone suspects soul loss has occurred.

INSIGHTS FROM SANDRA INGERMAN

BJB: What can someone do if they suspect soul loss has occurred but do not have immediate access for soul retrieval with a Shaman?

SI: If a person has soul loss they can work with a shamanic practitioner long distance. Most shamanic practitioners perform long distance healings these days.

I have been training Soul Retrieval practitioners since the late 1980’s. I have a website where I have an international list of shamanic practitioners who have sent me case studies. Of course no shamanic practitioner can ever promise a cure, but I know their work, and I trust them.

BJB: Is there a healing exercise the person can do to begin to address and/or heal the root cause of the soul loss?

SI: Nature is our greatest healer. A person who feels they have lost their soul can walk or lie down on the ground and reflect on what is the root cause of their soul loss.

You can also do automatic writing. This includes listening to spiritual music, while writing the following question on a piece of paper: “What is the root cause of my soul loss?”

You then close your eyes and allow your hand to write. This is a powerful way to let your soul and intuition give you the truth of the cause of your soul loss, and other information that is important for you to know.

BJB: What has been the most surprising or unexpected part of your work as a Shaman?

SI: All of my Shamanic work is a surprise.

The helping spirits never give expected responses to the questions I ask them. This is true also when I perform the healing journey for a client. I am always given information I did not expect or would rationally think of on my own.

Also, in my 35 years of working with clients, I continue to be surprised by the miraculous effects of the work.

PREVALENCE OF SOUL LOSS

According to Ingerman, “A reflection of how much soul loss people are dealing with” is evident when “so many governments and businesses are valuing money over life.”

However, Western medicine has no framework for this kind of diagnosis because it only deals with imbalance when it appears on a physical and mental level.

Western medicine “treats chronic pain with pain medication, insomnia with sleeping pills, weight issues with diet and exercise, and most damagingly, may label soul loss as mental illness, and cover up the symptoms with psychiatric medications that may make things worse by slapping a Band-Aid on a wound that’s not healing underneath the bandage.”

This “covering up” can lead to the deep unhappiness that many have come to consider as “simply ordinary”. Eventually this prolonged dissociation produces a nameless void that shows itself through “a loss of meaning, direction, vitality, mission, purpose, identity, and genuine connection.”

This spiritual void, which is always present and always trying to get your attention, operates as the incessant yearning of your soul wanting to incorporate all of its highest qualities, all of the God essence, all of you.

Simply put, the soul is always trying to re-connect with that from which it came.

Ingerman imparts, “If you are truly in your body (your whole soul present) you cannot place money over life. Planetary soul loss causes so much of the behavior we are currently seeing, behavior that no longer honors the beauty and importance of life.”

SIGNS OF SOUL LOSS

The following checklist can help to determine if soul loss has occurred:

  1. You have a difficult time staying “present” in your body
  2. You feel numb, apathetic, or deadened
  3. Chronic depression?
  4. You have problems with your immune system and have trouble resisting illness
  5. You were chronically ill as a child
  6. Memory gaps of your life after age five where you sense that you may have blacked out significant traumas in your life
  7. Struggle with addictions, for example, to alcohol, drugs, food, sex or gambling
  8. Find yourself looking to external things to fill up an internal void or emptiness
  9. Have difficulty moving on with your life after a divorce or the death of a loved one
  10. You suffer from multiple personality syndrome

Having read this book with no prior knowledge of soul loss or soul retrieval, I found the concepts quite sobering.

Within situations of physical and emotional abuse, negation and trauma, there are many experiences in life that can be too difficult to bear. Soul loss is an understandable response for spiritual woundedness, and deep fragmentation of one’s soul essence, that would lead to an internal dissociation from natural balance.

THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN PERSONAL HEALING

Soul retrieval is not a quick fix. Sandra Ingerman states, “If the person has done a lot of personal work the soul retrieval might be the end of the work. If not the soul retrieval would be the beginning of the work.”

No matter where you may find yourself, at the beginning or near the end of working through an issue, the most important factor in all healing work is you.

You have to be willing to do the work that is necessary to participate in your own healing. You will have to be willing to look at yourself with new eyes, from a new perspective and as an embodiment of completion and wholeness, while knowing that willingness is the impetus for great change which always begins with the heart.

For more information on Sandra Ingerman’s work log onto SandraIngerman.com.

You can also learn more by watching this interview on Gaia.com with Jill Kuykendall on Soul Retrieval.

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