Summer Solstice: On the first day of summer, finding balance

View Photo Gallery: Wednesday marks the summer solstice for the northern hemisphere, the day with the longest period of sunlight, and … Continued

View Photo Gallery: Wednesday marks the summer solstice for the northern hemisphere, the day with the longest period of sunlight, and the first official day of summer. A heat advisory has been issued for the Washington area through Friday as high humidity levels and temperatures combine.

Summer solstice is the longest day and the shortest night of the year and marks the first day of summer. For witches and pagans and all who celebrate the cycles of nature, this is the time when we honor the light, knowing that it will begin to decline and bring back the dark. Nothing lasts forever. Death comes to us all, in time. Empires fall. A rising tide may lift all boats—but a tide that rises and rises without falling is not a tide at all, but a disaster.

The cycles of light and dark, growth and decay, are part of life. They are woven into our cells, our bones, and we forget them at our peril. For if we try to cling to youth without accepting age, we become like the evil Queen in Snow White, blighting all around us in our quest for private immortality. If we expect endless growth and expansion, without contraction and constraints, we become a cancer on the face of the earth.

But if we understand and embrace the balance, if we remember that dark must follow light, and that it is the season of lengthening darkness that brings us the fruits of summer and the rewards of growth, we can flourish. Age can bring us wisdom. Gardeners know that from decay comes fertile compost. Even death can bring us a deeper appreciation of the fleeting beauty of life.

Today, we’re at a crossroads. We can continue to feed unbridled greed, destroying the fabric of community and the life-support systems of the planet, or we can learn the lessons of the cycle: that we are all interconnected, that for anyone to thrive, we must respect the balance, share the abundance, and protect the web of life that supports us. Today, we do well to listen to the message of solstice: without dark, there is no light. Without night, no day. Love what you love, all the more fiercely because it will not last forever. Cherish each moment, all the more precious because grace is fleeting. Seek not triumph, but balance; not the straight trajectory upwards, but the circle, the turning wheel that brings us back to fruitful earth. Where the only constant is our continual choice and ability to love.

A blessed solstice to you all!

Starhawk is a prominent voice in modern Wiccan spirituality and cofounder of, an activist branch of modern Pagan religion, and author of 10 books

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  • bigisle1

    saying, “…at least there’s hope!”

  • occasionalthoughts2

    A very beautiful and meaningful piece. Thank you.

  • Multiplicity_of_infection

    There are more cliches in this piece than in a Van Halen song (the one that had Sammy Hagar, not DLR). And why? Because of the solstice? How are these things called for more by that day than any other?


    It means nothing of the sort. Here’s the Wiki definition: “A solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice each year as the Sun reaches its highest or lowest excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. As a result, on the day of the solstice the Sun appears to have reached its highest or lowest annual altitude in the sky above the horizon at local solar noon.”

    Every planet in the solar system has solstices and equinoxes and have had them for billions of years. No amount of airy-fairy hoodoo mumbo jumbo can match the sheer clean beauty of celestial mechanics.