Solstice: Same Coin, Different Side
Tomorrow (in Australia) Thursday 21 June, marks the Winter Solstice. That means that in the Northern Hemisphere it is the Summer Solstice. I looked back into my vast archives to see what I had written about Solstices and here's what I came up with, from seven years ago today:
London, 20 June, 2005
"Last night the hot sun was blazing through the windows of my room at 10.15pm, and still had a while to go before it went over the horizon. This morning it was light at 3.45am. I found out that tomorrow night is the Summer Solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere, which means that tomorrow is the longest day of the year. So while we enjoy (theoretically) the most amount of sunlight in Britain, my friends shivering in Australia will suffer a long cold night.
I say theoretically because, although yesterday's weather was glorious, it's a little after 8.00 in the morning and still no sign of that famous oxymoron, the English sun.
Reminds me of a line from 'I am the Walrus': "Sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun / If the sun dont come, you get a tan
from standing in the English rain."
The Summer Solstice is also known as Alban Heflin, Alben Heruin, All-couples day, Feast of Epona, Feast of St. John the Baptist, Feill-Sheathain, Gathering Day, Johannistag, Litha, Midsummer, Sonnwend, Thing-Tide, Vestalia.
People around the world have observed spiritual and religious seasonal days of celebration during the month of June. Most have been religious holy days which are linked in some way to the summer solstice. Tomorrow, June 21, the daytime hours are at a maximum in the Northern hemisphere, and night time is at a minimum. It is officially the first day of summer. It is also referred to as Midsummer because it is roughly the middle of the growing season throughout much of Europe.
"Solstice" is derived from two Latin words: "sol" meaning sun, and "sistere" to cause to stand still. This is because, as the summer solstice approaches, the noonday sun rises higher and higher in the sky on each successive day. On the day of the solstice, it rises an imperceptible amount, compared to the day before. In this sense, it "stands still".
In the southern hemisphere, the summer solstice is celebrated in December, also when the night time is at a minimum and the daytime is at a maximum.
The classic Vedic perspective of Ancient India sees the sun as the eye of God. Brahma, the engineer of the universe, meditates on his Master, Govinda (Krishna) as follows in this verse from the Brahma-samhita (5.52)
yach-chaksur esa savita sakala-grahanam
raja samasta-sura-murtir ashesha-tejah
yasyajnaya bhramati sambhrita-kala-chakro
govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami
"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, under whose control even the sun, which is considered to be the eye of the Lord, rotates within the fixed orbit of eternal time. The sun is the king of all planetary systems and has unlimited potency in heat and light."