[Stained glass Cancer the Crab, from Chartres Cathedral, France. This window depicts the months of the year as zodiac signs and the labors associated with them. June is cutting grass. Some things don’t change.]
WHEN THE SUN STANDS STILL
“Now she is like the white tree rose that takes a blessing from the Sun: Summer has filled her veins with light and her heart is washed with noon.”
~C. Day Lewis~
The Sun enters the zodiac sign Cancer June 21st, 2011 at 1:16 p.m. Eastern Time, during the Summer Solstice. It is more neutrally called the June Solstice, since it is Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. The exact date varies each year, sometime during June 20th to June 22nd. It is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the first day of summer.
It is also known as the Northern Solstice. Every day the Sun rises and sets at different points on the horizon. The only time it stops wandering is on a solstice, when it appears to stay at the same place for three days. The word solstice comes from the Latin solstitium meaning “Sun standing, Sun standing still”. As the alternative name implies, it is the northernmost position of the Sun, at the Tropic of Cancer.
POINTING THE HEART TOWARDS DAWN
Many places of worship face the East, to symbolize the renewed presence of the Divine at dawn. In Vastu Vidya, the Indian art of arrangement somewhat similar to Feng Shui, temples are aligned along a Northeast to Southwest axis. This represents the polarity of sunrise on the longest day of the year and sunset on the shortest. Each of the ten directions has a ruling deity and equivalent time of day. The Northeast is sacred to Shiva and represents amrit vela (“the nectar time”) or Brahma muhurta (“God’s hour”), the period just before dawn when spiritual work is the deepest. Likewise some Peruvian shamanic traditions recognize a Southeast to Northwest axis, the equivalent in the Southern Hemisphere.
The yearly cycle of the Sun is similar to the monthly cycle of the Moon. Summer Solstice is like a Full Moon. The next three days can be harnessed spiritually to bring things to fruition and call on divine light for blessing, healing, or facing inner darkness. Like summer itself, it is associated with abundance, fertility, and the sweetness of life. Traditionally the Sun has three periods of increased spiritual power each day, marked by changes in its physical appearance: sunrise, around noon when the Sun reaches its zenith, and sunset. Most importantly on a solstice day, the time of the event itself: 1:16 p.m. Eastern Time. Any of these times can be worked with through intention, meditation, or ceremony to honor the day of most light.
C. L. Matthews, 2011