Ursi's Eso Garden
Your Competent Esoteric Guide
Wednesday, 20. June 2007
Summer Solstice Fests Have Deep Roots
Summer solstice, the longest day of the year, inspired Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream" and is associated with the exile of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Solstice festivals abound in the United States, from Norwegian bonfires to pagan candlelight labyrinths and American Indian drumming rituals.
On the summer solstice, as the sun reaches its highest point directly over the tropic of Cancer at an angle of 23 degrees 27 minutes north, countless festivities will start to heat up.
Known variously throughout Europe as the Feast of Epona, Gathering Day, Johannistag, Litha, Vestalia and Midsummer, the summer solstice was viewed across cultures as a period of peak fertility and a time for weddings. The term "honeymoon" sprang from Celtic tradition and referred to the June moon and the fermented honey mead drunk at wedding celebrations.
Shakespeare's romantic comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream" commemorates the magical pairings of the solstice, and Aragorn and Arwen hold their nuptials on that night in Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
But romance isn't the only reason to party on the summer solstice, which arrives on or about June 21. For numerous religious and ethnic groups, it is a time to pay tribute to nature and express cultural pride.
In Europe, the first day of summer involves revelry with deep pagan roots as tourists and religious groups gather to dance, drum and chant at Stonehenge, a 4,000-year-old stone structure in England.
In North America, the holiday has become a melting pot of sorts, with celebrations crisscrossing the continent, mixing European traditions, American Indian spirituality and new-age environmentalism.
One such festival is the Pagan Spirit Gathering in Wisteria, Ohio, held each June at a 620-acre nature preserve in the foothills. Now in its 26th year, the eight-day event is expected to draw hundreds of people from across the country and abroad to commune with nature.
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