By ALISON BECKNER, featuring REBECCA GORDON JUN. 20, 2018
When you hear mention of the summer solstice, do visions of women—barefoot and bedecked in flower crowns and flowing dresses—dance in your head? (Guilty!) This time of year is ripe for talk of fertility, Druids, and ancient rituals—but you don’t need to have a Pagan festival on your calendar in order to celebrate the change of season in a meaningful way.
“The summer solstice marks the longest day of the year, when Earth’s orbit around the sun reaches its greatest distance from the equator,” says Nitsa Citrine, creative director at the health food and supplement company Sun Potion. “For me, this moment invites a deeper connection to our senses, the elements, and the sun—which is in so many ways the the source of all energy.”
But how, exactly, can you find this sense of connection with yourself and others? How can you harness this energy and channel it towards something productive and impactful? The answer is different for everyone.
Here, 8 top wellness experts share their advice for making the most of the longest day of the year.
1. Show gratitude for nature
“When there is an abundance of solar light in the sky, we naturally will feel like spending more time outdoors and with the people we love,” says Rebecca Gordon, founder of My Path Astrology. “This is also in line with the fact that the summer solstice opens the gates for three signs—Cancer, Leo, and Virgo—that deal with your relationship to your environment.”
“Go outside!” echoes Citrine. “Soak in the sunlight, get naked, swim, dance, breathe, wherever you are. Immerse yourself in the day and give thanks for the sun—our star—and the life it supports.”
2. Make time for self-reflection
“Intellectually, I know the summer solstice is the middle of the year. But it has always felt to me like the beginning of a powerful season of growth—a bit like jumping off the edge of a waterfall,” says Michelle Pellizzon, founder of the women’s network Oh Holisticism. “Summer and fall feel like they move so quickly—so much growth happens during both of those seasons, physically and emotionally. The solstice has always felt like the starting bell at the beginning of the race. Time to dig in and get going.”
And digging in, Pellizzon says, starts with taking a good look at yourself. “There’s nothing more empowering than understanding and truly seeing where you are, and acknowledging what you may need to learn or change in order to evolve the way you want,” she says. “It’s like when you finally sit down to look at how you’re going to start paying back that credit card from college: It’s daunting and terrifying at first, but approachable and manageable by the end. It’s not that different with personal development. Take stock of where you are, what you’re doing well, what you’re not doing so well, do a gut check to see if those ideas are true, and then start doing the work necessary to level up.”
Citrine notes that the solstice is a powerful time to “tune into a more ceremonial frequency…something that supports a meditative, embodied, open-hearted, and joyful state.”
Gordon recommends a sun meditation to help you project the same good vibes you feel from the environment. “This is a meditation of the inner sun to extend your radiance,” she says. “Imagine and feel a radiant sun in the solar plexus of your body. See the rays shining equally and all around you. Breathe in and out of these rays surrounding you.”
4. Connect with your community
More of an extrovert? The solstice also provides the perfect opportunity to reach out to others. “The summer solstice is a festival of light, an energy resurgence of the self, and a stepping into a greater awareness of one’s power in community and service,” says Shaman Durek, a third-generation shaman and spirit hacker. “Shamanically, it’s an awakening of deeper purpose [and] of your relationship to all things.”
“It’s a time where self-care, trainings, creativity, and intentions can be advanced,” adds Yunuen Rhi, founder and instructor at Isuini Martial Healing Arts. “As harvests bloom, the heart, too, should bloom and expand” to extend outside the self.
“All astrological meanings aside, [the solstice] will forever bring up for me the freshly-out-of-school-for-the-year, beginning-of-summer-camp childlike energy that is imprinted in my soul,” says Elizabeth Kott, co-host of the popular wellness podcast That’s So Retrograde. “This moment in time is a pleasant opportunity to make play a priority. Think: What’s my adult version of summer camp? In the process, seek out learning something new, release the need to plan, lead with spontaneity…you now, summer stuff!”
Hall couldn’t agree more. “Be spontaneous and celebrate,” she says. “Spend time with people who bring out the childlike, boisterous qualities in you and really engage in the world outside of the confines of your own home, schedule, and routines.”
6. Charge your crystals and call in the magic
“The new possibilities of the solstice mixed with an implied relaxed work schedule plus those sunlit summer nights—always make room to call in some magic!” says Kott.
And what’s a Pagan-inspired celebration without a healthy dose of woo-woo vibes? “I’m going to take all my crystals out, soak them in salt, let them charge in the moonlight, and set my intentions around it,” says Seane Corn, a yoga teacher, activist, founder of Off the Mat Into the World. “In this way, they become more like talismans or reminders that are charged with energy. For example, I will charge a smoky quartz for grounding, for staying in my body…Every time I hold that smoky quartz, it’s not the quartz itself that’s going to bring me into healing. It’s the intention that’s been set and the vibration of that intention that’s going to remind me of what is important and that’s going to feed my soul.”
Shaman Durek adds his own list of crystals to take out in time for the solstice: “The best stones to carry during this time are citrine, for warmth and joy; garnet, for passion and energy; carnelian, to take the energy of the sun into your body; and tiger’s eye, to bring strength and motivation.”
7. Unlock your creativity
This time of year, your soul craves creativity the way your body craves SPF. “I believe that summertime holds a particular type of magic to it that somehow gives us permission to expand our thinking and creativity,” says Pellizzon. “We’re far more likely to visit museums, take vacations, go on adventures, and go out of our way to create ‘experiences’ during the summer—maybe because we’re mining for creativity.”
8. Start a dream journal
If you’re at a loss for creative inspo, Pellizzon says to start by “We all dream—every night!—and the best way to remember our dreams is to start leaving a notebook by the edge of our bed and simply deciding to remember,” she says. “Write down what you recall as soon as you wake up, and give your dream a discerning look. Promise, you will have some serious creative breakthroughs when you do.”
Keeping a regular journal can also help you set an intention for the coming months, says Hall Taylor. “Reflect on the past two seasons of the year—winter and spring—and what you’ve cultivated. What is set to ripen, flourish, unfold in the coming season?”
9. End the day with a sun ritual
Shaman Durek shares a ritual for calling in the power, energy, and *fun* of the new season.
1. Draw a circle and dot in the center to represent the sun.
2. Put four candles in each direction of the circle.
3. Face south. Behind you, towards the north, place everything from which you are walking away. These can be written down or represented by objects.
4. In front of you, towards the south, place everything that is joining with you in power.
5. To the left of you in the east, place everything you want to learn and manifest in your life.
6. Once all the items are in place you are going to light the candles in the order of north, south, west, then east.
7. After they are lit, say these words: “Power of the sun we now are one, shine forth all that is to come, release all that is done, now bring in the fun, for everyone.”
While you can certainly perform the ritual solo, Shaman Durek says the more the merrier. “It’s particularly nice to have a gathering with friends, music, dancing, and a wonderful healthy feast to close out the ritual,” he says. So go ahead, call up your women’s circle and let the wild rumpus start.
Keep the good vibes going all summer long. Start by indulging in a day of rejuvenating self-care, then book a getaway for even more self-discovery.