Summer Solstice marks the zenith of the sun’s position in the sky, with the day’s light magically fading around night's heart. Even the birds respond, with extended choral meets and abundantly early dawn choruses.

Crops are ripening; the hard resilience of the dark months and fallow winter are bearing fruit. Farmers are working long into the light nights, helping the agricultural cycle to dance its produce into being.

The year is drawn up to its full height, arms are openly embracing life and the energy of the sun. It is rare in England to be experiencing it with quite the intensity of the past few days. Intemperate and extravagant, the heat brings wistfully to mind the importance of balance. How we long for the shade of a good oak tree, the relief brought about by a gentle breeze, the thought of cool water on our wrists, a gentle night of deep sleep. Such light, such energy, such fire, brings too a yearning for equilibrium. 

For just a few mistaken days, we think the sun may stand still, that our summers might be eternal. Have you noticed the full flowers already on the brambles?

Fire is the element associated with Solstice. Now should be a time of great celebration of the sun’s energy. And we do celebrate. Life, fun, water fights and summer holidays, an idle hour in a hammock - engaging with the vitality and sheer zest of living.

Yet is impossible to write about fire without acknowledging its darker side: the terrible images and stories of annual forest fires in dry countries, the devastation of unremitting sun and drought in a growing number of countries across the globe, the fiery temperatures raised by our lifestyle melting glaciers. The destructive nature of fire as an instrument of neglect, social injustice, climate change, warfare, repressive regimes and poor land management is evident in these tragedies. With them rises an incendiary sense of rage, evident too in the political unrest of England and the world, here and now. Fire is the symbol of revolution, the element of purging and change. 

Solstice is a powerful time to think on what we wish to retain in our lives – personal, national, planetary – and what we wish to burn away in a positive spirit of change and regeneration. It can be galvanising to write both of these declarations out on separate pieces of paper – that which we wish to keep, that which we wish to lose/loose – and burn both in a solstice fire. Letting go in the flames that which no longer serves us, taking with us that which does - aho!

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