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Peace Labyrinth 




here comes the sun

On June 21st, we celebrate the summer solstice. In ancient history, the summer solstice was known as “the midsummer day.” We know it as the first day of summer, and the longest day of the year.

In the Hopi native American culture, the traditional procession of the Kachinas with their various teachings on human characteristics begins in the villages at the winter solstice and concludes at the summer solstice.

In Ancient Egypt, summer solstice was the most important day of the year. The sun was at its highest and the Nile River was beginning to rise. Special ceremonies were held to honor the Goddess Isis. Egyptians believed that Isis was mourning for her dead husband, Osiris, and that her tears made the Nile rise and well over.

Accurately predicting the floods (and the start of the growing season) was of such vital importance that the appearance of Sirius, which occurs around the time of the summer solstice, was recognized as the beginning of the Egyptian New Year.

In ancient Egyptian mythology, the solar deity Horus defeated his uncle, Set, the Egyptian Lord of darkness and evil at this time of the year. With this victory, divine order and fertility were restored in Egypt and it was thought that this event allowed the Nile floods to come, bringing life back to the Nile valley.

It was the hope of every Pharaoh of Egypt that upon his death he would travel safely through the Duat, the Egyptian afterworld, and "come into the light of day" in the kingdom of Ra, the Sun god, and join with that great god in his solar boat to become one of the imperishable stars. Ra is one of the gods honored at the time of the Summer Solstice along with Horus.

The Portuguese Midsummer Day (St John's Day) brought to Brazil during colonial times has become a very important popular event that is celebrated during a period that starts one week before St John's Day and ends one week after. As this nationwide festival, called "Festa Junina" (Saint John Festival), happens during the European midsummer, it takes place in the Brazilian midwinter. With its origins in the northeastern Brazil, which is largely arid or semi-arid, these popular festivals not only coincide with the rainy seasons of most states in the northeast but they also provide the people with an opportunity to give thanks to Saint John for the rain. They also celebrate rural life and feature typical clothing, food, dance (particularly quadrilha, which is similar to square dancing). Like Midsummer and Saint John's Day in Portugal and Scandinavian countries, Sao Joao celebrates marital union. The quadrilha features couple formations around a mock wedding whose bride and groom are the central attraction of the dancing.

In Chinese culture the yin-yang symbol represents the summer solstice as part of the entire celestial phenomenon. The yin is born or begins at the summer solstice representing less sunlight and more moonlight and the and the yang is born or begins at the winter solstice which represents more sunlight.

For the European ancients, this day was a day of grand celebrations and fire festivals.

History tells us the people ran through the land with burning torches, and lit huge bonfires in clearings and on roads to give strength to the sun and keep evil spirits at bay. People watched the flames through garlands of wildflowers and herbs as others leaped through the fires to be purified and protected. Hope and prayers were given that the year’s crops would rise as high as the flames would flicker.

Great sacred oak trees were decorated with colored cloths as people danced around them. People wore amulets of herbs to protect themselves and to honor the sun. Wheels of straw were set ablaze and rolled down hills to simulate the burning sun. It was a time that pagan faeries gave their blessings and bestowed good luck upon the people. William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream is a tale of faeries and mankind on such a midsummer eve.

Early humans watched the skies of the summer sun. The ancient Stonehenge, built between 3100 and 1550 BC, near Salisbury, England, is an awesome array of megaliths arranged precisely in alignment to the sun on an ancient summer solstice. The people of Salisbury today assemble at the stones every midsummer eve to watch the sun rise over the heel stone. And watching with them, dressed in their robes, are the current members of the “Ancient Order of the Druids,” an ancient fraternity of priests who appeared in Welsh and Irish legends as prophets.

At this time of the year, as the earth revolves around the sun and rotates on its axis, the northern hemisphere is tipped to the sun. It is this exposure that gives us our summer, and our summer solstice.

And the sun, whose position has been apparently moving down the horizon on a northern journey, will now seemingly begin to move south again. The days will begin to grow shorter, the skies will darken earlier, and winter will come.

The change of seasons brings reflection on the beauty of the earth, on time, and on ourselves.

Our summer season is a short one. Life is short. Take some time on this glorious summer solstice to quietly reflect, and revel in the sun.

World Peace Day - June 21, 2014 

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