Green Acres villagers, neighbors, local permies and friends are about to be inundated by our annual invitation to join together in commemoration of Summer Solstice, when the Sun hits 0°00 Cancer, the moment when it is highest in the sky of the northern hemisphere, creating the longest day, shortest night of the year. From then on, the days will be growing shorter and the nights longer, at first infinitesimally, and later more obviously, to the point where, after three months, the days and nights will be briefly equal at Autumn Equinox, when the Sun hits 0°00 Libra.
The actual moment of Summer Solstice this year will be early in the morning, 12:24 A.M. EDT on June 21, 2017. However, we won’t meet until the evening of that same day, Wednesday, June 21. And this year, for the first time, not here in Green Acres; our celebration will be out in the country, at friend (and Green Acres Community Dinner regular) Eva’s house and grounds, with lots of room to roam.
After consulting via email, the “organizing committee” has decided to arrive at 6:00 p.m., do a short ceremony at 6:30, eat potlluck at 7 p.m., with music and dancing afterwards. So bring your instruments!
Our ceremony will involve yoga Salutations to the Sun, a bit of taiji, Briana’s poetry, hopefully (if she can travel the four hours to get here), and a short explanation by me of the astrology/astronomy of Summer Solstice.
The longer I live, the more I realize the importance of periodic celebrations and ceremonies, especially those that honor the living Earth. We celebrate the solstices and equinoxes here in Green Acres Village, as our way of acknowledging our gratitude for Earth’s extraordinary gifts and her unconditional loving presence in our lives.
Looking up the etymology of both “ceremony” and “celebration,” I see that they both refer to “religious rituals.”
ceremony (n.)late 14c., cerymonye, from Old French ceremonie and directly from Medieval Latin ceremonia, from Latin caerimonia “holiness, sacredness; awe; reverent rite, sacred ceremony,” an obscure word, possibly of Etruscan origin, or a reference to the ancient rites performed by the Etruscan pontiffs at Caere, near Rome. Introduced in English by Wyclif.
celebration (n.)1520s, “honoring of a day or season by appropriate festivities,” formed in English from celebrate, or else from Latin celebrationem (nominative celebratio) “numerous attendance” (especially upon a festival celebration), noun of action from past participle stem of celebrare. Meaning “performance of a religious ceremony” (especially the Eucharist) is from 1570s; that of “extolling in speeches, etc.” is from 1670s.
When you factor in the etymology of the word religious, or religion, we come up with the vastly important discovery that “religio,” from the Latin, means to “bind back.” Note, not to lift off the Earth, as so many “spiritual” people want to do, but to return to Earth, our planetary hostess, and the soil of which our bodies are made, over and over and over again. We are her creatures! And we are so very fortunate to sense our own bodies as highly tuned antennae for Earth’s magnificence.
Speaking of “religious” versus “spiritual”: usually I identify with spiritual rather than religious, since the word religious has been largely hijacked by various dogmatic theological forms that fight each other over which one is the only right one. So silly, this dispute!
About 20 years ago, I found myself gravitating to the Sufi way of life, which holds no dogma, no theology, but instead, as practiced through the Dances of Universal Peace, demonstrates the love that binds us back to earth and each other by “eating, dancing, singing, and praying together.”
Just this morning, my brother Mark, a musician and songwriter living in Spokane who has now become a wonderful dance leader in this beautiful tradition, sent me a youtube video of a beautiful DUP dance that includes, to his surprise, me, his big sis! Since the enclosure is a yurt, that must have been around 15 years ago, at the summer dance camp in Montana; I took a final trip from my then new home in Bloomington Indiana to dance with my beloveds there after my Sufi dancer husband Jeff had died, of a heart attack.
That’s me, right foreground.