On June 21, summer–and the longest day of the year–will arrive in the Northern Hemisphere. During the past few months, the Sun has been marching toward its northernmost limit on the horizon. It now lingers there awhile. That’s what “solstice” means—to stand still. It’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere; the days are short, as the Sun stands at the southernmost limit of the horizon. North or South, it’s a significant turning point in the wheel of the year.
Recognition of the solstice is in our genetic code. Deep in our cells we know what to do. In the North, all that is nurtured by the Sun is energized. It’s time to bang the pots and celebrate the King, our Sun. Our bodies want to dance. Our arms want to open and receive its power. In the South, we’re turning inward, preparing to conserve faith and spirit for the cold days ahead.
North or South, during the days before, after, or on the solstice, we need to connect with the Sun. Let a part of yourself drift out of your routine and into the archetypal realm. You don’t have to be at Stonehenge to have a mystical experience. You may be surprised; at a random hour, while sitting at your desk, walking on the street, or sipping an espresso, the Sun will find you. It will wink at you from a knothole on the fence. Or beam through a window and touch your arm. Like an old friend. Stay awhile. Just let the Sun touch you and give thanks. Expressing your gratitude for the Sun is not a fancy solstice ritual—but it’s potent nonetheless.
At solstice, Father Sun enters Cancer, the Mother’s sign. We become more motivated to secure our foundations, to root ourselves, to connect with intuition, our deeper way of knowing. What are you nurturing now? Perhaps there’s an acorn in your hand that’s hoping you’ll commit to the oak it can become. Cancer is the season to commit more deeply to yourself and important projects!
At this time, I often think of P.D. Eastman’s children’s book Are You My Mother? In the story, while a mother is hunting worms, her baby bird hatches—alone. It falls from its nest and wanders through the town confused, asking every creature it meets—a dog, a cow, an airplane, even a steam shovel—“Are you my mother?” Something like that happens with us now too. What’s confused and needy cracks out of its shell and goes looking (quite naturally) for comfort and safety.
Just when we want to commit to something, we notice a rising insecurity, a certain clinginess, fear of rejection, or timidity about acting on our goals. This happens because whatever part of us is growing—whether we’re launching a new habit or an ambitious project—always begins as something soft and vulnerable. It can’t feed itself. It needs a mommy. We search—sometimes in the wrong places—looking in the snack section of the grocery store or to our mates. But what we really need, we can only find within.
In Eastman’s story, the baby bird finds its mother and his happy childhood begins. Our projects will also start their happy childhood when we make Cancer’s necessary discovery: We are the baby and the mother we’ve been seeking. New strength pours in during Cancer’s season whenever we approach ourselves as a mother would her child: tenderly, cautiously, protectively, full of sensitivity and commitment. How we treat our feelings can become the model for how we treat our goals. Cancer’s journey from insecurity to strength is something we do every year. We go from lost child to confident mother again and again. In summer or winter, it’s how we grow.