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Summer Solstice

Presidents Letter

By William (Bill) Levacy

Happy Summertime!

For the Northern hemisphere, the summer solstice is the time of the year when the Sun reaches its northernmost point in the sky (southernmost point in the Southern hemisphere). It is also noted by some more humorous astronomers as the day that men talk the most! The solstices are noteworthy in that they mark the longest and shortest days of the year, as measured by the number of hours between sunrise
and sunset on these days. The shadows cast at noon are also the shortest at this summer time of year.

Around noontime, the Sun will be at its highest altitude possible above the horizon and the Sun will have moved as far north as it can as marked against the horizon line. The actual time of the Summer solstice occurs this year on June 21 at 1:16 pm EDT (December 21 in the Southern hemisphere). The summer solstice marks the first day of the summer season. The declination of the Sun (degrees above the horizon line) on the northern hemisphere Summer solstice is known as that point of latitude called the tropic of cancer (23° 27'). “Tropic” comes from the Greek word, “tropos”, to turn. From this point, marked at either sunrise or sunset by ancient observers, the Sun appears to stop (sol= sun and stice = stop or stand), and turn around and start rising a little bit each day towards the south, as marked against the horizon line in traditional customs. The ancients used various marking devices such as sticks, stones or openings in temples, natural landmarks, or other marking methods to track the movement of the Sun.

The Summer Solstice carries special meaning for various cultures around the world. In Vedic cosmology, the Sun has been travelling upwards from the equator since the Wintertime. This half of the year was regarded as a favorable time and was called “Devayana”, the path of the gods, also known as “Uttarayana,” the upper path. Spiritual work is claimed to be more effective at this time of year. At the solstice the Sun has ascended as high as it can on this heavenly path. Now it will turn around and start descending a little bit each day to the South on its other path called Dakshinayana, the path of the Rakshasas or demons. This part of the Sun’s
journey was considered less favorable. Of course, the Summer season is much hotter (pitta) and ayurvedic practitioners tell their followers to avoid dehydration and heat ailments by consuming more liquids and juicy foods. Keep Cool! are the words of the season.

In Christian cultures, the Summer solstice is celebrated as the birthday of St. John the Baptist, who was said to have been born six months prior to Christ. Since Christ is held to have been born around the time of the Winter solstice in December, St. John takes the lead in being born in the Summer solstice. Many cultures create huge bonfires on this day in the effort to burn away the bad spirits who might be accompanying the Sun as it starts its journey to the South.

One of the important concepts of the Summer time, is that the sowing is over and now it is time to take action and “make hay while the Sun shines!” We at ACVA wish you all a fun Summer season of surf, sand, and high spirits (and remember your sun screen!).

Onward and upward,

William (Bill) Levacy


The American College of Vedic Astrology ™ (ACVA)

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