Summer Solstice Altar!
Summer solstice is upon us!
Making a special altar at each passing marker of the year (at a minimum the two solstices and two equinoxes) is a simple way to bring more rhythm and ritual into family life. Kids usually love it.
While in the west we consider Summer Solstice the beginning of summer, in Chinese Medicine it is considered the height of summer and marks the beginning of summer's decrease. If you think about the cycle of light and dark, is makes sense! The light is slowly increasing from winter Solstice all the way to summer Solstice. Once we get to summer Solstice the light begins to decrease and every day we receive a little more darkness. It’s a good time of year to begin to rest, not push yourself to work too much, and enjoy some leisure time. During this time we can celebrate the elements of fire by gathering around a fire!
At summer solstice we celebrate the earth’s abundance and sweetness. Here in California, and in many places, the summer fruits are ripe or ripening.
Create the altar in a space that you can sit around and hang out in. Let the process of creating the altar, with kids especially, take time and feel collaborative. Once you have created the altar, you can sing songs, eat a meal around it, or make art together about what’s to come in the next season.
Fresh fruits and veggies arranged beautifully
Money and coins to honor all of the money we receive and exchange to support our lives
Images of light and sun
Drawings or list of the ways in which our lives are abundant. Focus on what you have! Sometimes I like to cut out small circles and offer them to the kids to put one thing they are grateful for on each circle- either an image or a word. You can sit down as a family and make a list or drawings with your kids all the ways you are provided for by life - examples: food to eat, a safe place to sleep, family, friends, clothes, a garden etc!
Make a sun mandala with flower petals to thank the sun for all the light it has given us this season. For everything that has been illuminated and made clear to us. To make it, gently pick off the flower petals and arrange in a radiating circle.
It's especially appropriate at summer solstice to make a "gratitude bowl" or "spirit plate". You can use a small dish and put little pieces of all of the food items, on the altar and in your meal, in the bowl. These pieces of food are a way to directly offer energy to the spirits of your ancestors and the ancestors of the land that you are on. It's a way to say thank you to them.