The Summer Solstice
Here are Graham's thoughts:
The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, and usually happens
around the 21st of June. If you record the position of the sunrise or
sunset over the year, you will see it track first one way, then the
other. (See the Vernal Equinox for a more detailed explanation.) The
solstices occur at the end of this progression, when the Sun turns
around. At this point, the sun rises (or sets) in the same place on the
horizon for five days, centred around the day of the solstice. The name
comes from the Latin – sol meaning Sun and either “stare” or “sto”
meaning to stand. In astrology this is when the sun moves into the sign
nearest Christian festival is the Feast Day of St John, placed on the
24th of June. (This is usually the day that the Sun starts moving again
after the Solstice.) It is an unusual day as it celebrates the birth of
a saint, rather than the day they died, which is the case with most
other saints. This fact provides us with a key to unlock a mythical
cycle, that of the Oak and Holly King.
The Holly and Oak Kings
are seen as two brothers who compete for the hand of a fair maiden –
the Goddess. There is an archetype of the God having two sides,
both bright and outgoing and dark and inward looking and together these
work with the Goddess to provide fertility and to ensure life
continues. The Oak King rules over the rising year, when the days are
getting longer, from Winter Solstice to Summer Solstice. And the Holly
King rules over the waning year, when the days are getting
This cycle has been preserved and
protected from Christianity by being hidden within other myths, such as
those of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, or in Mummers'
Plays. Summer Solstice marks both the height of the Oak King's powers,
and the end of his reign. It also marks the beginning of the waning
year, the time of the Holly King. [More...]
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