The longest day of the year, the first official day of summer — June 21st — is upon us once again. Happy Summer Solstice! The days have been stretching out by second by second for the past six months, blessing the outdoorsy types with more natural light
and annoying vampires throughout the Northern Hemisphere. It’s almost a little much; personally I’m ready for it to mellow out again. Not to be ungrateful, but can we have a little more darkness, please?
So how does summer solstice work again?
Earth is a little cock-eyed, tilting on its axis 23.5 degrees from vertical. During summer solstice (June 21 or 22), the Northern
Hemisphere is pointed toward the sun, due to this tilt. The sun’s vertical rays strike at 23.5 degrees north latitude, a “line” known as the Tropic of Cancer (easy to remember if you know anything about the zodiac, as astrological types would tell you we’re “moving into Cancer” today). The angle of the sun’s rays reaching the Arctic Circle are such that it experiences 24 hours of non-stop, balls-out daylight. Party on, northerners. The equator gets an equal amount of day and night, and the South Pole is plunged into six moooooonths of daaaaarkneeeeeeessssssss. After summer solstice, in the Northern Hemisphere the days get increasingly shorter until the winter solstice and shortest day of the year, December 20 or 21.
Known as “midsummer,” the solstice is held as an stellar time to gather healing herbs, as the plants are supposedly at the height of their power at this time. One species mentioned repeatedly is St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum). Its name is derived from Saint John’s Day (June 24), when it is traditionally gathered. The ancient Greeks prescribed Hypericum for a medley of ailments, and anyone who doesn’t know that this plant has been commonly used to treat depression has been living in a cave (possibly because they’re depressed). The little yellow-flowered plant is indigenous to Europe, and is considered an invasive in over 20 countries — if only we all knew how to harvest its medicinal powers and maybe we’d have less ecological fallout and a world of happier people; I don’t know where it grows around the Bay Area, though. It was also used around Europe to ward off the evil eye. I wonder if Dio’s grandma had some hanging above her doorway.
ABRIDGED SUMMER SOLSTICE MIX