The next Solstice is Thursday, June 21st (specifically at 10:07 UTC, 3:07am PDT, when the sun is directly overhead on the Tropic of Cancer). The solstices are the extremes of the year; the June solstice marks the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer north of the tropics, and the shortest day and beginning of winter south of the tropics. Around the times of the solstices, the sun appears to stop changing the path of the arc it follows across the sky. People see the sun rising and setting at nearly the same place in the days just before and after the actual moment of the solstice.
For celebrations of the Solstices, important themes are:
Celebrating the Sun
Pausing for Reflection
Contrasts (day/night, light/dark)
For the summer solstice, Abundance and Vigor are also key themes to incorporate in your celebrations. For the winter solstice, Endings and New Beginnings, and Endurance are appropriate themes.
What to Do
Here are a few ideas for things you may wish to do as part of a Novasutras Solstice celebration:
Meditate for a world abiding in agaya and ubuntu
Participate in the global Novasutras solstice meditation during the exact moment of the solstice – June 21st at 10:07 UTC, if feasible.
If you’d like to join the simultaneous global meditation, there is a guided meditation recording at https://youtu.be/GAcuIKN3h9c – start the video at 10:00 UTC to be in sync.
Co-Create a Novasutras Symbol
Engage all participants in the creation of the Novasutras symbol (see this video on creating the symbol as a ritual or meditation). This can be similar to casting a circle and calling the corners in neo-pagan rituals, as a way to open a sacred space for the gathered community. But while it should be done with reverence, in agaya and ubuntu, it need not be solemn.
On the beach, it can be drawn by participants following each other and scuffing their feet in a kind of dance, or by one or more people drawing with sticks.
You could create a symbol large enough for all participants to stand in, and let them arrange themselves by color they’re wearing (or provide hats, masks, signs, etc?), then have everyone briefly meditate on agaya and ubuntu as represented by that portion of the symbol (perhaps with a few ‘odd’ colors as flowers in the tree canopy or emerging from the ‘snowy’ ground – these flowers could focus their meditation on the cooperation that brings forth new life, such as that between flowering plants and pollinators).
For smaller gatherings, people could bring appropriate materials to co-create the symbol: leaves and flowers; feathers; seeds, grains, cornmeal (of different colors); chalk or sand; newsprint or butcher paper and paints or markers. You could even do a litter clean-up at a beach or park, sort the objects found by color, and array them in the symbol.
Be sure to include ‘sweeping up’ in the closing of your celebration, making sure that all materials are taken for recycling, composted, or otherwise dealt with in ways that are respectful of agaya and ubuntu.
Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) come from the yoga traditions. You may choose to do 108 Sun Salutations in one session (108 is considered an auspicious number in Hindu traditions), at dawn, noon and/or sunset, or simply do one or a few at any or each of those times nearest the solstice where you are. The sun salutation is fairly easy and safe for healthy beginners, and it is fun to do in large groups. Hereareafewmorevideostohelpyoulearnhowtodothem (full playlist).
North of the equator, solstice sun salutations celebrate the abundance, warmth and vigor of the sun at its highest and most bountiful. South of the equator, you may think of these sun salutations as a practice to ‘encourage’ and celebrate the return of the sun (as your days will now begin to grow longer).
Solstice Crowns and Garlands
Adorn yourself and your event-space with vegetation that honors the season: summer flowers in the northern hemisphere in celebration of the abundant sunshine; evergreens in the southern hemisphere in recognition of their tenacity and adaptability. Everywhere, plants must attune themselves to the seasons and make the best of the available sunlight – this holds important lessons for human communities also. By honoring their evolutionary genius and celebrating their sensual beauty, we become the partners of plants through ubuntu and agaya.
Song and Dance
One of the main ways that humans the world over celebrate in community is to make music and dance together. In the so-called-developed world, we have grown accustomed to music as performed by professionals and merely enjoyed by spectators. While this is delightful and also welcome, it is insufficient to the natural process of community. Find simple songs, and encourage everyone to participate in singing them.
Where they feel appropriate to agaya and ubuntu (such as We Are the Rising Sun or We Are the Power in Everyone, kindly provided to the world by Campfire Chants) these simple songs and chants can remain unmodified. If you have a favorite traditional, folk, or spiritual song that does not provide a good reflection of agaya and ubuntu, change the lyrics to better suit the intentions of a Novasutras gathering. Encourage those that have acoustic instruments to bring them and play along as they can (drums, guitars and ukuleles work well outdoors).
Similarly, keep ‘dancing’ simple and fun. The Spiral Dance developed by Starhawk is a wonderful option, but a simple ‘conga line’ that becomes a circle (or better yet, two concentric circles traveling in opposite directions), or even the ‘Hokey Pokey,’ can be easy and fun for participants of all ages.
Share Food and Drink
Whether it’s a full-meal potluck or just a small sacramental bite or sip of something meaningful, sharing food in community is a uniquely human way to strengthen ubuntu. Don’t neglect the importance of this aspect of celebratory gatherings. Novasutras cookies might be nice.
If you are inviting participants to bring food, ask them to be respectful of agaya and ubuntu in their choice of what to bring, and ask people to avoid ‘disposable’ materials (particularly plastics) in both food packaging and serving materials (plates, cups, cutlery).
Be sure to include ‘washing/packing up’ in the closing of your celebration, seeing that materials are taken for recycling, composted, or otherwise dealt with in ways that are respectful of agaya and ubuntu.
Other Ritual Activities
For outdoor celebrations, you may time them to include sunrise, solar noon, or sunset, taking that time to observe the sun at its highest point in the sky, or its most northerly setting or rising position. Some may choose to stack rocks for small markers of the sunrise or sunset point when viewed from a specific place.
All could participate in pouring water into a shared bowl or pitcher, then anointing themselves and/or splashing the water, along with some kind of blessing or intention. A bowl that creates a good reflection when filled with water can be even more directly symbolic, with an invitation for each person to pause and reflect on the months since the last solstice, and upcoming year.
Participants could be encouraged to bring masks or costumes (or a longer event could include materials and opportunities to construct these) representing one or more of the themes of the Solstice (the sun, reflection, contrasts, abundance, vigor, new beginnings, etc).
Participants could bring small items to represent one or more of the themes of the Solstice celebration, decoratively adding them to a community altar toward the beginning of the celebration then deconstructing the altar at the end.
Invite Your Community
Perhaps you just want to have a small gathering with like-minded friends. But if you are willing, Solstice celebrations are a great opportunity to talk with new people about Novasutras. Let us know about your plans, and we’ll add them to our Events page.
Post a few fliers (template for fliers) to publicize your local event, directing people to the Novasutras website for more information about events. Contact us if you want our to help promote your local Novasutras Solstice event .
The global environmental and social challenges we face today are daunting, and they demand a response at a scale appropriate to the problem. Join us as we build a spiritual movement based in the principles of reverence for the living world, interdependence and loving-kindness: agaya and ubuntu.
Giving up buying gifts and decorations can add a new layer of joy to your celebrations, bringing you deeper into resonance with ubuntu and agaya. There are many alternative ways to share joy, generosity, gratitude, and loving-kindness. Buy Nothing Holidays can be part of the #Amazon4Amazon boycott – Novasutras is joining this effort urging people to boycott the world’s largest online retailer, to pressure the company and its CEO to invest some of their vast fortunes into protecting and preserving the Amazon rainforest.
Helpful hints for preparing local celebrations of the Solstice Dec 21st, including themes of celebrating the sun, pausing for reflection, contrasts, and global unity. We suggest some activities for rejoicing in ubuntu and agaya.
Today I can officially note that the Novasutras movement has attracted some outside attention. We appear to have reached at least stage two in the old saying (widely misattributed to Mohandis K. Gandhi): First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they fight you. Then you win. Specifically, at a sandy place where I…