Summer Solstice Meditations: Gratitude, Joy, Illumination, and Evil


For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Seasonal Observances

Gratitude, joy, and connection are the qualities to cultivate during the Summer Solstice’s height of light. Both the Sioux elder and the scientist agree.

Okute of the Teton Sioux is remembered as saying:

All living creatures and all plants derive their life from the sun. If it were not for the sun, there would be darkness and nothing would grow – the earth would be without life.

Mathematician Brian Swimme writes in Heat of the Hidden Cosmos:

So for four million years, humans have been feasting on the Sun’s energy stored in the form of wheat or sheep as each day the Sun dies as Sun and is reborn as the vitality of Earth. And those solar flares are in fact the very power of the vast human enterprise. And every child of ours needs to learn the simple truth: she is the energy of the Sun. And we adults should organize things so her face shines with the same radiant joy.

The Rider Waite Smith Sun card shows us a world where, yes, all is arranged so that a child’s face shines with joy and gratitude flows.


Sun card by Pamela Coleman Smith from a 1909 card scanned by Holly Voley

We want to follow the child into this place of joy, but this Solstice we here in the United States find ourselves facing children being taken from their parents, children fleeing violence being met with violence, children being used as pawns in political games.

At Solsticetide with the sun overhead, we humans cast almost no shadow. The shadowy parts of ourselves have nowhere to hide so they must emerge into plain sight. This year the evil of our immigration policies in the present and out of the past is illuminated.

So then then can we celebrate the Solstice with gratitude and joy?

Since we are in a time of extremes, we must turn to other extremes to find an answer. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl survived the concentration camps of Nazi Germany to write Man’s Search for Meaning. When I first read the book, I remember being astounded by his reports that prisoners still experienced joy and sought out beauty. Once, exhausted prisoners roused themselves to go see the sunset and one said, “How beautiful the world can be!”

These moments gave meaning to their lives and helped them to survive with their humanity intact. To keep our humanity we must have gratitude and joy in our lives.

And this gratitude and joy in times of extreme can even expand us beyond even the physical boundaries that we think separate us. Frankl shares a powerful story of “talking” with his wife from whom he was separated (she was killed in the Bergen-Belsen camp):

I sensed my spirit piercing through the enveloping gloom. I felt it transcend that hopeless, meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious ‘Yes’ in answer to my question of the existence of an ultimate purpose. At that moment a light was lit in a distant farmhouse, which stood on the horizon as if painted there, in the midst of the miserable grey of a dawning morning in Bavaria. ‘Et lux in tenebris lucent’–and the light shineth in the darkness. For hours I stood hacking at the icy ground. The guard passed by, insulting me, and once again I communed with my beloved. More and more I felt that she was present; that she was with me; I had the feeling that I was able to touch her, able to stretch out my hand and grasp hers. The feeling was very strong: she was there. Then, at that very moment, a bird flew down silently and perched just in front of me, on the heap of soil which I had dug up from the ditch, and looked steadily at me.

We are connected and moments of transcendence open us more and more deeply to this state of being. The Summer Solstice qualities of gratitude and joy are the keys transcendence. And the fruit of all these feelings is Love – the love that compels you to act for the good of the Whole, for the good of yourself, for the good of a child.

So here is a meditation the Summer Solstice to cultivate and share gratitude and joy beyond boundaries. It is inspired by my (limited) experience with the Buddhist practice of Tonglen, which has you take in and release suffering of yourself and others. This meditation modifies that idea to connect with gratitude for the sun and share the positive energy out into the world.

The meditation moves right into a Tarot/oracle reading so you may want to have cards handy (or if you don’t use cards just skip this part).

Doing this meditation outside at noon on the actual Solstice day of Thursday, June 21 would be optimal but it could be done anytime and anywhere you want to connect with and share gratitude.

The Steps:

#1: Settle your body. You may already have a way you do this. If not, you can focus on the in and out of your breath. Then feel the floor or earth below you supporting you. Relax into that support. You might imagine you have roots that connect you deeply to the earth.

#2: Connect with the sun. You may be outside on a sunny day so this will be a felt experience. Or you may have to imagine the sun as a orb of glowing light above you if it is cloudy or you are inside. Let the sun’s rays enter into you through the crown of your head and flow through your body.

#3: Bring to mind a gift of the sun in your life. The options are limitless here. You may want to choose something sensual – say food or flower – and remember how you communed with it. You could also have something handy to eat or gaze upon and include this as part of the meditation. Offer words internally or said aloud that express your gratitude for this gift. Tune into the positive energy that flows from this gift of the sun.

#4: Let yourself bask in the positive energy and joy of the gifts of the sun.

#5: Direct your positive energy toward someone you know is suffering or facing a challenge. This could be a family member or a friend. Imagine them surrounded by the positive energy. Perhaps you give this energy a color or a scent or a speed.

#6:  Direct your positive feelings toward someone you don’t know who is suffering. There have been many images of the children and parents in anguish at the border. You might call one specific image to mind. Imagine them surrounded by the positive energy. Perhaps you give this energy a color or a scent or a speed.

#7: Image your positive energy spreading out like a gentle wind. It is moving from the suffering person out to those around them, perhaps other children, perhaps guards or others in the system. You are recognizing your connection to all of them. Let the energy keep spreading out, flowing over whole towns, whole states, the whole country, perhaps even out into the atmosphere over the whole of the earth. Imagine it mingling with the positive energy of others.

#8: Come back to yourself, reconnecting with your gratitude for the gifts of the sun.

#9: Take up your Tarot or oracle deck and pull one to three cards to show you what is most important to pay attention to from this gratitude meditation. Contemplate the cards.

#10: Connected to the flow of gratitude through you and inspired by the cards, commit to something that you will do within the next 24 hours to serve the good of the Whole. Follow through with joy.


Note: If you are looking for inspiration for action specifically around what is happening at the US border, there is a clearing house listing on The Praxis Project site.

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