Summer solstice (夏至) occurs between June 20 and 23 in the Gregorian Calendar, and marks the longest day of the year (maximum Yang) when the sun has risen higher and higher into the sky, reached its zenith, and rises no more.

From time immemorial, summer solstice has been a significant time of year for many cultures, and is marked by festivals and rituals. In the Five Element cycle, the Fire Element is closely associated with the sun, and the sun is regarded as the most positive energy for its warming and cleansing effect. The coming of summer’s light and warmth (Fire 火) elevates a sense of gladness and celebration, when Mother Nature has once again renewed herself. The peak of the summer season (June is Horse 午) remains a joyful and hopeful reminder that new beginnings are still possible.

At noon, on summer solstice day, when the sun is at its highest point, we can pay reverence to its incredible strength and ability to create life while also musing on the impermanence of life. That’s why, in Chinese Metaphysics, the day after summer solstice is the beginning of Yin.

Just as the summer solstice is symbolic of agricultural growth, so is it symbolic of personal growth as well. Here are a few thoughtful ways to reel in the energy of the summer solstice so you can reflect upon the blessings you have received in seasons past and visualize the new bounties you also hope to receive:

Reestablish your innate connection to nature by spending time outdoors.
Burn sun oils such as orange, citrus, tangerine, grapefruit, bergamot, rose, geranium, and jasmine.
Decorate an altar with solar images, such as summer greens, colorful blossoms, or oranges.
Move the “heart qi” physically by doing more cardiovascular exercises, emotionally by focusing on heart projects that bring joy and satisfaction, and spiritually by cultivating a stronger sense of faith and optimism.
In honor of the Sun, I share with you a poem on HOPE by Emily Dickinson.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.