“What is to give light must endure the burning” -Viktor Frankl
In sacred texts and traditions throughout the world, there are myriad references to spiritual reverence for the sun as it relates to the source of life itself. The annual voyage of the sun was viewed by the ancients as a symbol of the journey towards enlightenment. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna describes the summer solstice as the gateway of ascent out of this world into the world of spirit.
In the yogic tradition, the sun is related to the element of fire, or Agni, as it’s called in the Sanskrit language.
Agni is viewed as the governing principle of transformation and is considered to be the elemental messenger between humans and the divine. As such, our hopes, dreams, prayers and visions are carried by the fire from the physical realm of earth to the ethereal, celestial realms of the divine. It is here that we are offered greater support and assistance in awakening so that we’re better able to walk our heart’s path and share our gifts with the world.
Summer solstice offers us a unique opportunity to honor the spark of the divine that resides within by paying homage to the sun and connecting with the element of fire.
Communing with the element of fire in a ceremonial fashion is one way to harness the potent energy of the summer solstice.
The method I use in my personal practice and with my retreat groups can be done just about anywhere in 7 simple steps:
1). Create sacred space and light your fire either outdoors in a fire pit, indoors in a fireplace or simply use a candle either outside or inside- whichever you prefer. If lighting a candle for your ceremony, be sure to place it in a fireproof vessel (a large stainless steel, pyrex or ceramic bowl will do). If inside, make sure the room is well ventilated. Once your space is ready and your fire lit, call in the energy of spirit and ask to be surrounded in love, light, protection and support.
2). Sit in front of your fire, and on a piece of paper (use more than 1 sheet if you need to), write down everything you wish to release from your life- all that is holding you back, weighing you down or keeping you stuck- including people, situations, places, belief systems, thought and/or behavioral patterns, material possessions and/or anything else that comes to mind.
3). When finished writing, roll your piece of paper into a tube and hold it to your heart. With hands upon your heart, connect with the fire by gazing into it. Once you feel at one with the fire, close your eyes and visualize a flame burning in the center of your chest that’s about the size of your thumb. Sense that it pulses, expands and contracts with each inhale and each exhale. Feel that your heart flame is dynamic and alive. Notice and make a mental note of any physical sensations that arise in the body as you meditate on what it is you wish to release.
4). Now that you have established a connection with the external fire, the internal flame and your deeper Self, summon the feeling(s) you wish to transform- in particular, pay attention to the places in your body in which you feel physical sensations arising. Hold the paper tube up to your mouth and blow those feelings and physical sensations through the tube to release them via the breath.
5). When you feel complete in releasing feelings and sensations, approach the fire to make your offering. Kneel down before it and hold your paper to your heart once more. Say a little prayer or ask your higher power for support in the process of letting go. When ready, carefully touch your paper to the flame to ignite it. Once aflame, drop your offering into the receptacle that holds your fire.
6). As your offering burns, use your hands to gather the smoke and pull it into the part(s) of your body where you felt the physical sensations arise. This will help to purify, transmute and heal those places within that want to release the energy associated with what you wrote.
7). When your paper has burned completely and the smoke has subsided, fold the hands together in prayer position at the heart. Close your eyes and silently offer your gratitude to the fire, thanking it for the gift of transformation. If you burned your paper in a bowl or receptacle other than a fire pit or fireplace, once cool, empty the receptacle of it’s ashes into a small hole dug into the earth. By burying your ashes, you give to Gaia all that you’ve let go of to be composted and used as fertilizer to create new life.
Optional: Reflect upon and journal about your interaction with the element of fire so that in a year’s time, you can look back and bear witness to the progress you’ve made during this turn around the sun.
Solstice blessings to you and yours,