Today marks the beginning of summer, the longest day of the year, and a time of celebration at Stonehenge and everywhere else across the northern hemisphere. What exactly is the summer solstice, and what makes it worthy of feast and fun?

In short, the solstices (one occurring on or around June 21 and one occurring on or around December 21 each year, marking the beginning of summer or winter, depending on your hemisphere) occur because the Earth is tilted on its axis; it is on the solstices that the sun is tilted most toward (the summer solstice, with longer, warmer days) or away from (the winter solstice,  with cooler, shorter days) the sun. Because of the Earth’s tilt and the opposition of seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres, the summer solstice of one hemisphere is the winter hemisphere of the other hemisphere.

Because the solstices (and their counterparts, the equinoxes) are connected to the seasons, they have historically been celebrated as holidays connected with fertility, harvest, or rebirth. But what about the astrological implications of the exact moment in time when the Earth reaches its highest declination? Are there any?

This year the  solstice occurs at 11:28am UTC on June 21st; its effects will be felt profoundly during the day/night of the 21st. Taking place in Cancer, you can expect to feel affected emotionally, especially if you happen to be a water sign (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces). During this period, personal life and relationships will become very important.

As the Sun moves into Cancer it also creates the Cardinal Grand Cross, with the Sun in Cancer, Saturn in Virgo/Libra, Pluto in Capricorn retrograde, and Jupiter and Uranus in Aries. Astrologically, there is a lot going on; many people may feel exhausted or overwhelmed. Take time to rest and reflect as these energies assimilate and changes occur.

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Written by Anna
Anna is the Senior Consumer & Online Marketing Specialist, responsible for Llewellyn's New Worlds of Body, Mind & Spirit, the Llewellyn Journal, Llewellyn's monthly email newsletters, and more. In her free time, Anna enjoys reading an absurd number of books; doing crossword puzzles; watching ...