Monday, July 4, 2011

Cernic Rite: Summer Solstice

Cernic Rite: Summer Solstice

Cernunnos, the Celto-Gallic god of the forest. Ironically, a nearby house featured in this video has a depiction of the Green Man on it. The Cernic tradition goes clear back into the ancient world. So far back that it predates the Norse gods in Europe. However, many of the old ways have mingled with Norse, Slavic, and Mediterranean paganism. The Green Man being one such example.


Cernunnos is the conventional name given in Celtic studies to depictions of the horned god of Celtic polytheism. The name itself is only attested once, on the 1st-century Pillar of the Boatmen, but depictions of a horned or antlered figure, often seated in a "lotus position" and often associated with animals and holding or wearing torcs, are known from other instances.

Nothing is known about the god from literary sources, and details about his name, his cult or his significance in Celtic religion are unknown. Speculative interpretations identify him as a god of nature or fertility.


The summer solstice occurs exactly when the Earth's semi-axis in a given hemisphere is most inclined towards the sun, at its maximum tilt of 23° 26'. Though the summer solstice is an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used like Midsummer to refer to the day on which it occurs. Except in the polar regions (where daylight is continuous for many months), the day on which the summer solstice occurs is the day of the year with the longest period of daylight. The summer solstice occurs in June in the Northern Hemisphere north of the Tropic of Cancer (23°26'N) and in December in the Southern Hemisphere south of the Tropic of Capricorn (23°26'S). The Sun reaches its highest position in the sky on the day of the summer solstice. However, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, the highest sun position does not occur at the summer solstice, since the sun reaches the zenith here and it does so at different times of the year depending on the latitude of the observer. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the summer solstice occurs some time between December 21 and December 22 each year in the Southern Hemisphere, and between June 20 and June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere.

Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied among cultures, but most have held a recognition of sign of the fertility, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.

The word solstice derives from Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).

[Music: 'Cernunnos' by Kate West]


I just wanted to add a little to this entry. First, most of the Cernic efforts will be posted here rather than the other blog. I don't want to saturate the PAL blog with paganism. Only that which applies to historical Padan Christian or pagan traditions, while most of the rest can be placed here.

I learned something when I filmed this. I hiked in the dead of night, and it was so dark that I had to wait for some morning daylight in order to even enter the wooded area that I wanted to film. If there is no moonlight, the woods are usually completely black. I learned that it is not safe, for anyone, to hike in a remote area at night. It's easy to laugh, but it's no joke out there. It's an entirely different world at night. I almost bumped into a racoon. Now if I had stepped on it's foot or something, I could have been seriously hurt; or how about stepping on a rattlesnake?

I was carrying a lot of equipment and couldn't manage my failing disposable flashlight very well. It's really only safe to hike at night with others, and with adequate lighting. Actually, it's not even a good idea to hike at anytime alone, unless it's within a safe distance from a road. Another issue that crossed my mind is that it's always a possibility that you could encounter another person, which by itself is all the reason you would need to avoid hiking at night.


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