June 21, 2019 marks the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, the Summer Solstice. The Solstice has been celebrated around the world since time immemorial and even or maybe especially, in our postmodern world where we are sorely disconnected from nature, it still holds special significance.
In ancient times the Solstice had a deeper meaning that just the longest day of the year. Great architects of history build monuments to align with this sacred day. In Egypt, for a viewer standing at the sphinx, the sun sets precisely between two of the Great Pyramids on the summer solstice. Archaeologists discovered and ancient Mayan city in Guatemala with an astronomical observatory whose buildings align with the Sun during the solstice. Here in the US, Wyoming’s Bighorn medicine wheel, built by the Sioux, is designed to align with the Solstice at sunrise and sunset. The ancient Chinese saw the Summer Solstice as an expression of yin, feminine energy, which balances the yang, masculine energy, of the Winter Solstice. And then there is the enigmatic Stonehenge, which aligns with the Sun on Solstice and has long been the site of Sun-worship rituals. Interestingly Stonehenge is also 108 feet in diameter.
The number 108 has held a multi-dimensional meaning throughout history. In geometric terms, it is a natural division of circle and in sacred geometry the sphere is the original shape from which all others derive. 108 has a cosmic significance, the distance between the Earth and Sun is 108 times the diameter of the sun, the diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The distance between the Earth and Moon is 108 times the diameter of the Moon. The universe is made up of 108 elements according to ancient texts. (The current periodic table claims a few more than 108.)
In yoga, the number 108 refers to spiritual completion. It is why japa malas are composed of 108 beads, why pranayama is often completed in cycles of 108, and why sun salutations are often performed in nine rounds of the 12 postures (totaling 108). By practicing chanting, breath work, or asana in rounds of this sacred number, the ancient yogis believed we could align ourselves with the rhythm of the creation.
This year, June 21ston the Summer Solstice, in honor of our ancient sacred feminine lineage the Sacred Woman tribe will gather to celebrate the Solstice. We’ll join together and create a yoga mala of 108 Sun Salutations and explore the mystical through breathwork, sound healing, crystals and tarot.
Feminine fire is reawakening and I for one am thrilled to be creating modern rituals that honor our ancient matrifocal heritage. If you'd like to join us you can sign up HERE
There is a VERY deep rabbit hole one can go down in exploring the significance of 108, I’ve only just scratched the surface here.