Way before the Fourth of July became the excuse to get your warm-weather party on, there was the summer solstice (or midsummer)—when everyone from the ancient Greeks to the Druids would gather to honor the longest day of the year.
According to breathwork facilitator and healer Ashley Neese, circling up on the first day of summer—June 21—is ultra powerful. “By attuning to the cycles of nature, our own personal cycles, and those of our communities, we connect deeply to our truest desires and are more easily able to manifest our dreams,” says Neese. (She would know—the Angeleno’s preparing to host her own solstice retreat this month in Sonoma, CA.)
Here, she outlines everything you need to throw a magical midsummer women’s circle of your own, from the drinks to the decorations to the dress code. (Trust me, you’ll want to change out of your leggings for this.)
Keep reading to find out how to celebrate the longest day of the year in high-vibe style.
Create a ritual
So what, exactly, do you do at a solstice celebration? According to Neese, it’s good to have some kind of organized ritual that brings everyone together and sets a mood.
For a hands-on project, she suggests creating a mandala out of flower petals to honor the sun. “Choose orange, red, and yellow flowers or plants that are local to your area,” says Neese. “Gently take off each petal or leaf and arrange them in circular patterns. As you set down each piece, infuse it with a prayer for the earth.”
If you’d rather do something more meditative, she says, have everyone lay down and take long, deep inhalations and exhalations through the nose for 10–15 minutes—outside, if possible—and then rest for five minutes at the end to let it all sink in. Then, set some intentions for the season to come. “Go around the circle and have each woman share specifically what she wants to release and what she is grateful for,” Neese says.
Make sun tea
“Since summer solstice marks the sun moving into the astrological sign of watery Cancer, bringing in that water element is a wonderful way to honor the feminine and balance summer heat,” says Neese. That’s why she’s a fan of sun tea for midsummer parties—it’s literally tea brewed underneath the rays of le soleil.
“Try adding some cooling chamomile and mint to a jar of spring water, cover, and allow to steep in the summer sun for several hours,” she says. “Sweeten with honey—or enjoy as is!”
As for the rest of your food, Neese points out that there are lots of ingredients traditionally linked to the solstice, including basil, cinnamon, rose, sage, and thyme. (Pesto zoodles and rose pistachio donuts, perhaps?)
Load up on candles and crystals
The summer solstice is all about the sun, which is why Neese recommends using it to inform your design scheme.
“Work with the fire element by lighting candles and setting up an altar of transformation decorated with your favorite minerals and seasonal fruit,” she says. “Fire is a powerful force of transformation. Honor that energy by collectively asking the fire to help you transmute outdated beliefs and behaviors that no longer serve you.” (If you want to go the scented route, opt for lavender, pine, rose, or juniper candles.)
Neese adds that you can also bring in fiery crystals—like carnelian, citrine, fire opal, garnet, rhodocrosite, and topaz—or stones associated with the zodiac sign of Cancer, such as moonstone, mother of pearl, and selenite.
Leave your LBD in the closet
This is not the time to rock your black slip dress—Neese suggests keeping with the spirit of the occasion by wearing natural fabrics in light colors or brights like yellow and orange.
And if you really want to stay on theme, you can even sync up your fragrance. “Warming scents of cassis, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, angelica root, and orange are lovely to wear,” she adds.
Crank up the tunes
Finally, no midsummer gathering would be complete without a little booty shaking. “Dancing is a wonderful way to celebrate the energy and light of the solstice,” Neese notes. “And if you’re feeling super outgoing, try singing a song or playing an instrument for your circle.”
Finally—an excuse to show off your favorite running playlist, for a different type of natural high.