As the sun spirals in its longest dance
Cleanse us
As nature shows bounty and fertility
Bless us
Let all things live with loving intent
And to fulfill their truest destiny

—Wiccan Solstice Blessing

The summer solstice is June 21, 2014 and it marks the day when the sun is directly overhead at noon in the Northern Hemisphere at the Tropic of Cancer. Traditionally, the summer solstice is a time to celebrate the beginning of warm weather and was a mystical occasion for many early civilizations. Even today, Wiccans, Druids, hippies, and new agers flock to England’s prehistoric Stonehenge monument for the annual Summer Solstice Festival.

Here are 12 facts about the summer solstice that you need to know before the longest day (and shortest night) of the year.

1. For several days before and after the summer solstice, the sun will appear to stand still in the sky.
This means its noontime elevation doesn’t seem to change from day to day. Those near the Arctic Circle will have nearly 24 hours of daylight.

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