WILLIAMSVILLE — The days are lengthening and the sun is steadily warming the air as it creeps higher in the sky. Soon, the summer solstice will arrive.

The word solstice comes from the Latin words sol (meaning sun) and sistere (meaning to stand still). The summer solstice occurs during each hemisphere's summer. Here in the northern hemisphere is occurs between June 20 and 22. When the sun reaches it's highest position in the sky for the hemisphere, it is considered the moment of solstice.

Determining the exact moment based on geographic location can be hard to determine so we have moved to a solstice day. Interpretation of this event, and the onset of summer, is varied among cultures worldwide. The majority of those cultures do celebrate the event in some way with rituals, holidays, or festivals.

Here in southern Vermont, The Manitou Project is holding its very first summer solstice celebration on Saturday, June 18, from 3 p.m. to dusk. Including dance, music and ritual into the festivities, organizers hope to honor the beginning of summer.

After gathering in the parking area at 3 p.m. a brief stroll to a welcoming place in the forest will result in a shared circle dance. The dance will include simple steps and will honor the sun as participants celebrate the longest day of the year.


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By 4 p.m. a short walk to the concert hall (also known as the forest glen) will bring the participants to Vibrant Ensemble, with Stephan Brandstatter and Dennis Waring. They will perform soundscapes inspired by World Music and played on gongs, chimes, bells, percussion, and wind instruments. The improvised music reflects nature's ambiance and serenity. Alongside nature's own symphony of the wind through the tall pines and birdsongs that surround the space, human and nature alike will be healed through sound.

Concluding the celebration will be a hike to Manitou's "High Place." Storytelling, singing, and sharing of a picnic dinner will be enjoyed atop the rocky ledges that overlook the valley below. Together participants will end the longest day of the year feeling more connected to nature, and one another.

As Thomas Berry, a late Catholic priest, cultural historian, ecotheologian, cosmologist, and geologian wrote, "We lose our souls if we lose the experience of the forest, the butterflies, the song of the birds, if we can't see the stars at night."

The Manitou Project is located on 235 acres in Williamsville. It seeks to foster community with nature and the healing effects of being on the land. The solstice celebration will be held at 3 p.m. at 300 Sunset Lake Road. For more information about the event or The Manitou Project please call 802-257-1152 or email mary@marystowe.com or visit http://manitouproject.org/