Twice a year, we celebrate an astrological event called the Solstice. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice designates the shortest day of light, and the summer solstice designates the longest day of light. The word solstice, however, does not refer to the length of the day, It comes from the Latin words sol for “Sun” and sister for “To Stand Still” and refers to the day that the Sun appears to stand still.

This brings us to a helpful teaching about the Solstice that is seldom remarked upon.

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the Solstice is a time of transition. It marks the beginning of summer, a season associated with warmth and light. However, it’s also the point when the days, despite getting hotter, start their journey towards the shortest day of light. In the winter, the transition is reversed. The light, symbolizing hope and warmth, returns during the darkest and coldest time of December, marking the start of a new cycle.

The Solstice may help us understand how to negotiate the polarities that have become so dangerous in our current political situation. Many of us feel as if extreme ideas and beliefs are pulling apart our country—Republican vs. Democrat, young vs. old, rich vs. poor, male vs. female. These days, it seems that one can be only one thing, and if one is even willing to listen to opinions that are opposite to one’s own, there is a judgment that listening means betrayal of one’s truth.

The Solstice offers different guidance. A minute after the longest day and the entrance to the hot, fertile time of summer, the move toward the opposite swing of the pendulum begins.

From our viewing point on the Earth, the sky swings over our heads, giving us a slow and steady taste of all that is. In the heat of summer, it reminds us that the harvest and ultimate dying of fall and the death and cold sleep of winter are part of our whole experience.

Wherever we are in the journey of life, we are not still but moving between the energies of duality. Nothing stays the same, even as the Sun seems to sit still at the Solstice. That is the moment of return and remembering, knowing that all is included in everything and that each of us is an alchemical vessel creating a reality from all that is.