A lump formed in Celestia’s throat whenever she gazed upon the suit. The curved, golden plate had been crafted by an expert more centuries past than she could recall. Such a work of art did not belong on a battlefield, she felt, but it was not her place to say. Whatever her ponies needed her to be, be it leader, warrior, or idol, she could and would be.

A thin smile graced her lips as she examined the coat of dust that had come to cover the plate from top to bottom. It was rude to the suit, of course, and rude to its creator, but she left it all the same. It was, to her, a sign of her success, of all the decades that her leadership had forestalled war and strife reaching Equestria. For as long as she could, Celestia would shine like the sun, and keep the lands and ponies she had worked so hard for safe.

~oOo~

In general, I try to keep this tumblr concentrated on the comic and the comic alone. If any of the art I do is related to CAoM, then I will post it here. However, in this instance, I will make an exception. If you would like to see a bit more work not related to CAoM posted (in all likelihood still restricted to ponies), feel free to shoot me a note. Or shoot me one if you want to see the content stay focused.


So here we are again. Another half journey around the sun, our moody but unyielding anchor in the cosmos. This year, we had the opportunity to watch the reincarnation of Cosmos, which did a fantastic job of capturing the wonder not only of the scope and possibility of the known and unknown universe, but told our maturation to our current day as a tale of mighty accomplishment, with a still more glorious accomplishment to go. In the words of the show’s original creator, I believe “it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

Why do I bring this up? Well for starters, I followed Summer Sun Celebration customs and stayed up until sunrise, so I’m working on about 4 hours of sleep. But more importantly, I believe we, as whatever group we might identify as, have come to some understanding that kindness, imagination, and wonder are not the misgivings of children, but the driving powers of our people. So today, on this longest of days, and hopefully all days, give someone a smile, or do something kind for another. And give our sun, the closest we have to a cosmic parent, a nod of thanks for carrying us through the cold and the dark.

-Esuka

Dean of Undergraduates, CAoM

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Assuming you aren’t currently roasting in Australia (hang in there folks, we’re thinking of you!), if you’re feeling the sting of winter’s chill, these photos might help you warm up a little. 

Alesund, Norway is the site of the world’s biggest bonfire - created by stacking wood pallets into a 40 metre (131 ft) tower on an artificial island. The towering inferno is created for “Sankthans, or ‘Midsummer’, an annual festival celebrated on the 24th of June (around summer solstice) in commemoration of John the Baptist’s birth. The day is celebrated in Scandinavian countries and other parts of Europe, and the bonfire, known as Slinningsbålet, is a traditional part of the festivities, but things are taken to an awesome extreme in Alesund. 

"In 2010, a record was set for the tallest bonfire at 40.45 meters (132.71 ft). The previous record was 37.84 meters (124.14 ft) set in 1993. The base of the structure is approximately 20 meters wide (65.6 ft). About 30-40 people partake in the build, and to light the structure someone must climb to the top to ignite it. If the fire doesn’t burn from top to bottom things could end badly."

Click here for video footage of this incredible event.

Visit Twisted Sifter for complete photo credits and to view more photos of the awesome Alesund bonfire.

Summer Solstice

Today, in the Northern Hemisphere, we celebrate the beginning of summer and the longest day of the year. Solstice comes from the Latin words ‘sol’ - sun, and ‘sistere’ - to stand still, meaning the day when the sun stands still. During the northern summer solstice, the sun stops its northward motion and begins heading south.Today, due to the fact that the Earth’s axial tilt is most inclined towards the Sun, the North Pole is tipped closer to the sun than any other day in 2013. Actually throughout the entire summer the North Pole stays in full sunlight all day long and this is the reason why the Arctic is called the land of the Midnight Sun. After the Summer Solstice, the sun starts to sink towards the horizon.

While it’s the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, in the Southern Hemisphere it’s the beginning of winter. Antarctica, at the bottom of the Earth, is currently isolated by winter storms and perpetual darkness.

The summer solstice is recognized and often celebrated in many cultures around the world, in both the past and present. Although there are differences between cultures, there are also some striking similarities. Bonfires are set on hilltops. People dance around the fires. In many places, after the fire has died away and only the hot coals are remaining, children will be lifted across the coals to be blessed and cleansed by the smoke. And many different places have monuments designed so that during the solstice, they will line up with the sun.

Celebrating the Summer Solstice

The Chinese mark the day by honoring Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light. 

In Ancient Egypt, summer solstice was the most important day of the year. The sun was at its highest and the Nile River was beginning to rise. Ra, the Sun deity, is one of the gods honored at the time of the Summer Solstice along with Horus.The Great Pyramids was built so that the sun, when viewed from the Sphinx, sets precisely between two of the pyramids on the summer solstice. 

The Celts and Slavs celebrated the first day of summer by lighting bonfires to increase the sun’s energy. 

In Russian and Ukrainian mythology, the evening before the solstice is the only time that ferns bloom. Because finding a fern flower is supposed be a sign of future wealth, many people will be out in the forests and gardens looking for this lucky sign. 

The name for the festival of the summer solstice in Druidry is Alban Hefin, which means ‘The Light of the Shore’. Many people make an annual pilgrimage to the ancient site of Stonhenge, on England’s Salisbury Plain, to celebrate the first day of summer. Stonehenge has been associated with the winter and summer solstices for about 5,000 years. Observers in the center of the standing stones can watch the summer solstice sun rise directly over the Heel Stone, which stands just outside Stonehenge’s famous circle.

Prior to the arrival of Christianity to northern Europe, cultures celebrated the arrival of the June solstice because it was seen as one of the few times of the year when magic was at its most powerful. When Europe became mostly Christian the festivals stayed but turned into a celebration of St John the Baptist. To this day, Christians in many parts of the world celebrate St John’s Day, which takes place on 24th June. 

The Summer Solstice is a time to be happy. It is a time to remove unwanted things from your life. It is a time to dance and sing and spread joy and be filled with love.

so I think I’m gonna head to bed

I had planned on staying up till like seven or eight in the morning

but I’m just too drained

and this fic isn’t going like I hoped it would

why does this always happen on the night of the 23rd to 24th June

every year I try to stay up to see the sunrise

ever since I was a wee little kid

and I still haven’t managed it

I’ve seen the sunrise other times

but never on this day

it’s like there’s a curse or something

I was up till 4 yesterday goddammit and I spent most of last summer going to bed at 6

but no, never on the 23rd

AM I NOT WORTHY OR SOMETHING

Latvia midsummer: Songs, flowers and running around naked

By Damien McGuinness, BBC News, Riga, 30 June 2012
Latvia’s most important national holiday is arguably not Christmas but the summer solstice celebrations of Ligo (pronounced “leegwa”)—a pagan tradition when Latvians celebrate the shortest night by staying up to greet the rising sun.

As the sun slowly sets about an hour and a half before midnight, it peeks out briefly from behind the clouds.

We all run out excitedly. Five minutes later, it is gone. For a festival which is all about celebrating the sun, the sun itself is being remarkably coy.

The weather has been poor all day but this is a beautiful, if fleeting, moment.

In this far northern land, winters are long, dark and snowy, with the temperature regularly falling below -30C, so you can understand why the arrival of the long summer days is greeted by something approaching national hysteria.

It is not a complicated festival. All you have to do is head out to the countryside, get a fire going, stay up all night waiting for the sun to come up and drink lots and lots of beer—which, I can only assume, is why it is called Ligo, the Latvian word for “sway”.

Women pick flowers to make into crowns for their heads, while men are supposed to strip naked and jump into a nearby lake or river.

Everyone sings medieval Latvian songs around the fire and couples are encouraged to disappear into the forest to look for a mythical flowering fern.

As a result of this particular tradition, it is widely thought that Latvia enjoys a mini baby-boom every year, about nine months after Ligo—no doubt all the drinking also has something to do with it.

The songs, the flowers, the running around naked are all signs of the pagan roots which Latvians are proud of.

The midsummer celebrations are also a symbol of a romanticised and—in some ways quite fictional—rural past, and they are a reminder of a time before Stalin destroyed the Latvian countryside by sending small landowners to the gulags.

Midsummer was the point when farmers had finished ploughing and sowing the crops, and had not yet started the harvest. A good time to have a party.

But the traditions are also constantly in flux. My Latvian friends could not quite agree whether the Ligo tradition of jumping over the bonfire guaranteed you wealth, luck or love. To be on the safe side, we all did it anyway.

And there seemed to be a bit of controversy over whether the flowers in the girls’ hair meant they were virgins or just looking for love. As all the women had flowers on their heads, including a pregnant friend of mine, I can only assume that the general understanding was the latter.

And even the date is a little bit confused. The actual summer solstice is a few days before Ligo. It is thought it was moved after Christianity arrived in the Baltics in the 12th Century, to coincide with St John the Baptist’s feast day.

The missionaries obviously hoped that the Balts would soon forget their pagan, nature-worshipping ways—instead they kept doing the same thing, just a few days later.

At this particular Ligo celebration, there was a large group of French visitors so, as the Latvian sun came up, it was greeted by a long, wobbly line of people who had certainly done their bit with the Latvian beer but had dropped the traditional Latvian songs, in favour of a rather chaotic French cancan.

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MONTHLY THEME: Magical

Books that are awe-inspiring, beautiful and just plain magical.

WEEKLY SPOTLIGHT: BOOK RECOMMENDATION : The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

Beautifully enchanting. I couldn’t put it down. The writing style is fantastic and lyrical and is difficult to stop reading. 

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