We are fast approaching the Summer Solstice, the time of year when we enjoy the most hours of sunlight. This is a time when we relish the warmth of the sun and honour its return. This is also the time of year when we honour our Fathers. The honouring of Fathers began in the Middle Ages (and possibly even earlier) in Latin America and Europe and is a holiday observed by over 40 countries in the world, typically sometime between March and May and for some as late as July. In North America and the majority of countries, Fathers Day is observed on the third Sunday in June.
The formal celebration of Fathers in North America did not occur until as late as the 20th century. The first attempt to honour fathers happened in response to the tragic deaths of many men in the Monongah Mining Disaster in Fairmont, West Virginia. The daughter of one of these men, Grace Golden Clayton, requested that her Methodist church honour all of the fathers who had died. The ritual event took place in that town only and did not spread any further. It wasn’t until after several attempts by other individuals (some of which had ties in the textiles and gift industries) that the holiday was proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966 and then formally made a national holiday by Richard Nixon in 1972.
The timeless trinity of Mother, Father and Child is an ancient metaphor for the continued cycles of life. While the well-known archetype of Mother is often associated with nourishing, unconditional love, the archetype of Father is known primarily as protector and provider. Other symbols associated with the Father archetype are rules, order, and authority.
On a larger scale, Father energy, or masculine energy is associated with action, focus, and courage. And it’s important to know that this type of energy lives throughout the entire universe…which means it lives within all of us, regardless of gender. In mythology, the role of Father, the masculine energy, has been depicted by various Gods, such as the Roman ‘sky god’ Jupiter; the Greek paternal god, Cronus; the Hindu creator god, Brahma; Apoyan Tachu, a Native American ‘sky god’; the ‘horned god’ Cernunnos, a Celtic forest god of creativity; and the Egyptian man/god Horus, to name a few.
The concept of Father and masculine energy is also demonstrated symbolically in nature: Father Sky (always watching over us); the Sun (warmth, providing nourishment and healing); the Oak Tree (a Celtic symbol of strength, power and influence); and Lightning Bolt (a symbol of instant and wise intervention). Certain animals are also associated with Father/masculine energy, such as Father Raven (Canadian Arctic Indigenous culture); Eagle (a solar animal that shares the energy of the Sun); Stag (a Pagan symbol for dominance, tools and weapons); Falcon (a symbol for the Father god Horus and known as an expert hunter).
Take this time to consider what Father means to you…and celebrate this eternal, universal energy with your Father…or within yourself!