THERE'S A VILLAGE one year's journey from here. And in that village lives a woman with four children. Like any family, all four children are kindred and similar -- yet very, very unique. One is a feisty child, with brilliant golden hair, and a natural glow warmer than any other. This child's name is Summer.
In an entire year, perhaps the 91 days (and nights) of Summer seem to fly by the quickest. When you think of summer, what comes to mind?
Summer is the peak, the pinnacle, the realization of what took root during the Spring. One lesson the seasons teach is that many things in nature grow, mature, and then fade. Imagine yourself old and gray and wise. Look back upon your own life as if it were a single turn of the year. What part of your life was your high point, your "Summer," your peak? Where did you shine your brightest, glow your hottest?
We too change like the seasons. When Mother Nature puts on Her Summer wardrobe, so do we. Except these wardrobes seem quite opposite. In Summer, the forest grows more thickly covered, while we become less covered. Summer is a season of short sleeves, short pants, short skirts and bare toes. While the trees might wear their thick green coats, we often frolic clad with nothing but the sky! More of our natural selves comes out in the Summer -- arms, legs, skin -- what we are beneath all those layers of cold Winter clothes can shine forth in the Summer. Maybe we resemble our animal cousins, who also shed much of their fur and feathers in Summer.
Summer's warmth lets us enjoy a great many simple pleasures. After a cold Winter, the freedom of just being outdoors is a true gift! The increased energy of Summer brings increased activity of all kinds: festivals, vacations, travel. What special Summer gatherings do you look forward to? All the adventure, experiences, learning, worship, fun, freedom, passion, celebration and joy that these festivals offer are the unique gifts of Summer!
Some people say Summer begins near June 21 with the Solstice. To others, it begins on the last day of school, or with the Memorial Day barbecue. Whenever you begin Summer, mark that day as a special spoke in your own private Wheel of the Year. See it as a unique rite of passage. Every year, Summer throws a party - and you're invited!
Of all the four seasonal quarters, Summer burns the brightest. Remember that some things that burn brightly often burn out quickly. For some, Summer is a time of fleeting temporary moments -- a Summer Job, a Summer Fling, a Summer Vacation. What new experiences might you want to try this Summer, even if only for a little while?
Summer's friendly weather lets us enjoy the great outdoors. Being outside has a plethora of gifts: Sounds, smells, sights, and the touch of the Sun's golden gloves upon our skin. (Perhaps it is no accident that during Summer, TV programs are all re-runs - nature's incentive to get off the couch and into the great outdoors!)
In the Summer, we are free to venture out and smell the many roses that weren't available all Winter long. One way to celebrate the season is to enjoy the fruits and vegetables that only appear during Summer. Where I live, July brings the first taste of a very sweet white corn on the cob, called Silver Queen. It only lasts a few short months, and it's worth the wait! What seasonal treats does your region offer? Remember that not all seasonal treats grow on trees. Drippy ice cream cones, frozen icy drinks, and even toasted marshmallows are all SummerSpirits. What other experiences do you savor, but can only find in the Summer?
Summer's Sun nourishes our world with warmth, the same way Mother Earth nourishes us. She takes that solar energy and transforms it into leaves, fruits and grain. Through photosynthesis, plants take in the energy of the Sun. (Remember this the next time you "take in" a salad -- the union of both Sun and Earth!) The Earth is much greater than we are, but the Sun is over 100 times larger than the Earth. Perhaps it is the nature of larger things to nourish smaller things that need love and care to survive. What things shine upon you, and what do you shine upon in return?
The Sun's energy changes the world in only a few short days. Seeds germinate; trees leaf out and the insect world buzzes back to life! Before you know it, it's Summer. Summer has a unique energy that makes it different than any other time. What might this unique energy bring especially for you? What type of magic, ritual, or divination might work best for you in Summer? Try brewing an herbal Sun Tea, or maybe starting a candle flame by lighting a match with a magnifying glass. Use the energy of the Sun; feel how it differs from the energy of the cold.
Summer is so hot, we want to cool off. It actually brings us closer to water -- whether enjoying a swim, a playful moment with the garden hose, or the feel of our own sultry Summer sweat.
Why is Summer hot? The Earth spins round the Sun like a dancer around a campfire. Because our globe tilts on its axis, one hemisphere faces the Sun directly, while the other half does not. As the Earth makes its yearly orbit around the Sun, one hemisphere has Summer; the other hemisphere has Winter. In Summer, your part of the world faces the Sun and has a more direct connection to its light and heat. What other aspects of life work the same way? Have you ever noticed a special warmth in your life simply by being directly exposed to something or someone quite radiant? What was that like? Would you feel just a little bit colder if that connection became more distant?
Perhaps pondering a simple Suntan can help us understand other parts of life that "shine" upon us. Sun-worshippers expose themselves to the Sun's glow, and become changed by it. Just enough exposure, and everything's fine. Too much? Ouch - what a burn! Remember that as you expose yourself to the energy from any person, place or thing around you.
One sunny day this Summer, notice your own shadow. Stare at it; see your own form the way nature sketches it upon the ground. Study its shape, size, curves. Now let your "inner nine-year-old" come out and play. Use your fingers and make shadow-bunny ears, bear claws, or dragon wings. Shift into any shape you desire; take on any quality you wish. Try "casting" (a very magical word indeed!) your shadow across an object you wish to empower with a bit of yourself. Now try it in reverse, standing behind an object whose shadow you wish to empower you. Feel it?
Just like pondering a tan, perhaps pondering a simple shadow can help us understand other parts of life. Ever feel shadowed by something that gets in the way? Ever feel like something blocks you from the light? Just enough shade creates a welcome shelter, like resting under a trusty Oak. Too much of a block can make you feel cut off and underexposed. What things in your life gently protect you from getting fried? What things stand in your way, starving you from what you crave?
Summer brings a few extra hours of daylight, including the longest day of the year. Your use of those extra hours are your own celebration of the season, whether a walk in the park, washing your car, or caring for your garden.
However you celebrate the season, make this year's Summer something very special! ++