Summer Solstice 2012

Summer                                                                  Lily Moon

 

The summer solstice.  On Tuesday the sun rose at 5:26 am and set at 9:03 pm.  That same length of day lasts through tomorrow.  On Saturday we move to 5:27 am rise, 9:03 set.  Sunday, too.  The change in daylight begins to decrease in very tiny increments, but is now on a course that will culminate in the Winter Solstice when the sun will rise at 7:48 am and set at 4:34 pm.  So, today, for example we have 12 hours and 37 minutes of day light; by December 21st that will have receded to 8 hours and 46 minutes.

The solstices are the extremes of our solar year while the equinoxes, coming in between them mark the days of relative equality between daylight and dark.  Another way to look at the equinox is as the moment halfway between one solstice and the other.

Roughly, too, they mark the point when the amount of light shifts toward its next extreme.  That is, September 22nd, the autumnal equinox, has sunrise at 7:00 am and sunset at 7:09, almost 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark.  After that the night begins to gain ascendance with more and more of each 24 hours dark rather than light.

The midsummer festivals in Northern Europe, like the ones around Beltane, often involve fire.  The painting at the top is a Finnish summer solstice festival from 1910.

Look at what burns within you now, what illuminates your life.  What part of your life could be more visible?  Needs more light?

If you try to match your life to the seasons at all, this is a time to consider picnics, gardens, being on the water, painting outside, perhaps drawing.  It’s a time to be with others out of doors.

This is also a moment to consider the value of excess in your life.  What might benefit from an all out, all stops out push from you?  What things about which you have been moderate or even frugal might blossom if given an outlandish amount of attention.  This is a time when the balance has swung up on the side of maximum light.  What deserves maximum effort from you?

It is, too, a time to celebrate the gifts of peak experience.  Look for those things in your current life that are reaching their pinnacle.  Don’t let them languish through inattention.  Beat their drum.  Sound their cymbal.

Most of all, embrace the light in your life.  This is its day.  Its week.

 

Oh. Yeah.

Samain                           Moon of the Winter Solstice

We have entered my favorite season of the year, the slow slide toward the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year.  Cue Robert Frost.

(Dandelions at Lapatia Bay, Kate)

In Ushuaia the sun did not set until 9:30 pm.  Here it sets at 4:30.  As we traveled south along the west coast of South America, the days grew longer and longer.  The evening I went into Ushuaia to have supper, it was 8:00 pm and still quite light.  People strolled the streets, window shopping, holding hands, glancing here and there at other walkers.

They’re headed for a date with December 21st as well, but for them it will be the summer solstice and the longest day of the year.  I knew this intellectually, but it was the little things, like taking pictures of the dandelions at Lapatia Bay, the southernmost harbor of Tierra del Fuego, that pressed its reality into my experience.  Let’s see.  Dandelions here.  Leafless trees at home.  Spring.  Autumn.  Oh. Yeah.

 

The Solstice of Summer: 2011

Mid-Summer                                                                    Waning Garlic Moon

A favorite website of mine, Pip Wilson’s Almanac, comes out of Australia and reminded me of this illustration with his cheery, Happy Winter Solstice.  Yes, indeed, cross the equator and the seasons switch, while we have the Summer Solstice, they have Winter.  I’m excited about our cruise for many reasons, but a particular one is that we will cross the equator and enter the realm of season’s opposite to ours here in the Northern Hemisphere.  Thus, we will cruise through Chile and Argentina in their spring time heading toward summer, while our home here in Andover experiences fall heading toward winter.

Here at 45 degrees north we celebrate now the middle of summer, the moment when, usually, our temperatures have begun to heat up.  Not this year.  As Pip Wilson points out, today is not mid-summer, that comes on June 24th, St. John’s Day, which is the traditional sabbat.  That is the day celebrated in Shakespeare’s “A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream.”

The Solstice, on the other hand, is an astronomical holiday, that moment when sun stands as high in the sky as it will all year.  Now we celebrate the longest day, the longest proportion of light to dark.  In Australia they celebrate the reverse, the shortest day and the longest night.

You may celebrate this on the 21st, the 22nd, or the 23rd since they all have the same long day.  Only on the 24th do days begin their long, slow descent toward the longest night of the year.

This is the midst of the growing season though the year has been chilly and generally wet so far.

I always take time around now to celebrate what grows well for me right now and what needs attention to move toward harvest.  There is, still, that novel out there, which needs lots of attention.  My work with Ovid has grown a good deal in the last few months and will benefit from yet more time.  The Sierra Club demands more and more of my time and my hope is that over the next few months we can push our legislative efforts into greater and greater strength.  I’ve been concerned for a while that we’ve been punching below our weight and it’s my feeling that the environment and the state need us at our best.  This is a slow time for tours at the MIA, but it is a time when those of who give tours can concentrate on getting the best resources made available to us.

What is it that grows in your life right now?  What needs more attention?  What has a good start toward the harvest?  Take the time to sit with a plant or two in your immediate surrounding and watch how they grow.  Become patient with yourself as a plant is patient in its growth over a season.

A Time of Burnt Sacrifice

85  bar steep fall 29.89  0mph WNW dew-point 68  Summer, warm and sunny

Waxing Gibbous Thunder Moon

We long ago passed the midpoint of summer, June 21, and have begun the fattening, browning, bursting journey to the harvest season.  It begins in earnest as July ends, but some early givers have offered themselves already:  lettuce, beans, beets, carrots, onions and garlic.  We all, at least all of us up north of 45 degrees latitude, await squash, cucumbers, corn, watermelon and the full seasonal abundance of beans and peas and tomatoes.

Even the angle of the sun reached its apogee at the Summer Solstice and has begun steadily declining since then, shortening the day and lengthening the night.  The deepening shadows of afternoon tell the tale, too, as does the now far gone blooming of the daffodils, tulips and scylla.

This partly benighted soul finds a comfort in the change, preferring the winter to the summer solstice, the sweet melancholy of fall to the bursting forth of spring.  When the wind direction swings to the north, and the winds begin to howl, then the weather begins to stir the deep reaches.  The inner cathedral gains in holiness as the need for candles increases.  Walking those corridors, those ancient trails of the interior journey, demand a commensurate gloom, or, at least, welcome it.

Until then, Persephone above ground keeps us focused on food and external pleasures.  We soak in the sun,  till the earth, travel the highways and airways.  This is, too, a time of burnt sacrifice, smoked hecatombs appearing on decks and patios across the land.