Did you see the waxing gibbous moon last night? It shone so bright it may as well have been full. That should give you some idea of what we’re in for.
I don’t know how else to tell you, but this weekend is actually magical, and it starts today at noon.
No, it doesn’t, you protest. You will be working until five, and working again tomorrow. Doesn’t matter, my friends. The weekend – the magical weekend of Midsummer – starts today. We would all be wasting our time if we allowed the lack of celebration accepted in our culture in this present time to diminish the celebratory capacity of our spirits.
Again, as with but a few key marking points in the solar year, this is not something invented by me or by Hallmark or Johnny Marks, or by George Washington or the British or the Christians or the pagans or the Romans. This is bigger than not only our specific culture but any specific culture, bigger than humanity itself. This is the sun we’re talking about here, and tomorrow is the longest solar day of 2013. If absolutely nothing else, this demands commemoration, and who are we to argue the point?
Time has been moving very quickly. You know it and I know it. A million things, some of them huge, all of them life-changing to some small or large degree, have transpired since we last celebrated High Holy Days in December and January – yet it still seems, to me at least, hard to believe that we’ve actually come from the lowest point of the light to the zenith so fast. And here we are again, again compelled to stop and look around, to celebrate and do honor and allow ourselves to rest and feel joy and satisfaction and contentment – or, at the very least, to take fourteen days and play-act these things. It’s just as good to fake it. Why say no to a good time?
And a good time it is and, by all accounts, always has been. If you remember the fact that the winter solstice, the darkest day, marks the victory of the light, the point at which the light begins to win, you might wonder if the summer solstice is a more dour affair given that the light is now about to fall, about to lose. Not the case, my friends! The Wheel of the Year is something we humans have a tendency to paint in a positive light, in all its changing phases, and why shouldn’t we love that which is our existence? You see, at Midsummer, the sun has won. It’s going to get darker from now on, but whereas in winter we talked of potential and beginnings, in summer we speak of fullness and bright strength.
Two Thursdays from now, is July 4 – Independence Day. On that day, we shall close out our extravagant and magic-filled Fourteen Days of Midsummer. For starters, for the next two weeks, think of every single day as Unity Tuesday. And that’s just for starters. Forget about “getting things done” – it’s just two weeks. Take your holiday and do only what is required of you. Take the rest of the time that you have and put it into things like having a good time. Get the people you like in a room together, or visit them all on different days, one or two or three at a time, but share some drink. Share some food. Share some laughs. Bask in it like we bask in the sun tomorrow, basking as the sun stops dead atop the sky.
Let yourself smile, let yourself feel joy, and let yourself rest. Unless you had the good fortune or foresight to schedule vacation time for these weeks in advance, you will still have to go to work. But when you’re at work and especially when you’re not, take it easy. Take it easy on yourself and take it easy on everyone else. Lower all expectations of “productivity” and “progress” and just let the victorious sun blaze down by day and deeply inhale the rich nectarine air of Midsummer’s Nights. Read a good book. Watch some good films. Take a hike or a swim.
Yet as we relax and laugh and do the things most pleasant in life – after all, is this not a much more pleasant time of year than December? – we contemplate and we prepare. The seeds of the year, long planted in the ground, have begun to sprout rapidly forth, providing us the first real glimpse thus far of what kind of fruits and vegetables we’re going to end up with. The second half of the year is less about taking advantage of powerful ascending energy but holding onto the energy we’ve already been given, and warding off the effects of the encroaching darkness even as we adapt to it with skill and strength. We must pause in contemplation in order to keep the forces of darkness at bay going forward, and we must ask the questions and go into our centers and reorient ourselves in preparation for what is to come.
* * * * *
In any case, tonight’s a big night, tomorrow’s a big day, tomorrow night’s a big night, and the whole weekend is big. Big, big, big. The kind of big that happens no more than twice per year. Celebrations of the northern hemisphere’s longest day are, historically, found all across Europe, east and west. The customs are much stronger and hold much deeper roots across northern Europe, as you can imagine when the climate is colder and the winters much darker. They really appreciate the fulfillment of the light.
There are so many versions of stories told about this yearly event. Their calendars, for the most part, had a heavy lunar component to them, which is why in many lands the celebrations begin on Midsummer’s Eve, which is tonight! As soon as the sun goes down on today, in their view, tomorrow begins. That’s how we shall start. Midsummer’s Eve, a thousand or more years ago, was the night all the wizards and sages and sorceresses would gather together to plan the second half of the year. On this night, all the way until the dawn of tomorrow, magical healing herbs are extra potent, and the magi would pick them ceremoniously. All the people would gather by the sacred streams to find healing and rejuvenation in the waters, and at night, they would light many fires. They had to light fires, in fact. To hear them tell it, the fires are a signal to the demons of the increasing darkness to come that we wave no white flags, that we carry our strength and inner light onward into even the deepest darkness. And if they didn’t light the fires – and, in some places, jump over them or even walk on coals – they risked their own homes being burned to the ground by a spurned cosmos.
Light fires. Have drinks. Sing songs. Be with people you like. Revel in the briefest of nights and bask in the longest of days. We’ll touch base many times in the days to come, and hopefully we’ll all gain some greater benefit from it together.
Salaam. And Happy Midsummer’s Eve to ye!