As above, so below. The days are at languorous length, the sun lingers in the northern sky ’til 10 p.m. and summer is at its fullest. What are the astrological, heavenly and natural energies on offer? And how can you best take advantage of them?
Nearly every culture had important rituals this time of year, and a quick review will show us how ancient wisdom reveals the hidden knowledge that answers these questions.
Throughout the ages, peoples were attuned to the cycles of nature. Ancient traditions were always careful to respect the precedence of the gods and goddesses of the natural world. In the North Hemisphere, May was the month when prayers, ceremonies and rituals ringed the world celebrating the fertility of the earth, often in the form of a marriage of the gods. In June, a month later, enough time had elapsed that it would not be an insult to the deities to have a mortal wedding, but centuries later this month is still the popular choice for nuptials. June also was (and is) a time of tending crops, both honey and herbs could be harvested, which is why the full moon in this month is called the “Honey Moon.”
In the East, the Chinese marked the Summer Solstice with a ceremony celebrating the feminine, yin forces of nature and the earth responsible for fertility, growth and nutriment.
Ancient Pagan rituals in Ireland, England and Central Europe marked this solstice with bonfires, feasts and rituals of love. The community would feast and dance together as night stole over them. Young men would prove their courage and strength by leaping over bonfires, and then young women would slip away with their chosen partners to couple in the fields. This was a ritual enacting growth; the community would grow through the creation of new families, while all around them their fields were growing the fruits that sustained them.
In the ancient southwest of America, the Hopi performed their exacting rituals of the natural spirits, the wild forces nature had to be embodied as Kachinas, then dressed, enacted and precisely danced to both echo and encourage the movement of life on the Earth.
So, anything that persists over ages, empires and continents may reflect a native, natural human wisdom, an attunement to the natural energies of the planet itself. Throughout these rituals are a celebration of the sun and the crops, a recognition of the dependence of humankind on the earth and a joyous enactment of connection to the natural world and its abundance.
We can choose to attune ourselves to this same natural cycle (even if we live in a large urban center) by looking at our lives. Where do we need to celebrate and appreciate that which sustains us; where do we need to express gratitude for our lives, for our ability to give ourselves a livelihood, and the planet that makes all life possible; how can we celebrate that life – ours, the natural world and the very planet itself?
Everyone will have different answers and perhaps even different questions, still it is a time of celebration, so even it it’s as simple an act as a candlelit or sun bath with a contribution to your favorite environmental group – enjoy the natural beauties of June and celebrate the natural joys that connect us to all our ancestors, the world over.