“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”
― Yoko Ono
Having waxed lyrical about my attitude to seasonal changes a number of times on this blog, it would be remiss of me not to observe the summer solstice that has just passed. I love this time of year: traditionally regarded as the peak of the summer, the height of our daylight hours … and the time of year when I prance* about the place revelling in it all.
* I try to keep the prancing to a minimum in public. Most of the time…
Yesterday, I read about the many people who had gathered at Stonehenge to mark the occasion, and felt slightly wistful, because this is something I yearn to do myself one day. Cultures all over the world celebrate the summer solstice, of course, but I know that Stonehenge in particular is well-known for the fact that if you stand in a specific place inside the monument on the day of the solstice, you will see the sun rise directly above the Heel Stone. It’s similar to the way that a ray of sunlight will traditionally hit the back of the passage tomb chamber in Ireland’s Newgrange on the morning of the winter solstice. That event often fails to happen because of poor visibility on those mornings, now that I think about it – but that’s another story altogether. I have been at Newgrange a couple of times for the winter solstice (though not directly inside the passage tomb chamber) and I hope to make it to Stonehenge for the summer solstice at some point.
I love the idea of honouring seasonal changes in the same way as our ancient ancestors did – or somewhat replicating their customs, anyway, as it is impossible to mark the passing of the seasons in the exact same way they did. The writer and energy healing teacher Dolores Whelan – whose reflections on seasonal changes always speak deeply to me – posted these timely words on her blog yesterday:
As we marvel at these wonderfully long summer days and the short nights, let us recall the journey from the moment of the Winter Solstice Dec 21st that led us to this moment. At the time of the Winter Solstice, we in the Northern Hemisphere are immersed in the darkness of long nights and very short days. Sometimes this darkness may have seemed overwhelming. This journey from overwhelming darkness to shining light which the planet made in the past 6 months is an essential and recurring aspect of life. This results in the energies of darkness and light, night and day, winter and summer, masculine and feminine, which all dance together to create the tapestry of life: our personal lives, the life of our communities and the life of planet Earth.
I love Dolores’ reflections on the cycle of the year, and how – whether we like them or not (I think I’ve made no secret of the fact that winter invokes a certain level of dismay within me) – this cycle is crucial for the continuation of life as we know it on this planet. The only reason I am able to enjoy the lush green foliage of the summer is because during winter, the earth had time to renew and regenerate after last year’s season of frenetic activity. A permanent state of summer would not be sustainable.
There is always a slight sadness that comes upon me after the summer solstice has passed, because I know that the annual phase of the days becoming longer and brighter has drawn to an end. Our darkening phase has begun again … but I take heart in the fact that it will not be noticed for quite a while yet, as Ireland is set to experience a heatwave over the coming days. Perhaps in August, I will gradually realise that the sun is setting at 8 p.m. these days, rather than 10 – that the air is just that little bit colder than it was a month ago – and come September, the approach of autumn will really kick into gear.
Today (the 22nd of June) also marks one month until my birthday! Over the coming weeks, I will continue to enjoy the warmth and cheer of these bright, sunlit days, knowing that when the darkening phase really begins to make itself known once more, I will be fine. I always am. In the meantime, there are countless beautiful animals to be observed – and few things have been known to cheer me up more effectively than that.
Image of Stonehenge from Mystic Realms UK. All other images are my own.