On the flow of the seasons, the themes and elements that lead us to the Summer Solstice and a little peek into what's ahead for us.
The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, meaning it is the day with the most hours of sunlight in 24 hours. It falls around June 21st in the northern hemisphere, this year it is on the 21st exactly. In many witchcraft sources you will learn that the summer solstice marks the start of the summer, much like meteorically the summer starts on June 21st. But perhaps if you have been practicing seasonal witchcraft or using the seasons as a guide in your practice in any way, you also felt that this doesn't feel quite right.
I don't view the seasons as having a rigid start and end date, where one day it is spring and the next it is summer. Rather, I feel the seasons have a period where they are at their height and a period where they flow into the other season. The weeks before the summer solstice have been a period of spring slowly flowing into summer. The summer solstice, to me, marks the start of high summer: a period of a few weeks where summer is the ruling season. In witchery we like to refer to the year as a wheel and viewing the seasons like this - as flowing into one another - actually makes the cycle of a year into a circle for me, rather than a square that from one day to another flips over onto another one of its sides.
The seasons each have an element associated with it and I find these elemental associations very helpful in teasing out the themes of the seasons. Spring's element is air and summer's element is fire. So in the weeks leading up to the solstice spring's air and summer's fire have been in a dance together, with air starting out taking centre stage and fire slowly gaining in strength.
If you have been reading into the seasons and their themes (or, similarly, the phases of the moon cycle) you have probably learnt that the spring is the season for ideation, because of its elemental association. Air is the element of the mind and it is where we form ideas, reflect on what we want to accomplish (or manifest, depending on what corner of the internet you find yourself), set intentions, receive inspiration and perhaps even divine guidance if that is your jam.
Summer then would be the season of action, because of its fiery element. It is when you are supposed to go do the thing, take the steps, do the capital W Work. I, as you can probably see coming at this point, don't quite agree with this idea. I think it is an oversimplification of the themes and energies at play here.
Spring is the season of getting your hands dirty. It is the season of pulling the weeds out of our gardens and planting new seeds. It is soil under fingernails. I don't think it makes any sense to mark spring as the season where we do nothing but set new goals and intentions and then tell people to wait until summer to actually go and do the work. First of all because plans are not static and we need to leave ourselves space to adjust course. We need to allow ourselves to start walking down a path and realise this is not quite it and turn around. Or yes, we like this path, but we need different shoes for this terrain. Secondly, I deeply believe that as weather tips towards extremes, we are invited to drop out bundle as well as we can and rest. When winter gets cold and dark we are invited to slow down and retreat. Surely when summer gets hot and moist we are not supposed to put our heads down and get on with the work, but rather dip our feet in cool water and laze about in the shade.
And that is where viewing the seasons as flowing into one another offers such a rich perspective. The early weeks of spring, when it is slowly taking over from winter we awaken and carefully lift our eyes up from right in front of us towards the horizon. At the height of spring, halfway through March (around Ostara, if these days hold significance for you), is where air rules and we ideate and dream and envision. When fire makes its entrance at the start of May (Beltane) it adds the spark of creativity and creation to your ideas. We get to ride this wave of imagination and execution meeting until June, when summer fully takes over. And of course that doesn't mean that we come to a grinding halt, but perhaps we get to find a little more rest in our doing again. Spring can be such a full season, a flurry of activity. The lengthening days feel full of potential and summer reminds us that longer days need not be filled with wall to wall doing and going and action. We get to rest and play and enjoy. We have sown the garden, the plants have long since sprouted and are growing tall and strong. Now we water, perhaps prune a little, we maintain. And when we are done we sit down and enjoy the damn garden*.
There is so much to say about the seasons and this solstice and their themes and energies (but there is a point where a blog turns into a book and that is not what we are doing here today). This is but a drop lifted out of a river. And again, I cannot stress this enough, this is my interpretation of the seasons and how I practice and experience seasonal witchcraft. There are very little absolute rights and wrongs in witchery, we need to each forge our own path. All I can do is share some of the sights I encounter along my journey and hope they line up with yours, even if only for a little while. I look forward to exploring the seasons more together.
*Of course we cannot pour our entire lives into this mould. Most of us work year round and we don't get to pick our own deadlines and when work is more or less demanding (and even those among us who have more say in what work looks like don't get to fully drop our bundles). Seasonal witchery or spirituality should never be as a vise or an impossible standard. Rather, we can use this as a framework for the areas of our live we can control. We can allow ourselves more grace when we find it hard to make decisions in winter and delay making any choices until spring. We can give ourselves permission to wait with painting the hallway until autumn, even if the cans of paint have been waiting for us for weeks at this point (this doesn't read as a very personal example, right?). Whenever we do have the space in our days we can acknowledge that it is madness to expect performance and productivity from our brains when the hot weather turns our thoughts to syrup in the afternoon heat. If we have dreams, but keep finding it hard to actually go and chase them, we can use the energy of late spring / early summer to support us. I am on a mission to make witchcraft something that enriches my life and acts as a supportive foundation, rather than it being a source of feelings of shortcoming. I hope you'll join me.
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