June 25, 2023
In celebration of St. John’s Day and the Living Art of Nurturing Care, I share a festival tradition that nurtures the adult self. I hope you appreciate the gesture and invite you to perhaps take up something of it into your own Midsummer traditions.
Today marks St. John’s Festival, and Summer Solstice, or Midsummer’s Day, has just passed us as well. At this midpoint of the year, I think about the two poles of the seasons. The earth in her deepest in-breath in the solitude and quiet of Winter; then, in her greatest exhalation just now, in the exuberant, teeming activity of Summer’s heights. I am reminded of what Cynthia wrote of St. John’s Day last year, that it “helps to remind us of metanoia, a deep calling to change our selves, our ways of being, ideally to serve others.” The spirit of this conviction makes St. John’s/Midsummer’s Tide an auspicious time to reflect on the past half-year, and contemplate the growth that has come from it.
At large I begin with some questions rooted in the fourfold aspects of the human being. They are helpful to any moment of reflecting on one’s self-development.
- Physical: How is my physical well-being? Am I eating wholesome foods? Building strength and being active? Staying flexible? Attending health appointments?
- Etheric: How are my own rhythms in terms of rest, play, and work; sleeping and waking; eating? How is my actual breathing? My sense of security?
- Astral: Am I making time to nurture my relationships with myself~ time for reflection and contemplation? Am I connecting with people who bring me joy? Is my communication nourishing or toxic? Do I indulge in play and time for fun?
- Ego: How is my spiritual well-being? How do I, and how often do I connect with my spiritual self? With the spiritual world around me? Am I making time for self-transformation?
I journal through some of this process, but also take it directly into my daily life. Wherever I need recommitment or change is reflected in our weekly rhythms and daily rituals. The seasonal shift into summer break warrants a change of rhythm anyway, and as I reflect, I tweak it to find the rhythm that will ground and revitalize me/us through the on-going activity of summer.
More pointedly, I reflect on a task I had set for myself at the beginning of the year. Typically, I spend the Twelve Holy Nights journaling about my dreams and meditations on the day, gleaning from them a sort of theme for self-growth. This year I felt a strong cry from within for aimlessness. I recognized the contradiction in making a goal of aimlessness, but in reality sometimes we have to “make a goal” of something so that the intention can live more fully within us and it can come to full realization.
What comes of aimlessness is two things- the benefit of renewal, and space for active imagining or dreaming. I needed more of both, and aimlessness very directly came in as the means to come by them. I don’t mean to diminish the beauty of it all, but I find it is these pragmatics that offer me the most learning and growth, rather than the poetic nature of these concepts.
Ironically, the first half of my year was nothing close to aimless. In fact, it amounted to one of the busiest six months I have had in many years. Nearly every bit of the intense activity contained within it felt necessary and purposeful, albeit sometimes painful to endure. Nevertheless, as I edged towards summer, I would laugh at myself for the lack of aimless time I found. I had not, however, given up on the intention. In fact, I held tightly to it. I knew the seed had been planted, and found myself consistently taking up the mind-set to fully “let go” in the little moments I had. Once summer arrived, I knew opportunities for such aimlessness would be blossoming.
Along with leaning into these larger periods of time for frivolity and relaxation, I have taken the chance to contemplate on this process and this half-year’s turn. I have discovered a very beautiful and perfectly-time transformation within the astrology of this Midsummer tide.
At the Solstice, we shift from the dynamic polarities within Gemini to the double spiral path of Cancer. Below are excerpts of what spoke to me from Cynthia Hoven, Eurythmist and Master Teacher, describing each of these astrological signs.
“Every extreme invokes its complement, its opposite. So, too, does bright Gemini call forth the awareness not only of the heights, but also of the depths…”
And further on,
“The true power of Gemini lies in being able to endure the schism, and become active in the tension between the two. This is made manifest in the eurythmy gesture for Gemini.”
“The glyph used to signify Cancer in astrology is the sign of two interlocking spirals. Resembling the dynamic form of galaxies, Cancer bears the image of ‘in-volution and e-volution.’ It shows the forces of the periphery spiraling inwards together to create a central point, and the answering movement from the center to create a new universe.
The significant central point of the double-spiral lies between the two curling shapes, where a space of emptiness arises. The in-winding spiral speaks of the path of the soul’s incarnation into matter. There, in the free space of ‘emptiness,’ the ego is born in, in fire and in light. It then flames forth with the second, outwinding spiral.”
Indeed my year has been about both enduring the schism and treading the path of the spirals. With every purposeful step, I took my work from a gesture of chaos into strong form. I took it from a huge expansion of uncertainty to a contracted point of clarity. Clarity was born from the arduousness, and in sitting now in the “pause” of the central point, I am indeed feeling a transformation, and a turning back outwards. I have taken up the task through this half-year to work out what needs to be sloughed away. Aimlessness has not been lost, I needed to make space for it.
Wishes for a summer’s bounty of self-growth, gratitude and joy on this St. John’s Day!
For ideas on celebrating Midsummer through the Living Arts visit this archived post: Living Arts Weekly: Lighting
And if you have been feeling the need to bring more attention and intention to your family culture, join us this summer for a Guided experience of Creating a Family (or Home program) Culture.