Midsummer/Summer Solstice


Manage episode 332090423 series 2634748
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S3E22 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Mark: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-based Paganism. My name is Mark, and I'm one of your hosts.

Yucca: And I'm Yucca.

And today we're talking about the upcoming atheopagan or a neo pagan Sabbath, which is mid-summer or the summer solstice which is an important station on the wheel of the year. That's celebrated by many pagans all over.

Yucca: Right. And as always, it's amazing that we are here already, right. That also marks the halfway through the year.

Mark: Right, right. And this is the third episode that we've done on the mid summer holidays. So, if you're really hungry for lots more content on. On Midsummer, you can go back into our archives and look for those other episodes as.

Yucca: Right. And will probably echo many of the things that we've said. No, both of us have been doing our practices for a long time. And this is one of the big ones that we're that we have a lot of experience and time in. But of course, every year there's going to be something new. There's going to be something fresh to say as well.

So we're going to assume that folks haven't heard the past ones, or if you have fit, whole year has gone by. So we're going to talk about all that again.

Mark: Yeah. Think of it as a refresher, if you've heard the other one.

Yucca: Well, that's, one of the lovely things about the wheel of the year is that you get to do it again and again, right. You do it. It's not one.

time only. And then that's it, right? It's not like one of these rites of passages where, you become an adult once, that's it,

Mark: Yeah. And you've got to get the ritual, right. That one time, right? A little forgiving.

Yucca: But this, this is something that happens again and again, and every year there's things that are similar things that are a little bit different.

So let's, let's actually start by talking about what is the solstice and Midsummer and all of that.

Mark: Well, let's start with the word. The word solstice means the sun stops. And what, what that means in this particular context is that from the perspective. Being on the surface of the earth, the sun's movement towards the north,

Yucca: From the Northern hemisphere

Mark: the Northern hemisphere reaches its peak on the summer solstice. It gets as high as it's going to go and it kind of stops there for a couple of days.

And then it starts to retreat back to the self on its way towards the winter souls.

Yucca: Right. And of course, if you are in the Southern hemisphere, it's going to be, the solstices are going to be reversed from the perspective of the Northern hemisphere. Right.

Mark: Right, but it still moves. It still moves to the north end to the south. It's just that moving to the south actually means rather than

Yucca: Yes. Yeah. Just because of think about the, the equator. And so part of what's happening is the, when we zoom out, right? So that's our explanation from being here on the earth, right. As part of the earth, but, just imagine yourself pulling out the camera, zooming back, and we're looking at earth as this planet.

Orbiting around our star and we're orbiting around it on a plane, but that plane doesn't match with the tilt of our planet. And that's where we're getting all of our solstices and equinoxes. And all of that is from the relationship between the two planes from there, the ecliptic and the equatorial plane

Mark: So what ends up in of course, one of the effects of that is seasons

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: because climate is dramatically affected by the amount of sunlight and the intensity of sunlight that reaches the surface of. And of course, the heat conviction from that drives weather. It's a very important part of our evolution as life on earth.

It's almost unimaginable. What, how different life on earth would have to be if it, if we didn't have those seasons.

Yucca: Right. And it's particularly noticeable for those of us who live in the temperate regions. Right So, In the tropics there's, there's going to be less of a temperature swing. There may still be rainy and dry seasons and all of that. But in the temperate zones, we're going to have these extreme differences between.

Summer and winter. And that's something that here where I live I'm, at about 36 north or so, I was just noticing as I was walking outside, I didn't put any shoes on and was going, walking across the the ground, which six months ago. I would be, running cause my feet would be freezing on the ground and it's just a, complete.

Different experience to be in the exact same place on the planet. Just six months different.

Mark: Right with

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: with a temperature swing that can sometimes be a hundred degrees Fahrenheit or more,

Yucca: Right.

Mark: which is. It's not very much in the cosmic scheme of things in terms of the temperatures of stars and the relative temperatures of the surface of other planetary bodies. But for us, it's a huge shift, requires us to be able to adapt to dramatically different temperatures.

It makes perfect sense that over the course of human history, people have recognized this day. As a really important day. We have all of these stone age technology observatories, which we have we've we've observed like Stonehenge, for example, which line up precisely would be the sun on the summer solstice.

Yucca: And That's all over the world too. right Stone hinges is one of the most famous of them. But in all of the the populated continents, we see that.

Mark: That's right in the Americas, both north and south America in in Europe and Asia and Africa everywhere, we, we find these where rocks have been arranged so that they create. Little Ray of light that comes from the rising sun at the summer solstice, which tells us that marking this moment was really important for those early people.

Yucca: Right. Cause that was a lot of work to pill those things to plan them too. And year after year to make those observations. One of the things that, that I think we fall into this trap of in modern society is thinking about our ancestors as though. Weren't sophisticated and not very intelligent.

And that's simply not the case. They didn't have access to the internet and steam engines and electric cars and all of those things that we do today, but they were just as much if perhaps thought more clever resourceful and. And really observant, right? They had to have been for, to be able to create these things.

And we only see this tiny sliver of what's left because the wind and the rain and the forests and all of that have had washed away and grown over the, the records of, of these people who have our many grandparents who came before.

Mark: Yes. Exactly. So, and among other things we don't tend to recognize. The amount of time that it took to develop the observations that would drive the building of an observatory like that. Because when we think about history, we think, especially as Americans, we think in terms of centuries, right. A century or two, well, it may have taken 15 generations for people to finally figure out precisely that the sun was moving.

Yucca: Hm.

Mark: And where it was moving and when it was reaching the peak of its movement and how to arrange some sort of an observatory to capture that, that experience

Yucca: And record that for the coming years to get it built in just the right place. I mean, it's a, it's amazing.

Mark: it is,

Yucca: that's one of the many things I wish we had a time machine for just to be able to watch that. Right. So many things, it would be great to have that for, so it would be. Yeah.

What a field to go into and study.

I'm sure. I'm sure some of our listeners, if any of you actually are in that field, we would love to, to bring you on and pick your brains on that kind of stuff.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. Archeology generally is just really excited.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: This was an important date. It was important for the people that made these observatories for whatever purposes they had, whether it was marking the migrate that the migration periods of prey animals, or whether it was marking the the planting and growth cycles of crop vegetation.

This particular holiday or, or even if it was just, well, this is a really great time because the days are really long. can, we can be a lot more productive because our,

Yucca: Right.

Mark: because, enjoying ourselves, we tend to think of as a sort of extraneous human activity because we live under capitalism, which doesn't value it. If it doesn't get painted. But actually just goofing off and having a good time is a fundamental human behavior.

Yucca: And really hits.

Mark: we do it alone. And it's good for us.

Yucca: Yeah. And I would argue that that's a primate thing too, right. That, that, that became part of us long before we became human, because we see it in our cousins and all of them. Right.

So, Yeah, And so this is, this is a day that, many of us don't live in. Hunting societies anymore, or we don't live where many of us live in an industrial world where we're not participating in the agricultural cycles and all of that, but it's something that.

When we are paying attention and that's something that, that we, as atheopagan appreciate doing, right. That's part of our practice is being part of, of the world around us and nature that we're part of, this is something that we can recognize as well. That really helps us to be tuned in with our world because.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: It's there it's happening. We're part of it, whether we recognize it or not, but we get a lot from the recognition of it and the act of participation in it.

Mark: absolutely. The and this is one of those circumstances, like the winter solstice, those long dark nights. These these bright long days with the, with the lady evenings and the, the, the sort of long golden hours at the end of the day, I think we all recognize how much we value that time.

In the temperate zone, when those of us that do experience that whether or not we understand that it's the summer solstice, we know that the days get long in the summer and then it's, it's something that we can really enjoy. So why don't we talk a little bit about what this means symbolically what, how, how we how we apply, meaning to this astronomical phenomenon that happens to us every year.

Yucca: So there's of course the. The kind of traditional stuff that many people who are influenced by Gardner and all of those that that's kind of taking up after what's happening in Britain. Right. And then in Britain, it, it is kind of getting into mid stage. Right for where I live. This is the beginning of summer.

This is our first summer. It really didn't feel like summer here until last week really is when it, it felt like it shifted. Sometimes it'll shift a little earlier. It'll will shift in mid may, sometimes the by June. Yeah, it's summer, but it's certainly not the middle of summer. But in our practice, we look around it, Hey, what's happening in the world?

What's happening in our ecosystem and this is the time where insects have just really. Just woken up. And we have cicadas here and they are cicadas have different sounds in different places. But here they, they sound like the Dalek from doctor who, right. Th they're not shouting exterminate, they're shouting, like Sam made with me.

It's just really It's quite entertaining. And then the whole night is the crickets and the bees are out and just life is just, it's bloomed and it's amazing. So they, they definitely play this really central role for us. I know a lot of people use like sunflowers and symbology like that.

Those aren't ready, where I live. Right. Sunflowers are not until later on in July and August. And, and, and we were talking about before about, this is kind of like a calm before the storm of, before the harvest starts for us. It's finishing, getting everything planted because our last frost isn't until mid may.

Right? So now we can finally, everything's getting in and it's, it is kind of a busy time, but there's also that. Stretched out long laziness, not just appreciation of the laziness.

Mark: Yeah, that's really one of the main things that I associate with Midsummer is the it's, it's a, it's a leisurely time in many ways. The gardens are mostly in, around here. Sunflower is still haven't bloomed though. They won't bloom until, late July, something like that. This, this is the time of year when people go to the beach and have a barbecue kind of, it's just, the days are long and it's, it's.

It's a time when it's very tempting to play hooky and just go and do something enjoyable. Lots of sitting around on decks and patios, drinking wine and visiting with friends and just, just enjoying life. And so I've sometimes called this holiday, the Sabbath of leisure because it, it really feels like that to me in the agricultural cycle.

Around here and to some degree in the British Isles as well. This is the time when all the planting is done and it's not, nothing is ready to harvest. So it's mostly just kind of waiting around, and, and enjoying the early fruit, the peaches and plums and apricots and cherries and things like that.

We have a lot of that going on right now. But from a meaning standpoint, I also associate the wheel of the year with the life cycle of a person. From conception to full composting. So the, the whole, the whole life cycle, not just the time when we're alive and I consider this to be the holiday of adult vigor, maybe in the thirties or so.

Thirties to early forties, not middle-aged yet really kind of at the height of your powers before your body starts to hurt. And

Yucca: You're getting lots of stuff done in your life, whether it's the career family or both, all that stuff.

Mark: yeah, there's, there are plans being executed and you're really kind of on top of your game. So I, I consider this a time to celebrate those spokes in the same way that Mayday or belting is a time to celebrate young adulthood. This is the sort of full adulthood holiday. And then dimming or summer's end at the beginning of August is the time to celebrate the middle east.

Yucca: Okay.

Mark: when we're starting to tip down towards elderly men. So it's a good time to do rites of passage into, out of young adulthood and into full adulthood. If that's something that's meaningful to you. And also a time just to celebrate pleasure to celebrate the, the, the joy of just being leisurely and.

Enjoying these long golden days.

Yucca: Mm.

Mark: So, let's talk about some projects that we can do that help with celebrating these holidays. I know that you decorate your house. What, what sorts of things do you put around your house?

Yucca: We do. So we do a lot of insect and arthropod themed things. And we have a solstice, the summer solstice Garland that we put up that is like honeycomb and bees, the bees that we put up. So that really makes the it's very playful. And they, the kids So this year, we're going to try and make some big kind of like papier-mache ones.

But in the past, we've just had like big paper, just like cut out and have them color it in and learn about the different parts in lifecycle and all of that. So we'll do that kind of thing. And then we also do do gifts for similar solstice as well. And it's very cute this year. My oldest is really into it and has been making the gifts, but they're not, we might buy a couple things like a book or something like that, but it really is about making gifts for people.

And so she's. Everyone that she couldn't think of in her life that she's sick know, she's like, I'm going to make it and wrap it. And, and and then she wants to hang it with the Garland and all of that. So that's a a big part for us and then bringing in the plants and things that we're finding in nature. So yeah.

Mark: That's really great. Is there an equivalent to hanging up a stocking for the summer solstice,

Yucca: Well, that's

Mark: in 10.

Yucca: the, yeah, we don't, I mean, that's a good idea. I like that. We've definitely been, I mean, we've been hanging things from the, the honeycomb with the bees. But I, maybe we should make something a little bit more formal because I think in the feature it's gonna start to get a little bit heavy as they add different kinds of things.

And. Maybe hats. Yeah.

Ooh, that would be good. Right? Like the big, because we were the, the big straw hats, because we are We don't have a lot of melanin. We have very little, and we live at 7,000 feet with a UV index of about 10 every day. So yeah, there's, we've got hats all over, but maybe that's a great idea.

Well, have we, maybe we need our special solstice hats or straw hats. So, yeah.

Mark: Was just thinking something at the opposite end of the body from the toes.

Yucca: Right. Well, and that might be able to fit something, but then not encourage you to have too big of a thing. Some stockings to people have are good fit. My whole body practically in those stockings are impressive. So.

Mark: Yeah, that's true. People do get carried away with that sort of thing.

Yucca: Well, and that's

actually, one of the reasons we wanted to do presence at solstice is to take a little bit of the commercial power away from the winter of the Christmas. right.

And go, yeah. So this is a sort of the, it's not all about that. There's other times of year. And then it works out quite lovely that birthdays and our family are all spread out on like each season has a birthday.


Mark: Oh,

Yucca: Yeah. So we try and kind of spread that and make it just smaller things and try and make them a little bit more meaningful rather than just like all the presents you can get, still working on the grandparents, like getting that it's hard for the grandparents to, to accept that. But yeah.

So what about any house or are you doing particular decorations or themes that you have.

Mark: Not so much decorations. We have a little altar space. I mean, I have my personal focus, which I decorate for the seasons. And so I'll put a. Kind of seasonal things, sun symbols and stuff like that on my personal focus. Sometimes we have a reef on our front doors sometimes not I don't know whether it will do that or not this year.

I, I have a ritual tool that I up date every year at summer solstice, which is my son broom. Which starts with a, a piece of Oak branch that I found at a local state park. And then it has long strands of wild ride that I've cut down bound around it to make a big shaky sort of brew. And what I do every year is I cut down some new strands and add those to the brew and then retire everything.

So it's got all this accumulated summer souls to see by magic woowoo stuff in it associated in my mind. And I leave it out in the sun all day on the summer solstice and it becomes my son.

Yucca: Hm.

Mark: I can use, like at the height of winter, when things are feeling really sort of dismal and cold and dark, I can wave that around, inside my house to bring some of the vibe of the warm days back.

And it works, it works it's it it's, it's one of those wonderful spicy psychology things that we do. And so, that is a tool that I have always put on the focus for Midsummer celebrations as well as, seasonal fruits and other sorts of symbols of just this leisure time. We're doing a, the, the affinity group, the atheopagan affinity group for Northern California, that I'm a part of is meeting in person to do a mid summer ritual next weekend.

And we are going to scope the, the maximum point of, of the sun to the north. And market market with chalk on the ground. And then also do the minimal point all the way, all the way to the south, which is where the winter solstice would be, so that we can see the difference, mark them on the ground with chalk so that we can see the difference.

And then what we're doing is we are all bringing water from our homes and we're going to pour all of those integrated. And then dance a circle, dance, and sing a chant around that, and then use that water to water the garden.

Yucca: That's beautiful. Wow.

Mark: So, it's, it's definitely the time of year when you need to water the garden. It was a hundred degrees here yesterday.

Yucca: Oh,

Mark: So it's it's time to be taking care of our plants in that.

Yucca: yeah. Mulch

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: That nice protective cover mulches kind of like the. You can in the summer it's that, sweet, cool relief. Although I don't know how cool it gets for you during the summer when we, if you have your a hundred degrees, how much does it drop at night?

Mark: Typically into the fifties last night, it dropped into the high sixties.

Yucca: Okay, so you have a nice, a nice swing there cools down. You might need to bring a sweater with you,

Mark: we don't have a lot of, of humidity, although to you, it would probably seem like we do.

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: And I got back from the century retreat that the air was not only like syrup, because it was so dense here at sea level, but also because it smelled, everything smelled like water. There was water. And even though we're in this Mediterranean climate, but that's not the same thing as being up at Alpine elevation in the desert west.

Yucca: I've been in your area twice, but it's both times has been during your wet season. That was in February, March kind of. And I remember it feeling very wet.

Mark: it was very, very, very wet in February.

Yucca: yes. In fact, I remember the, the afternoon rains, which were scheduled to be getting ours here. When I was a child, June was the beginning of the monsoon season. But that has been changing our monsoon season as being, compressing and pressing. So, hopefully we'll get something, but you're what you were talking about with the. Reminded me of was that idea. My oldest had, who likes to make up holidays, I think a few weeks back, I told you about the sneak holiday and all of that. But she wants to do the first rain, which I think is such a beautiful idea of, we could go out and catch some from the first monsoon rain and have like a special bottle.

And the two of them could pick out their bottles to store it in. And of course we, we live on rainwater, right. We don't have a well or anything like that. So we're drinking rainwater all the time, but just the act of catching it and having it be like the special thing

Mark: I do that.

Yucca: season.

Mark: I do that with big storms.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: We have a really big storm that pours six or seven inches of rain on us. I could put out a basin to collect it, and then I pour it into a fancy bottle and keep it.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And the reason that I do that is that in the fall at Hallo. One of the things that I like to do is to pour water from a big storm, into a dry Creek bed to call the ringback,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Which sometimes it works.

Sometimes it doesn't like all of those things, but it makes me feel better that I'm something in quotes about our, our drought situation.

Yucca: Well, and it gives you something to emotionally touch in with, right. And that's what these items, that's for us, that's what the decorating the house is about. It's what the wood, all of that is for is. The state of mind, the emotional state that I feel and the family feels and the whole house, when we see those things just for a moment, right.

We see the, the oversized, child drawn be on the wall and that means something right. And that pebble that we picked up outside and, it just brings us back and just keeps us. Grounded as part of this planet, not just on this planet, not just living off of it, but part of this system,

Mark: Sure. Sure. Yeah. And there's also this very childlike sense of wonder that comes with it. Like, oh, it's that time again? And there's, there's always something special. W with a new holiday and that's, I mean, to me, the, the way that we can enrich our lives just by celebrating these, these passing seasons is so important.

It just, it helps us to be happier,

Yucca: Right.

Mark: being happy, a good.

Yucca: And it's. Helps to slow things down just a little bit. So if you remember when you were a kid a year lasted forever, right. And part of that was because your life experience was so short, right. From seven to eight, that was a huge chunk of your life. But as we get older, things become more and more the same every day.

And one of, and, This realization was distressing me several years back. And so I did a lot of research on it and found that one of the leading ideas is that it's because of the lack of nuance that when we add new things in, we add those new experiences that helps slow down our perception of, of how quickly the years are just flying by.

And that's something that I've intentionally tried to add into my life. And. It feels like it's working, right. I mean, it's kind of, it's a back and forth. It's sort of like, there's the, the clumping of the galaxies and yet the expansion of the universe, gravity and dark energy fighting each other.

So it's like, I think I'm making progress, but maybe not, I'm not sure. That's one of the things that our, that our practice can help do is bring some of that novelty. And so bringing that back to the holiday. So this is a point in the year that we come back to every year and there's going to be those things that are similar every year, but there is the opportunity for the, oh this year, I'm going to go on a walk and I'm going to notice, the particular.

Mosses that are every mosque that I can find on my walk and celebrate that. Or every, can I find a new insect that I have no idea what insect it is, let alone what family or order it even comes from. Right. Just do things like that. I think that that, that can add a lot to, you're gonna have a tradition of doing new things, right.

Mark: Yep. That's very well said. That is certainly consistent with the reason why I do this practice. It lends a sense of meaning and a sense of joy and playfulness to my life. And all of those are, are good things. And then in. In the broader sense with the atheopagan community. It also gives me a sense of community, a feeling of belonging, and of being a part of a group of people who are of generally like-mind and values and who like one another and like spending time together.

So that's a cool thing. I'm still thinking a lot about the century retreat. And I was on the Saturday morning mixer that we do on zoom. Every Saturday morning and three, I think four, four of the people, five of the people that were on that call were people that had been at the century retreat.

And all of us were talking still about how we're integrating that. And particularly the feeling of. Not having as deeper connection with people in our day-to-day lives and wanting more of that. And how do we build how we find friendships and, build them, develop them.

Yucca: Right,

Mark: So that may be something that we'll talk about in a future episode.

Yucca: right. Yeah. And we also did for future episodes let's get some really wonderful suggestions through the email. So we really, we really love that and we'll, we will be talking about some of those and appreciate when you reach out to us about that. So thank you everyone. Yeah.

Mark: Right. And if you haven't heard it before, way to reboot is the wonder podcast. Q S. gmail.com. So the wonder podcast queues@gmail.com and we really enjoy getting your feedback and your topic suggestions. It's very helpful to us. So happy Midsummer, Yucca.

Yucca: Likewise, mark. Happy summer happy first summer have MOUs myths. What else people call it litho sometimes, right? Yeah, there's another one of those. There's a bunch of names for it. But at least it's one of the ones that, has the astronomical name that we could say. And everybody knows what we're talking about.

Solstice. Yeah.

So, and Dawn is very early. This time of year, right? This is this next few weeks. It's going to be the earliest of the year where I live. It's five 30. But if you do do some sort of ritual where you wake up to greet the Dawn the visible planets are in the morning sky right now, and it is it's so beautiful there, like Juul is hanging in the sky and definitely worth worse.

Getting up for. If you can manage, or some people might find it easier to stay up for depending on your personality. But that could be a lovely idea for, For the solstice, right. Greeting the sun in the morning. And then in the evening, bidding at farewell for the solstice.

Mark: For sure.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: All right. Well, thanks everyone. And we will see you next week on the wonder science-based paganism.

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