Though weather varies widely across the planet, of course, the traditional meaning of May Day in Europe was “the beginning of Summer”. Thus, the summer solstice was termed “Midsummer”, et cetera. Here in the U.S. the unofficial beginning of summer is a little later, with the passage of Memorial Day at the end of May.
Here in the Mediterranean climate of coastal northern California, our hills are now turning from green to gold as the grasses go to seed and turn tawny. It is the signal that summer has truly arrived, and we have days to match: 70s and low 80s, not quite hot enough yet to provoke the fog cycle which will soon draw moist air in from over the ocean and blanket us with fog during the morning, burning off to sunshine in the afternoon.
Summer is a time with many meanings, most of them pedestrian: it is vacationing time and barbecuing time and the summer break in children’s schooling. In many places, it is the season of stifling heat and or swarming insects as cold-blooded invertebrates take advantage of the heat to complete their life cycles. We’re lucky here; we have some days in the 100s, but they cool off at night, and mostly it’s a pleasant, shirtsleeve-weather kind of time.
For those who grow our food, however, it is a time of hard work. Sowing is done, but stewarding the crops until they are ready for harvest is an ongoing effort, and those raising animals must keep them adequately cooled and watered. It is no surprise that people all over the world greet the season of harvest with feasts and parties: for all the hard work of bringing in the harvests, the wealth of delicious food that results is grounds for celebration.
It bears saying, of course, that south of the equator we are approaching the darkest and coldest time of the year, as well. There, the holy Sun is missed, longed for, and its return avidly awaited. There, it is nearly Yule.
While we in our Atheopagan practices celebrate the summer season with Midsummer, for many of us summer is already here. The Season of the Sacred Sun is upon us.
Whose warm love flows across the land each day
Stirring Life, the world’s magic, arms yearning up,
Turning each green leaf to follow. Whose generous balm
Upon the skin is love’s touch, ahhhhhh heated fingers soothing,
Whose roar boils water from ocean to sky
Drawing sweet from salt, becoming rain, snow, river, lake;
Whose fervid beat upon us may be deadly, and yet
Contemplating cold stars how we miss it, the Golden One, quotidian center
Of our days, steady companion, sower of treasures great and small:
Light-bringer, Life-quickener, dazzling, unbearably bright,
Hail, oh hail the magnificent Sun!