Dancing With Summer’s Light

sunflowers
Sunflowers

This time of year, the days seem to stretch on forever. The afternoons, overflowing with golden sunlight, seem to go on and on.

Whatever age we are, we can’t help but remember the promise and delight of summer holiday: swimming and taking long walks in the woods, savouring ice cream cones and watermelon slices, bike rides and games of tag and epic water fights.

In the natural world, a celebration is happening as well.

The trees are gratefully soaking up the abundant energy of the sun, transforming insubstantial light into the solid substance of their sweet, swelling fruits. The fledgling birds and young animals who were born in the spring are leaving their nests and dens behind, venturing further and further out into the wide world.

Summer Magic and Fun

Lughnasagh
Lughnasagh

During summer, aligning ourselves with the rhythm of the seasons can seem easy and appealing. Now, the call is for us to expand, to drink in the wealth of inspiration and light and to use this abundance to nourish the fruits of the projects and intentions we planted earlier this year.

Summer is also an excellent time for us to reconnect with the beauty and simplicity of the wild world. Whether you’re drawn to going on hikes in the wilderness, to taking long walks in your neighbourhood or to sailing on local rivers and lakes, the long, warm days are the perfect opportunity to spend more time outside, to strengthen our bodies while simultaneously deepening our relationship with the living body of Gaia.

The increased presence and activity of animals makes this a great time to connect with animals allies, helpers and guides. If you already have an established relationship with an animal spirit, consider travelling to its natural habitat so you can further build your connection.

If you’re seeking new animal allies, there’s a couple of different strategies you might use. You could use techniques such as lucid dreaming and shamanic journeying to enter into the spirit world. However, in the summer months, the pull of the physical world is strong. You might have better luck if you physically travel into a green, untamed place.

Wherever you go, simply hold the clear intention of seeking an animal companion to guide and accompany you on your spiritual journey. The world will hear and respond to you. 

So Much Abundance  

Summer forest
Summer forest

The abundance of light in summer can reveal new possibilities. This makes the current season an excellent time for exploration, for trying out new activities, new ways of being in the world. Is there a new spiritual practise or healthy habit you’ve been considering trying for a while?

Now is an excellent time to start.  

Another way of working with summer abundance is by cultivating gratitude. To start with, try taking a little time each day, perhaps right after you wake up or right before you fall asleep, and listing some of the things in your life that you feel grateful for.

As you continue to work with gratitude, you may find yourself spontaneously saying a silent “thank you” to the universe when something beautiful happens.

The magic of gratitude is expansive and contagious; you will likely find that the more gratitude you feel, the more blessings and gifts will appear in your life.

Remembering the Balance  

Lughnasagh (25 Jul - 16 Aug) Pendant To Invoke Intuition
Lughnasagh (25 Jul – 16 Aug) Pendant To Invoke Intuition

While the summer might feel endless, we know that it is not. The solstice, so recently gone by, may be the height of the sun’s power and brilliance but this means that it also marks the time when the light begins to wane.

As suggested by the Taoist symbol of Yin and Yang, the moment of greatest light also contains within itself a seed of growing darkness.

In ancient Celtic lore, the summer solstice marked the day that Lugh, the Sun King, died. There is no need to dwell gloomily on this aspect of the season. But it is important to remember that summer, like all the seasons, is transitory. The wheel turns, and keeps on turning. The light and the heat and the wild sense of expansive possibility: these are precious because they are only here for a time.  

This pinprick of sadness, this reminder of winter’s chill, can help deepen and enrich our gratitude. We can seize the long day of summer and live our lives to the fullest, knowing that nothing lasts forever. At the same time, we can hold the paradox; the wheel turns, and will return once again to summer. In this way, the brilliance is both fleeting and eternal, too quickly gone and always present.

by River

 

StormJewel Says: Thanks River for your beautifully poetic article.  I love your recommendations for getting in to the summer mindset, and I really love going to woods and parks to connect with nature in the summer, especially this one which in the UK is wonderfully warm for once! 🙂

Have you any Summer or Lughnasagh tips to share with us? What do you like best about summer? How do you connect with nature at this time? Let us know! xx

Img Credits: All photos except the last are by talented photographer Andreas Krappweis

Preparing for the Dark of the Year

354 Red Sunset-Bourgogne
I Am Not I

As we’ve passed the Autumnal Equinox, the nights are getting longer and longer.  We can feel the chill of winter begin to creep into the air.  We are nearing the dark time of the year.

In the natural world, the squirrels are gathering nuts for the winter.  The hedgehogs are gorging themselves, building up fat reserves to nourish them through the long dreaming days of hibernation.

As humans, how can we prepare ourselves for the dark time of the year?  How can we live more deeply in harmony with the seasons and grow and shift along with the Earth?

If we take nature as our guide, we can see that the dark of the year is a time for rest.  Like the trees releasing their leaves and the animals hibernating, we can simplify our lives, let go our distractions and focus our attention inward.

The stillness that fills the world in winter provides us with a chance to explore our own interior worlds so that we can learn about ourselves, our spiritual gifts and our purpose in the world.

Many people in the modern world keep very busy.  In our fast-paced, technological world, we are often taught to keep moving, keep doing, to fill our minds with new information every second.    But the rhythm of the natural world is motion and stillness, action and rest, day and night.

The Darkness as a Nurturing Force

We are sometimes taught to fear darkness, to fear stillness, to fear the quiet, still, resting night inside of us.  The gathering dark of the year is an invitation for us to challenge these fears and enter more deeply into our own souls.

In order to move through our fears, we may need to let go of our old stories about darkness being evil or harmful.

Try instead to think of darkness as something natural, as necessary as the rhythm of day and night. Imagine darkness as the wide open sky, full of mystery and possibility.  Imagine darkness as the safe, enclosed space of the womb, nurturing that which is small and growing and not yet ready to emerge into the light.  Think of the darkness beneath the soil, nurturing tiny seeds.

Get in Touch With Yourself in Winter

Held by the sheltering darkness of winter, what do you hear?  Can you listen to the soft, wise voice of your own intuition?  This is an excellent time of year to strengthen your connection to that voice. Consider beginning to work with a new divinatory tool, such as runes or the Tarot.

You may also want to start a daily practise of listening.  This could be as simple as setting aside ten minutes every morning to sit in quiet meditation.  If you’re interested in doing so, all you need to do is find a comfortable place to sit.   Focus your attention on your breathing.  If troubling thoughts or emotions emerge, allow them to pass through your mind like clouds blowing across the sky.  This practise can create a deep calm within you, mirroring the calm, reflective nature of the world in winter.

The dark half of the year, with its long nights, is also an excellent time to explore dreamwork.  Your dreams can reveal the depths of your own heart to you, and may also contain the seeds of spiritual wisdom and glimmers of the future.  The nights also provide ample space to explore spiritual realms.

In the quiet of the winter, it can be easier to hear the voices of spirit guides, guardian angels and spirit animals.  You can tap into conversations with these beings through practises such as shamanic journeying, guided visualisations and prayer.

Friends, Warmth and Light

While you’re venturing into the hidden spaces within yourself and into the spirit world, it’s important to keep one foot in physical reality. You don’t want to get lost in the vast, wide darkness.  As the Equinox reminds us, there is a need for balance between dark and light.

You need to cultivate some warmth and light along with the solitary introspective dark. 

One excellent way to do so is to create a winter circle of friends.  You could meet once a week or once a month to share food, laughter, and stories.  Such a group could be a place to share your experiences of wandering in the dark, and a place to recount the beautiful treasures you find there.

By Allison Grey

[StormJewel] Thanks Allison for that great article, it’s really inspiring to me as someone who feels the cold and loves the light of summer!  This serves as a reminder to me that as Pagans it’s important to embrace natures rhythms and it’s clear that if we learn to love the changing of the seasons we will find it very rewarding! 

Do you prefer winter or summer? What things do you like to do in winter? Let us know below!

How to recycle old things to make cool new gifts and ornaments!

As Pagans (and non-Pagans for that matter!) it’s important that we remember that having a deep love for nature and the earth needs to translate into environmental concerns and throwing away less things is a great way to do this.

I recently published an article on how to be green while gift giving, and so here is another on that theme.

But first if there are any sceptics about environmental issues and climate change reading this, here is a very funny but convincing 2 minute ‘rant’ from UK comedian David Mitchell about why you should consider a rethink. (If you want to see more of his stuff, search for Soapbox on Youtube!)

Ok still with me? Good :o)

I just found this great article about all the ways that we can reuse glass bottles, from gorgeous cola bottle lights to rustic table lamps and atmospheric outdoor candle holders.

Whilst in south east asia I saw loads of this kind of thing, particularly in Luang Prabang in Laos where restarurants by the river had chandeliers made from plastic spoons, beer bottles and more – sounds crazy but actually looks really unique and cool.

Here’s the inventive article:  http://ecosalon.com/12-ways-to-re-use-recycle-a-bottle-373/

Do you recycle anything and make it into gifts, ornaments or even altar tools perhaps? I’ll send a small free gift to the best picture that gets sent in of something that you’ve made from old rubbish!