Maybe it’s the summer solstice, also known as midsummer, which is the longest day of the year — at least in my part of the world, north of the Tropic of Cancer.
Much as I hate the sweltering-white-bright days, I adore dusk this time of year — and the short, sultry nights even more. This weekend, a friend and I went to Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, to visit Johnny Henderson and Tom Langan, two fantastic polarity therapists who’ve just bought themselves a home on a magical piece of land which lent itself to chilling and dreaming. (Interested in learning more about polarity? Here are their upcoming workshops.) We had just finished an incredible Moroccan meal (Tom’s cooking is legendary) when the storm started. We gathered our chairs, and went to the front porch to watch the lightning.
I mean, not to be cliche, but is this not the perfect evening activity for a bunch of energy workers?
In Hebrew the word for sky is shemayim (damn, I can’t get the Hebrew letters to copy correctly onto this post) — which is made up of two words: eysh (fire) and mayim (water) — both of which were pouring out with such intensity that I could feel the atmospheric impulses within my body whenever the sky lit up. The next morning, long after the storm passed, the oak trees continued to “rain” out excess water whenever the wind picked up.
Many solstice rituals involved bonfires and healing waters. It was HOT on Sunday, so I was glad to get to the mineral springs which at 74 degrees, cooled our feet after having browsed the local farmers market.
June 21st is also the anniversary of my mother’s death, and over the years, I’ve developed rituals that have made me come to love this day, including eating her favorite ice cream. (Coffee, though this year I indulged in cappuccino nut fudge while watching six snapping turtles [and one with an orange body I’ve never seen before. Wood turtle? any guesses?] in the creek behind the ice cream parlor watch me back. For real, they were utterly captivated by what yours truly was savoring: more proof that EVERYONE loves ice cream! )
I like to do things and be in scenes my mom would’ve thoroughly enjoyed, and I’ve added on my own rituals. This was the third year that I’ve taught yoga in celebration of her in my beloved Malcolm X Park, the second time as part of Bikram Yoga Dupont’s Summer Yoga In the Park series.
The winter and summer solstices are associated with Jacob’s ladder, in which angels and spirits freely ascend and descend, moving between heaven and earth. These days can be seen as cosmically special times, when the veil that normally covers the gateway is lifted. I’ve been told that those whose birthdays — or death days — fall on or close to the solstices are messengers (which is the real translation for the Hebrew word for “angel” ) moving between realms.
I might be irreverent about many things, but it was incredibly healing to get a new lens to view my mother’s suicide through — her jumping down in order to rise up. Plus Jacob’s ladder looks a lot like strands of our DNA, which always flow, and contain deeply embedded codes of life within them.
Such is life: I learn a friend has a not-nice form of cancer, and is undergoing intensive chemo, ironically at GW; hopefully, I’ll visit with her later this week. I do Reiki on a mother as her newborn son sleeps a few feet away. After breaking bread with my cousin, who I attuned to Reiki, we pull the massage table out of the closet, and I teach her hand positions, using her boyfriend as our willing demonstration project. Like Jacob, we might only see some things during dreams, or on days of special significance — but they’re here with us all the time, exchanging energy with us through hands or even rays of sun and lightning.
Enjoy this week; maybe celebrate with a bonfire and canoe ride!