light my fire

The other day my brother asked me what I am doing to celebrate the Summer Solstice, which this year occurs today* at 12:16 p.m. central time, and I told him “Nothing.”

“Why don’t you celebrate this Solstice when you make such a big deal of the Solstice in December?” he asked.

“Because the Summer Solstice is the turning of the year to increased darkness,” I said. “The Winter Solstice is the turning to increased light. The Winter Solstice is more hopeful.”

“But why wouldn’t you celebrate the fact that the light is at its high-point?” he persisted.

“I guess I’m just too future-focused. I observe the Solstice, but I just don’t celebrate it.”

In ancient Britain this Midsummer festival celebrated the apex of light symbolized in the crowning of the Oak King, God of the waxing year. Yet the ancients recognized that in his crowning, the Oak King falls to his darker aspect, the Holly King, God of the waning year.

I just can’t ignore—even for one night—the sun king’s imminent fall.

To tell you the truth, I’m conflicted by my attitude. I keep thinking that I should be living more in the moment. I tell myself that I should be more thankful for the good things which are present in this moment and day. The Summer Solstice, after all, is the goal to which we look forward on the Winter Solstice when the sun’s light is at its lowest point in the year. I should be celebrating the realization of that midwinter vision.

Yet I do keep looking forward. I cannot shake the thought that there will be progressively less light tomorrow and all the days after that.

I suspect that this thought is what was behind the ancient practice of the ancient Germans who celebrated Midsummer with bonfires. An important function of these bonfires was to generate sympathetic magic that would give a boost to the sun’s energy so that it would remain potent throughout the rest of the growing season and guarantee a plentiful harvest. People—couples, especially, who were about to be married—would jump through the luck-bringing flames. They believed that their crops would grow as high as the couples were able to jump.

With the county’s burn ban (yes, still no rain), I wouldn’t be able to light a bonfire tonight even if I were so inclined. I will be attending a “Music on the Porch” night in the Terlingua Ghost Town instead.

I’m sure I will be thinking of the sun king’s fall, and I may even think that with the challenges ahead in our work for kids, perhaps I should be jumping over flames—anything might help—to assure the fecundity of our work in the coming months.

It is a certain thing that I will be thinking of you tonight, because I know that it is through you our vision for juvenile justice will be achieved.

I am thankful on this Summer Solstice. I am thankful for you, for your interest and involvement.

Thank you!


Groove of the Day

Listen to José Feliciano performing “Light My Fire”


(* postscript)

Oh man, am I ever embarrassed!

It wasn’t until I archived this post and couldn’t get the dates to line up that I realized I’ve been thinking it’s a day ahead for the last several days. Tomorrow is the Summer Solstice.

Tomorrow is the 21st!

I try to stay in the loop, but right about now you might be thinking I am just plain loopy. The sentiments above are sincere; it’s just my timing that’s off.

(I am notorious for sometimes showing up at parties either a month early or a week late. I’m positive the music event is happening tonight… I think.)

Time is an illusion… at least that’s what I keep telling myself!


7 Responses to “light my fire”

  1. 1 Cynthia Lovin
    June 20, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Happy Solstice, Dan!

  2. 3 matt
    June 20, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I was to have been born on the Winter Sostice, but saw my shadow and . . ., so I make a point to always observe sunrise and my shadow on both the Winter and Summer solstices.

  3. 6 Gloria
    June 21, 2011 at 2:25 am

    Happy solstice Dan!:)

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