Summer Solstice

Today is the Summer Solstice. The sun has traveled as far to the north as it will this year. The days are long, and the warmth grows stronger. The field is awash in wildflowers, and the garden rich with greens.

The land is alive now. Actually, it is always alive, although we are most aware of this during the growing season. In the shaman’s world, even geological features are awake and aware. Underneath the rhythms of wind, water, and land may be felt or heard the heartbeat of Mother Earth.  Her heartbeat resonates in our chests and finds its way into the resonance of the drum.

When we listen carefully we are transported. Sorrow and rage fall away, and we are filled with peace and joy. Even self-hatred retreats in the face of such beauty. Our brief histories stretch their boundaries, and we discover our connectedness to the far future and the distant past. This lifetime, the briefest of galactic moments, becomes a gift of unimaginable worth and beauty.

There is much that is healing in awakening to joy and the moment, even after the instant of knowing and transcendence, the fleeing time of awareness, is gone. Suddenly we are here, in this place, with the work of our lives to done. Yet the healing remains. Sometimes just one healing moment is all that is needed. Other times, deep and lasting tranquility develops slowly, over time, assuming an almost glacial pace, and thickening. The accumulation of moments that eventually, almost against our wills, brings surprise and joy.

I imagine C.S. Lewis would not take offense if we were to borrow his thoughts about the slow and quick workings of Christianity. I believe he would understand the overarching humanity of his phrase, “Surprised by joy.” He would intuitively comprehend and embrace the Inuit shaman’s dancing and singing, “Joy! Joy! Joy!’ He would open his heart wide and wish healing to each and all.

The Solstice is traditionally a time of gathering, of putting down conflicts and being moved by the healing heartbeat of Mother Earth. It is a time of remembering that we are born into Her welcoming arms, and pass from this life into new places of spirit. At the Solstice we are encouraged to remember those instructions given us by the Creator and the Grandmothers, and the agreements we made, the tasks we chose or accepted.

So we have gathered, in person or in spirit. May you find peace and joy at this dancing, spinning, turning of the year.

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12 thoughts on “Summer Solstice

  1. “Surprised by Joy.”

    I like that.

    The instantaneous catapult into awareness and that which creeps up on us moment by monent reflect the ebb and flow of light that dances through us and ripples across the splended magnitude of creation. I’m reminded here of what our elders sometimes say as the water splashes the Grandfathers in the inipi: “This prayer goes into the center and rises out through the Universe. It resonates forever among the Heavens and the stars, and returns to bless us all.”

      • Thank you, Michael. First time I heard that, it blew me away. It put the whole ceremony into perspective. I hope someday you find yourself in a circle around the Grandfather stones. I’ve talked to the Creator many times, but the sweat lodge was the first time I actually heard the Creator talk to me.

        There’s an old African saying: “When we pray, we move our feet..”

        The incorporation of the Spiritual into the Physical grounds prayer out into this world like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Sweating our life water back into Pachamama for her nourishment – and our purification – while the steam takes our prayers out into the cosmos is a truly moving experience. One feels like a stone, dropped into the pond of creation, feeling our words ripple out, impacting everything they touch…

      • Ben, I am glad you share your thoughts and experiences with me/us.

        I have been in sweats, but not specifically Lakota. Even so, they were a long time ago.I’m not at all sure my body could tolerate the heat. Still, would be good to try.Yes, finding ways to be prayerful and in one’s body at the same time is good. I often think that dancing with the drum is a version of that. Dancing and singing, drumming and moving, becoming the heartbeat of the Earth and soaring deep into the heart and the universe. In those moments our words and hopes, and intent, travel far, indeed!

  2. Thank you for sharing these powerful words, I feel as if I have attended a ceremony to welcome in the new year, just by taking in your words. I am ready for summer! I hope it is a beautiful one for you and yours!

    • Thanks for commenting! We are settling in to summer. Maybe sometimes the internet does allow us to share ceremony, and stories of our courage. Perhaps it also allows us to witness the courageous lives and acts of others. What a boon that is!

  3. My own experience with sweats has been predominantly in the All Nations tradition of Grandfather Joseph Rael. There have been a few exceptions, but I’ve never participated in a Lakota ceremony.

    Your words on prayer and dance resonate with me, Michael. The longer I spend with the drum, the more I come to know it’s prayerful power. And the more often others report hearing voices or music as I play. The mystery of this only continues to deepen.

      • Such a simple yet powerful instrument.

        Glad to hear about your upcoming weekend. It’s always a blessing to immerse one’s self in ceremony.

        My wife and I are pretty much in the same boat. And we’re lucky enough to be kicking it all off with a three-hour Drum / Healing circle at the studio on Friday night. As of now we have approximately 13 people signed up – with at least 2 djembes in tow.

        Should be a pretty thunderous event!

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