Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer Solstice: The Union of Opposites


          Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, and stands opposite the Winter Solstice in the Wheel of the Year.  It is the time when the new life and light that was born at the Winter Solstice is manifest in our lives and in the world.  Summer Solstice has been celebrated in practically every culture on Earth, and is a time of joy and celebration of the powers of life.  The Sun is at its fullest power, and the darkness of winter is a fading memory.  But just at this moment of greatest light, we begin to face death, for now the days begin to shorten and the darkness grows.  Solstice literally means "sun stand still", for at the solstices the sun seems to stop on its course before it reverses itself.
          Many traditions have grown up around the Summer Solstice.  The Native Peoples of America had many ceremonies celebrating the Sun, especially the Sun Dance which ritually commemorated the life-giving powers of the sun.  The Sun Dance of the Great Plains peoples was a dedication to the divine spirit, held during summer solstice when all of nature was rejoicing and the sage plant was succulent.
          Summer Solstice was the most important and widespread festival in Europe.  In Celtic countries, it was celebrated on Midsummer's Eve and was a vegetation-fire-water ritual, when all the elements of life were celebrated and honored.  It is a time of magic, both good and bad; a time when the faerie folk once again come out to dance.  Fires are lit to help the Sun in its course, the waters bring blessings, and dreams are potent. 
          But most of all, Midsummer is a time for lovers, for it is the moment of the marriage of Heaven and Earth.  The Sun fertilizes the Earth with His heat, and She becomes pregnant with Life.  But there is a cost to all of this, for the Summer King must fight the Winter King for his Flower Bride, and although he overcomes the darkness, yet will the darkness overcome him as well.  For after this weekend, the days will get shorter and nights longer.    
          But for now, all is happiness.  The Sun goes into Cancer and the Moon will be in Pisces - very sweet energy for this day.  It is the Marriage Feast, the Hieros-Gamos, love and desire, flesh and spirit.

The Bride:

You open me wide
To the Mystery of Love
And I penetrate
The darkness to the depths.

My Beloved encircles me
In the strength of his arms.
With his encircling Love
He guards my sweet softness.

My Bridegroom waits upon me
He watches my comings
He watches my flow
My Beloved waits upon me.

Is there anyone like my Beloved?
His is the swiftness of the Stag,
The far sight of the Eagle
The strength of the Bear.

My Bridegroom comes like the Sun
His warmth is radiant.
His beauty shines out
He is my Light.

I look for my Beloved in the daylight
And I see his face in every green leaf.
I wait upon my Lover in the night
And I find him in the depths of a forest

Oh, my Bridegroom!
Come to me in my marriage bower.
Come and enter into me
And let me bring you delight!

For my love is sweeter than honey
My love more intoxicating than wine.
For I will open myself to you
And let you penetrate my depths.

The Bride welcomes her Beloved
With the fire of her desire.
With the Love of a free heart
I call the Bridegroom home.

The Bridegroom:

In the first days, I was reborn
In the very first days, life was renewed.
In the first nights, I learned sweet delight
In the very first nights, I surrendered
          to Love.

In the freshness of the first morning
My Beloved lay in our bed of living green,
In the first light of morning
We awake to wonder and delight.

The whiteness of her shoulders
Blinds me with desire,
The softness of her white flesh
Excites the hardness of my own.

Her neck offers itself to me,
Her neck extends itself to my kisses,
And when I lose myself in its strength,
It kindles the sweetness of my desire.

With burning lips
I fire the white slopes of her shoulders.
Glowing rosy now from the heat,
They lead me to the fountains of life.

As a man dying from the dryness
From the force of the fire,
My lips find a haven
In the fountains, in the deep wells.

The twin cups are offered to me
Their golden nectar offered to me.
Twin nipples dark as earth
Waiting for the pull of life.

I will suck the sweetness of life,
I will drink of the waters.
My softness hardens her cup,
My delight intoxicates her.

And now the waters flow freely
And I drink from every stream

I drink from every deep pool.
Ah, the sweetness of the Waters.

My Beloved gives herself to me
She shares her sweetness
She softly gathers me in
To her dark mystery.

My Bride calls to me
She calls me to the depths.
My Beloved opens me to Love
And I awaken to its Mystery.

And now I discover the deep red rose,
I discover the blood-red bower.
And the living greenness encloses us
As I come home to her hidden garden.