On my Life List of travel are not only places to visit, but times.
My agenda is booked for Solstices for years to come, in whatever order I can make them happen. I want to be in St Petersburg for White Nights. To be there for the time of no night, but only a twilight, to be never in the dark, and everything illuminated as the blear of light reflecting from the surface of the Neva. I want to absorb the energy of that, the overwhelm of it, to fill myself up with it, to get drunk and high on light. Another year, I want to be in Latvia for Jāņi, to stay awake through the four hours of near-darkness that is the Solstice’s excuse for night, to crown my head with flowers, and hear Latvians singing to their pagan deities and forces of nature.
Summer Solstice is one of the purest, simplest, most easily understandable holidays of all.
In a world where the length of time it takes to explain a precept is directly proportional to its being poppycock, you don’t need to explain the Summer Solstice. It happens to you, fierce and direct. Every culture around the world recognizes the peak of the sunlight year in some way. It may be one of the oldest holidays, from the moment that we became able to remember as a species that days can be different from one another.
Solstice celebrates the power source of our entire existence on Earth. It is the celebration of our star. The sun’s light comes through plants comes through food turns to energy turns to cellular matter turns into thoughts turns to everything we make, create, and grow. I loved the moment that I learned the word ‘photography’ means ‘light writing,’ for everything we do, as creatures of the sun, is an interpretation and transmission of light: a cause of light to move, into shapes, into images, into actions. Every creation of ours is a tiny planet.
Wallace Stevens can tell it better than I; here is from a poem he wrote, his planet:
Ariel was glad he had written his poems.
They were of a remembered time
Or of something seen that he liked….
His self and the sun were one
And his poems, although makings of his self,
Were no less makings of the sun.
It was not important that they survive.
What mattered was that they should bear
Some lineament or character,
Some affluence, if only half-perceived,
In the poverty of their words,
Of the planet of which they were part.
Our role is to translate the life that is given us into words, movement, relationships, decisions, into love. We create something new whenever we speak, whenever we act, and between and among ourselves in every interaction: we trace new patterns in every choice and enactment of value, in an endless infinity of forms.
One way to say it is this: we are the hands of G-d in the world. Even prayer, like wishing, only goes so far. Like all acts of magic, it has to be accompanied by doing: every magic-user knows that you can’t just do a spell for a new job, you have to go out and look for a job, too. The act clears a path for the magic to work, or the magic clears a path for the act to work. In the same sense, we are instrumental to creation. We are prisms of the Sun’s light, directing it for a purpose. Inspiration feeds us, but as embodied beings, we have to do the work. You want a better world, you make it. We are assistants of creation, offspring of the Sun. Our poems are planets on the table.
You are the Sun’s little child, so for your Solstice observation, make something!
You are the way light finds expression. You are a prism cut as nobody else is cut. Let yourself be supersaturated with light until it spills from you, leaks from the corners of your eyes, streams through your irises, runs out the corners of your mouth, flows out through your voice, pours into the world through your uniqueness and love.
Creatrix, conjuror, artificer, carpenter, weaver, singer, dancer, choreographer, composer, musician, director, actor, photographer, painter, sculptor, poet, writer, joiner, smith, storyteller, baker, cook, shipwright, wheelwright, turner, chandler, cantor, homilist, vessel, channel: let this day bless you for all you bring forth from the raw matter of Light.
Your self and the sun are one
And the makings of yourself
Are no less makings of the Sun.
Here is a visual ode to the midnight sun, by Michael Levy, to sunbathe in (recommended full screen on this one):
Blessed be, and Love!
Photography by Ole Salomonsen, Arctic Light Photo.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta