With the Fog, Summer has Returned
In many modern Pagan reckonings of the seasons, as well as in some places in the world like Ireland, the solstices and equinoxes do not mark the beginnings, but rather the peaks of each season. The “cross-quarters” in February, May, August and November are the seasonal beginnings. So May Day would be the beginning of summer, as it was reckoned in earlier times in Europe.
This has always made sense to me; it is the only way to logically parse that the summer solstice is also traditionally called “Midsummer“, and the winter one “Midwinter”. But different people have different approaches, and that’s fine by me: adapting the Wheel of the Year to your local clime is a central idea of Atheopaganism.
Where I live in coastal Northern California, summer is marked by many days that begin and end in fog, as inland heat creates upward thermal currents that draw moist, cool air in from the ocean to blanket the coast. San Francisco, in its wonderfully quirky way, has adopted the name “Karl the fog” to personify this ubiquitous presence in the City’s life and culture. When Karl comes back, it is summer. And that cycle has just begun for us here, and so I declare: summer has arrived.
The fog evaporates in the morning Sun on most days, leaving temperate, beautiful sparkling days. Sometimes after a really hot spell, the fog will return so powerfully that it never really burns off, and we have a soft gray summer day.
It’s all pretty glorious. I so love it here.
It’s still more than a month until Midsummer, which has always been kind of a challenging Sabbath for me. Where I live, pretty much nothing other than watering gardens is happening agriculturally–the crops are growing, and they won’t be harvested until August or September.
As for the humans, they’re laying around or taking vacations or barbecuing with friends. A trip to the ocean or a lazy outdoor evening in a rocking chair with a beer feels like the most apt “ritual” for this time of year to me; much more so than a formal symbolic ritual. Sitting outside in gentle, warm temperatures, enjoying a drink and maybe a fresh, ripe peach, looking around and going ahhhhhhh seems to me to be about the best embodiment of the season I can think of.
Midsummer is the time when I celebrate not only that leisurely work gap in the agricultural cycle, but the point in a human life when we are at the height of our powers: the late 20s and 30s when, generally speaking, our bodies are still strong and our minds sharp. Our capacities diminish after that, but hopefully the wisdom and accumulated skills of experience offset this, at least for awhile.
It is also, of course, the very height of the power of the Sun, being the longest day here in the Northern Hemisphere. Whatever attributes you associate with the Sun can be celebrated at Midsummer: warmth, energy, light, the life-giving radiation that gives rise to our food. Make yourself a Sun broom to carry the light with you all through the year!
As for all of us, it’s not without its challenges, this Atheopagan life. But it is also filled with joy and awe and pleasure, and for that I am truly grateful.