Though technically the pagan holiday of midsummer (called “Litha”) has passed, midsummer celebrations and activities in mid-July and early August feel right. This is when summer has truly set in—mature dragonflies are skimming the water, bees of various kinds bob from blossom to blossom, and all of nature seems to laze under the sun’s steady, unbroken heat.
Full disclosure: The summer and I traditionally don’t get along very well. I’m a cold-weather kind of witch who feels most alive dressed in thick wooly sweaters with a hot drink in my hand. However, since summer ignores my dislike and comes around anyway, I’ve found ways to cope with the season by leaning into its energies rather than resisting them. Here’s what I learned.
Growth Is Gradual
When starting something new, we can be very impatient with ourselves. Whether it’s moving to a new space, learning a new skill, or even meeting a new friend, we try to hurry through the uncomfortable newness of a thing to feel comfortable and settled.
Midsummer teaches us that this expectation simply isn’t realistic. Freshly fertilized seeds don’t immediately sprout into fully mature plants, heavy with fruit. First, they take their time growing strong roots, then slowly unfurl their leaves. Once they’ve gathered enough nutrients, they then blossom with flowers and, finally, produce delicious fruit.
[Read: “Practice Patience.”]
The overwhelming abundance of midsummer doesn’t happen all at once. The previous seasons of growth and development must happen first. Observing the growth as it happens and celebrating milestones not only helps ease this uncomfortable period, it helps the “fruit” grow better and more abundantly.
Rest is Productive
Many of us are socialized to believe that if we have time to rest or relax, that time is wasted. We push ourselves to the brink so that we can “earn” a rest.
Except, rest isn’t wasted time, nor does it need to be earned.
Midsummer teaches this through the simple act of existing. Many of the fruits in season right now require a stint in winter’s grip to stimulate their germination. Cherry seeds, for example, won’t sprout unless they’ve experienced a period of stasis in the cold, frozen ground.
Humans are similar, in that rest allows us to reset and gather strength for the next season of growth. Not only is this a healthy thing to do, it’s also productive because it allows us to perform even better than we would have without that respite.
A Mid-Summer Mini-Ritual
Try the following ritual to help you recognize milestones in your personal growth while also allowing a few moments to rest and acknowledge the ever-present abundance in your life.
This ritual can be deeply grounding, especially when you’ve felt particularly frazzled or burned out.
The best part? You don’t need any special supplies! Just your beautiful self and the camera on your phone (or any other kind of camera).
Here’s how to do it.
Go outside and either find a place to sit in nature or go for a nature walk. Give yourself a mini-challenge to engage your senses and help ground you in the present.
- Keep count of the number of kinds of birds, insects, or animals you see.
- Listen carefully, and pick out three to five individual sounds you can hear (example: birdsong, wind, water, squirrel chatter).
- Take a deep breath and try to identify three (or more) aromas (example: pine sap, honeysuckle, moist soil).
- Gather up a few interesting-looking twigs and rocks.**
When you get home, find a clear space outside and make a mandala
with the twigs and rocks you collected. Don’t worry about doing it “right” or how much time it’s taking. Just relax and let your creativity flow.
When you’re done, take a picture of the mandala and keep it as a reminder of midsummer’s greatest lesson: Growth and rest are both necessary to our wellbeing.
**Don’t touch things you can’t identify and don’t take things from a living plant. The point is to gather some of nature’s “discards.”
Draw your way to wholeness on a midsummer day doing mandala art.