SUMMER SOLSTICE. FOR REAL.
Round about an hour ago, I plopped fried tilapia, balsamic baby toms and jalapeno cornbread baked in its on shell and browned in butter underneath my new oak tree. My little family and I are worn slap to our toenails after weeks of an unexpected move to coyote country and needed a little fat to stick to our ribs. And tomorrow begins our beloved Summer Solstice—the marker for the height of prosperity, the culmination of all things buddin’ and my personal deadline for attaining land. The dust is beginning to settle. I had struggled, quite a bit actually, through box after cardboard box in search of baking soda and powder for that cornbread. Broke a nail and cursed Winn Dixie like a red-nailed cheerleader, but never gave up until that box rendered the equation I was hunting down. The whole shebang brought me around to thinking a bit about timing, precision and respect for both. Let’s sit a spell and have a chew, shall we?
You know, I have been guilty of throwing my spoonhand a bit too Butch Cassidy when trying make a deadline for growling tummies. I’ve also seen what happens when you try to push too soon on a cresting newborn (not pretty, y’all) or pull fruit from a vine still green, or attempt to jump to the punchline after too much beer and too little restrain on late night bravado. Always ends the same: lame. There will be no wine before it is time, folks—everything else is too burned, too bloody, too tart or too . . . flat. It appears that we are back on square one, folks: magic is science. The universe is science. Science is magic. There will be no wine before it is time.
I have been accused of being a purest on this issue, and I reckon they got me here. Yupper. I celebrate Samhain on Samhain. Litha on Litha. My kid’s birthday on my kid’s birthday. I’ve even been known to acknowledge my own anniversary on . . . you got it . . . my actual anniversary. Call me crazy. Ritual on the Thursday before a high holiday is, well, a Thursday. Nothing really wrong or suspect about a Thursday,”iffin” it is a celebration or ritual of the fourth day of the week. (And even then, we need to remember the accountability or lack thereof of our 21st century calendar.) I also fully understand the necessity of work schedules, tired mommies and daddies, blown tires, TV schedules and the like. Howeva: nothing, and I do mean nothing, changes the actual moon alignment, nor the alignment of a body’s mass with that of the universe when it’s on its knees in the woods. We, as a civilization, may have forgotten (or even attempted to thwart) the slow drip of time toward a balanced equinox—but the heavens have not. And that . . . haughty is the word I’m thinking on here . . . impulse chaps my Alabama red-clay ass. When I first moved to a university town in 1996, you could have knocked me over with a chicken-ass feather when I heard that the city of Auburn “moved” Halloween on gamedays. Moved?
With what? A celestial U-Haul? Laws, you don’t see them doing that with Christmas . . . but I expect you could hire a Wal-Mart Santa to do the dirty work.
I ‘spect I thought more of us. You know, the whole “sacred” part of being a Pagan got me a might confused. Well, that and the moon and stars and sun and history and . . . No big deal. I mean, we can put a Summer Equinox on hold, like you do when you have a dvr and record a show you don’t have the spitting time for, right? Whatever.
Slinging you right into story time, on account of: I’m red around the collar about this issue. I was about nine or ten years old the day my momma came home and announced that we were all hightailing it to the Smokies for Christmas. Was going to be a grand affair. Now, my siblings were small—and gullible—and I smelt skunk, high and tight. But, I was lured momentarily by the Kool-Aid and the high-hoe-cherry-o tunes of Ol’ Saint Nick as we cruised up a mountain. Until the Charlie Brown tree incident, I was right as rain—and then my uncle came into the “cabin” with a stick which we were expected to hold hands around, hang tinsel upon and the like. And it was like a Tuesday. Weren’t Christmas at all, and I knew it. I think they call this kind of shenanigans “performative.”
For the rest of my years, I will believe that I missed a Christmas—or Yule—or both. Now, everyone else had his or her holiday. Lesse: there were stockings, oh yes, presents, jolly little ditties of songs and peppermint canes. But: it was like a Tuesday. Now, I like Tuesdays. I’ve had tea and sex and babies and watched movies and eaten burgers on Tuesdays. I’ve laughed and sinned and cried and scratched my size six ass on Tuesdays. I think I’ve even birthed flesh on a Tuesday. So. Go, Tuesday.
But you cannot, I repeat, you cannot put lipstick on a pig and expect it to kiss like Julia Roberts in 1982. (You can, however, hope for a simile of Madonna and Britney Spears on a stage. Performance, anyone?)
Let’s review how Summer Solstice is not a Tuesday, shall we? (I told y’all I was coming back . . . and bringing hell with me.) The longest day of the year will not occur until June 20th at 23:09. The sun’s light will shine perfectly upon one of the Earth’s two tropical latitude lines at this time, not before, not after, right f’ing then. I live in the Northern Hemisphere. On account of this little ditty, the sun’s tilt on Her audacious axis will make it the height of summer here—the height of winter elsewhere . . . and, in the words of the illustrious Eddie Izzard: THIS IS ALL TRUE. And, because I have a doctorate and do not fully respect it (and because I am whooped from moving to the country), from About.com:
On June 21, there are 24 hours of daylight north of the Arctic Circle (66.5° north of the equator) and 24 hours of darkness south of the Antarctic Circle (66.5° south of the equator). The sun’s rays are directly overhead along the Tropic of Cancer (the latitude line at 23.5° north, passing through Mexico, Saharan Africa, and India) on June 21.
Now then. I’d like to see a college town change that on account of a football game.
But, moving on: The path of the (ecliptic) path of the Sun matters in several ways to this old witch:
1. I am a fire sign.
2. This is the measurable equivalent to a halfway mark in my magic year.
3. I’m not an asshat.
As I tell my students more than they would like to hear: we must be precise. We must consider everything if we want something to happen.
Riddle me this, bat-pagans: have you ever just gone skiddles and left out the baking soda in a homemade bread? Or skipped the eggs in pancakes? Or forgotten the yeast in mead? Mmmm hmm. How’d that work out?
That’s what I thought. You ordered pizza. Didn’t you.
I grow so indeterminably weary of Pagans, and Christians, who groan on about failed spells/prayers that were slung, haphazard, into chilled air that knew it not. One does not “perform” spirituality; one slings one’s ass (panties and all) into the mud and blood of it and slops it up with a biscuit. Of course, I also have empathy for the young who know not that one does not sling pancakes into the air without proper measurement—but at least they are still grappling with which spatula to grip, aren’t they?
Mayhap SFW has been a bit rough-handed tonight in this determination. Could be that the country air has polluted my social skills and diluted my Southern politeness. And yet, it occurs to me: there comes a time when every soul needs to spend a spell in the woodshed. Or, in other words: do it right, respect the universe, or do hush the whining on why, oh why are my prayers/spells not heard. Ain’t no excuse in the days of internet to not know the moon, y’all.
Well. Weren’t never a good excuse, truth be told.
And in the words of one of my favorite 80s booty songs: “if you’re gonna do it, do it right now, do it with me.” Or hush the Sam-hill up about nothin’ working.
Happy Solstice, y’all!