It’s a Mad-Mad-Mad-Mad Midsummer

With the exact moment of summer solstice barely an hour gone, my inner eye is on the heavens. A grand time to post my best seasonal wishes . . . and a few celestial thoughts.

When times are desperate, astrologers often ring semi-alarmist alarm bells by alluding to the horrible histories that occurred the last time particular planets formed the particular aspects they are forming now.

Fair enough, the long-term transit of Saturn (planet of hard knocks, illness, restriction, order) conjunct (intertwined with) Pluto (planet of death, power, secrets, everything Goth) in Capricorn (Saturn’s sign, serious, authoritative) describes our current COVID-19 lockdowns/police oppression/socio-political revolution sitch perfectly.  But what do we gain by looking back 500 years to the last time Saturn was conjunct Pluto in Capricorn — to Martin Luther’s Reformation and Hernán Cortés’ destruction of the Aztec Empire?  Sure, those events also perfectly fill the astrological bill, but human history is so fraught with horrors, I defy you to find any year where parallel hell-in-a-handbasket disasters weren’t occurring somewhere on the planet.

Personally, I’m more concerned about the mad number of planets in retrograde at the moment.  (From our earthly p.o.v., a “retrograde” planet appears to be moving backwards in the night sky.)

Mercury went retrograde yesterday and will stay that way until July 11th.  “Mercury retrograde” is the one everyone knows, because it happens all the time.  Wonky communications for a couple weeks.  Missed packages.  Kids acting up.  C’est la vie.

Venus has been retrograde since May 13th and won’t go direct till June 25th.  Weird undercurrents in relationships and with money.  Jupiter (nothing if not enthusiastic) and Saturn (see above) are spending the entire summer retrograde, mid-May till mid-September.  Reckless excesses and out-of-the-blue dis-ease/disease.  Neptune is going retrograde on the 23rd and not letting up till nearly December.  Subconsciously-triggered depression and anxiety.  And Pluto is also in it for the long haul; retrograde since the end of April and till the beginning of October.  Emotions bubbling up from who knows where and exploding at random.

The thumbnails above are worst-case scenarios.  The main thing with retrogrades, to my mind, is they highlight stuff that’s going on, but for some reason we find hard to grasp, or discern where it’s coming from, or bring to the forefront of our consciousness.  Retrograde can muddy the waters, fog our vision, and leave us vulnerable. 

Today’s annular solar eclipse?  Yeah, it’s a big deal.  Kinda.

By the by and in case you’re wondering, the “annular” bit means the moon-disk isn’t on a par with the sun-disk, so at the peak of the eclipse, the sun appears as a super-bright ring — an annulus — around the black moon.

No denying, for a giant moon-wolf to devour the sun (even for a short time) on her brightest, longest day is not a good omen.  In days of yore, only those dwelling in the eclipse’s path would have cause to worry.  The rest of the Pagan world would be blissfully oblivious to, and presumably, therefore, blissfully unaffected by the dire consequences of the event.  Modern world-conscious, globally plugged-in neo-Pagans are highly aware.  Some of us may even muse upon the significance of the eclipse hitting parts of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Pakistan, India, and China directly.

Good news is, an eclipse means the moon is new in Cancer, exact tonight at 22:41 Pacific Time.  New moon, full sun . . . a wonderful window of opportunity for thinking about our relationship to society, for blessing our homes if we’ve got them, and for sending bright blessings to those we love.

Wishing you all a joyous Midsummer.  May you have the sun’s fierceness and the oak tree’s strength to weather the months ahead.

How about a Cornish Midsummer Bonfire song to close?

The bonny month of June is crowned
With the sweet scarlet rose;
The groves and meadows all around
With lovely pleasure flows.

As I walked out to yonder green,
One evening so fair;
All where the fair maids may be seen,
Playing at the bonfire.

Hail! lovely nymphs, be not too coy,
But freely yield your charms;
Let love inspire with mirth and joy,
In Cupid’s lovely arms.

Bright Luna spreads its light around,
The gallants for to cheer;
As they lay sporting on the ground,
At the fair June bonfire.

All on the pleasant dewy mead,
They shared each other’s charms;
Till Phoebus’ beams began to spread,
And coming day alarms.

Whilst larks and linnets sing so sweet,
To cheer each lovely swain;
Let each prove true unto their love,
And so farewell the plain.

Castle an Dinas – midsummer bonfire, 2009

15 thoughts on “It’s a Mad-Mad-Mad-Mad Midsummer”

  1. Risa,
    My whinging and carrying on about missing the Sonoran Desert may be blown out of proportion because I may not visit it this year. This will be in spite of our having a hideaway located in our favorite place which would allow us to get in our vehicle in NM and get out at our front door in AZ with no stops for fuel, food or nada. Staying safe is our primary concern without regard for age, physical condition or pleasure.
    I must apologize, but your asking the question “Is it still on for this Fall” breached an emotional dam. Therefore the following torrent:
    As I understand the Sonoran Desert it’s boundaries are botanically defined by the existence of two specific plants. First the saguaro cactus and Second the little leaved palo verde. I spent ample time roaming the desert in Mexico but I am partial to the area defined by the Sierra San Luis (just touching the border from the Mexican side) and the North slopes and foothills of the Santa Catalina mountain range (just north of Tucson).
    The mountains in this area rise to 10,000 ft. altitude. They are often referred to by the area’s indigenous people as the sky islands. They are populated by black bear, mule deer, coatimundi (Chula to the Spanish speaking), big horned sheep, mountain lions, wild turkey and the rare jaguar as well as small rodents and a large variety of owls, hawks and humming birds.
    The lower desert is from about 1,000 to 2,400 ft. altitude and populated by white-tail deer, rattle snakes (cascabel), Gila Monsters, Sonoran Iguanas, horned toads, javalina, bobcats, coyote, fox, quail, dove, ravens, red tail hawks, owl varieties from elf to great horned, and turkey vultures. The local insect world contains but is not limited to black widow, tarantula and trapdoor spiders, ant lions, centipedes, multiple varieties of scorpions, millipedes and various sizes and types of ants. Most of these inhabitants will be encountered in or around the mesquite shaded arroyos and dry sandy stream beds.
    It is on the slopes between the mountains and the lower desert I spend most of my very young life. It should be easy to see why I miss these natural gifts especially between the monsoons and Fall. To call any part of the Sonoran desert arid and barren just because the temperature can range in a 24 hour period from freezing to broiling and the rivers are mostly dry demonstrates a gross lack of understanding of the natural world.
    As an afterthought. I believe the only river to run perennially from south to north across the Mexican –American border is the San Pedro which is smack-dab in the middle of the Sonoran Desert.

    • Back at the New Year of 2012, I got my first and only glimpse of the northern fringe of Sonoran Desert through the windshield of our then-new(ish) Prius C as we barreled across Arizona (I swear the median speed was 90 mph) on our way home from Houston. Even at high speed and from a ridiculous distance, the view was astounding. A forest of saguaro is an incredible sight — literally hard-to-believe, alien, unlike anything anywhere else on the planet.

      Far more potent than memories and still images, your torrent of words flooded my senses and fed my soul. Thanks so much.

      • Hmmm … tried to post a pic in the comments, but it doesn’t seem to be working… If it’s working for anyone else, credit goes to Cindy Devin for “The beauty of the Sonoran Desert. Tucson, Arizona.”
        The pic is more for me than for you anyway.
        I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you’ll get to visit your desert home, but as you say, safety needs must be our #1 right now. Wishing you Well.

  2. I give up. Apparently I can only be satisfied by ever faster change after change. We live part time in the zone between the southern end of the Rockies and the northern high Chihuahuan desert. It is only July. Now I am already Jonesing for our alternate Fall stay in the Sonoran Desert with it’s purple evening shadows and the Gamble Quail dashing from one mesquite covered sandy wash to another. All this topped off by the intoxicating smell of freshly rained on creosote bushes. See what your sojourn around the Astrological Wheel has done to me?
    One Desert Lover’s Lament!

    • Oh, no! What have I wrought? ;)
      The Sonoran Desert covers quite an extensive territory and sprawls across the border, with more in Mexico than the US. Is your annual sojourn international? And is it still on for this Fall?

  3. Dear Risa,
    We celebrated the Winter Solstice with a hint of joy, knowing that the daylight WILL get longer & we celebrated the Summer Solstice also with a hint of joy knowing that the daylight WILL get shorter.
    I enjoy your blogs & I am happy that you have resumed after a hiatus, the Midsummer Bonfire song was lovely, I would love to hear you sing it.
    Abrazos, Adrian

    • How kind of you to stop by and leave a few thoughts :)
      Your mention of midwinter and midsummer in the same sentence gave me a visceral sense of hurtling through space and ’round the sun on a wobbly blue marble. Ain’t it grand?

  4. I immensely enjoyed—and found informative—this blog. I also found the comments equally stimulating. I cherish that your world, Risa, embraces so many bright people.

  5. Why not listen to everyone?
    I try to take my tips from time proven sources. Recent sources are getting less and less reliable. Ergo: “The beautiful and good person neither fights with anyone nor, as much as they are able, permits others to fight . . . this is the meaning of getting an education— learning what is your own affair and what is not. If a person carries themselves so, where is there any room for fighting?”—E PICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 4.5.1;

    • Time proven, indeed. Ancient wisdom can be a bit of a downer, though. It constantly attests to how much we have always known and how little we have managed to learn from it. Epictetus was post-Christ, wasn’t he? Barely? Born a slave, which may have contributed to his Stoic stance. Everything is beyond our control, except our own actions — so accept whatever happens without being bothered (keep calm and carry on), whilst getting your act(ions) together through ruthless self-examination and strict self-discipline.
      I rather admire the serene acceptance bit, but the rest of it doesn’t suit my fiery nature. My fave thing from him (if I’m not mixing him up with someone else?) is along the lines of, “We aren’t disturbed by things, but by our view of them.” I like it because it reflects a personal belief I’ve long held dear (though I don’t claim to live by it): Reality is a function of perspective.

  6. Always feel a little twinge of sadness when we pass this mark. May just seems to burst with so much life and the whole year seems to spread out before you… and then you realise the longest day is just around the corner. And then it’s gone…

    Damn, this lockdown is makin’ me fierce maudlin’!

    • Do you? Feel a twinge of sadness as we cross from the waxing of the sun’s year to the waning? At my age, I’m starting to feel a twinge of sadness (and other twinges) at every seasonal marker. Time is feckin’ relentless. But I’ve always felt a spark of excitement at this juncture, because I tend to wilt in the heat and squint in the sun. That amazing autumnal slant to the sunlight as days grow shorter and nights longer . . . I try not to pick favorites, but I love the fall. It’s a fair cop.

  7. Solstice
    Thank you for reminding us of a universal principal. We are not doomed by extremes. We are blessed. For they must, at some point, not only return to center, but move in an opposite direction.

    Within minutes of reading your post I moved on to one of my daily readings. (The 365 Tao by Deng, Ming-Dao p.172). This cannot be a coincidence. I will attempt to paraphrase it in brief. (respecting the copyright)

    Solstice is when true light bathes the entire planet. A time of great power. This event is only evident for the instant the sun seems to stand still. Taoists celebrate the event as a reminder that everything has a zenith and a nadir. Only today is Day so much more in evidence than Night. Night now starts to climb to its own power. All is balance. It is right to celebrate, but only with humility because the antithesis of what we just celebrated comes soon after. Similarly do not despair of bad times because whatever you do, fortune will come. Those who learn to ride the extremes of cycles and exult in them are the most learned.

    Now, to offer some ironic (on the comic side) relief for economic insecurity I refer to Annie Dillard how her father attempted to explain why men on Wall Street jumped from skyscrapers during the 1929 stock market crash. “They lost everything.” Annie thought they lost everything only when they jumped. It was not because of the universal misery…….bread lines…….haunted, starving children. It was because all the businessmen realized at once, on the same morning, that paper money was only paper. What terrible fools. What did they think it was?

    Call me perverse if you wish. I learned long ago, courtesy of Victor Frankel, We, ourselves alone, are responsible for how we feel as a result of facing any given situation.
    So, thanks to you Risa, along with Deng, Ming-Dao, Annie and Victor for thoughts, pictures, poetry and a perfect morning.

    • Your comment hit me just right on so many levels.
      First, seeing your had responded at all was a huge relief. I was a bit nervous my astrological tangent would lose me my favorite readers. Any hint of “what’s your sign?” can be a major turn-off to some. For me, astrology is just another language (highly akin to music, in fact, what with it being all about harmonic / dissonant mathematical relationships), and one that seems to suit seasonal reflections especially well.
      Next, I love that you found hope and solace in a post that, frankly, didn’t try to sugar-coat the bitterness of these times. Ironically, I had just commented quite acerbically on a marvelous post by Declan (check it out HERE), basically criticizing him for trying to see any of this upheaval as part of a natural order. Then Midsummer comes on with a pair of Nuttall’s woodpeckers in the tree outside my window, and baby fawns, and a fox in the neighborhood again, and poppies all over the carport . . . and it reminds me that so much of the world is not the human world, and partaking in its beauty is healing.
      What hit me best and hit me deepest, though, is “Those who learn to ride the extremes of cycles and exult in them are the most learned.” Thanks for that; I’m keeping it close to my heart.


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