Summer will arrive on June 21, with the summer equinox. In pre-modern cultures, the seasons provided a framework for everyday living, and connection to the natural world. I find that the disconnection that accompanies modern living can leave us feeling unsettled, and may lead to stress and disease.
Seasons are our guide to connect to the energy of the world around us. The intelligence of the natural world allows us to become resilient, or at least, stress-neutral. Ancient, medieval and indigenous peoples understood this, because they were more closely connected to the daily, monthly and yearly movement of the sun. Many healing traditions are based on the rhythm of the seasons, and include the four elements – earth, air, fire and water.
Summer is the season of the element of fire. We know from our own experience that summer is warm and relatively dry – and that we need to keep ourselves hydrated and cool. Our bodies crave moistening foods, and raw foods, and we find that we need less protein than at other times of the year. The farmer’s markets are starting, and are filled with fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs that call out to us. Summer is a time of productivity in the natural world – plants grow quickly, fueled by the extended hours of sunlight – sometimes so dramatically that I believe that I can actually watch and hear them grow. I notice that I’m more active, as well, and I feel rejuvenated by the sunlight and breeze on my skin as I spend time in my own garden.
For the last few years, I’ve grown Calendula in my garden. Calendula officinalis is a favorite flower for summer. It is a native of southern Europe and Asia, and is often called “pot marigold”. It seems like a quintessential summer plant – it looks like little sunbursts, that bloom continuously throughout the season. It’s become a part of a meditation for me, as I plant the seeds in late winter/early spring in my greenhouse. The seed itself is a little curved, bug-like whimsical shape that never fails to bring hope for warmer times. It grows rapidly in pots, which I transplant to the garden before the official start of summer. It produces lots of blooms, which I’ll harvest daily – some will be used for an infused oil, some for tincture. And – the bunnies seem to dislike the taste, and so, like common marigold, it can make a good border plant to protect other tastier plants.
Warming and drying (like the season of summer), calendula is well researched. For many, it helps clear skin conditions, and can be used internally, as well as applied externally to the skin. It is bitter to the taste, and also supports digestion, and can be made into a tea, sweetened with a bit of honey. It’s a gentle and powerful plant that is a good introduction to the study of herbs.
Pre-modern people understood the flow of nature and the paths of the sun and the moon. Nature is a gentle and generous teacher, making the wisdom of the plant and animal world available to those who are curious. Nature can also be a stern teacher at times, and we can benefit from the cycle of seasons, giving us a chance to repeat a lesson, and build on what we experienced in the past.
Perhaps summer can provide you an opportunity to slow down a bit during these long days, and experience a deeper connection to the world around you.
Nebraska's Season of "Sprummer"
All the time, we talk about the "harsh" seasons of Nebraska and the intensity of the prairie. How drought, very high or low temperatures, and blowing winds turn the prairie plants into resilient roots of fortitude. In Nebraska, our climate is known for having (what feels like) 2 days of Spring, then leaping right into Summer...jokingly referred to as "Sprummer" by many. In this Seasonal Chat, Lisa tips us into preparation for the upcoming Summer season.
(Click image for video link!!!)