Thoughts for St. John’s Tide (June 24)
To lofty summer heights,
The gleaming being of the Sun ascends;
It takes my human feeling
Along with it to space expanses.
In boding, there stirs with my being
A sensation, dimly heralding,
One day you will discern:
A godly being sensed in you.
From Rudolf Steiner’s Calendar of the Soul, June 9-15
It’s heating up here where I live, in Sacramento. Temperatures are peaking above 100 degrees, and we anticipate about 30 days of 3-digit heat this summer. The sun’s course across the sky approaches the absolute zenith, and the quality of the light is searing and relentless.
I am not a summer person, neither by inclination nor by constitution. The intense outer light and heat bore into me, and I find it hard to study and stay focused on my studying or consciousness work. I feel the sun burning into my crown chakra and I seek places of shade for respite.
At this season of the year, the marriage of the Sun with the Soul of the Earth has created the marvelous, multi-colored, multi-fragranced World of Nature. The seeds that were buried in the earth throughout the winter have left the nest of darkness, and the plants are daily drawn higher and higher, away from the earth. The Earth Soul now clothes herself in all the colors, fragrances, essential oils of the plant. These are enveloped by the frenzied dances of the birds, the dragonfies, the honeybees. The soul of the earth is ecstatic, as she celebrates a kind of sacred matrimony with the Sun. She holds nothing back, and loses herself in a divine cosmic union. It is said that the Earth is asleep in summer’s heat, and her sleep is in the arms of the sun.
How different this is from the depths of winter, when the soul of the earth chastely withdraws into herself! In the cold, dark time of the year, the Earth Soul is awake, covering herself with a blanket of snow and tending her seeds deep within in a sacred silence. In winter, it is the Sun who must go seeking, to find the soul of the earth in a different kind of marriage, deep in the hidden inner places.
In each season of the year, we humans are drawn into the recurring courtship of the sun and the earth. In winter, we draw inwards even as the Earth Soul does. We light candles for Christmas, and listen for the warmth of the heart fire.
At the summer solstice, however, we must open ourselves even as the Earth Soul does to the sources of life. Like the plants, we open ourselves to the cosmos. We are “turned inside out.”
And here, says Rudolf Steiner, is the true significance of the midsummer festival. This season is sacred to the Archangel Uriel, along with those spiritual beings close to him. This great spiritual being beholds US, in the naked openness of our inside-out souls.
In this season, our thoughts, our feelings, and, most importantly of all, THE EFFECTS OF ALL OF OUR DEEDS are “read” by the spiritual beings. It is in this season that the spiritual beings who are connected with earth clearly perceive what we are doing with our lives and with our planet. And the colors and fragrance that they perceive are the colors and fragrances of our morality.
If this is true—–what will be the response? If their dispassionate gaze sees us and our deeds clearly, what will they reflect back to us to help us evolve towards our human-earthly future?
In the Christian tradition, the festival of St. John is celebrated on June 24, three days after the solstice. John the Baptist was known as the “last prophet,” the hermit in the desert who baptized the man Jesus so that he could become the bearer of the Christ. John, they say, was a tremendous orator. Clothed in animal skins and eating only the food of the desert, he must have been a wild site to behold. He could perhaps have exalted his own personality so that people would worship and idolize himself.
But John the Baptist made himself subservient to a higher calling, and through his words we perceive the gesture of the midsummer sun. John said of Jesus, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” The midsummer sun will soon decrease so that the Inner Sun can appear in midwinter. And John, a radiant sun-like being, is willing to let his own light fade, so that he can make room for a new kind of spiritual awakening on the earth. He can foresee the mantra, “Not I, but Christ in me.”
Passing through the heart of summer, our answer to the Uriel challenge can be: “My I, my small all-too-human I, must decrease. so that the greater cosmic I-AM may live through me, aligning and guiding my personal biography and morality with the great Cosmic I-Am.
The beauty of the world
Compels me from the depth of soul
That I release to cosmic flight
The godly force of my own life:
To leave myself below
And trusting, seek myself
In cosmic light and cosmic warmth.
From Rudolf Steiner’s Calendar of the soul, June 24