The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder. ~Virginia Woolf~I used to love Summertime when I was little. The feeling of the hot pavement smarting my feet, walking by houses in the early morning smelling the sweet and fresh perfume of new cut grass, and the freedom of not having to do any homework and playing outside until the sun stayed awake later than usual. That all changed for me when I was eleven years old.
in this gorgeous area of the local mountains, where they rode horses, had a dance every Saturday night with a vintage jukebox where songs like "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)" were played over and over. They formed crushes on girls, that were bittersweet when their time at camp came to an end. I envied them for all the fun they had, but I always went to a day time summer camp that went to the beach every day and I would swim in the ocean pretending I was a mermaid.
On the summer when I turned eleven, it was my turn to go to Calamigos. My brothers were six and eight years older than me, so their time at camp was over, they had moved on. I was terrified at first at the thought of sleeping away from home and being away from my pets, (notice I didn't say my parents), but I had no choice. I ended up having the best time and not wanting to come home. I too, formed my own crushes and loved having the reputation of being Eric and Tony's little sister to the counselors who knew them. I rode horses until I was so sore, but I wouldn't have traded it for the world. Camp became my new paradise. There was a parent's visiting day for the campers each summer session and my parents would always show up first for my brother's than it was my turn to see them. The visit was fun as I showed them around the camp even though they had seen it so many times between my brother's parents day and now me.
Why I'm talking about this, is because Litha/Summer Solstice just happened and every year it fills me with the same dread of remembering that Summer. I've worked through a lot of the emotional issues through therapy, journaling, group counseling etc...but I never can quite end the pain. Summer is pushed by the popular media as being the time to go out there, have some fun, go on vacation and act like there's no tomorrow. And I have had many fun Summers since I was eleven. I wonder though if people really knew the lore and mythology of the Oak King and the Holly King fighting over the love of the Goddess, would they be all smiling shiny-happy people? Our ancestors knew that soon it would be time, to gather the harvest and prepare for the Fall and Winter when food would be more scarce and the light of day would be filled with a darkness. Imagine the energy of the Oak King, being like Robin Hood, the Green Man. Full of youthful energy, virile, strong and gleaming.
Mary on her blog "Avalon Revisited" wrote a wonderful post about the Holly and the Oak king that I urge you to check out so you can learn more about who they are and their story.
I've learned to accept the duality of myself with the youthful Oak King and how he serves to teach me of how joyful Summer can be despite the past. If I don't honor him, I stay stuck in sorrow and pain. And then the Oak King reminds me, that we must all descend into our own darkness for insight and wisdom. The trick is to live in the present, knowing that the cycle of life has to include a death for rebirth. The Holly King in the image above tenderly holds the new baby, the Oak King when he hasn't grown old enough to engage in battle for the Goddess. Our feminine energy that loves both and is receptive to the offerings they bring her.
When the heart grieves for what is lost, the spirit rejoices over what is left" ~~ Sufi Epigram