On the evening of the Summer Solstice I found myself standing before the tall iron gates to what looked like a secret garden. Beyond the concrete threshold I imagined trees, flowers and perhaps an ancient crumbling house full of long-buried secrets. My imagination often runs away with me in this way.
As the warm air tousled with my hair, I felt my shoulders drop a little and I forced myself to focus on the present moment. Sunlight cast dappled shadows on the soft earth beneath a canopy of trees. Trees spiralled upwards, arms outstretched, seeking the sun, seeking life.
Standing before the hidden woodland I hoped to find everything I loved about the world; connection. Connection with others, with mother nature and with my creativity. I was ready to embrace all that’s special about the summer solstice; reflection, gratitude and growth.
After a refreshing drink of homemade botanical water, the group of summer solstice seekers sat in a circle on the woodland floor, eyes shining with expectation. Soon enough we began our yoga session on what was the International Day of Yoga. There’s something meditative in in itself about yoga. Bending to the will of the caramel-toned voice, words commanding the body, gently coaxing the stresses of the day out and into the air. Being guided through a series of poses, thinking suspended, the body just fluid movements and the breath. There’s something freeing in the act of offering the body, connecting the mind with the body and harnessing the energy of the natural world. For someone who is very often stuck in their own head, this was an incredibly relaxing yoga session.
With limbs suitably loosened, we were guided through the steps to make our own willow crown, complete with woodland detritus. Sitting beneath the safety of the trees with a group of strangers, very quickly I felt my soul unburden as I discussed things I hadn’t shared with anyone outside of my close family. Very quickly I felt that I was among friends.
Soon we were asked to write something in response to our surroundings and were urged to follow our instincts. I felt a need to explore the woodland. My eyes fell upon a plant, whose stems were naked and had once held delicate sprays of tiny white flowers. The shape of its waning form reminded me of the four seasons. I let my instinct take over. Too often I overthink things, especially when it comes to writing. I wonder if they’d like that phrase? Will anyone read this? Is that the right word? It was freeing to let my mind flow and to trust that my instinct would drive the pen forward.
This is what I wrote:
Summon the seasons with one stem
There is all of life on this here stem.
Tiny spring growths have nourished forth,
Outstretched spines cradle creamy white flowers
bright as the rays of the sun.
Plump pods house next year’s life,
Skeletal tendrils cast delicate silouettes in the crisp moonlight.
With creativity unbidden, ideas flowed freely from my pen. Without the usual overactive mental commentary, my subconscious was able to run with its instincts.
By the end of the session my mind was brimming with ideas, my body was nourished from the wonderful food and my soul was imbued with the energy of the sun.
Our last task was to create an intention for ourselves for the coming months. Something that would guide and motivate us through the remainder of the year. My intention centered on the connection between our actions and our journey through life and how one is dependent on the other. After an evening full of connection, I now know that I have the ability to summon the strength of this special Summer Solstice whenever I need it.