“Today is the summer solstice – the longest day of the year. From here we start the long, slow slog to darkness, which culminates at the winter solstice when the sun does its annual ‘about face’ to again, favour us with its warming rays.
As markers of our seasons, the solstices have long been the subject of magic and myth. Even in our scientifically oriented times – if approached with an enquiring spirit, these ancient ideas can inform much about our relationship with the world.
In a letter to a wealthy patron, the renowned Renaissance philosopher and astrologer, Marsilio Ficino, addressed the esoteric significance of the summer solstice, which marks the sun’s entrance into the zodiac sign Cancer:
“Ancient theologians said that souls (animae) go into lower things through Cancer, the domicile of Luna. For since by a disposition to generation they come into a region subject to generation, appropriately they were thought to make their way through the zone of Luna which favours generation. Therefore the ancients called Cancer the gateway of mortals.”
And so according to the ancients, it’s through the portal of the summer solstice that heavenly souls incarnate into the earth plane. Indeed, the sign of Cancer is still associated with lunar functions like mothering and nurturing the tender and young.
Kabbalistically, the moon is associated with the ninth sephira Yesod, which corresponds to the organs of reproduction. Because of its central position in the Kabblistic Tree, Yesod participates simultaneously in the worlds of both body and spirit thereby bridging the gap between the impersonal world of the archetypes and our most intimate selves.
But because Yesod is also associated with the concept of Maya or illusion, it is a place where we can easily go astray. Maya literally means ‘that which is not’. For example, at twilight is it not easy to mistake a rope for a snake and thereby summon inappropriate and unnecessary fears?
For this reason perhaps the most important lesson to learn at the summer solstice is that not everything is as it seems. At this sacred time , we can all too well see that the light force is at its strongest. Yet how many of us take time to comtemplate that within this moment already lies the seed of solar decay.
So today, take time to honour not only the sun’s zenith, but the entirety of its cycle. In doing so, you make a conscious step toward making most of your incarnation through the portal of mortals which likewise, has both a beginning and an end.