In summer we are surrounded, immersed, inundated by brilliantly bright light, pervasively palpable heat; pure and potent solar intensity -- the very nerve and verve of life itself. We bask and steep in the positive, primal power of the sun, as well as our own. The passionate strength of the life force surges in our cells, flooding all of our senses with waves of lascivious longing and naked desire. We open ourselves to the experience, the energy, the ecstasy.
If the seasons of the year were a plant, the summer would be the flowers -- lovely, lush and vaguely lewd. Fully realized blossoms -- blatant and blowzy, lavishly colored and shamelessly, intoxicatingly scented like the blooming sexual organs that they are.
Like the sun and the sap, the libido also rises in summer. Out of its basket it surges, the charmed and sinuous serpentine call of the wild. No sissy spring fever, this. But full-fledged, full-bodied, full-of-pluck, magenta plush lust. Robust and randy. Raring, willing and completely able. The season pounding in our pulse, people, like flowers, are now quite perfectly primed. Vigorous, vital, and vivacious, we are fragrant and perfect and ready to pick.
If the sun is at its zenith in the sky, so, too, is nature here on Earth at the summit of its sumptuousness, the height of fertile power of the sun and the fecundity of the plants and animals that feed us. "As above, so below," so the Talmud tells us. The sap has risen. The plants are in their prime. First fruits and flowers, grasses and game offer themselves for the taking. Trees are resplendent in their rich garments of verdure. The landscape is lush with life.
For the members of the Voodoo cults of New Orleans, St. John's Day, June 24, was the most important holiday of the year. The main ceremony was a ritual dance called the Calinda, performed by the Voodoo Queen, Mam'zelle Marie La Veau around a fire to the frenzied beat of Congo drums and gourds. The dancers would twist and turn, gyrate and shake. Twirl and swirl in sinuous, tantalizing imitation of the Sacred African Serpent. Crowds of whites and Creoles would gather around the sizzling plaza, Congo Square, to fuel the heat of their own horny loins.
Over the ages, customs and myths have arisen to encourage -- to ritualize -- a summer mating season in order to ensure a successful procreation. Pro-life means more than just having children. It means having a way of keeping them alive. If people coupled in the spring when they first start feeling the fever, the baby would be born at the beginning of winter -- just in time for the start of the long months of cold and hunger. It would be like shooting craps with the infant mortality rate. Better by far to be born in spring when the odds of survival are so much more favorable.
Ovid relates an oracle, which he received from the Priestess of Jupiter pertaining to the impending marriage of his daughter. She counseled him to have her wait "until the Ides of June." "There is no luck for brides and their husbands until the sweepings from the Temple of Vesta have been carried down to the sea by the yellow Tiber." June 15th was Vestalia, the Roman Festival of New Fire celebration when the altars to Vesta were renewed.
The month of June was named for the Roman Goddess Juno, the patroness of marriage and it has long been the time dedicated to lovers. Aroused young girls in many places around the world practiced divination in June to determine the identity of their own true mate. The made love charms and placed them in the fire, over the heart and under the pillow to entice the partner of their dreams.
Shakespeare's ode to the Summer Solstice, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is a sweet one of rightfully requited love. A tour de forest in which the convoluted courtships of two pairs of lovers come to a happily-ever-after ending.
In the Greek countryside, one can still see St. John's wedding processions made up of masquerading children. The miniature bride and groom, properly veiled and suited, are preceded by a young boy baring a rod and followed by a bevy of tiny, twittering ladies-in-waiting.
And June weddings, last I heard, are still very much in style.
I have a proposal to make. And I'm down on one knee to do it. This summer shall we engage in holy wedlock with the world? Shall we pledge our troth to the earth, to the sun, to all of nature, and each other? Shall we promise to have and to hold? To love and to honor? To respect and protect our most beauteous and beloved planet? Shall we take Her as our cherished bride and stride off into a secure future of fond and careful husbandry?