Connecting with the energy of summer

As the earth warms and the sun rises high in the sky, this season is all about connecting with the energy of summer – expansion, abundance, intuition and the fire inside, says Emma Johnson

Connecting with the energy of summer starts, always, with fire. Summer bursts into life each May with a fire festival: Beltane – an ancient Celtic celebration that literally means ‘bright fire’.

Traditionally, in Ireland each year, at Beltane, a central beacon fire was lit on Uisneach Hill to mark the onset of summer. Tribal leaders would gather on the summit, and light their torches from the central fire, then take the fire back to their communities. From these flames, each family would light their hearth and use the fire to sustain them throughout the year ahead, linking the community together in a profound, elemental way.

This is the core idea of connecting with the energy of summer: a light within that grows and expands into the world, that offers us a chance to give our hopes and dreams the space to breathe, grow and come alive. ‘There is immense creative power available to you when you connect with the fiery energy of the summer and direct this energy towards what bring you joy,’ writes Isla Macleod in Rituals for Life.

Gathering at Beltane, those who still mark it often use this time to cast into the fire the things in their lives that no longer serve them: self-doubt, fear and unhealthy relationships or habits. Into the space created by this metaphorical casting, we nurture the seeds of possibility planted in the spring. Now is the time to let ideas, new projects and tentative plans blossom and expand into being.

‘The three months of summer are called the period of luxurious growth. The breaths of Heaven and Earth intermingle and are beneficial. Everything is in bloom and begins to bear fruit.’ – Nei Jing

In traditional Chinese medicine, summer is also the month of fire. And in Five Element acupuncture, summer and fire are inextricably linked. Fire has the power to give light, and to illuminate our inner selves, as well as our external world. And the heat of the fire is important too. In ancient Chinese learning, heat means more than just temperature; it’s about how it makes things expand and change.

In our own lives, we can see summer – as with all seasons – as a time of change. The heat of the sun brings an openness, a connection to others, and a sense of abundance as we witness the garden bursting into life, or the vegetable patch bearing rich fruit. In Five Element acupuncture, the sound connected with fire is the sound of laughter, which is why we feel called to be with others, to celebrate the season with parties and picnics – to literally show our joy in a way that we can see and hear.

But connecting with the energy of summer is also a time of stillness, of intuition and connection with ourselves, or stillness and quietness in which we can listen to our inner voice. The busy expansion of summer can sometimes deplete our energies, so it’s important that we slow down, allowing the earth to nourish us and to help us recharge.

This is in part the effect of the heat of the summer, which brings a slower pace of life as we move more carefully in the hotter days. Often, we find ourselves simply lying down in the sunshine, just needing to rest and be still, in a way we wouldn’t do in autumn or winter. It may be that we also feel able to hold ourselves in silence and stillness in summer because it’s the time best suited to connecting with our intuition and our heart’s desire. The heart sits at the centre of Chinese thinking around summer. An organ of fire, it is the deepest part of ourselves, where we feel both love, and loss.

‘The heart is the sovereign of all organs and represents the consciousness of one’s being. It is responsible for intelligence, wisdom, and spiritual transformation.’ – Qi Bo

Learning to tune in and listen to our intuition is a key part of connecting with the energy of summer. As always, nature provides the space for us to do this. At the height of the summer, on 21 June, the Solstice arrives, almost like a sacred pause, the last moment of the receding night, before the balance swings and the nights become longer and the days become shorter. Solstice is all about sun, and strength and abundance – a bittersweet moment of transition and reflection.

‘This is the ideal time to pause and check in with where you are at this midpoint,’ writes Kirsty Gallagher in Sacred Seasons. ‘Your intuition is always there, waiting to guide you to wonderful new opportunities. It is a felt sense, rather than a thought – so practise tuning into the wisdom of your body and how things feel.’

If listening to this inner voice feels alien, start by simply listening to your body. Connecting with the energy of summer heightens our awareness of our senses and how we physically experience the world – the sun and the breeze on our skin, the smell of flowers, the sound of bees, the warm grass under our feet, the taste of strawberries picked from the field. Start to understand how your thoughts manifest in your body. ‘When you need to make a decision,’ writes Gallagher, ‘“feel” it in your body: how would it feel in your body to say yes? How would it feel in your body to say no? It will be subtle at first, but the more you work with and act on your intuition, the more you’ll learn to trust it.’

As you move your body in the warmth, give yourself the space to dance, walk and stretch. Feel the difference in the rhythm of the days from autumn and winter. How does the light and the heat affect the things you do? How does your body feel different? How is the fire moving through you?

‘The invitation of summer is to create, express, dance, celebrate and gather in community, enjoying the beauty of the natural world and your sensual body,’ writes Isla Macleod. To strengthen that connection, light a candle each morning and sit in the simple stillness of its gentle light. Connect with the fire and allow that inner voice to speak to you.

As summer moves on, the final celebration of Lammas, or Lughnasa, arrives in August, representing sacrifice, nourishment and giving. In farming communities, this is the time of the first harvest, the cutting of the corn, the reaping of what we sowed. It’s a time of reflection and gratitude for all that we have, and a gentle acknowledgement of the circularity of life. With great growth and great abundance must come great death. As the corn is cut down in the fields, life moves on, the death of the crops bringing sustaining life to us.

This is a good time to go a little deeper into yourself and consider the idea of giving. What can you give away, or let go of, to help others? And, in turn, help yourself? In some cultures, Lammas is a time to make and give away loaves of bread, to symbolise the gift of bounty and the moment of harvest. But, more metaphorically, perhaps you can think about what you are harvesting in your own life. What seeds have flourished and provided, and what have you neglected? What kindness or acceptance can you give to yourself, and to others? What healing can come from giving?

While Lammas is a celebration and a time of physical busyness as we gather the fruit of our labours, it is also a potent time for slowing down a little – another sacred pause in the circling year. As we reflect on the fire of summer, the voice of our heart, the sensuality of our body and the abundance of this season, we can begin to connect with the energy of summer, the turning wheel of our year, and the different, vital energy of each season.

‘When the pace of modern life can feel overwhelming, connecting back to a more steady, rural-based tradition, adopting a slightly less frenetic pace… can offer a moment of respite and us thrive in this rapid pace of change.’ – Rebecca Beattie

Next: How gardening gave me space

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