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Author Topic: The dark side of Summer  (Read 457 times)

Sefiru

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The dark side of Summer
« on: July 05, 2018, 06:49:58 pm »
It is currently Way Too Hot in my region (as in, the news is reporting heat-related deaths) and that has got me thinking.

A lot of Pagan paths draw inspiration from the folklore of Northern Europe, in which Summer has a mostly positive view. But as you go farther south, the summers get harsher. What kinds of myths are there about negative aspects of summer?

I have some vague memory that some versions of the Persephone myth have summer as the season when Persephone goes to the Underworld, rather than Winter.

Egyptian mythology has the very dangerous Daughters of Ra, representing the harsh effects of the Sun.

And on a more modern take, there's Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith, which portrays the embodiment of Winter much more sympathetically that that of Summer.

I'm sure there are more to be found. What are your thoughts on the dark side of the sunny season?

Ashmire

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Re: The dark side of Summer
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2018, 05:14:49 am »

Egyptian mythology has the very dangerous Daughters of Ra, representing the harsh effects of the Sun.

I'm sure there are more to be found. What are your thoughts on the dark side of the sunny season?

I don't have a lot to add, but I can say for sure summer right now (and most of the time where I live) feels a lot more like angry Sekhmet on the loose than kind but unfortunate Baldr.   Ironically it seems the pale fragile skin of my Northern ancestry suits me better to follow the path of a desert pantheon than the gods some might expect!

baduhmtisss

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Re: The dark side of Summer
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2018, 11:03:21 am »
It is currently Way Too Hot in my region (as in, the news is reporting heat-related deaths) and that has got me thinking.

A lot of Pagan paths draw inspiration from the folklore of Northern Europe, in which Summer has a mostly positive view. But as you go farther south, the summers get harsher. What kinds of myths are there about negative aspects of summer?

I have some vague memory that some versions of the Persephone myth have summer as the season when Persephone goes to the Underworld, rather than Winter.

Egyptian mythology has the very dangerous Daughters of Ra, representing the harsh effects of the Sun.

And on a more modern take, there's Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith, which portrays the embodiment of Winter much more sympathetically than that of Summer.

I'm sure there are more to be found. What are your thoughts on the dark side of the sunny season?

I live in Texas where the Heat is blistering and then the weather changes in a blink of an eye for less than five minutes and then its quite literally back to blistering heat. I've never particularly thought of Summer as a kind season, but neither have I acknowledged its harshness openly.

That's what it is for us (as in the people in my area) though. It's so ridiculously hot you quite literally don't even see the fire ants out. What does that say about the nature of the season that a creature associated with the very idea doesn't want to be exposed to it?

I think the wordplay of saying "Darker" side is misleading, though. It leads to a sense of duality that in my opinion almost doesn't apply to forces like the seasons. The imagery of "darker" is also very attached to the changing of the days too in how they grow shorter and edge into months of winter. The concept is almost (from a seasons point of view and very much from my own perspective) exclusively attached to the winter months.

When I think of winter I think of dormancy, but when I think of Summer; I actually think of death quite a bit more. In my region, it is almost a continuous mini-cycle of life and death. The grass, bushes, and even animals die off from weeks of heat and then it rains and suddenly new life sprouts in a matter of hours or days. Babies are born from the deer, the birds, and the other wildlife just as the resources are dying off quicker then it can feed that wildlife. We have more buzzards here feeding off those that die then we do resources to support. It's.. very cyclical for me.

The caveat to all this the people living here providing man-made resources. We have pools we keep filled in our yard for our dogs. Those pools help the local birds and, amphibians (seriously. frogs, everywhere), and small animals. People also regularly support the deer in the country via feeders, salt licks, and protein blocks. Of course, there is a healthy harvest and with harvesting comes poachers but those are few and far between in such a tight-knit hunting community.

The point being; Summer in Texas is basically all about Death for me. It is not, however, about darkness. That's for winter.

Edit: typos
« Last Edit: July 06, 2018, 11:05:38 am by baduhmtisss »
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Morag

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Re: The dark side of Summer
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2018, 11:35:25 am »
I have some vague memory that some versions of the Persephone myth have summer as the season when Persephone goes to the Underworld, rather than Winter.

I believe historically it was summer that she left, as it that was the hot and barren time in Greece, whereas "winter" was much more conducive to planting things and having them grow.

I could be wrong though.

I'm sure there are more to be found. What are your thoughts on the dark side of the sunny season?

Well, the sunny season out here means our province catches ON FIRE so. I've actually be trying to work in the "darker" aspects of this time of year into my seasonal observations/cosmology buuuut it's slow going because everything is slow going right now. 
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Re: The dark side of Summer
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2018, 01:06:01 pm »
I'm sure there are more to be found. What are your thoughts on the dark side of the sunny season?

Where I used to live, in Southern California, I followed a bioregionally appropriate calendar whereby the summer was the season of death and sleep. When it's that hot, everything moves slower. The plants die back. The hills lie barren. The waterways dry up. All you want to do is lay down by the pool and take a nap in the shade.

Fall is ideal for planting in So Cal. The days are still long enough to provide good sunlight, the heat is more manageable, and when those first rains arrive to bring the world back to life... it's truly a miraculous thing.

I don't know who in their right mind would follow a northern European harvest calendar in such a climate. The cognitive dissonance it requires is astounding. I met so many Wiccish-types who went on and on about spring waking up the world and I'm like... do you not remember how green and vibrant everything was last November? Have you ever tried planting anything around here in the spring? Good luck putting it in the ground if it's not a mature plant. Spring is where So Cal seedlings go to die!
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Re: The dark side of Summer
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2018, 04:50:31 pm »
I believe historically it was summer that she left, as it that was the hot and barren time in Greece, whereas "winter" was much more conducive to planting things and having them grow.

I could be wrong though.

This is how I recall it, as well, so if we're wrong, then we are wrong together ;D.

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Re: The dark side of Summer
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2018, 07:55:19 pm »
It's so ridiculously hot you quite literally don't even see the fire ants out.

Now there's a vivid image.

Quote
I think the wordplay of saying "Darker" side is misleading, though. It leads to a sense of duality that in my opinion almost doesn't apply to forces like the seasons. The imagery of "darker" is also very attached to the changing of the days too in how they grow shorter and edge into months of winter. The concept is almost (from a seasons point of view and very much from my own perspective) exclusively attached to the winter months.

I admit, I used "dark" deliberately here for the contrast with the usual associations of summer. I guess that "dark-as-negative" might be another Northern-European concept? Though as far as I know, similar symbolism is found in warmer climates, too.

Quote
When I think of winter I think of dormancy, but when I think of Summer; I actually think of death quite a bit more. In my region, it is almost a continuous mini-cycle of life and death.

There's something here that connects to Kemetic cosmology somehow. Must let simmer.

Sefiru

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Re: The dark side of Summer
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2018, 07:57:00 pm »
if we're wrong, then we are wrong together ;D.

My favorite way of being wrong!

Sefiru

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Re: The dark side of Summer
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2018, 07:59:26 pm »
I don't know who in their right mind would follow a northern European harvest calendar in such a climate. The cognitive dissonance it requires is astounding. I met so many Wiccish-types who went on and on about spring waking up the world and I'm like... do you not remember how green and vibrant everything was last November?

I can just see them going, "but my book says ..."

So that might be a bit of Christian cultural influence there, as well as Northern-European.

baduhmtisss

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Re: The dark side of Summer
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2018, 08:28:13 pm »
Now there's a vivid image.

I admit, I used "dark" deliberately here for the contrast with the usual associations of summer. I guess that "dark-as-negative" might be another Northern-European concept? Though as far as I know, similar symbolism is found in warmer climates, too.

There's something here that connects to Kemetic cosmology somehow. Must let simmer.

I tend to see 'dark-as-negative' in a lot of mythology I come across, but its not necessarily something that I subscribe to.

As for the Kemetic cosmology connection; the thing that comes to mind is the myths surrounding Set. Though I admit it's been a while since I've looked at those, I tend to think of his rule over the desert lands as similar to the situation in my local region.

Edit: typo
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arete

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Re: The dark side of Summer
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2018, 01:25:49 pm »
It is currently Way Too Hot in my region (as in, the news is reporting heat-related deaths) and that has got me thinking.

A lot of Pagan paths draw inspiration from the folklore of Northern Europe, in which Summer has a mostly positive view. But as you go farther south, the summers get harsher. What kinds of myths are there about negative aspects of summer?

I have some vague memory that some versions of the Persephone myth have summer as the season when Persephone goes to the Underworld, rather than Winter.

Egyptian mythology has the very dangerous Daughters of Ra, representing the harsh effects of the Sun.

And on a more modern take, there's Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith, which portrays the embodiment of Winter much more sympathetically that that of Summer.

I'm sure there are more to be found. What are your thoughts on the dark side of the sunny season?
In Southern Europe summer is indeed harsh. In the old days, farmers worked on their farms, and they didn't enjoy summer vacations. The hot temperature made their work on the farms difficult and farmers could get sunstroke.

Sefiru

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Re: The dark side of Summer
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2018, 06:27:15 pm »
As for the Kemetic cosmology connection; the thing that comes to mind is the myths surrounding Set. Though I admit it's been a while since I've looked at those, I tend to think of his rule over the desert lands as similar to the situation in my local region.

Actually I was thinking more about how order/growth and chaos/destruction are both part of Existence, and both equally opposed to Non-Existence. Or something like that.

Sefiru

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Re: The dark side of Summer
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2018, 06:29:12 pm »
In Southern Europe summer is indeed harsh. In the old days, farmers worked on their farms, and they didn't enjoy summer vacations. The hot temperature made their work on the farms difficult and farmers could get sunstroke.

I'll bet they did! Is the groing season in Greece anything like what Keen described for California earlier?

When it's that hot, everything moves slower. The plants die back. The hills lie barren.

Fall is ideal for planting in So Cal. The days are still long enough to provide good sunlight, the heat is more manageable, and when those first rains arrive to bring the world back to life... it's truly a miraculous thing.

arete

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Re: The dark side of Summer
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2018, 05:34:56 pm »
I'll bet they did! Is the groing season in Greece anything like what Keen described for California earlier?
yes, it is the same!

arete

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Re: The dark side of Summer
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2018, 05:42:32 pm »
it depends what plants you want to grow.

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