"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time

- John Lubbock, Sr.

The Temple of Earth Festival of Water

At the peak of midsummer, when the sun is highest in the sky and the days are longest, we are balanced midway between everything in our lives. It is a time of great joy but also a time of reflection of all that has come before and all that is yet to come. While midsummer is a time to enjoy the warmth of the world, it’s also a time to take stock and make sure our lives are going in the direction we wish them to.

Many people in the northern hemisphere view summer as a time for relaxation and vacation. Schools normally are on break, people take siestas to get away from the heat and couples get married and go on honeymoon. Yet at the same time, the warm weather means that people are outdoors more in the evenings and flock to large bodies of water in the daytime. More daylight hours mean that people have more energy and can indulge in greater freedoms than at other times of the year.

Thus the summer solstice is a time of freedom, both inner and outer. We take advantage of this time by investigating our inner lives through meditation and taking stock, and our outer lives by engaging in the adventurous. Water is a symbol for freedom as it is a symbol for adventure and travel. It also helps keep us cool!

There are many ways to celebrate water day. The most obvious is to go for a swim. If you’re lucky enough to live by the beach or a lake, you can gather friends and family and spend the day there. Those who don’t can go to a public swimming pool, or arrange a party at a friend’s house who has one. Don’t forget the value of cheap inflatable pools either! If you have a yard and can turn on the sprinklers, this will work in a pinch. Finally, taking a cue from the famous water-throwing festivals celebrated in South East Asia during their hottest season (for them, in April), we encourage you to engage in the liberating and humbling activity known as a water fight! Fill up water pistols and cups with water and enjoy a friendly release of tension! A cheap and powerful water cannon can be fashioned by assembling two pieces of PVC pipe. See how to here.

Barbecues are the favorite cuisine for the summer solstice. In keeping with the water and adventure theme, however, try to be adventurous with your sauces! Avoid bottled barbecue sauces and ketchup and try to experiment. Of particular importance at the Festival of Water are drinks (of course!). Since June has been a traditional month of weddings and “honeymoon” comes from the fact that couples were meant to drink honeyed drinks and foods, we recommend making lemonade sweetened only with honey. Add a little bit of salt to make it more refreshing and “drier-tasting.” For a truly refreshing and exotic drink, add mint leaves! For those who drink alcohol, the Spanish drink “tinto de verano” (literally red wine of the summer) is a more refreshing version of sangria and is easier to prepare. Basically mix equal parts red wine and a dry lemon soda like those made by Schweppes or Canada Dry. The Spanish use a lovely soda called “Casera” that is only available in Spain. If you must, use Seven Up or Sprite, but this is likely to give it a cloyingly sweet taste.

When the excitement of the day is over, take a long, warm bath. Pour a few teaspoons of olive oil and lemon into the water as you’re drawing it. As you sit in the bath, meditate for a few minutes on the physical sensation of the warm water and let your mind relax. Then, before you go to bed set aside a half an hour to meditate on the year and on your life in general. Are you where you want to be? What steps can you take to bring you closer to balance? Infuse yourself with the power and optimism of the season to see the way through to the end of the year. Make sure to write down any inspirations that came to you in your meditation and go to bed. If you have a mate, try to make this night a special one for lovemaking.

c 1998-2005 Temple of Earth