Summer, & the Importance of Self Awareness
Here we are at the height of the summer sun; it seems a strange time to reflect on the importance of self awareness, but symbolically, it’s very appropriate.
Archetypally, the sun symbolizes conscious awareness, shedding light on things and enabling us to distinguish things and discern what they really are.
Symbolism of the Solstice
The solstice just occured on June 21, the first day of summer, with the sun at its high point in the sky. The sun’s light is as strong as it gets, and it is the longest day of the year.
In many religious and spiritual traditions, the summer solstice is a high holy day. Why?
Well, the human organism responds to additional light. Consequently, midsummer gives many a feeling of physical and emotional empowerment, and increased capacity to start new endeavours, connect with others, explore new frontiers, and to feel the vital importance of self awareness, as it grows.
On the unconscious level where symbols are created, solstice beckons us to use our increased resources to become more conscious, more aware, more fully alive.
Yet, as the ascent of light reaches its maximum, the days slowly get shorter and darker, and we also move toward the decline of the year.
Solstice in Folklore
At summer solstice, the Sun reaches its northern limit. It’s both the time when the Sun is at maximum intensity, and when that intensity slowly and subtly begins to decrease. So, these are two aspects of traditional celebration of the summer solstice.
Traditional cultural practices include round dances and bonfires, marking the yearly height of the sun’s intensity. Yet, in contrast, it’s also a time of fairies and spirits, lust and love, and trickery — opposites are combined, as Dr. Ismail Wali shows in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Our consciousness may be at its most intense at the Solstice, but it won’t remain so. We should make hay — or increase conscious self awareness — while the sun shines.
Seeing Ourselves, Being Ourselves
There are two large errors that consciousness can fall into when it comes to dealing with the unconscious.
The first of these would be arrogance of consciousness, which assumes that conscious will and awareness is all that there is to oneself as a human being. Both recent neuroscience, and insights gained from /a-midlife-transition show us that this is a hazardous way to think and act. The analogy I often use is to imagine a flea perched on the top most hair on the head of an enormous bull elephant, crashing through the bush, and congratulating itself on its marvelous rate of travel. Clearly the flea of consciousness would do well to take better account of the huge forces at work which are not under the control of its will.
The second error is lethargy of consciousness. Here it’s as if the flea, despite every opportunity to understand the elephant simply–doesn’t. Given our gift of consciousness, doesn’t it actually make a lot of sense to know what we can about our unconscious selves, especially when it can have a huge bearing on concerns such as anxiety and depression?
Savour the Gifts of Summer
When summer arrives our conscious powers may well be at their height. Consider what this consciousness might bring to our journey:
Do you feel clear-sighted at the height of summer?
Is there a special “summer place” where you feel your strongest, best, most relaxed?
If you have the chance to get away this summer, and the chance to rest, recreate and perhaps reflect, please take note: what kind of insights or awarenesses start to come into your life?
Depth case studies stresses the importance of self awareness, and seeks to enable the healing such understanding can bring into the individual’s life.
Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst
© 2015 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)