I think it’s appropriate that, on the day of Solstice, I taught the myth of Clytie to an 8-year-old. As with all myths there are several versions, some much less kind than others, but this is the one we talked about:
Clytie was a beautiful water nymph with golden hair and big brown eyes. One day she walked outside, looked up, and was utterly captivated by Apollo as He drove the sun chariot across the sky.
For nine days she stood on a rock, not moving or eating, and simply stared at Apollo as He traversed the heavens. She was so obsessed that her only sustenance was dewdrops. She didn’t even rest at night – she simply stood there waiting for Apollo’s return, so she could watch the sun move across the sky again.
Her adoration was absolute, but she suffered for it. Her health and beauty faded. She grew weak, and pale, and wan. Yet still she did not move, so captivated was she.
On the tenth day the Gods looked down and saw Clytie, still standing, still mesmerized, still wasting away. They were touched by her selfless adoration, but concerned for her too. This was no life for a woman or a nymph.
So, taking pity on her, They turned her into a sunflower.
Now her health and beauty are enhanced by the sun, instead of destroyed. She is nourished and sustained by the ground on which she stands, instead of weakened. And to this day the Sunflower is free to stare at the sun to her heart’s content.
Last night, while at my altar, this myth resonated with me on a deep level. First, of course, is the sun aspect and how that relates to Solstice. But it goes deeper than that.
Clytie was so obsessed with the sun she couldn’t function in the rest of her life. That wasn’t healthy, and the Gods knew that. But They also knew that turning her away from the sun completely – by, say, blinding her – would have been equally damaging. They came up with an unorthodox compromise that maintained her health while letting her heart go where it willed.
I found myself focusing on Clytie’s need for balance.
My life has been tumultuous this year. My Lady is the Lady of Change, and I have been living in Her realm since May. I have moved several times. I went from being a single woman working a full-time job to sharing a house with four other people, co-parenting two children, and homeschooling six days a week.
I’ve been so busy adjusting to all the changes and trying to keep my head above water that my spiritual life took a backseat for a bit. And I was so focused on all the day-to-day craziness that I didn’t realize until very recently that the lack of time at my altar – and by extension with the Powers – was affecting me as deeply as it was. It wasn’t just my spiritual life that suffered. Everything else did too.
In a way, I’ve been doing what Clytie did. I’ve neglected essential things I need to be healthy and happy in favor of the things at the forefront of my attention.
I need to learn from Clytie’s story and get some of my own balance back. It’s up to me to restore that which I lost, though. No Gods are stepping in to turn me into a flower!
I took the need for balance to my altar, along with the beginnings of a plan to fix it, and asked the Powers for help. My Lady has been patiently waiting for me to see the problem and step it the fuck up. Now that I have, She’s of course totally willing to help. She always is, but requires a request – and my very best good faith effort – to act. And even then She’s careful not to overstep. How will I learn if I simply go where I’m led?
I don’t yet know what being totally balanced looks like in this new situation, with all the new things going on now and coming up in 2017 (oh yes I have plans!), but after spending some one-on-one time with Her last night I know where to start. That’s the best Solstice gift I could ask for.