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Summer holds great beauty. It is also intense. The heat combined with the swift pace of life in summer can leave you feeling out of breath and thirsty. Interestingly, the way you are feeling and experiencing the time of year is no accident. The lessons of summer happen quickly just like the rapid growth that occurs during this season. You might be hard pressed to easily identify some the teachings and gifts that you have received during this summer.

What helps me make some sense of it all are teachings from Native American Elders. I share with you my understanding of those teachings so they may help you too. The South and summer are the same in the Native teachings I received. According to the Elders each season, indeed everything related to Mother Earth, has specific attributes, gifts and lessons that we can apply to our own lives so that we may walk in balance with the whole. The teachings are rich and complex. They require living and studying them to glean the fullness contained in each season. This post will give some basics of the teachings related to the South or summer. Consider them a starting point from which to begin.

The summertime looks different in areas of North America. It may be lush and green, dry and hot, or humid and wet depending on your location. Regardless of location, the summer is a time when everything is amplified. Life is busy with growing and expanding. We too are growing; perhaps in awareness, in experience or in understanding.
Most of us find ourselves busy during this time of year. We are out in Nature, spending time with family and friends, taking advantage of longer days and we pack them full. Relationships are one of the prominent features in the South. In the summer you have the opportunity to experience relationships in their intensity. If you feel like things are magnified you are right! Everything is heightened at this time.

yellow flowers

In the Native tradition in which I was taught, summer is the seat of the fire. This makes sense when you remember the intensity of summer. Fire burns and it can be destructive if given free range, however it also transforms. In Native teachings fire is sacred; it represents Spirit. That is why fire is always present in the prayer ceremonies such as sweat lodge.

Coyote is one of the totem animals of the South. Other Native people may have different animals holding a totem place in the South. Coyote or his energy shows up when we are taking life too seriously. In the past, I have found myself going around in circles in the summer. It was common for me to get lost while driving. This was coyote at play reminding me to lighten up and laugh at myself and how serious I was making everything. One of the things he teaches is that laughter helps to break up the constriction of seriousness. It lets some light in so that the Divine can offer: a solution, a wonderful gift or some beauty.

Little mouse is the other totem animal of the South. While little mouse may not travel far, he knows intimately his immediate surroundings. He is keenly aware of what is going on around him. Little mouse is a good housekeeper. There is a place for each thing and he knows exactly where it is located.

Faith, Trust and Humility are aspects of the lessons of the South. These three traits are present within each teacher. You need each to learn to work with the fire. Coyote carries these with him in his applications to restore you to balance. He uses them indiscriminately to help you to obtain all three. Little mouse keeps them very close and is a powerful teacher of each characteristic.

Earlier, I said that the lessons of summer, the South, are fast and they can be challenging. You may feel overwhelmed or side swiped at times. Knowing these concepts may put you more at ease with the lessons of the South, summer. Understanding gives you some tools to work with during this intense time.

For example; it is possible to use the energy of the fire to transform relationships and yourself. Fire is sacred. Something as simple as a meditation on fire will bring illumination. If you are a responsible, prepared person you could have an actual fire. *Safety Note* Please educate yourself about fire safety regulations of the place you want to have a fire before you have a fire! Be mindful and careful. If you meet these criteria; sit with the fire, think about what you want transformed. Ask the Spirit of the fire to help you. See what is revealed to you.

When you are out on the land or with friends and family take notice of what it is that is growing within you and in your relationships. Think about how to bring some lightness and laughter to your life and gatherings. Call on coyote to assist you with letting go of worry or being overly serious about life.

Consider your household. Is it in order? Are you able to locate what you need at a moment’s notice? Little mouse can teach you everything about keeping an ordered house both in the physical realm and within your mind.

How are you with the three qualities of faith, trust and humility? Can you see where in your own experience the lessons of summer and the South point to each of them?
Take the teachings deeper while you have the last few days of summer and the South as teachers. Doing so prepares you to enter the next season and the lessons of fall, the West, from a more centered place. Good journeys!

Shelly O'Connell

Shelly O'Connell

Shelly O’Connell, M.Div. is an author, artist and speaker engaging people in the discovery of their own Sacredness and wisdom. She has an extensive background in Native American Spirituality and women’s advocacy. Connect with Shelly for additional information at: