2nd Month of Summer

  1. In the second month of summer, the tail of the Great Bear points to the south.
  2. Summer occupies the south. The fullness of power is in Fire.[i] Its will of life is joy, its power maturity and its virtue is ceremony and ritual.
  3. The correspondences of this month are the days ping and ding, the Sovereign Yan, his assisting spirit Zhurong, the creatures that are feathered, the musical note zhi, the pitch-pipe known as Luxuriant, the number seven, the taste of bitter, the smell of scorched, and the sound of laugh. The domestic animal is the chicken; the weapon is the glaive.
  4. Sacrifices are made to the spirits of the stove; in sacrifice, the lung is offered first.
  5. The trigram of the south is Li, Fire. “The Clinging is the brightness in which all creatures perceive one another. That the holy sages turned their faces to the south while they gave ear to the meaning of the universe means that in ruling they turned toward what is light.”[ii]
  6. In the period of Bearded Grain, fledglings leave the nest, snapping turtles walk on land and the monarch butterfly arrives[iii].
  7. In the period of Summer Solstice, feathers are found on the ground, the katydids begin to sing and butterfly weed[iv] blooms.
  8. The Son of Heaven is the Red Tailed Hawk[v]. He wears vermilion robes and vermilion pendants. He rides in a chariot pulled by black-maned vermilion horses and flies a vermilion banner. He resides in the chambers of the south. He drinks waters gathered from the eight winds and cooks with fires kindled with cedar branches. His dishes are large and tall, corresponding to the growth of things; from them, he eats beans and fowl.
  9.  His consorts also wear vermilion garments and play upon zithers.
  10. In this month, the Son of Heaven encourages the growth of what is strong and beautiful. In the pastures, the pregnant mares are separated from the stallions. At this time, dye plants may not be harvested, nor cloth left in the sun to bleach, nor charcoal made. The people must not set fires at this time. Yet they make seek out mountains and towers, mounds and high places.
  11. The gates of the city must not be shut nor should taxes and duties be levied at borders and marketplaces. Leniency is shown to prisoners who have committed serious crimes; widows and orphans are tended.
  12. In this month, the day of maximum yang occurs when yin and yang contend. The yin influence returns thus this time is honored with fasts and vigils, with inner quietude and outer regulation so that harmony is preserved.
  13. The Son of Heaven commands the Master of Music to put in order the drums, both small and large, the reed-pipes, lutes and zithers as well as the lances, shields and plumes used in the war dances. In this month, a great ceremony and sacrifice is held and music is offered to the rain spirits.
  14. The hexagram of the sixth month is Kou, Coming to Meet “When Heaven and Earth come to meet each other, all creatures prosper; when a prince and his official come to meet each other, the world is put in order.”[vi]
  15. The Son of Heaven orders that prayers are offered on behalf of the people to the spirits of the mountains, streams and the one hundred springs. Sacrifices are also made to all one hundred of his leaders who have offered prayers for the grain harvest. In return, the farmers bring an offering of millet to the Son of Heaven. He tastes the millet, along with fowl and the first cherries, having offered a portion to the spirits first.
  16. If in this second month of summer, the rituals of winter were enacted, hail and frost would damage the crops, roads and highways would be impassible and invading armies arrive. If in this month, the rituals of spring were enacted, the five foods would ripen late, insects would devastate the crops and the people suffer famine. If in this month, the rituals of autumn were enacted, the trees would lose their leaves, fruits would ripen prematurely and the people be afflicted by many illnesses.
  17. The tree of the fifth month is the cottonwood.[vii]
  18. The medicinal plant of the fifth month is artemisia.[viii]
  19. The messenger of heaven is the downy woodpecker.[ix]
  20. The fifth month is governed by the functionaries.


[i] This reference is found in the Yueling.

[ii] I Ching, p.269 References to the trigrams were not included in the original almanacs.

[iii] Fruehauf refers to “Praying mantises are born, shrikes begin to sing and mocking birds cease to vocalize.” This was the most challenging period to date to find correspondences when praying mantises are nowhere to be seen, the shrike is an uncommon visitor and the mocking bird starts singing at 4am daily. I have substituted references that were consistent and repeated sightings.

[iv] “Deer shed their horns, cicadas begin to sing and pinellia grows” are the original. In our area, deer shed their horns in late winter/early spring. The shedding of the horns is symbolic- the ebbing of a yang aspect which sits with feathers and the winged creatures. Butterfly weed also known as pleurisy root is the analog for pinellia. Both herbs support lung function.

[v] Given that the original texts describe the thearch’s steed as a dragon, I have continued this “aura of ritual magic” (Major, p.226). The emperor in each season is represented by a resonant North American species. I chose the red tailed hawk as the emperor of summer both for its resonance as a feathered creature and its role as a creature sacred to indigenous people of North America.

[vi] I Ching, p.171. While references to the hexagrams relating to each month were not included in the original almanacs, I believe they bring another layer of understanding to the movement and manifestations of qi in the relevant month.

[vii] In this month, ‘cotton’ from the cottonwood tree wafts around. This tree is also sacred to the Sundance ceremony, a Lakota ritual which has been adopted by some members of the Northeastern tribes and which occurs in this month.

[viii] The addition of medicinal plants is purely my own- it is based on the actions of the plants and their resonance with the season. “Li Shizhen in Ben Cao Gang Mu and Yang Jizhou in Zhen Jiu Da Cheng both mention picking mugwort on the third day of the third lunar month and the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.” See Lorraine Wilcox’s article “Picking Mugwort” at http://www.bluepoppy.com/blog/blogs/blog1.php/picking-mugwort

[ix] The ‘messenger of Heaven’ is another addition based on personal observation of Nature. Birds are chosen by their arrival times, characteristics and resonance with the season.

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