As we approach the end of August, and the end of the summer season is within sight, my body and mind feel the inevitable shift of the turning of the wheel. With each passing season, so the seasons of our lives turn as well - sometimes in sync with the environment and the natural world around us, and at other times on a more internal calendar. There are seasons of change and growth, of grief and sadness, of joy and celebration, of challenges and difficulties, of remembrance and tradition.
When we live in alignment with the natural turning of the seasons - whether you live in a location where these shifts are felt or not - we can clearly recognize and identify within our own souls the same cyclical nature. We all go through new births, times of growth and abundance, deaths or endings. As we direct our awareness to living more seasonally, we honor each phase of life, and learn to cherish each chapter for the beauty that it holds.
There will be more posts about each season and the cycles of the year as it turns, but for now let’s review the main significance of each season.
It is not uncommon to refer to darker periods in our life as our personal winter or as ‘dark night of the soul’. These personal seasons are often times of sadness, depression, darkness, and disappointment. It may feel like a part of us has died, or we may be wrestling in silence with our shadow who has come to face us.
Winter - both environmentally and personally - can seem cold, dark, lonely, and never-ending. However, when we look beneath the surface, new signs of life are beginning to stir. What had once passed away is being re-born, although it is not yet visible to the human eye. It is here, within the silence and stillness that winter provides, that we are being prepared for the new life and growth that is to come.
Ways to Live Seasonally through Winter: Use the stillness, silence, and dark days of winter to go inward - to reflect on what you have accomplished during the past cycle, to address what your soul is calling to your attention, and to begin to plant the seeds for the cycle ahead. Even within the winter traditions, there are signs of the coming spring all around us - from the evergreens, the candles, and anticipation of Groundhog Day. Just as we have these signs during our natural season of winter, also look for the signs of hope - the coming spring - when within a personal season of winter, or your dark night of the soul.
Following the long winter, spring is often welcomed with joy and celebration. As the buds form on the trees once again and the flowers begin to peak their way up through the snow, we are reminded that new life is fully upon us. If the winter season was the equivalent of being in the womb, spring is the birth and the welcome into the world.
This season is one where we feel the energies of youthfulness and rejuvenation - the playfulness that comes with the return of the sun and warming of the air around us. When we are within this season in our personal lives, it may be a time when we feel inspired by new ideas, dreams, and passions, and begin to plant the seeds that this inspiration provides for us.
Ways to Live Seasonally through Spring: What has been inspiring you lately? What dreams and goals have arisen within you that you would like to begin working towards? Spring is the perfect time to literally and metaphorically plant the seeds for what you want to grow - whether that be a herb or vegetable garden or a new hobby or business venture. Additionally, it’s a season to shake off that hibernation of the winter and join in community - so seek out friends and family. Or, if you are single and desire a relationship, take steps to finding new love. Spring is the season of love and fertility after all, as the endless amount of bunnies are sure to remind you.
As the sun reaches its peak in the sky and the days draw longer, we reach the height of the season of summer. In the overall season of our life, summer represents the ‘prime of our lives’ - when we have reached adulthood. It is a season for caring and tending to what we have planted during the spring, and continuing to grow stronger and fuller in all areas of our life.
Just as summer is the season when many people feel energized and happy (thank you vitamin D), when we are in a personal season of summer we feel motivated and energized by our life, and generally have healthy goals for personal growth. As the season continues on, we begin to reap the rewards of our hard work. It is also a time when we gather in community for laughter, play, and celebrations. Often, as it is where I live, the summer alone is a reason for celebration.
Ways to Live Seasonally through Summer: As is certainly common knowledge in Wisconsin, where I currently live, summer is a season to work hard and play hard. Look again at the goals, dreams, and aspirations that you set for yourself in the spring, and take some time to reflect on how you have been taking action to make them a reality. Continue in with the hard work trusting that you will begin to reap the benefits as the season again turns. Also, take some time to enjoy the sun that guides the summer - soaking its the energies. Gather together with friends to spend time outdoors, tend to your (physical or metaphorical) garden, and remember to simply have fun!
Perhaps one of the most diverse seasons of all, autumn marks the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. As we enter into the fall from summer, we are still able to feel and experience what summer has brought to us, and are now seeing the benefits of the hard work that we have completed. During this harvest season, we pause in gratitude for what the earth and Spirit have given to us, and we celebrate with our loved ones for the abundance that has been given.
As the season continues forward, we then begin to see the slow dying process of the nature around us - often to beautiful effects. This reminder is one often forgotten - that the cycle of life includes death, and death leads to new life. In our personal season, this may be a time to let things go, to release what is no longer serving us or contributing to our overall well being. By releasing these things, we are in turn creating new space for what will come to us - what is about to begin being formed beneath the surface in the dark of winter.
Ways to Live Seasonally through Autumn: Autumn is the season when the air turns a bit cooler, and sets the heat of the summer at bay. Get out into nature and enjoy the crisp air - go hiking, apple picking, or help with a harvest on a farm or vineyard. Celebrate the harvest by using what the earth has given to us, and celebrate with friends. The same can be said for the personal season of autumn - celebrate the goals and dreams that you have accomplished or reached! Then, as the air turns colder, begin the process of turning inward and recognize that death is, in fact, a part of life. It is a perfect time to remember the people, dreams, or goals that we have lost, honoring them and releasing them.
As we move through the seasons, engage in a regular practice to notice how your mind, body, and spirit feel during each season, as well as during the transitions of the seasons. A great time to check-in and reflect is during the solstices and equinoxes, as well as the mid-points between them. As you do so, you will find that many religious and spiritual holidays fall on or around these times, naturally leading us into reflection.
Additionally, identify which personal season you are currently in. Perhaps it aligns with the natural season of the environment that you live in, or it may be a different season altogether. What have you been experiencing during this season, and how can you take advantage of the season that you are in for your own personal growth and holistic well being?