For our agrarian ancestors whose lives were so closely entwined with the land, marking seasonal changes was a way of showing respect for the rhythms of nature that provided them with the means to flourish in their environment. To honour nature was to be in intimate relationship with Her mysteries, and to know our place within the grand scheme of things.
Modernity, urbanisation and technology have taken us far, far away from the humility that a deep connection with nature invites, robbing our souls of something rich and nourishing. To be in the centre of a city in December, when the only sign of winter is a grey sky beyond a double-glazed window, is a disorientating experience. Life continues at its usual pace, despite the fact that everyone wants to hibernate, and we have no pointers from the outer world about how to withdraw into ourselves and restore. Which means we arrive at the new year depleted and dejected, wondering why everything feels so out of step and unmanageable.
To flow with the outer rhythm of nature is to cooperate with our own inner seasonal nature. Whether male or female, we are cyclical creatures driven by the requirement to alternate periods of activity with periods of rest. There are times when we need to lie fallow (winter), and times when we are able to be astonishingly productive (summer); times when we need to initiate (spring), and times when we can reap the rewards of our efforts (autumn). We override these rhythms at our own peril, burning out and leaving the soil of our being devoid of the necessary nutrients to keep our hearts and minds fertile and inspired.
To reclaim a more organic way of being, we can make a point of noticing moments of seasonal change, even in the city, by reinstating some of the festivals enjoyed by our ancestors and creating our own, personalized rituals around them. Below is a list of key dates and themes to focus on should you feel drawn to do this. As these seasonal turning points fall at regular 6-weekly intervals, they offer the perfect structure for informed self inquiry, keeping us up to date with our ever-changing needs and helping us understand where adjustments may be required in order to keep in step with our hopes and dreams.
1 February: IMBOLC – Awakening, The First Signs of Spring
Clean the house, open the windows, set intentions, be tender, be hopeful, take care.
YOGA TIP: Combine gentle, familiar practices with something new and enticing.
20-23 March: SPRING EQUINOX – Blossoming, The Start of Spring Proper
Begin new projects, be outside more, become inspired, think big, know that everything is possible.
YOGA TIP: Practice more regularly, with lightness and ease.
1 May: BELTANE – Fertility, Summer Gains Momentum
Revel in physicality, enjoy the attraction of opposites, be playful, wilful and wild, become sensual.
YOGA TIP: Experiment with more dynamic poses that enhance feelings of vibrancy and wellbeing.
20-23 June: SUMMER EQUINOX – Power, The Height of Things
Consider your strengths and be confident about them, be productive, be seen, celebrate yourself.
YOGA TIP: Be in a good regular routine, engaging in a wide range of challenging practices.
1 August: LAMMAS – Abundance, The First Signs of Harvest
Acknowledge your accomplishments, engage in community, take responsibility seriously, be diligent.
YOGA TIP: Slow things down, focus less on the physical, be aware of changing rhythms.
20-23 September: AUTUMN EQUINOX – Gratitude, The Harvest is Gathered
Take stock, consider what works and what doesn't in your life, practice gratitude, be prepared, enjoy the fruits of your actions.
YOGA TIP: Embrace balance, on and off the mat.
31 October: SAMHAIN – Going Within, Winter Approaches
Slow down, value introspection, remember the ancestors and where you came from, welcome mystery.
YOGA TIP: Yin and breath work will ease this transition well.
20-23 December: WINTER SOLSTICE – Reflection and Restoration, The Darkest Hour
Be still, rest, surrender, let go.
YOGA TIP: Enjoy meditation, chanting and long held restoratives with an abundance of supportive props and warm blankets.
Celebrating seasonal festivals is a way to make our relationship with the earth and the world around us sacred. It is an opportunity to reconnect with our trues selves and rediscover the greater whole with which we have always been a part. It is a way to come home - so enjoy!
Penny Jane Fuller 2019
Image: The Wheel of the Year by Sharon Yak