All who work with or on the land understand intuitively the natural flow of the seasons, and the changes in light, the seasonal winds, the humidity and cold that accompany them. If modern life tries to take us into an environment where life is lived 7/7 and 24/24, nature offers us an entirely different experience of flow. The flow of the “old seasons” is as old as time himself, and the gradual changes from each to other are linked to the movement of our Earth on its orbit around our star. The process takes time. And working with the seasons means just that — taking the time.
The old year begins at the Winter Solstice — the Midwinter — when the sun in the Nothern hemisphere is lowest in the sky, and at its zenith in the Southern Hemisphere. In the North, the light is low and this is a time for resting. In Shamanic language, this corresponds to the Direction of the North. In the West the Midwinter comes close to the Festive period. We, as unseasonally as we can be, devote this time to parties and celebrations, whilst nature is robbed of its energy, and lies low. This is a time for hibernation, of going deep down into self to recuperate. Working with the season means resting, it means taking time to replenish. It is in this way that we beocme ready for the light which gradually grows longer each day. In the Northern hemisphere, we then celebrate Imbolc (pronounced Imolc) in February, the time of the lambs. This is an agraian celebration and who has not noticed the lambs as they arrive in the fields, so heralding the arrival of Spring.
Imbolc is followed by the Spring Equinox in March. At this time, the length of day and night is now equal, the plants are waking up and first blossoms appear. This is a period of huge energetic shift as life feels that it is accelerating from within. This acceleration takes us into the month of May, and the Festival of Beltane follows. This corresponds to the first of May or May-day in most countries. This period corresponds to the Direction of the East, a firm setting of intention and a setting of seed too!
Midsummer arrives in June when the sun reaches its zenith and this corresponds to the Direction of the South. As the sun warms us so this period invokes nurturing of both projects and of our spiritual work, intention set now comes to growth. Here we are focusing our energy and involved in the process of creation, possible with the longest days, and the greatest presence of the light.
The summer season is naturally followed by the harvest which will be celebrated in three separate festivals — which prepare us for the months of Winter. The first of these festivals will celebrate the reaping of the harvest, gather the fruit of the work we have carried throughout the year and is called Lughnasadh (pronounced Lunasa). in August
Then follows the Autumn Equinox in September. This takes us firmly into the autumn and corresponds to the Direction of the West. At the Autumn equinox, the light again is balanced with darkness and tseasonson is said to see a thining of the veils, which brings us to, Samhain in October (pronounced Sawain), or All Hallows. Here the two worlds cross over and this time will lead us into the depths of winter, only to begin once again at Midwinter and the Winter Solstice.
Whilst Solstice and Equinox are well known to all, Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain derive their names from Celtic culture.
The seasons are linked to the land, to agriculture, to the animals and plants. They are linked to the battle of the Oak King and Holly King, who have vied for supremacy in the forest since the forest began. The Oak King rules from the Spring Equinox to the Autumn Equinox when he finally sheds his leaves and the Holly King succeeds him. This, of course, is both the battle between the evergreens and the deciduous trees but also signifies the greater movement and passage of the year.
By working with the land I mean several things. One is the feeling of our appartenance, a sense of profound belonging. The other is awareness of the cycles and the passage from one season to the next on a symbolic level. Taking the absence of light for example, in the Midwinter, is to express our individual need for rest, for recovery, hibernation, recuperation, preparation, before the light returns in the Spring. It is obvious to all that changes take place over the year, but to tune into this and work with it, acknowledge and gain strength is quite another thing.
In each of our eight Calendar Letters, I enter into more detail on the history, customs, symbolic of the different seasons. In this way, we can put our roots down a bit deeper as it were. To explore this is precisely the calling of the Healing Circle.
Dates for The Third Healing Circle Year are :
• Midwinter – 21/22 December 2017
• Imbolc – 1/2 February 2018
• The Spring Equinox – 20/21 March 2018
• Beltane – 1 May 2018
• Midsummer – 20/21 June 2018
• Lughnasadh – 1/2 August 2018
• The Autumn Equinox – 22 September 2018
• Samhain – 31 October 2018