All who work with or on the land understand intuitively the natural flow of the seasons, and the changes in light, temperature and rainfall that accompany them. If modern cities 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 itself, and the gradual changes from each to other are linked to the movement of our earth on its orbit around the sun. The process takes time. Working with the seasons means just that — taking the time.
The old year begins with the Winter Solstice at the Midwinter, when the sun is lowest in the sky in the North and highest in the Southern Hemisphere. The light is low and this is a time for resting. In Shamanic language, this corresponds to the Direction of the North.
In the Northern hemisphere, we then celebrate Imbolc (pronounced Imolc) in February, followed by the Spring Equinox in March. Beltane follows in May (corresponding to the first of May or May-day) and then Midsummer in June when the sun reaches its zenith. This corresponds to the Direction of the East and with the setting of intention. Here we are focusing our energy and involved in the process of creation.
The summer season, represented by the Direction of the South is then followed by the harvest which is celebrated in three festivals which prepare us for the months of Winter. These festivals celebrate the reaping of the work we have done throughout the year. Lughnasadh in August (pronounced Lunasa), the Autumn Equinox in September, and Samhain in October (pronounced Sawain). This takes us into the autumn and corresponds to the Direction of the West.
The cycle then begins again at Midwinter.
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.
This is precisely the vocation of the Healing Circle.
In our eighthly newsletters I enter into more detail on the history, customs, symbolic of the different seasons. Each year we can put our roots down a bit deeper as it were. This is where working with the Healing Circle becomes a more personal affair.
Dates for The Second Healing Circle Year are :
• Midwinter – 21/22 December 2016
• Imbolc – 1/2 February 2017
• The Spring Equinox – 20/21 March 2017
• Beltane – 1 May 2017
• Midsummer – 20/21 June 2017
• Lughnasadh – 1/2 August 2017
• Solar Eclipse – 21st August 2017
• The Autumn Equinox – 22 September 2017
• Samhain – 31 October 2017