Rituals for Changing Seasons

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Rituals for the changing of seasons were an integral part of societies from earlier times, a way to share and unite people in a common experience.  As light and temperature change, sense memories occur naturally and our tasks change with the moving of the earth in relationship to the Sun and Moon.  As Fall approaches and Summer ends, the long days give way to shorter days and longer nights.  This begins with the Equinox in late September when days and nights are equal in light distribution.  As temperatures begin to change, we feel and see the evidence of change everywhere.  The longest night which precedes the Winter Solstice has been celebrated in all cultures, and is ritualized in the performances of Revels.

With this shifting of the earth, sun and temperature, people have always gathered to plant and harvest and celebrate their bounty together.  It is a natural time to look forward with intention and backwards with understanding and release, just as the Janus figure in mythology did.  I suggest to my students that they claim their accomplishments and write them down so they can find symbols of their progress.  It is a natural time to release disappointment and regret, which can weigh us down like rocks.  When we look too far forward, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious about the forward movement of life and time.  Many people feel “Stuck”, or depressed.  When we look backward we have always made progress, often in spite of ourselves.  As Vince Lombardi said when asked how he won so many football games. “I knew the game was won by inches, not yards”.  It is a great ritual to use a yardstick and write your progress down on it so you can remember.  When children are young, their growth is measured this way, and perhaps we should not abandon this method for measuring our inner progress. Years ago I had a student who felt “stuck”.  We encouraged her to do the following ritual:  get several bags of soil and a big bucket, where we buried her in the dirt and added some water.  As we all applauded, she got “unstuck” and was able to store the sensation long enough to move forward.

Another place we get overwhelmed is in our limited understanding of time.  There are two ways to measure time.  Linear time is called Chronos time, after the planet Saturn (Chronos).  It is finite and always creates pressure for us.  One of my great teachers John Rankin did a talk about the definition of “deadlines” as he literally deconstructed this term.  Timelines are better than deadlines any day.  The version of time which mirrors a timeline in called Kairos time, which is creative timelessness.  Many of us have heard the statement: “ the readiness is all”, and the truth of this statement is seen in how easily change occurs when we are truly ready.  The infinite and unlimited Kairos time opens our options instead of closing them, so be gentle with yourself as you approach the changing seasons, as time has no real meaning in the spiritual world.

My favorite time ritual occurred at one of my groups over 20 years ago.  Not surprisingly men love to give women watches, as Saturn was a male god.  One of my students got all the watches men had given her and took her car and drove back and forth over them and we threw them away and she came alive, as we all did.  Being in a group brings us into resonance in a form of natural magic called participation mystique.   As you approach the changing of seasons, please make a list of all you have accomplished in the preceding time period.  Give yourself a gold star and move on with confidence.  It is a good idea to write down all your disappointments and burn the list.  One year a student was particularly overburdened with loss and self-recrimination so she made a list of these feelings and events and got a rock to write on for each of the feelings and events.  I suggested she get a backpack and carry it around for a week and then throw each rock in a bayou.  There was a big smile of relief as she released the pain she had been carrying.  I wish you much joy and success as you begin your rituals for the changing of seasons.  You can also plant a seed of desire in a blooming plant and see the plant bloom and your desires flower.

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