A few days ago I picked up an intriguing book at the library called Who Are You? 101 Ways of Seeing Yourself by Malcolm Godwin. Godwin taps all kinds of different cultures to look through familiar and unfamiliar lenses at our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual being. My beloved husband took one look at the book and rolled his eyes. I think he was reading the page about the four types of elemental hands (water, fire, earth, air). And I do admit that trying to figure out which of the humors (as in sanguine, choleric, melancholic, or phlegmatic) best described me, caused me to roll my eyes, too.
But the reason I keep picking it up is simply the wonder of looking at my life from perspectives I never even imagined. There is something life-encouraging about moving outside of familiar limits and the same old-same old way of seeing myself and describing my life…and choosing a lens that is whimsical or metaphorical or from a totally different faith tradition or culture. And isn’t that what growth and transformation are all about? We say we want to be alive, to feel energized, to awaken to new possibility…but we cling to old tapes and old images and old stories.
Each seasonal threshold is another liminal time inviting us to shift tempos and directions and visions. We are ready to cross from the darkness of the winter season to the brightening of spring. [Perhaps this is less obvious to those of you on the east coast, as you dig yourselves and your cars and your walkways and (maybe) small pets out from under almost two feet of snow. On the other hand, you may have a better opportunity while travel restrictions are still in place to pause, pour a hot beverage, and ponder some of the blessings and epiphanies of Samhain.]
But whatever the weather or wherever we are geographically, it can be revealing to unpack the last season and sort through its momentos. Here are some questions to get you started:
What unexpected (visionary, unsettling, revealing) dreams unfolded during these three months?
How did fallow feel this year (open, vulnerable, relaxing, renewing, barren)?
Where and how did your tempo shift? Was it easy to align with that tempo, or did you find yourself struggling against it?
Where are you feeling a spacious emptiness?
Do you find peace in that space or are you anxious to see growth and productivity?
Did anyone serve as a mentor of wisdom and patience for you?
Take the time to write your thoughts and answers and questions down in your journal. Remember that the length is less important than the focus and honesty of your observations. A few well-chosen phrases that capture a surprising truth are better than series of short stories that rambles through euphemisms – however perfect the sentence structure.
On the evening of January 31 (Saturday), consider offering a benediction to the season from the back door or patio of your house. On Sunday morning, February 1, you may want to welcome the spring quarter into your life at the front door.
Here are the words I will be using this year. You are free to read them just as they are, to adapt them, or to write your own. You can be totally spontaneous (a little giddy, anticipating the sap starting to rise) or you may want to prepare with some thought, creating a ritual with candles or some flowers that anticipate spring (a pot of daffodils or crocus). Pay attention to what feels right.
On the evening of January 31
my gratitude for your renewal!
My thanks for the care of your ancient fingers
holding life open to dark night, new moon, star guidance.
Yes to stark, sharp clarity,
yes to the strong bones of revelations,
yes to soul furrows ready to receive
the softening rain
and warming sun.
Fare you well as you
slip away beneath the surface of dreams
to be the bare memory of pure self.
Fare you well as you
gather the energy of visions
ready to fuel the growth to come.
Fare you well.
and on the morning of February 1
Come you in, Dancing Maiden,
whose youthful joy
bubbles through creation bringing
softening of rainfall,
unfurling of leaf green,
power of seed burst,
radiance of dawn light,
sparkle of dew,
harmony of birdsong,
warmth of down feathers,
exuberance of birth,
energy of growth.
Come you in with laughter and delight.
Come you in to share the spring.
Text © 2015, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2014, 2009 Immram Chara, LLC; photo of Release © 2013, Jonathan Wallen
NOTE: The first photo is a close-up from Shrine: Hygeiatokos (Bearer of Healing) showing the seven chakras. You can see the whole piece in the fiber arts section of the Store. The second is available from my Etsy shop as a card or print. The third is one of the five fiber pieces from My Story.