Nurturing Seeds of Optimism and Hope

©Jane A. Simington PhD.

As the days became longer and the cold of winter was giving way to the warmth of spring, as a child I could sense the optimism and hope being shared by my parents as they discussed their plans for the seeding of spring crops and gardens. Signs of new life abounded around my farm home and the potential for the gains my family could acquire if that new life was nurtured and properly cared for, while covert, were palpable.

Those childhood days have imprinted correlations in my mind between spring, new beginnings and hope. Our spring celebrations and family meals offered a sacred space for giving thanks and for inward visioning of the promises held for the coming season.

My sacred and treasured childhood memories of the holiness of spring are in many ways comparable to the teachings which since ancient times have surrounded the Spring Equinox. The Spring Equinox, because of its association with light and new growth, was in ancient times, also known as Ostara, This title derived from the name of the Celtic Goddess of fertility and springtime. She was celebrated during the Spring Equinox as the balance between darkness and light and as the bringer of increased light. Many other cultures and traditions including Christian, Orthodox and Pagan have also marked this powerful turn of the seasonal wheel with symbolism of resurrection and rebirth.

The sun’s journey throughout the course of the year holds strong symbolism to our own journey. The Spring Equinox is positioned upon a point of balance, with one side of the equinox representing the dark half of the year and our struggles with the dark and death aspects of ourselves. The other side of the equinox represents the light half of the year and our possibilities for rebirth and new beginnings.

Spring is for me a time to celebrate the resurrection of what went beneath the earth at the Winter Solstice, both real and metaphorically; and to joyfully anticipate the new life that is appearing in field and womb. It is a time of new beginnings, of action, of saying goodbye to the old, and of creating sacred spaces to hold the new seeds we plant and, when nurtured and properly cared for, will produce abundant fruit.

Earth teach me, to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me, regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring.
~ William Alexander

Summer Winds Bring Change and Abundance

©Jane A. Simington, PHD

 

Strong summer winds bathed me this morning in aromas of rose petals, honeysuckle, sage and wild prairie grasses. These sensations caused me to be aware of the direction from which the winds were blowing. While most of the Great Medicine Wheels place the element air in the East, the winds blow from each of the four directions. Years ago I learned a guided visualization that taught me to pay attention to the directions from which the winds blew; for each of the directions has its own gifts; and when the winds blow from any one of the directions, they blow to us the gifts from that particular direction. In that way, the winds can validate our own inner knowing and call for us to be open to receive in gratefulness the gifts being blown our way.

Here is a version of that meditation. I trust it will increase your awareness of the gifts to be found in each of the directions and, thus add to your abilities to receive the blessings of the winds that blow those gifts towards you.

 

green grass blowing

Begin by paying close attention to your breathing…in and out…in and out…in and out.

Exhale deeply and allow your eyes to gently fall closed. Now inhale deeply and as you do so, find yourself standing on the top of a very high hill. Take a moment to be aware of your surroundings. As you do so, become aware of being completely wrapped in a warm gentle wind. Know that this wind is blowing from the East for it brings with it the fragrances of spring. Breathe deeply of the spring winds and welcome the newness being ushered into your life by the Winds of the East.

You sense that the winds have now shifted and they are becoming warmer. The smells have also changed from the smells of spring to those of the ripening fruits of summer. Hints of melons, cherries and crabapples drift your way, carried on by these winds, the winds of summer, the winds from the South. Acknowledge that these winds are validating your fruitfulness, your productivity. They have come to remind you that with fruitfulness comes abundance. Breathe deeply and welcome into your entire being the abundances the South Winds are blowing your way.

Pay attention to a further shift in the winds and to the dimming light. Dusk is now upon you. Cooler winds wrap you in the brilliance of autumn colors. You capture whiffs of harvested grains, fresh wines and pumpkin pies being carried on by the winds from the West. On the Great Medicine Wheels, the West is honored as the place of healing and the place of the healer. What healing are the West Winds blowing your way? Are the West Winds asking you to accept your healing gifts and to accept your role as healer? The West is also the place of abundant harvest. Are the West Winds reminding you that this is your time to successfully harvest the good seeds you have planted?

One more time you feel a shift in the direction from which the winds blow. As you face these cold winds you wrap yourself in a blanket of white. The Great Medicine Wheels teach that the North holds gifts of ancient wisdom and makes the teachings of the ancestors available to spiritual teachers and leaders. As the North winds blow these gifts your way, are you being reminded that it is time to pay attention to these teachings and to acknowledge and accept your roles as a spiritual teacher, leader?

As you become aware of having completed the full circle, gently and easily open your eyes. Spend a few moments pondering from which direction the winds blew strongest on you. Then acknowledge the gifts you already have or that are now being blown to you from that direction and give thanks that it is so.

Each time I stand in the wind, I recalled this meditation and am also reminded of how in the Old Testament Yahweh was referred to as the wind. I love that symbol and because of it, I am filled with reverence of the wind from whatever direction it blows. I hope this meditation has helped in similar ways to increase your appreciation of the wind and may we each be more aware and grateful for the breath of Spirit blowing within and around us.

Nature as Healer: Reestablishing Sacred Connections

©Jane A. Simington, PHD

“What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can
comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking
person with a feeling of humility.”

Albert Einstein

 

Summer is upon us, and for many, this season awakens a yearning to reconnect with the natural world. Deep within us, what is stirred as we watch a thrilling thunderstorm, gaze in awe at a majestic mountain range or marvel at the roar of a great waterfall?

Banff rainbow trees

Early peoples associated their own bodies and their spirituality with the Earth and with naturally occurring events. Carvings and stone monuments remaining in many parts of the world remind us of their beliefs that the Earth was their benevolent Mother; from her womb all life emerged, and into her loving arms all life returned.

Our ancestors believed that the Earth Mother provided places of the in-between where they could more readily connect with the spiritual forces. At these places they conducted sacred ceremonies in an effort to keep Her fully alive and thus ensure their own physical and spiritual survival and growth.

As did our ancestors, Earth people of today acknowledge that many of our most sacred experiences occur during times and spaces that are in-between, spaces such as where the shore meets the ocean, where the grasslands meet the water’s edge, where the mountains meet the sky, and where the prairie meets the forest. The in-between times occur at dawn and at dusk, at the change of nature’s seasons, as well as at the turning points that mark the changes of the seasons in our lives. The in-between times and spaces are sacred times, holy times. An energy surrounds these times that can be built upon and used as a catalyst to heal, for during these times we can be more readily tripped into sacred experiences, ones that help us recognize the sacredness of these spaces and which show us that we do indeed have support and help from the spirit world, and that we do indeed live, work, and play in parallel realities.

During my bleak mornings of grief and my dark days of depression, days when I felt abandoned by everyone and everything even by the universe; during my evenings of soul pain, when I lost all understanding of the God of my childhood and had not yet shaped the God of my now; and during the nights when I felt miserably alone and often somewhat suicidal, a teacher whispered, “Spend time alone gazing at the clouds, walking in the meadows, experiencing the forests, and lingering by the water’s edges. It will renew your spirit and rekindle your desire for life and to be among the living.” Acknowledging her wisdom, I trod many paths to fill the deep need for my soul to reclaim its relationship with the places where human life and the spiritual worlds meld.

As a therapeutic helper, now working with those who have experienced significant grief and trauma, I recognize that their difficult experiences have interfered with their abilities to be grounded in the Earth Mother, leaving them feeling out of balance and disconnected from everyone and everything, even from the Divine and all sources of spiritual help. To help those I work with reestablish their grounding and spiritual connections, I encourage them, once each day and regardless of the season, to get their feet on an outdoor path.

Connecting with the Earth helps us more readily connect with the seasons and the cycles within our own lives: spring, summer, autumn, winter, birth, growth, decline, and death. As we change and grow, the seasons offer constant reminders of the transformational forces all around us.

Becoming more aware of the Earth’s processes and seeing ourselves as part of the whole helps us let go of our need to control life. We are reminded to accept the seasons and changes as a part of the unfolding of the universe within and around us. Just as the fertility and newness of spring have been celebrated for tens of thousands of years we, too, can plant the seeds of newness, the ones we sorted during the days and nights of our long and bitter winters. We, too, can feel our own power as we rise to greet the summer morning’s sun. We, too, can gather the fruits of our harvest as we once again prepare for our quiet times in hibernation. Being thus connected, we are more able to recognize that there are really no beginnings and no endings. Being thus connected, we recognize that, even in death, there is no real separation.