“Through celebrations in their seasons are the deeper powers of human nature realized.” ~ Rudolf Steiner
Growing up, I had the privilege of experiencing a childhood where I had the opportunity to connect with and develop a love of nature.
Because of this, I’ve always appreciated Earth and all that she gives us. Being from Northern Ontario, I have experienced not only the extremes of each season, but also the beauty.
This love for nature has grown and evolved into something that I see as essential for all human beings. As I started to develop a more serious inward practice of yoga, meditation, and self-development, I gained a deeper perspective on why it is so important to be in harmony with the natural world.
There are many different ways to do this, but there is one simple way to connect self-growth with the cyclical path of nature: the seasons.
We tend to resist change and grasp on to the idea that things can stay the same, they can remain constant, comfortable, and safe. The thing is, Earth itself is constantly changing. It is both cyclical and expansive.
As humans, we have lost our sensitivity to the dynamic, natural world around us. No matter what time of year it is, we can do (mostly) whatever we want, and find whatever we need for comfort or survival.
We can walk into any grocery store and have ripe fruit and produce no matter the season or location. Much of our lives can be spent indoors, sheltering us from the weather; we can even travel somewhere warm whenever we want to.
We have everything at our fingertips. Why should it matter what season it is?
Because we are part of nature, and going against these cycles can throw us way out of balance.
Whether we notice it or not, we have an intrinsic connection to the natural world. There are a number of cycles all around us that exist within and can bring our awareness to the shifting world by acknowledging our own inner shifts.
With each season, there is a change in light, growth, abundance, and weather.
Each season has a unique quality, or essence, reflected in the outside world that can be felt internally—prompting us to grow, adapt, and evolve with the world around us. When the seasons change, so do we. These changes can be marked by the summer solstice, fall equinox, winter solstice, and spring equinox.
These events mark the sun’s seasonal movement—the source of life and light to every living thing. The sun, the giver and destroyer of life, can be a mirror for us, a reflection for how we show up in the world. The moon has a cycle as well, but that can be another world in itself to dive into.
It’s a circle of death, growth, and rebirth. Honoring and contemplating each of these changes in nature is also a way to honor the changes they bring internally.
When I start to contemplate the seasons and feel them in my bones, they each bring out certain parts of me. They invite me to explore a different aspect of myself. We’re complex creatures after all, made of both light and dark.
This balance of night and day, sun and moon, dark and light exist in so many ways. Life ebbs and flows between each extreme.
Summer solstice brings the longest day of the year. It is a time to celebrate and honour the light, as well as our connection to the sun and Earth.
There is an inner fire and power that brings abundance, fertility, and growth. The earth is ripening and flowering; we can recognize her bounty and receive her gifts.
We can create a day of celebration to honour the life-giving capacity of the sun, the freedom and generosity of spirit. Traditionally, huge bonfires were built to feel the tangible heat and fire that keeps our planet growing and alive.
During summer, I can feel the warm breeze caressing my skin. The air is thick and dense. Birds sing beautiful morning songs, and the crickets sing evening hymns. I look around and see growth all around me: the trees, grass, flowers—all in full bloom. Everything is alive, bustling, vibrant, and active. I feel the heat within me; the light of the sun drives me the same way it allows a flower to grow and bloom. I am abundant, as is the world around me. The days are longer and the weather invites me to be active until the sun sets.
I am in full bloom. I wonder, “Who am I in my full expression?”
We, like the sun, have the power to nurture and sustain, and to burn as brightly as we can. Fire can burn away what no longer serves us, and make room for fresh new growth. We can take time to feel this within, to feel the heat, fire, and passion stirring; we can honor the abundance that exists in our lives.
Fall equinox marks the transition of summer to fall. The amount of light in our day changes, and we must kindle the fire within to sustain us through the long winter months ahead.
The leaves start to fall away and decay, as the air gets more cold and frigid. Everything returns back to the earth, back to its source, where it is recycled into the ecosystem. Before the leaves die away, there is a bright burst of crimson, as well as bounty from the fertile summer months waiting to be harvested. It’s a time of abundance, but also preparation for what is to come.
It is fall—Earth starts to let go. I let go. I think, “What is getting in the way of who I’d like to be?”
I notice what I’ve accomplished over the year—what seeds I planted that have grown and flourished, and what seeds haven’t. I think about how I can prepare for the upcoming winter.
There is a calling to align with the changes beginning in the outer world, to become unified with the breath and the pulse of the cosmos. I can find illumination on the inside, and let go of what will not serve me before moving into the darker months ahead.
In winter, the solstice is the shortest day of the year. It’s about embracing the darkness and patiently awaiting the return of the light. We must find comfort in the cold, dark, empty discomfort. Slow down. Listen. Pause, reflect, and integrate.
Snow covers the ground, and all of life starts to slow down. The plants retract into themselves, and many animals find a warm and safe place to rest and hibernate, stocked with food for the long winter months ahead. I do the same internally, preparing for more stillness, slowness, and solitude. The days get shorter and the darkness invites more time for contemplation, less time for doing.
There is an essence of death. I ask, “How can I let go before the next season of growth?”
While the earth silently sleeps, seeds are suspended below the ground. Nature teaches us the important lesson of rest and preparation. It’s necessary for growth. Honor this time: find space to turn inward. Breathe. Maybe instead of rushing around during the holidays, take a break and slow down. We’re not meant to be at our fullest, brightest selves during this time, but the sun will return, as it always does, to produce a new future.
After the cold and darkness of winter comes the warmth and light of a new spring. The equinox symbolizes a balance of light and dark. Rebirth. All that has been gestating during winter is ready to come forth into its fullness, moving our lives upward like a seed and pushing its way from earth to air. It’s a time of creation. There’s an essence of freshness, youth, excitement, and endless possibilities.
As the weather starts to get warmer and the daylight returns, life starts to awaken. My energy starts to rise. Intentions are planted for the summer ahead. Ideas start brewing and creativity begins to stir and whirlpool, with the same life force awakening in the earth—a spiral of creation.
It’s a time to recreate myself. I question, “Who am I becoming?”
It’s a whole world of new opportunity when we align with the rhythms and force of creation that appear during spring. It’s a great time to sit down and listen to what our desires are for the upcoming season of growth. Feel the creative forces stirring within. Harness this energy.
In a world full of convenience, it is immensely important that we find our way back into connection with nature and the cycles around us to reclaim part of our ourselves. The natural world has an inherent wisdom that knows how to find balance and harmony. It’s our greatest teacher.
All of these days can be marked on a calendar and celebrated in ways that feel authentic to us; it can be a community gathering or a personal acknowledgement in your own home. Decorate with festive colors, purchase or grow local and in-season food, and check in with yourself through journaling and meditation.
We can all find our own unique way to align with each season and adjust our lifestyle accordingly.
It’s beautiful and comforting to recognize that we are a part of a larger cycle that ebbs and flows each year. It’s up to us to notice and attune to these rhythms.
My hope is for all humans to find this alignment within, and to honor these changes in Earth, as well as in themselves. It’s simple, but powerful, and necessary for our well-being.