Create space for new life to grow
This is the spring equinox post in my series about activities for the eight holidays throughout the wheel of the year. We are now at the beginning of spring and the day is split exactly into a light half and a dark one.
Almost exactly two years ago, I wrote a blog post about the spring equinox. There are a few traditional threads that weave through it all:
- the Easter tradition
- spring cleaning
- preparing your fields, metaphorically as well as agriculturally
- the return of the spring goddess from her captivity in the underworld in several cultures
My thoughts about this day crystallised into the following meain themes: Apparent paradoxes, entangled within each other. A balance of light and dark. The unstoppable bursting forth of life. Handling contradictions, yearnings and rejections. Making space for new things in our lives. Sacrificing what is no longer relevant.
In the following paragraphs you will find suggestions that may help you experience these themes more tangibly, also some descriptions of my own activities and experiences. I will keep adding new thoughts and ideas in the future.
In my surrounding area the weather is very typical: Crisp cool mornings turn into days that are much too warm for a padded jacket. Everywhere you can watch fresh green leaves burst forth from some hedges whiles others, especially the beeches, are still covered in brittle brown foliage.
Crocusses and daffodils are now sprinkling colour throughout my world and a lot of trees wear white or green veils already, attracting the first swarms of bees and butterflies. Unfortunately the latter did not want to sit still for me to take a picture of them.
I have now decided on one tree that I am going to observe and photograph through the year. I am interested in how it changes with the seasons and how it stays the same.
What does your neighbourhood look like at the moment? Is nature a bit ahead where you live? Or is is still clinging to hibernation?
In my own garden the crocusses have been quite lush too and the rhubarb has started peeking out of the soil. Today I am going to top up my raised vegetable beds with compost and also reerect the trellis arch that I had laid flat on the ground so the storms a few weeks ago would not rip it away. Also I want to sow spinach, peas and radishes. You can find advice on gardening in March here and here. Of course what will flourish and when you have to do certain tasks depends on the region you live in.
There are still some constant visitors in our garden: Pidgeons, tits, bullfinches, magpies, jays, sparrows and of course the friendly neighbourhood squirrels. In the mornings there is some especially loud tweeting and chirping, so spring is definitely in the air. Writing this current blog series has resulted in my interest in Nature around my house being reinvigorated. I am much more aware of what is going on in my neighbourhood and I enjoy it all with all my senses just as I had intended.
What is the current state of your garden, balcony or windowsill? Have you prepared the vegetable beds or have you already started cultivating new plants?
Apart from my own meditation there is a broad variety of other choices to be found online, covering different styles and durations. There are also yoga flows suited for the occasion. Another option would be to do a general yoga flow with an emphasis on balance or to just create a fitting atmosphere and quietly meditate on one or more of the themes of the day.
There is always the traditional approach of making Easter eggs from whatever materials you like or any other kind of Easter decoration.
I made a mini cardboard easel for my focus which I can present different pictures on throughout the year following these instructions originally meant for making a phone stand. Today I am going to create a new picture to put on the easel to focus on during the following weeks.
Listening to or making music
As you would expect there is a plethora of music for the occasion. Of course no list would be complete without Vivaldi‘s energetic „Spring“. Two other examples of classical Spring pieces are by Haydn and Glasunow. Then there is Fanny Hendelssohn-Hensel, whose cycle based on the twelve months of the year I first became aware of when writing for the 2nd of February. Her interpretation of March describes the transition from the dark towrds the light while the end part draws inspiration fro the Easter story.
The main reason I included music in this blog series about activities is my memory of singing seasonal songs in primary school music classes. That is why I was delighted to discover the playlist of German folk songs about spring by youtuber Jürgen Fastje. Listening to him very much gives me a springtime mood and I have serveral songs stuck in my head at the same time. In a good way 😉
He has also done at least one traditional spring song in English. Hint: It is about daffodils. Two other songs in English I have found are the Spring from “Folk Songs of the Four Seasons” by Ralph Vaughan Williams as well as „When the Spring comes in“ which is where I took my blog post title from.
In the metal genre, which is close to my own heart, I came across „Crows bring the Spring“ by Korpiklaani. It is much less delicate and chirpy than you might expect from Spring songs in general. This might be due to the very high latitude of this band‘s home shores, where Spring has to be wrestled from Winter‘s tight grip. Still, the happiness is obvious:
„And in the wind, I hear those crows
They will bring the spring
And take the cold away“Korpiklaani, Crows bring the Spring
If you are looking for a good soundtrack for a vigorous spring cleaning, Justin Timberlake does not seem to be able to get rid of his infectiously good mood:
„I can’t stop the feeling! So just dance, dance, dance“Justin Timberlake, Can’t stop the Feeling
In The 59th Street Bridge Song Simon and Garfunkel sing about the need to slow down even or especially when things around you happen quickly. Also the importance of being intentionally aware of the small joys in your life like flowers by the wayside. The only sad thing about this song is that it is so short 😉
Spring is a season that so many people yearn for so much that the list of spring poetry is extensive. Here is just one example showing how in the face of plants and animals reawakening ones own sadness can be transformed.
Now Fades The Last Long Streak Of Snow
Now fades the last long streak of snow,
Now burgeons every maze of quick
About the flowering squares, and thick
By ashen roots the violets blow.
Now rings the woodland loud and long,
The distance takes a lovelier hue,
And drown’d in yonder living blue
The lark becomes a sightless song.
Now dance the lights on lawn and lea,
The flocks are whiter down the vale,
And milkier every milky sail
On winding stream or distant sea;
Where now the seamew pipes, or dives
In yonder greening gleam, and fly
The happy birds, that change their sky
To build and brood; that live their lives
From land to land; and in my breastAlfred Lord Tennyson
Spring wakens too; and my regret
Becomes an April violet,
And buds and blossoms like the rest.
I have not looked that intensely for books or novels about spring, partly because the pile of books I want to read is high enough as it is at the moment. Maybe you will come up with some ideas of your own. I have heard a lot of good things about „Spring“ by Ali Smith however, which seems to fit the bill perfectly contentwise. Maybe I am going to read it in the spring of 2023.
One lovely novel for readers of all ages about the transition from winter to spring is “The Wintersmith” by Terry Pratchett. It is about Tiffany Aching, a young witch, who the personification of Winter falls in love with. Things get predictably complicated and Tiffany, with the help of other witches and some Little Folk, has to find a way to ensure that there will be another springtime. You will find all the equinox elements of balance, acceptance, letting go and the saving of someone from the underworld in this book.
Your home and your personal inner landscape
If you feel like it, now would be a good time for an internal as well as an external spring cleaning. Maybe you want to go and collect rubbish in your neighbourhood. You could also turn this event into a modern type of exercise called plogging.
There is ample reading material about the subject of letting things go. I want to recommend one blog that I have been following off and on since shortly after it had started: Joshua Becker‘s becomingminimalist is as pragmatic as it is effective and helpful.
The more you let go of things outside of yourself, the more you will feel the effects echo internally. Sorting your priorities feel just as good as decluttering your attic. Again there are many bits of advice around fitting any type of temperament and level of intended orderliness. They range from the systematic approach of the Eisenhower principle to more organic methods like for example a mindmap. The way you want to ask yourself questions about your values, goals and needs varies from person to person.
These are the questions that might be helpful to ask yourself or the oracle of your choice:
- What will I take with me from the darker half of the year?
- What will I leave behind?
- What will be able to grow in the newly created space in my life?
- How can I stay in balance while being in motion?
Focussing on your most important findings
I have put together my own focus, gathering all my findings which you can see here:
What are the most meaningful answers to the questions above, the most fitting quotes or poems? Is there a piece of music that cou can condense into a word, a phrase or a symbol? Did you find an object outside that deserves to be showcased on your focus?
What about you?
Do you have a tradition for the 20th of March or the beginning of spring? Has spring sprung for you?