The Spring Equinox and Seasonal Savvy


An April Heleborus

I am a little slow in addressing the vernal or spring equinox that occurred March 19 2012 at 10:14 pm PDT. Slower still, because this year was one of the earliest equinox by date since 1896.

Looking to live life deeper can be very shamanistic. People who live in a shamanistic way take into account the spiritual or ethereal side of everything and they explore the connections, the relationships, of one thing to another. A natural outcome of this is balance, a balance of work with play, self with others, male with female, technology with nature. What we are looking for is integration: a personal life that is also part of ALL LIFE. This is an expanding experience, one that makes life very, well… alive.

The foundation of shamanistic living consists of consciousness and awareness, to know what is happening and to somehow become a part of it, to be engaged. One way to do this is to observe the cycle of the seasons and understand how it affects us.

 Most of us go through our day without much thought to what the earth is doing today. We probably notice whether it is sunny or raining but we’ve been pretty programmed to ignore any other earthly activities as beyond our immediate concern, care or involvement.  As a result things sneak up on us. We are susceptible to the shock of seasonal shifts. We don’t get a chance to become acclimatized and that can leave us with an adjustment hangover: sometimes known as Spring Fever. Being mentally and emotionally aware of outside occurrences puts us in sync with the vibrational level of our reality and gets us poised to take advantage of forthcoming opportunities.

 Let’s get a seasonal edge today.

Spring is official when the sun moves into the sign of Aries right at 0 degrees. Aries is the first sign of the zodiac in astrology, ruled by the planet Mars and Mars is in charge of action. The sun is in a sign for one month or for 30 degrees. For 30 days we are all under the influence so to speak, of the sign the sun is in for that month. We can see this in the actions we take every year at this same time.  This is all very intellectual, but what does it mean for us commuters?

We have just come from winter, a time of cold and (perhaps) snow. This is the season we stay home because the weather is usually forbidding much activity. We tend to pull indoors out of the biting wind. Naturally we are a little more internal and contemplative. We may read, play cards, or perish the thought: watch more TV.

When the vernal equinox arrives, especially here in the country, we are catapulted out of our hibernation and into a lifestyle very much more active. Spring chores line up like rows of new daffodils each demanding immediate attention.  Sometimes the temperatures turn from cold to hot on a dime.

Another reason for the (apparently sudden) seasonal whiplash is the way we catalog the seasons. You’ll hear me complain about this a lot. In ancient times (especially in the Celtic regions) they used calendars that were more intimately connected to the natural world and far better suited to explain the natural rhythms around us than our current one is. Feb 2nd was considered the beginning of spring. This is the time we really notice the days are getting a little longer and the seeds, although still deep in the earth, are nevertheless starting to stir and wake up. It was the first stirring of the season. The name given to that date was Imbolc, meaning: “in the belly” (of the earth).  When the sun enters Aries at the vernal equinox they would say that we are in the MIDDLE of spring.

Red Maple Buds

Now, as the ever lengthening day meets up with the ever shortening night we get a sense of a doorway. We’re in a celestial doorway. We are poised, or paused, one might say, in the calm before storm of summer.  Yet, we only have our hands on the latch. We’re opening it and standing in that place where we must now switch our mental and physical gears from the quiet of winter to the riot of summer, from inactivity to ACTIVITY.  It’s not too late, but we do have to take a breath and consider our position.

So what do we do to tell ourselves that we need to make a shift, to put ourselves in tune with this seasonal vibration that is rattling our cages and shaking out the complacency of our own winter hibernation?

We can conduct a spring ritual. Rituals can be physical acts that tell our consciousness something is occurring by mimicking on a smaller scale, the larger happening. They act as a mirror of the happening, reflecting back to us in better detail some concept that might be too abstract for us to grasp with our mentality alone.

Many of us already do spring rituals without realizing it. We switch the blankets on our beds from heavy to light weight. We plan our gardens and order seeds. We pack winter coats back in the mothballs. We give the house “Ye old spring cleaning”. As we do those things we can be more conscious of the significance of the chores. We can go a step further and put on plays that tell the stories of spring. We can even do more intense and focused rituals like lighting a fire in a pit, beating a drum and singing a song to honor this time and our place in it. Then there is always a hike or picnic to look for wildflowers or birds, camera in hand.

The main thing is to prepare for new activity in whatever way seems right to you. You may decide to begin a new project, or turn the heat up on one that is floundering. This is an excellent way to embrace the energy of Aries and Mars, synonymous with springtime.

Whatever you do, if you do it with the intention of beginning the cycle again, in step with the season around you, you may find yourself just a little more aware, a little more focused, a little more productive, and even a little more relaxed, ready to take advantage of any spring potential and turn it over to a summer more than just scenic.

Copyright 2012 CLCW

Dream On.

Dream on

"The woods were dreamlike"

I had a dream the other night.  A man in a turban dressed in many layers like a Middle Easterner or even a Tibetan said one sentence to me: “The pond is large.”  Crazy as it sounds, I understood him right away.  I answered with: “God is great.” He nodded and left.  This was a message to me and I’ve done my best to ponder it. The answer to this riddle goes something like this: the pond is the world and everything in it, seen and unseen. He was telling me you see, that I should stop sweating the small (or even large) stuff because I am not in charge and it is not in my control. More importantly he was saying that there is room for everything:  every opinion, every happening, every emotion, everyone.  My answer was to let him know that I understood that it is the God/Goddess/Great Spirit (whoever we want to embrace) that is the one in charge.  I know why I dreamed this, I have been working very hard to get my first book published and along with a billion other writers, I am finding out just how hard that is. The message was for me to keep trying the best I can but at the end of the day it’s out of my hands. “Try and relax kiddo.”

No doubt about it, dreams are funny, intangible, ethereal things which, upon waking, vanish like fog in the morning sun. Yet they can be much more than the brain’s nightly entertainment; they can be a pictorial key to understanding our interior life.

As we travel through our day we operate out of the left side of our brain, the part of our brain that employs the ego. The ego is all about the “I” as in: what do I want? The left brain is also the language center, it talks to us, telling us what we should do or say to get what we need to feel us safe and happy. It uses rational and logic, taking everything one step at a time while collaborating with time and memory to keep us functioning in an organized way. While we are awake the left part of our brain is in charge of daily life.

When we are asleep, however, the logical side of our brain lets its rational guard down and the right side, the “we” side with its emotional, pictorial and symbolically-oriented mode of operation flows freely – creating dreams.

During the night these two opposing camps carry on long, important conversations – sharing information and restoring a balance between the rational and irrational sides of being human.  In today’s culture there is great importance placed on the things the left brain does while the right brain’s talents have been trivialized. Yet dreams are part of a complicated system that promotes emotional, mental and physical well-being. We do them a disservice if we dismiss them as simple fairy stories we tell ourselves while in the land of Nod.  Dreams pull left brain thought and experiences in and run them through right brain filters that tell us what we really think and how we really feel about the world.

Motivations of dreams  

We dream for different reasons

1) To release tension, to register our discomfort and see or understand what we are                 currently dealing with

2) To process and integrate things that have happened to us.

3) To process and integrate information given to us during the day, the ramifications of                                                              which, we haven’t  had time to consider.

4) To actually learn or acquire more information that wasn’t getting through in our waking hours. This can be the result of left brain interference or blockage, or the unique nature of some information, best understood through pictures or impressions.

5) In addition to number 4, there are what I call spiritual, message or even magic dreams.  These are dreams that seem to come from outside us. They don’t seem to stem from our recognizable personalities.  Strangers show up; garbed in exotic clothes, they could perform ritualistic movements, give us items or gifts, remind us of things we’ve forgotten, or say things to us that we’ve never even thought of before. They can shock us or inspire us but these characters almost always have an important message for us. This is the category my “turban man” dream falls in. You wake up changed in some way.

Dream interpretation

Back in the 70s, when dream interpretation hit the big time, we had an influx of help-yourself dream books published. They may help you get started thinking symbolically but they aren’t really much help in the long run. These books are someone else’s ideas of generic cultural norms and they may not be yours. Two people dream of a snake. One person hates and fears snakes and the other thinks they are fascinating, how is the interpretation going to be the same for each?

The best way to interpret your dreams is through common sense and trust in your own ideas. You know what snakes mean to you and that is the best route to take for an insightful, truthful interpretation.

Reoccurring dreams are chronic fears or chronic problems that the brain considers a threat to the human unit. Whether it’s a psychological deficiency that the mind is trying to improve upon or something physically out of joint, harmful, or scary, dreaming is done to bring up awareness and even offer (sometimes very unpopular) solutions.

Real Life Examples

I had a less-than-confident girlfriend years ago who dreamed repeatedly she was a passenger in a small plane. She woke up terrified because the pilot, a faceless male, was always flying and the plane was always crashing.

I asked her why she didn’t take control and fly the plane herself:  “Why aren’t you driving? It’s your plane, and it’s your life.”

She spent a month or so analyzing her attitude of deference to others, especially to the male population; and, then she had her breakthrough: she dreamed she was in the pilot’s seat and the plane didn’t go down.

In this case, her brain was showing her in graphic detail a basic flaw in her character that needed attention. When all was said and done it didn’t radically alter her personality, but it helped her to see the truth about herself and take some new steps for a personal growth spurt. Through her reoccurring dream, she gained an awareness of how she unconsciously operated and also learned how these unconscious attitudes could potentially harm her.

During the day, our rational mind does a lot of gymnastic handstands to convince us that everything we’re doing is fine and there’s no need to upset our routine. Yet, dreams are remarkable in their ability to cut the crap and get to the chase.

Also many years ago, a new boss came on board at a company I worked for. The man was a total Nazi and life at the office became intolerable. Still, I clung to the job for all the usual rational reasons – even after my health began to seriously suffer.

I was toughing it out. I was sure I could do it; and, besides, I wasn’t going to let him win anyway. After several months of agony I had a very bad dream: screaming demons were threatening to devour me. Not knowing what action I should take within this dream I decided to try prayer, instinctively making a grab for something I was sure had the power to eradicate them. To my shock and surprise, their horrific voices only got louder and when it became very clear they were going to overwhelm me, I was the one who woke up screaming.

My dream was telling me in no uncertain terms that no matter what, I didn’t have the power to fix this – my life had become a literal nightmare and the time to make a change was long overdue. I began to make arrangements to change my job but it turned out that what I really needed to change was the way I reacted to authority. Once I stood up to this man everything was different and I didn’t have to switch jobs.  This dream made an enormous difference in my life.

Through dreams the subconscious can get “air time” for very important messages – messages that can be of great benefit to well-being of the entire human body. All we need do to take advantage of this is to hear them.

Dreams are your psychiatric assistants’

Keep in mind, though, that the brain doesn’t run a movie channel for psychiatric self- help every night of the week. If we are doing pretty well, our dreams can get so boring we don’t even remember them. That’s okay, but if you’re getting a nightly kick in the head, something is wrong and the mind/body/spirit is desperately trying to get you to recognize it and heal yourself.  If you never remember your dreams there are lots of books out there that have exercises in them to help you.

Dreams are always on our side, so stop and give some serious attention to what the other side of your brain is saying; the one that uses symbols and can’t speak in words, because as they say: a picture is worth a thousand of them.

All Photos and Text are Copyrighted 2012 CLCW