I grew up in the season of summer. I also grew up in a busy city — the beautiful & possibly sometimes idealized, San Diego, CA to be exact. My romping grounds extended from pristine beaches and canyons of San Diego, to the smog + chaparral filled hills of Los Angeles, to the oak-strewn mountains of Santa Barbara.I was (and still am) a proud Southern California beach bum. The physical landscape of my childhood & early adult-life was colored primarily by busy-city/Solar energy. Normal weather meant lots of sun, consistent dry heat, very little rain & cold defined as low 60’s. Little did I know that because of this, the internal landscape of my life was also primarily colored by this same hyper-stimulated Solar/Yang energy.
Summer is the peak or most dramatic/heightened place of the cyclical or Celtic wheel of the year. The days are long, bright & hot. In the summer we are visited by Litha or the Solstice, the longest day of the year. We celebrate light’s triumph over darkness, the bounty of the harvest & the celebration of the influx of energy that light brings into our lives.
Cities & summer share a lot of thematic patterns: busy-ness, (generally) more people, an influx of energy, a shared to desire to be doing, more opportunities for socializing, a collectively felt rush... etc.
Growing up in this light-filled season/city allowed for so much beauty: avocados, citrus & fish year-round, swimming comfortably in the ocean from February to November, walking outside barefoot whenever I pleased, constant opportunities for entertainment in a variety of forms, sunsets to die for, experiencing more live music & festivals than someone from a small town could dream of, never needing more than a light jacket, thinking that having access to whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, wasn’t a big deal… just to name a few). Yet, growing up in this city & season also allowed for a lot of, what I’m now able to clearly see as psychological discord.
Some themes that seem to permeate my homeland of Southern California:
- a go-go-go hustle / action energy year-round
- a primarily masculine way of being; a constant need to create, do, and produce results
- a fear of darkness & the feminine nature that creates a lot of stuffing of uncomfortable emotions in order to appear “happy, okay, or put-together”
- an obsession with external appearance & due to this, less importance placed on the internal world
- a rushed nature to everything — driving, business, communication, understanding, integrating & just life in general
- a layer of fake niceness, superficiality &/or vanity that is almost inescapable while living there
- a constant hunger for more, or better — always rushing up the ladder
- a fair amount of spiritual bypassing & spiritual materialism
- a stunted ability to experience the internal Falls, Winters & Springs
There was no way to know the dramatic psychological effects a city & eternal summer could have been having on me (and potentially the rest of us who call summer-dominant cities home)....
...I have spent the last three years living on a farm in the middle of the forest in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, experiencing true external seasons & calmness for the first time in my life. It was on my new farm-home that I began to deepen my understanding of both the importance & sacredness of the Celtic wheel of the year (something I had spent much time researching & attempting to understand… which can honestly be difficult to truly get when you live in Southern California).
As I integrated into my new peaceful forest life & worked outside every day I started to grasp why seasonal changes were/are of the utmost importance in many ancient & sacred traditions, agricultural practicing peoples, indigenous peoples & I would dare to say, all of our ancestors. The wheel of the year dictated when to plow, sow, harvest & rest. The constant turning of this wheel represents the ever-present cycle of birth, death & rebirth of nature.
It took months to peel off the city energy that seemed deep-rooted in my being & almost three trips around this wheel to even begin to comprehend & distill how tremendously important seasons are for the human psyche.
I came to realize that, while growing up in the heart of a busy city & summer forever was insanely fun, it also prevented me from getting in touch with the seasons inside of me — the cyclical natures of the human psyche. It prevented me from experiencing the gifts of slowness, calmness & pure silence that I’ve been soaking in these last 3 years.
As the layers of city-energy & overly masculine ways of being dissolved, I was able to see the heaps of conditioning & programming I was carrying with me & operating from. I finally had the space & seasonal support to take off all the articles of clothing I had accumulated on my journey that weren’t mine & didn’t fit. I was thrust into an intense deconditioning journey of investigation around w-h-o I was when I let go of so many pieces there because of other people’s approval or desires.
It was as if my entire being knew she was finally in a safe & supportive place to let it come up & out. She had been struggling to keep up with the Solar/city energy. She was tired from doing. She was exhausted from suppressing & stuffing. She was sick of lying to herself & everyone else about who she was & what she wanted. She was crying out for the Earth & the medicine that immersing yourself in her brings.
Fall Held Me…
She told me it was okay to take a deep breath, slow down & relax into my being. She helped me to step away from a solar-dominant energy & embrace the equality of light & darkness within. She said to me, “Sweet Child, it’s okay to slow down, it’s okay to rest.” She showed me what it means to reflect & celebrate the fruits of my labors, external & internal. She gave me permission to prepare & conserve energy.
She showered me with more beauty & entertainment than a city had ever come close to providing — the paint brushes of mesmerizing reds, oranges & yellows streaked across the forest, the bounty of fall vegetables, the whimsical dance of falling leaves as the wind touched the trees, the squirrels gathering their nuts, the influx of bugs (and rats.. and snakes) in our home, trying to stay warm.
She reminded me that I can’t be half-naked & barefoot anymore. She sent a chill through my bones that led me to what is now a sacred practice of tending the wood-burning stove throughout the day. She brought my farmily inside & gathered us around the pellet stove at night, sharing warm food, tea & laughter. She taught me to go a bit easier, a bit gentler.
Winter Tested Me...
She brought me into my darkest most forgotten places. She gave me no other choice but to walk into them, meet them & get to know them. She gave me permission to let parts of myself die — sometimes gracefully, sometimes a slow painful ending. She showed me that there is no escaping death, in all of its forms. She sent me into a depth of sadness & slowness that I didn’t know possible.
I fought to get back to the light, I fought to rekindle the fire inside; I fought Winter so desperately. Until I had lost the energy to fight anymore & I surrendered into her cold dark influence. I sunk into the Earth & felt everything around me dying. I felt the repressed dark feminine inside of me who had never gotten the chance to grieve, to feel the forest of her bones and the rivers of her blood, to turn so deeply inward that she was able to see into every forgotten crack & crevice.
Winter showed me what it looks and sounds like when the Earth finally gets to sleep. She showed me the immaculate & hard to articulate beauty of a fresh snowfall, the rainbows in icicles, the soul-shattering wiseness & humbleness of trees when they’re bare & sleeping. She showed me what it means to be fucking cold & in that instilled me with a new gratitude for warmth that I will never forget.
Spring Pushed Me…
He reached his hand down into the well of Winter darkness & slowly pulled me out. He taught me about re-birth. He showed me that the darkness isn’t forever. He taught me the wisdom in planting seeds & intentionally caring for those seeds. He taught me the importance of discipline & consistency. He showed me that the lesson is in showing up every day, in progress not perfection, and in the journey, not the destination. He brought me outside of myself again, asking me what I wanted to grow, what I wanted to bring to form & what gifts I felt ready to birth into the world.
He showed me that spring isn’t just “back to the beach & back to the hustle.” He showed me what it means to bundle up & work outside in the cold. He bestowed me with an array of spring flowers whose names I lovingly learned so I was able to greet them when they arose. He gave me a variety of bitter plants to cleanse my liver & wake me up and out of my Winter slowness. He taught me that death & birth are synonymous. And to never get too attached to either.
Summer Surprised Me…
After turning the wheel of the seasons, he came back into my life with a bang. Yet, he was different. He was not who I remembered him to be. He felt like a short & sweet gift — something I no longer expected to be there all the time. He told me, “go play, you deserve it.” He taught me about a new way of the masculine. He threw away words like hustle & push, and replaced them with aligned action & grace. He lit a fire inside of me that because of the other seasons' teachings, I knew how to tend. He showed me how to walk in my fire & wield it, with passion, towards things that my soul truly wanted.
He taught me what a g-i-f-t it is to be able to play outside all day; to lay in the grass, tan naked by the river & wear my Earth Runners again. He stimulated me with the rapid & wild growth of the flora & the fauna. He peeled off my clothes & threw me into cold rivers. He reminded me of my love affair with the ocean & how I took that affair for granted. He gifted me with the freshest & juiciest of fruits. He brought back avocados, fish & citrus. He reminded me how much I love the heat, what a blessing it is to warm my entire body under the Sun. He showed me that an influx of yang/Solar energy is a gift not to be ignored or expected. He kissed me goodbye so sweetly as the wheel turned. “Thank you for seeing me for what I am, for not taking me for granted…” he called as he danced away.
I hope this serves as a gentle reminder, in some way, to honor the seasons within you, wherever you are.
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