The past four years or so have been busy. I’d like to tell you they have been productive-busy years but in truth, they have been exhausting. By the end of last year, I’d had enough. Bone-weary and depressed, I knew I couldn’t sustain my busy-ness. I breathed deeply and welcomed the spirit of winter.
It’s difficult to sustain the pace of modern life, especially as, for most of us, we’re raised and expected to live outside of nature’s cycles. I was pondering this as I walked through local park with the bare trees, naked and proud under the setting sun.
Winter can seem like a hindrance. It appears bleak and barren, with nothing much visibly happening. The weather sours and slows us down further. Everything around us screams for us to lean into the season but we can’t slow down. Society’s hamster wheel – with morning alarms and late evening meetings, constant production and pressure to perform – turns at a frantic pace. January, with its new year resolutions and drive to do better than the year before, spins the wheel faster.
Sometimes we have to step off the wheel, out of our comfort zone, and into the sacred pause of winter.
Energetically, winter is the time to slow down. To pause. To rest. To settle into becoming. Mother Nature does an amazing job of showing us the way with dark mornings, dark evenings and weather that doesn’t entice you out to play.
But we live in a culture that values the energy of spring with it’s glorious youth and growth. It’s action all the way through spring and summer but come autumn, when the world begins to shed its outer appearances, we choose not to settle down. We can’t turn inward because there’s always too much to do, too much to achieve…..just too much. The change of the seasons is inconsequential to the need to hurtle through life.
As Pagans, we are more aware of the cycles of nature than many other belief groups but do we draw the seasons into ourselves so we can experience their wisdom? It’s easy to turn up to a ritual to honour the Wheel of the Year but it’s more challenging to use the guidance of the seasons to live your life. Spring and summer probably won’t be a problem and autumn should be doable but what about winter?
It’s a mistake to think of winter as a time of total inaction. The Universe is in constant motion so even when we see barrenness and stillness, there’s motion. It’s a quiet, slow motion. It’s a preparation for the fertile time to come. The action is internal, not external.
We can’t always stop the crazy, spinning hamster wheel of life – we have jobs, businesses to run and families to care for – but we can create a sacred pause. We can stop for a moment to reflect, catch a breath, and to plan.
I took two weeks away from my business over the holiday season to create the sacred pause. I did very little apart from reading, journalling and walking. It was exactly what my soul needed to heal from being seasonally out of alignment.
Even if you can’t take a couple of weeks, take a couple of hours to create that sacred space. Ask yourself if you are aligning energetically with the season and if you’re not, take small steps to bring yourself into the energy of winter. Allow yourself to be more introspective, sleep longer, say no to evening social engagements, eat what your body requires (and not what a diet book tells you), reflect on the previous seasons and plan for the next. Breath the stillness.
Gift yourself the sacred pause of winter. You need it.