the Earth's healing wisdom
celebrating the solstices and equinoxes
Long before our modern way of life, numerous cultures followed a more simplistic path. Guided by the natural cycle of birth-life-death-and-renewal, our ancestors marked their seasons by celebrating each phase of the wheel of life.
Connecting to that older time and to our ancestors helps us feel a sense of rootedness and belonging to our place. The old ways connect us to the natural world and its non human inhabitants, showing us how to be fully part of it.
There are four special occasions during a year — two equinoxes and two solstices — that have astronomical significance and they mark the beginning of the four seasons.
An equinox occurs when the length of the day and night is equal. Vernal equinox occurs on March 20 or 21, and it marks the beginning of Spring in the northern hemisphere of earth and the beginning of Fall in the southern hemisphere. The autumnal equinox occurs on September 22 or 23 and it marks the beginning of Fall and Spring in the northern and southern hemispheres respectively.
A solstice is the opposite of equinox in the sense that the earth is at its highest tilt away or towards the sun. The summer solstice occurs on June 21 or 22 and marks the beginning of Summer in the northern hemisphere, and the beginning of Winter in the southern hemisphere. The winter solstice occurs on December 21 or 22 and marks the beginning of Winter in the Northern hemisphere and the beginning of Summer in the southern hemisphere.
Below are some ideas as to how you can honor and align with the energies of the changing seasons for optimal flow and growth. Enjoy discovering and working with the magic of our sweet Mother Earth!
Spring Equinox is celebrated as the first day of Spring, when day and night are equal in both hemispheres. New life is stirring in nature after the winter sleep. There is increasing light, the days are lengthening, and the nights are shortening. We begin to feel empowered to reach out for what we want and to take risks. Spring is all about new beginnings. We feel a yearning for the unknown, the new, the unchartered in our life.The potential and fertility of this time can be used to create opportunities for positive change in our lives and in the world.
Common themes associated with the Spring Equinox are: Mental healing and awakening, renewal. creative inspiration, new life, new beginnings, fertility, and passion.
Ideas for ceremony: The purpose of all ceremony is to call in spiritual help. It is a powerful way to embody our dreams and prayers. A simple act done with your heartfelt intention is enough.
Meditate on the following two questions: What wisdom are you bringing with you from the dark of winter?
What are you awakening in yourself?
Contemplate what you want to ‘sprout’ in your life and take action.
Enjoy a cleansing bath. Gather a circle of friends around a fire, to share stories, dreams, laughter, and music. You could light a white candle on your altar and leave a small note with your wishes for the year.
The Summer Solstice is a time of intensity, renewal and great potential. It is the time of most light in the year and a highly spiritual time.
Common themes associated with the Summer Solstice are: Physical healing, celebrating the triumph of light over dark in the individual, celebrating the return to wholeness and the fullness of life.
Ideas for ceremony: Celebrate the outer and inner fire with a bonfire. Play, drum and dance with your friends and loved ones. Gather fresh herbs like Lavender and Rosemary and gift them to the fire with your deepest wishes. Make an altar of light, gratitude, and abundance. Leave a sun wheel mandala offering on the earth. Infuse it with prayers for peace on our planet.
Fall Equinox is a time to strengthen and build our inner life, a time to count our blessings and to seek balance. The animals gather and prepare for winter as cold weather and shorter days are fast approaching.
Common themes associated with the Autumn Equinox are: Emotional healing, death and rebirth, letting go, gathering, embracing darkness and light, balance, gratitude, and starting over.
Ideas for ceremony: Have a fire ceremony and release what no longer serves into the fire on a written note, or you could blow it into a prayer stick (twig). Do a meditation and call on Indian goddess of destruction and renewal, Kali, to help you release that which no longer serves the growing of your soul. Have a delicious meal with your friends and family and celebrate your manifestations of inner and outer abundance.
Winter Solstice celebrates the presence of spirit and the power of faith and hope that our dreams will come into manifestation. It is a time of patience, like that of an expectant mother who can sense the spirit of the child within but must wait until the first indication that physical life is truly within her. Rest is necessary for the growth that comes later in the season.
Common themes associated with the Winter Solstice are: Spiritual healing, reflection, slowing down and resting, listening for guidance, honoring our ancestors, celebration of light, gratitude, patience, prayer, releasing burdens and conflicts, forgiveness, dreaming, and setting strong intentions for the new year.
Ideas for ceremony: Welcome in the darkness by lighting candles and letting them burn all day. Decorate a jar and make your own candle holder/lantern. Have a fire ceremony and release burdens and conflicts into the fire. Gather friends and family and acknowledge the challenges and triumphs of the year gone by. Share your hopes and dreams. Pray for self, loved ones, and the world.
Like our ancestors have done from the beginning of time, we too could honor the cycles and the seasons to remind us of the ever-changing flow of life that we are an undeniable part of. The earth has a lot of healing wisdom for those who listen.