The air on this early March day is cool and crisp on my face here in Northern Idaho. The spring equinox is upon us, and my mind once again goes to thoughts of new beginnings, spiritual awakenings, and soul evolution and evaluation.
How did my “soul garden” fare last year and last season? What changes do I want to make in my internal landscape this new season? What seeds of change will I sow on my internal landscape this powerful Spring Equinox?
Equinox and Solstice days are powerful days astrologically that have all but been forgotten in the modern western world. Not only have they been changed on our Gregorian calendar to be on days other than when they actually occur (but that is a long story for another day), they have also (both by apathy and downright treachery) been mostly removed from our thoughts and life experiences altogether. If you wish someone in the grocery store a “happy equinox” you will likely get an odd look, rather than an excited greeting like you would receive from saying “Merry Christmas!”
To call an equinox a “holiday” is incredibly reductionist, but the cultural value and widespread participation in holidays is something that I personally believe would be incredibly beneficial in our society once again in relation to Equinox and Solstice days. Broader awareness of these powerful days where energies we are largely out of touch within our modern societies and opportunities for growth are heightened in ways that are hard to understand with our modern mindsets, yet can bring us great value and precious momentum in our lives. For these reasons, and many others, incorporating some type of personal observation and cooperation with these four powerful days of the year is something I find extremely valuable in my personal life. The astrological changes and energies present on these equinox and solstice days are truly powerful and add momentum to intentions, goals, and shifts that can greatly increase the pace at which they can materialize or come to fruition. If you haven’t looked into the power of these seasonal shifts, I would greatly encourage you to do so. It takes some digging but is a very interesting rabbit hole to go down. I’m not going to go into great detail about how and why these days add momentum to our lives, that’s a story for another time. Through practice over time, you will be able to see for yourself what these events hold for your life. Just like the moon affecting the tides, these energetic changes are subtle at first glance, but powerful enough to move oceans. But instead of expounding on the how and why of seasonal shifts and the changes they bring, in this article I am going to share a little about what I personally do at every season shift, and in what areas I believe the Spring Equinox, in particular, offers us exceptional momentum.
Every change of the season I sit down and reevaluate my life, my goals, and spend some time working with the energy of the moment. I don’t do this in a “new years resolution” way, as I don’t find that method particularly helpful for me personally. Rather, I paint with a more delicate paintbrush on my internal landscape, highlighting areas I would like to adjust, and setting intentions/putting a plan into place to bring those internal goals into reality in the upcoming months. My equinox and solstice work is much more internally directed, rather than externally goal-oriented.
The Spring Equinox is a time to plant seeds. Depending on where in the world you live you may be planting literal seeds in the soil, or you may simply be planting internal seeds of growth, expansion, and change. For me, this looks like tuning deeply into my feelings and assessing what did and did not work out super well for me last year. What in my life caused me to feel stress? What caused me anxiety? Which of my internal mental and spiritual habits produced exceptional fruit and which bore poorly? Based on this evaluation process, which I usually begin sometime before the equinox, I can more accurately determine what types of “seeds” I wish to plant in my mental and spiritual landscape this season.
Ok, that’s a lot of flowery language—so what does “evaluating your mental and spiritual landscape” or “planting seeds in your spiritual and mental landscape” actually look like? I’ll give you a few personal examples from my life, and you can apply them as best befits you and your own goals.
For example, last Winter Solstice, I journaled in-depth, as I usually do, about my goals for the winter season. I’m fantastic at hard work, pushing through, getting a ton done, setting goals, accomplishing them, and propelling my life physically in a good direction. I was raised with those goals and values, and they fit my type A, introverted personality very well. I like to stay home and get a lot done. However, there are downfalls with this type of drive which take a toll on my mental and spiritual well-being if not balanced.
Since healing from a near-fatal illness some years back, I’ve been in push mode, because my physical body had atrophied so much that every single muscle had to be rebuilt. Also, needless to say, almost six years of being in bed at death's door caused a significant lack of progress made in my physical life. So the need to both catch up on projects that had been left in the dust for far too long, as well as to rebuild my body back with a lot of hard work, both aligned perfectly for a few years after my recovery. I was able to allow my personality traits of “get it done!” and “go, go, go!” to kind of run wild because it fulfilled multiple necessary goals. However, upon reaching this last Winter Solstice it was obvious, both based on the good state of our farm, garden, food stores, etc., as well as based on the bulging muscles I had developed physically (ok, maybe bulging is a bit of an exaggeration, but let me have this one, I’ve worked really hard to get here!) showed me that it was time for a major season change in my life this winter. It was time to practice rest (see Perpends article in this issue for more on this). That may sound like a physical goal, but for me it was an emotional and spiritual one because my personality and natural bent want to be busy, and when I slow down I fight anxiety, boredom, and even depression, all of which can start creeping in. So the choice to make this winter a season of rest involved much more mental and spiritual work for me than it might for other people. I had to re-work beliefs about how much a human “should” accomplish in a day, and learn how to relax into non-activity in a way that allowed me to maintain my joy and zest for life.
Enter unexpected life curveball: just as I finished up the majority of fall garden and canning chores, and was about to start this practice of relaxation and learning to rest in a healthy joyful way, my husband fell off a ladder and shattered his wrist into 15 pieces, and broke his humorous bone in half—if you remember from his article on community in Volume 1, Issue 8. Because of this injury he was completely unable to work to the point where we desperately needed the income and he was also not able to finish any of the projects that he was supposed to do before full-on winter set in. Chickens had to be butchered, roofs had to be put on wood sheds, wood had to be chopped, fences had to be built…the list went on and on. Suddenly my intentions and goals to learn how to have a restful and quiet winter were drastically changed. For a few weeks the rest of us here on the farm had to buckle down full force and bust ever-loving butt to do what had to be done before we got dumped on with snow. On top of that, I had to build-up my business to levels I never intended to do over the winter to make ends meet. Thanks to lots of hard work and generous friends that helped out both physically and financially, we managed just fine. After the initial push, I had to go back and reassess how exactly I was going to learn any of the lessons I intended to learn around rest and relaxation with this sudden change. Hubby’s arm would be out of commission most of the winter, so while the immediate projects had been taken care of, the ongoing chores and tasks that he would usually have been taking care of still fell on me and the rest of the able-bodied helper's shoulders.
To make a long story a touch shorter, I realized that perhaps the lesson on rest that I needed was not to learn how to rest more entirely, in large blocks of time, but rather learn how to take time out to rest in smaller sections while still in the midst of busy-ness; to sit with a cup of tea in the middle of canning a batch of chicken and breathe in deeply with gratitude for 10 minutes; to sit and rub my aching feet with salve for a minute, not because the day’s work was done, but simply to choose rest and a moment of self-care in the middle of the work; to say yes to reading a chapter of a book despite the work not being done. The work will never be done. There is always more. And while I do believe in living within the harmony of the season—resting more in the cold months and working harder in the growing season—the lesson I thought I was going to learn this winter about resting, turned out to not be the case. I got an even better skill-set to practice—the discipline of resting in small moments, even when I could easily just stay busy.
And so, coming into this Spring Equinox for me looks like reviewing how the last season went. What worked out well for me over the winter? How was I able to have peace amidst the unexpected extra workload? How was I able to achieve my goals of learning to rest despite the unforeseen and unpleasant circumstances? And then, based on what I see in my review, and what feedback I get back from those closest to me who observed my winter season, I determine what “seeds” I wish to plant for this new Spring season. I also typically go back mentally to the previous spring season and evaluate what worked and didn’t work as well. How did I feel emotionally about my choices? Were they life-giving? Life draining? Did I try to hold onto my “plan” of what I wanted to grow in my emotional and spiritual garden no matter how life went, or did I succeed at ebbing and flowing with my environment and what was thrown at me and adjust in healthy and productive ways? Did the way I went about trying to establish new thought patterns, new habits, or how I attempted to reinforce old patterns that I like and want to keep, go well, or did it fail to accomplish my internal goals? Do I feel differently about rest, what it means, how to get it, and what it does for me, than I did before I set my intentions this last season? Our feelings/emotions are not something to follow or allow to lead us, but they give us incredibly valuable feedback on our experiences in life. If I have anxiety around resting and my goal is to learn to rest in a more peaceful manner, and if at the end of the season I still have just as much anxiety around resting; that is a sign that while I might have physically made myself rest and might have succeeded at that goal, I did not become friends with the concept of resting itself. I did not change my beliefs and mental patterns surrounding rest in a way that actually changed anything fundamental inside of me. In this way, our feelings can be true guiding lights to give us feedback on our internal world, not just our physical actions. I am after more in my life than just pure grit that accomplishes tasks. I want harmony. I want my inside values to propel my physical accomplishments. I don’t want to just grit my teeth and wake up early every morning even if I hate it, simply because I “decided” it was a good thing to do on a farm. That’s the first step in some cases for sure, (pure grit in action) but not how I want to live for the rest of my life. I want to make friends with my goals and lifestyle choices. I want to adjust my mental and spiritual beliefs into alignment with what is best. I don’t want to feel anxious when I rest. Anxiety is tied to nervous system up-regulation (which you have to re-train or physically heal depending on what is causing it) or to belief systems that downplay the value of rest and inflate the value of production. Either way, there is internal work to do. I have to do the work of dismantling and reconstructing those negative beliefs around rest in order to be in alignment with my goals. I can’t just hope that by “doing” rest enough, I’ll feel differently about it. I have to pay attention to how I feel and then change the belief structures or heal the physical aspects that are creating those negative feelings.
So for this spring, because this season is about bringing in more light, planting seeds, and pulling out what died or didn’t survive the cold hard winter, I am focusing on what I did well emotionally and spiritually last spring, what I didn’t do so well at in those areas last spring, and how I wish to carry on the lessons that I learned in this last winter season into this next year. The beginning of the year is truly in the spring; it starting in January is some utter lunacy, if you ask me, and quite a modern idea. The momentum and new year come in the spring. Nature teaches us this. So as I go into this new year, I am looking for places where my emotions react negatively to my life desires and goals, as well as my gifting, and setting plans in place to bring those areas more into harmony. If I hate doing dishes but function best with a clean kitchen, I will look at ways I could come alongside my emotions; look for what is behind them, and find a way to be more at peace and in harmony with doing dishes.
For me specifically, I intended to carry on the lessons I am learning from winter on how to take moments to rest amidst the busy-ness, instead of waiting for “time” to rest. I will continue to work on the subconscious beliefs that creep up to affirm that being profitable and productive is more valuable than being still. “Be still and know that I am God,” the Bible says, not “stay busy and you will know me.” When the thoughts that whisper “you could be doing something” come up, I will look at them with compassion and take those thoughts captive by saying “you are right, I could ALWAYS be doing something. I’m good at doing something. The question is, should I be doing something? Or is this an opportunity to work on my goal of being at peace when resting?
Another area that has come into my soul for review this Spring Equinox is that I would like to make a priority out of becoming friends with socializing. For this introverted soul who would much rather stay home and talk to plants and animals and never have to socialize at all, staying stuck in the belief system that “introverts struggle in social situations” is exceptionally tempting! However, this belief does not fit well with my life goals. I am a healer. I am an herbalist, and as such I regularly see clients and am required to teach and socialize on a very regular basis. These social interactions drain me, cause me stress in the anticipation of having to be social, and just don’t add to the life I’m wishing to create at all. Therefore, because my life goals are clear, and being social is a required part of those goals, and something that is necessary for me to share my passion and gifts; I am choosing this Spring to vow to make friends with socializing. Does that mean I’ll love it as much as my extroverted friends? Absolutely not! But what I do know I can achieve is perfect peace with socializing. I can, through intentional emotional, mental, and spiritual work, consciously look through why I feel how I feel in public situations and change it to be more in alignment with my life and goals. For example, the belief that “you have to keep company comfortable by anticipating their every need” is a limiting belief that was passed down to me from my parents. However, in my life, where people are regularly stopping by to pick up products or pick my brain about homesteading or herbal topics, anticipating every desire or need they have while in my home really shouldn’t be my problem. If they need something, they can ask. I don’t have to offer water, food, and a listening ear to everyone who comes to pick up a dozen eggs or a bar of soap. I do not need to be fully engaged to anticipate their every desire before they speak it. That’s exhausting, and one of the reasons I don’t like people constantly coming to my house; because I still have a subconscious belief that I owe everyone who sets foot into my home my undivided attention. But awareness about that inaccurate belief is not enough to change anything. I’m very aware of it. Now I have to do the hard work of changing my beliefs, aka recognizing them even in my subconscious mind and constantly speak a new truth to those old beliefs—until my new beliefs can take root and grow to produce the good fruit I want in my social life. The Spring Equinox, in my opinion, is unsurpassed in its ability to help propel new beliefs and changes into reality. Taking the time to recognize the beliefs that are not serving us anymore, (which might have served us very well at one point in our life) and putting a plan into a place of how to grow new beliefs in their stead during the Spring—and especially the Equinox—is an investment that pays off in dividends. Changing beliefs and emotions is hard! I’ll take all the help I can get, that’s for sure.
Everyone’s goals are different, but whatever your personal, mental, and spiritual goals are, consider giving them some extra, deep thought and planning during this spring season. Write them down. Work out a plan for how you are actually going to do things differently; don’t just set intentions for change and hope for the best. “For everything under the sun, there is a season,” and this Spring Equinox season is the time to dig deep, plant those seeds you want to grow in your inner life, and tend them with attentiveness, love, and faith. Now is the time to be obsessed with your own personal growth. Later, when the seeds have grown bigger, you can let up on your care, and they will continue to grow and bear fruits in your life. While beliefs and habits are young, they require constant attention and support to grow and the energies of the cosmos are supporting you in that. Take the help. You won’t regret it.
Ashley is a long-standing herbalist and aromatherapist, dating back to her ancestors. Her passion is living in harmony with nature and the Creator, and helping teach and assist others in using nature’s tools and medicines to effectively and safely heal and thrive.