Stefan Chmelik is co-founder of and inventor of the Sensate stress reduction system, which is based on his over three decades of clinical experience working with anxiety, stress and trauma. His mission in now the company's mission - to positively impact the lives of 100 million people by 2025.
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I recommend you look again at my article on January 3rd Choose When To Change as this gives additional insight into harmonius change and recognition of the joy of celebration.
TLDR: Every culture has created ceremonies to celebrate times of the year when the seasons change and when we can perhaps generate most change and growth in ourselves by understanding the different qualities of that time. With the modern world as challenging as it is, I believe that each of us need moments of daily pause and wonder just to create balance. Using technology to leverage our inner landscape, is one of the simplest and most efficient ways to achieve this, and is the very purpose for which I invented Sensate.
February is a month of change
February the 1st represents a great many things across the globe, and every culture has dedicated ceremony and holiday to this time of year. This is your invitation to mark the start of the seasonal change and to recognise how this can also reflect in your own energy and mood.
The season of Chinese New Year started a fortnight ago, "Year of the Black Rabbit", coinciding with the New Moon.
This year sees the arrival of The Black Yin Water Rabbit. Black is the colour of water in Wu Xing (Five Phase) theory and the Yin aspect of the Water element represents sensitivity, intuition, nourishment and the possibility of a path to inner peace, a period of rest and reflection after the dynamic Tiger.
The Gaelic/Celtic quarter year festival of Imbolc (im-olc, the b is silent) starts on February 1st/2nd, about halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox (or perhaps January 31st, depending on how you are measuring). 1st/2nd August in the Southern Hemisphere. Imbolc (or Imbolg, ‘ewes milk’) is also celebrated as Saint Brigid Day, Ireland's patroness saint, and is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with: Bealtaine, Lughnasadh and Samhain, all now strongly associated with the Druids.
As well as the Chinese and Druids, the Greeks, Aztecs and Tibetans, amongst others, placed special importance upon this time of year.
This is the earliest of the Spring celebrations and traditionally marks the arrival of light, as the days start to get longer and is symbolised by the Snowdrop, as the first bulbs push up through the hard earth of Winter. This is a celebration of light more than fire and is observed as Candlemas in the Christian tradition.
Spring is also the return of Persephone to the world above. Greek mythology tells us that Persephone became the queen of the underworld after her abduction by and marriage to her uncle Hades, the king of the underworld. When she joins Hades in the Underworld, Winter arrives and when Persephone returns to visit her parents Zeus and Demeter (Goddess of the harvest, agriculture, fertility) then Spring returns and the crops grow. The arrival of the first Snowdrops (or any bud, we have daffs coming through) heralds the first arrival of Spring. Persephone - Queen of the underworld, Goddess of spring, the dead, destruction, grain, and nature.
If Imbolc is the first glimmer of light and Spring is the herald of the Summer, then Easter is a celebration and outward expression of abundance, joy and rebirth that many people look forward to after the deep inner world of Winter. Easter is a Lunar festival, so the dates can change each year. This year Easter (“Good”) Friday is celebrated on April 7th, coinciding with the Pink Full Moon. It's still a bit early to get overly excited about Easter (although there are Hot Cross buns already on sale), but worth mentioning here the origin of Easter, which derives from the Pagan goddess Eostre (Ostara), usually depicted seen surrounded by lapwing eggs and hares, rather than bunnies. Although some note that there is little definitive historical evidence for a goddess named Eostre and her hare companion apart from the Venerable Bede, I feel this is missing the point about the importance and resonance that critical signposts of the seasons represent for all cultures).
The Hare (Geàrr in Gaelic), companion to Eostre, is said to bring the benefits of balance and intuition, of promise and fulfilment. A Druid would tell you that with the Hare as your ally you will be able to draw on your intuition to guide you through this life, or at least the coming year – very similar to the advice the Chinese Water Rabbit would whisper in our ear. It is said that the Hare represents intuition, which makes things appear suddenly in our consciousness. Hare is representative of both equinox, bringing both the excitement of rebirth (Spring) and fertile abundance (Autumn) and transformation to the next stage or cycle.
Illustration: it is nearly dawn but we can still see the new moon, peeking out from behind a dolmen of stone, a symbol of rebirth, and in the foreground a lapwing nest with the eggs said to be brought by the Hare.
The ancient animal Hare – the Arctic Hare, the original Hare of Britain, was later replaced by the common brown hare brought over by the Romains from the plains of central Europe.
By the way, male and female hares are called Jacks and Jills, and it’s the Jills that ‘box’.
I love you,
There is an opposite energy in the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere of course. So Spring in the north is Autumn in the south, but the sense of transition from one state to the next is constant.
The official first day of Spring in the Northern hemisphere is March 1st. The Spring, or Vernal Equinox, from the Latin, means “equality of night and day.” So, the equinox occurs at two specific moments during the year when the sun is exactly above the equator.
In the northern hemisphere, the spring, or vernal equinox happens around March 20th-21st, when the sun moves north across the celestial equator. The autumnal equinox occurs around September 22nd, when the sun crosses the celestial equator going south. But if you want to be truly egalitarian, opt for saying March equinox and September equinox instead. After all, in the southern hemisphere, March represents the beginning of autumn and spring comes along in September!
Although it would be a pleasing thing to be true, Oestre does not appear to be the source of the fertility important Oestrogen.
Photo by Robert Lukeman on Unsplash
Illustration by Will Worthington for the Druid Animal Oracle by Philip & Stephanie Carr-Gomm