The change of seasons is a subtle thing, one day to the next, Buds fatten until the first hints of green peek out. Shoots emerge one by one, and the grass begins to grow, turning the faded tones of winter into fresh and vibrant shades. Birds pair off, their nest building apparent, and the days lengthen, getting warmer.
I don’t know why I wake before the dawn, but I do, lying in the darkness I hear when the dawn chorus begins. They are singing for longer now than they did in winter – the warmth and growing days giving them more energy to spare. Somehow they know the dawn is coming, and sing to greet it. Although my body seems to know too, based on when I wake, I don’t feel the coming of the light, but the song of birds is a comfort, and helps me wait out the darkness. It’s the loneliest time of the day for me, not wanting to disturb others who are sleeping, seldom feeling energetic enough to move. The darkness lies heavy and it’s a time when I’m most exposed to my own fear. But the bird song always eases that, and the return of light means a return of hope.
Where I’ve studied Druidry over the years, I’ve heard plenty of advice about how we should attune our own life cycles and moods to the seasons. Spring is the time for waking up, for new projects, fresh energy. As I spend significant time outside every day and don’t have much insulation from nature, I feel the cycle of the seasons keenly – the shifts in day length and temperature impact on me. I’m alert to the changes in plants and birds, and this year bats as well. But I’m not bounding with spring energy. I’m not feeling the thrill of a new season or the energy of new creativity. Emotionally, I’m still in the cold, hard depths of winter and there is a lot of ice on the inside.
This is not a new problem. I don’t lull into the gentle sleep of winter like a good little Druid – I can’t – winters for me are hard work, because I have little insulation from the harsh realities of them. Often the long days around midsummer give me a strange rush and a kind of hyper-energised insanity, but that’s the only time I ‘feel the season’ at all. Early on as a student I was actually told off for this and encouraged to perceive it as ‘Druid fail’. Which it isn’t.
The tides and seasons of our lives are unique to each of us. Trying to reduce them down and make them fit a perceived narrative of the year is unhelpful. I am not a flower to experience the year as plants do, entirely solar led. Nor am I a hibernating mammal or a migrating bird. Listening to the voices of nature and learning from them should not be a process of trying to entirely become what we are not. However we attune to sun and season, we are still human, and it is important to recognise and honour our own tides, which will not necessarily connect with any other natural cycle out there.
For creative folk, the seasons of our working and being fallow are not about crops or harvest. It takes precisely as long to incubate and birth a project as it takes. That can be minutes, months or anywhere in between. We might be caught in industrious energy through the autumn and winter only to find ourselves dying back in the spring and needing to retreat and rest a while. I lived for a while with a predictable six to eight week pattern of work and burn out, which didn’t relate to anything but me.
The tides of life do not respect our inner seasons. We might want to be resting in darkness, but other calls may be made on our energy. Reality won’t wait until a springtime of the soul to make demands on our selves and invention. We could be trying to die back quietly, only to find some other current has grabbed us and requires us to evolve into swimmers.
Celebrating what we have and honouring the sacred time that is now, is not just about recognising where the solar seasons are and trying to attune to them. It is good to be aware of what’s going on out there, but it’s also important to recognise that what goes on within us might not neatly correspond. It’s even possible to find that your thoughts pull one way and your emotions another, that there is no coherent narrative about where you are in your life and what any of it means. And that’s ok too. Sometimes it’s enough to draw breath, write ‘I am here’ as spirit graffiti in the air, and let it go.