Do you ever have times when you run low on patience, or even hope? — when it seems you’ve been struggling with something long enough, and you feel the situation may never change?
There is a season that knows all about this. It takes place in the six weeks that follow winter solstice, a time that I sometimes think of as ‘the long haul.’
In this season, even though you know that the sun is returning, you don’t feel it. If anything, the days can seem colder and even more bleak. A Maori description of this season refers to ‘ruarua huangohingohi’ (few and withered), which is very apt. If anything, the days can seem colder and even more bleak.
Someone said to me recently, ‘I hate the winter cold and just want to get away to the north and into the sun.’ Many who have done this have been shocked at the high temperatures of this year’s northern hemisphere summer. Out of the freezing pan and into the fire.
But if you’ve stayed in your southern hemisphere home through the winter, you may be hanging on for the first glimmerings of a change.
Just a few days ago I noticed that the lettuce seedlings I’d planted in pots suddenly seemed to have grown wings. They were unfurling with tender green into the light of morning.
Today I walked in the park with my granddaughter and we returned with a posy of daisies, a buttercup, dandelions and dainty yellow wildflowers. One friend has a daphne bush sending out fragrance beside her front door. Another is delighting in the sight of daffodils on the Taranaki coast.
Slowly, the earth is awakening. The earth worms are stirring. Buds are forming, even as wintry chills lash the branches.
And what is awakening in you?
What is your longing?
What new hopes and intentions are preparing to unfurl?
Nurture and protect them as carefully as you would protect a delicate seedling, because your dreams are precious and the winds are harsh.
Let the sun warm them and coax them out of hiding, for First Light is here.
This festival is easily overlooked. Because it holds a delicate energy of glimmerings rather than dramatic explosions, it can sometimes be a forgotten festival. But it’s one that I always anticipate eagerly.
I’ve learned that every year without fail August 2 is when I actually feel the warmth that has been secretly returning since winter solstice. I know that from now on the energy of new life will gather and increase in a way that becomes noticeable. This feels like a relief and a cause for celebration, because I know that anything I initiate now will be supported by a gentle — and later enthusiastic — increase in life force.
Celebrating First Light on August 2
How might you celebrate the change? Here are some ideas:
1. Think of an action to send winter on its way, to throw it out the window. Maybe you could burn its effects on a fire, or crumple its unwelcome messages into the bin. Clean a window. Clear out a drawer. Sweep away cobwebs.
2. Watch for signs of new growth in nature. You may be surprised at what you discover. Collect new buds, bright leaves and first flowers and create an altar in honour of the shift towards spring.
3. Welcome in Brigid, the Celtic goddess of fire, creativity, poetry and healing. Open a door or window with ‘Brigid, Brigid, won’t you come in!’
4. Write on a small card or piece of paper your intention for the next phase, and place it on the altar. Light a white candle for new beginnings, and meditate quietly, seeing your intention being irradiated by the glimmering of First Light.
May your dreams begin to stir into the light.
Our lowest times are often a preparing of the way for something waiting to be born within us.
This blog is an excerpt from my Seasons Newsletter. To receive the full Newsletter, you may sign up on the home page of this website and receive a free audio meditation.