Spring is here—Te Koanga—and with it, the chance to make a fresh start.
Is there a fresh start calling you?
Maybe you’d like to freshen up your home, or a special relationship. Maybe you need to revive your energy and enthusiasm for life, or take action to create a desired change.
What Nature teaches
If you take a look at Nature, you’ll see how through the seasonal changes, Nature is always going through renewal. Right now the southern hemisphere is in the transition from winter to spring.
In winter, the sap returns to earth and growth slows down. Plants sleep. Some even look completely lifeless. But they don’t stay that way, because winter is also a season of tempests.
Rain, storms, floods and wind sweep through the landscape, taking everything in their path. The wild winds of winter whip through forests, gardens and pathways, whirling debris up into vortexes, tossing dead branches and twigs in the air, sweeping the ground, and felling any weak trees that have lived their life.
This winter in Aotearoa has been one of the wettest on record, due to an ‘atmospheric river’ moving down from the tropics. Such extreme clearing can result in destruction and is also a wake-up call.
The effects of climate change have me pondering how to write in a new way about the seasons. For example, renewal in the face of extreme events such as floods may call for a renewal of our attitudes.
Renewal for me personally is reviving my early years as an activist and resulting in a pledge to become an elder activist, working for the planet with more direct action.
Letting go of the kanuka trees
Out at the bach a few years ago, mature kanuka trees started crashing down over two winters. They looked fine to a superficial eye, but the wood-cutter showed me how to examine them further.
In the tops, a branch drooped with dry foliage. The bushy head of a tree had a sparser look. A side branch might have dropped, leaving an entry point for fungus. And, most tellingly of all, at the very base of the tree, where he carefully probed with a metal prong, there was rot.
Sadly, I had to make a decision to fell the dying trees that stood close to the bach. The previous year a large kanuka toppled on to the phone line and threatened to drop on to the power lines. Although the tree appeared to be strong and solid, its base was mushy with decay.
Clearing through the body, mind and soul
So the first stage of renewal, as Nature teaches, is that debris and dead matter must be cleared. My tai chi teacher calls this ‘Invest in loss.’
Our own debris and inner clutter also need to be cleared: old attitudes that hold us back, and the negative constrictions we place around ourselves.
Sometimes winter flu and sickness have the effect of clearing out old gunk and preparing the way for something new. Some people like to take matters into their own hands and induce a clearing through their bodies by fasting or having a colonic at the start of spring, or switching from stodgy food to green juice and smoothies.
On the inner level, we are always clogging our energy systems with more information than we need, or with negativity and burdens from other people and other places. Spiritual practices, such as meditation, chanting, silent retreats or yoga are effective ways of clearing the soul and refreshing our being. Is it time for you to take a retreat?
Now nature steps into the clear patches with regeneration. The sun reaches places where it couldn’t go before, and everywhere little seedlings begin to spring up.
After winter clearing and cleansing, you too are ready to open to something new. Spring, with its infusion of energy, fragrant flowers, bright leafing and bird song will bring upliftment to wherever your heart takes you. Spring may invite you into action that brings hope, on a personal level or for the good of others and for our world.
Dream and stretch
You can wake up your body gently, by going a little further on your walks, stretching a little longer in yoga, or getting up earlier in the morning.
And you can gently stretch into something new in your life, in this way:
1. Starting by dreaming about it. Sit down in a quiet place and open up a blank journal. Have drawing materials and a pen close by.
At the top of the page, write: What is seeking to emerge?
Then close your eyes and focus on your breathing, holding the question in your heart. Simply hold and breathe, not striving for an answer but rather being with the question.
When you are ready, pick up your coloured pencils or pens and draw, or begin to write by letting random words and thoughts flow through you. Let your heart guide your hand.
If nothing clear emerges, that’s fine. Simply do the process again from day to day, never forcing, just gently opening this portal to a new direction.
2. If you receive a clear message, then write another question:
Am I prepared to explore this new direction?
3. If the answer is yes, then write this question:
What is the first step I need to take?
Blessings on your fresh start, whatever form it takes, and may it open you to delight and adventure,
‘There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled. There is a longing in your soul, ready to be filled. You feel it don’t you?’
Three books for the seasons
For guidance in aligning with the season you are in, my Seasons books are there to help you.
Sun, Moon, and Stars will inspire you to celebrate with your family or whānau. The chapter on ‘Planting and Rejoicing’ includes many happy examples of family celebrations for the season.
Celebrating the Southern Seasons is a classic resource book. The section on Spring Equinox/Te Koanga begins on p. 106 and will take you through Māori, Christian and European traditions for this season.
Dancing with the Seasons is a personal guide to the seasonal flow. Chapter 8 on p. 51 is entitled ‘Mid spring: resurrecting’ and will guide you through three ‘tasks’ for this season, on the physical, psychological and spiritual levels.