Folding into Fallow

by | Jun 17, 2021 | Seasons Newsletter | 8 comments



Do you ever allow yourself to lie fallow?

— like the land after harvest, when its energies are spent?
— when you know a growth spurt cannot be sustained and it’s time to rest, recover and regenerate?

Fallow ground is land that has been ploughed and tilled but not seeded or planted. Letting the land rest breaks the cycle of pests and allows the soil to replenish its nutrients. Fallowing the soil also allows essential minerals to rise up from deep below.

Forcing the soil to keep producing will deplete its capacity.

We live in a society that places great emphasis on productivity: ceaseless activity to produce more and more to meet consumer demands or to feed greed.


Nature is not like this.


Nature has her seasons and allows for time off.

In Te Ao Māori, the lunar month of Haratua is the last of the year. In Haratua once the crops are stored everything naturally quietens down. This year Haratua ended on June 10.

In European farming, the furrowed land lies idle after harvest, open to the elements. Ice, snow, rain, hail, wind, and sun all play their part in reconstituting the soil. Dead matter breaks down. Unseen micro-organisms work beneath the surface, regenerating the biofield.

Matariki departs


Some time in Haratua, Marariki the food bringer drops below the horizon and the Māori year comes to a standstill.

In the month before the turning of the sun at winter solstice, European farmers would attend to quiet indoor tasks such as mending ploughs, tending the sheltering cattle, fixing whatever was broken, as well as creative activities such as weaving, knitting, carving, and storytelling. Fallow time is composting time. {See Dancing with the Seasons chapter 4, to read more about this.]


Humans need to lie fallow too


You too may be called to fold into fallow at any time. Such a call may come to a stressed worker who is taking care of others while she herself comes to the brink of burnout. It may come to people like my friends who were exhausted after selling their house and rested at a relative’s place, their belongings safely in storage, while they waited for their new home to be ready.

Such times are about surrender, not productivity.


My own fallow time


Since selling my bach I am not moving into a new home; I remain in my city apartment. Here I have slowed down, folding in to assimilate grief and reorient to the mystery of whatever new life may emerge — in its own time.

It’s not easy, but it’s the only way. This newsletter has lain fallow since I wrote the first draft ten days ago, and could only be picked up now because I am on retreat and feeling some signs of regeneration. Sleeping and dreaming have begun to regenerate my inner field.


Gift yourself this


Fallow can feel like inertness, a lack. This is when we need to accept nature’s teaching, that rest is part of the rhythm of life. Without it, we become brittle and can easily snap. By allowing ourselves to fold into fallow, we sleep like the earth and surrender into the Mother for a season of new growth.

Blessings to you, as you ease into the rhythm of the seasons and listen to the call to nature’s wisdom.



Like the soil, mind is fertilized while it lies fallow, until a new burst of bloom ensues.

—John Dewey, US Philosopher


This blog is an excerpt from my Seasons Newsletter. To receive the Seasons Newsletter and a free gift, you may sign up on the Home page of this website. The Newsletter also has a special winter offer for subscribers.


  1. Denise Poyner

    A timely reminder as we head into the midst of our winter.

    Life was interesting in May and June and as a result I have been busy. I know I did it to myself when I needed to block out some “me” time.

    I am feeling in need of rest. July has the potential to be much quieter. Will I let that happen or will I be whisked away into things to do?

    From time to time I block out a Saturday or Sunday on my calendar with a big “STAY AT HOME” marked through it. There is some success in doing that. Otherwise life becomes a continuous wheel of emotional connection to things and people “out there”. I will see what I can do to have a quiet July.

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you, Denise. Yes, it takes a conscious choice to step off the wheel. I wish you well with taking charge and giving yourself a quiet July.

  2. Paul Batten

    Thank you for sharing such lovely thoughts and photos. You are right: I’m always amazed at nature’s resilience and ability to bounce back every year. Wishing you all the best! Kia ora and kia kaha, e hoa!

    • Juliet Batten

      Kia ora Paul, I was talking today with someone who spent 10 years on a Japanese island and thought of you. Nature is certainly a great teacher of resilience. I hope you are enjoying your summer and that your garden is flourishing.

  3. Julia

    Juliet I so love this blog. The words are an invitation to relax and rest. I love the connection to nature and allowing the land to lie fallow and rejuvenate. When I read your words I feel spaciousness, the depth from where it comes, ease and an invitation to just ‘be’. Thank you so much for this.

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you for these beautiful words Julia. Maybe the weeds are taking a rest too?

  4. Margaret McCallum

    Thank you, Juliet, a beautiful offering. It reminds me of walking across Spain in the Autumn, past vast swathes of fallow land. What a time to be quietly travelling inwardly as I walked.

    • Juliet Batten

      What a beautiful memory of the fallow land and your inward focus, one resonating with the other. Thank you for sharing this, Margaret.


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