Spring Dilemma (from the Seasons Newsletter)

by | Oct 23, 2014 | Seasons Newsletter | 8 comments

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We are approaching Whiringanuku, Beltane, Flowering and Sap-Rise, (on October 31): the festival of regeneration.

However, there’s no regeneration in the death imagery of Halloween, which spills out of the shops in the form of skeletons, black costumes and ghoul-like masks. The children are getting right into it, but because you are tuned into the seasons, you may want to shriek: ‘It’s spring here, not the season of dying!’ You may be aware of tension and dissonance.

Dissonance can be painful. So what can be done?

When I was ten years old I found myself gripping a thick rope at the primary school picnic. When burly Mr Matthews shouted ‘Go!’ we all tugged as hard as we could, desperately wanting to win the tug-o-war.

For a while our team gained ground, but then the others yanked us back. We applied more muscle and pulled them towards us. My hands were burning. Then suddenly we tumbled backwards, jolting and bruising ourselves on the hard ground.

When I saw the other team standing up unhurt and looking relieved, I realised there was no such thing as a win in a tug-o-war.

Sometimes the pull between joining the kids in their masquerade and wanting to turn them towards a different reality, against the flow of their peers, can feel like a no-win situation.

However, there’s a way out of this conflict.

Changes in technology have brought us into a bigger world: one earth. Television and the internet beam the world into your home every day, and the influence of Hollywood impacts particularly on the young, who spend much of their imaginative time in the USA.

I remember how offended I felt when a young friend started saying ‘zero’ instead of the English ‘nought’ that I grew up with, and how startled I was when I first heard an eight-year-old speaking in the American accent of her favourite TV programme.


If conflict arises for you on October 31, you might like to think about these three alternatives:

1. Protest

You can protest about the craziness of acting out northern hemisphere death rituals in a southern hemisphere land that is rejoicing in high spring. I know someone who is so outraged that he wants to write to all shops and schools to tell them to stop.

I used to feel the same, but I found that this approach just fed the conflict.


2. Create a rival event

You could cancel Halloween and do your own thing. Oppose it by creating a spring festival on October 31, with a colour theme, not of black, but green. Use ferns and leaves as decoration and offer fresh spring food.

But again, it can be hard to do this without reinforcing a sense of division.


3. Embrace the polarity

You’ve probably guessed that this is the one I favour. Let the kids get Halloween out of their system. Then a few days later, when all the dark debris has been packed away, hold a spring picnic, party or festival.


In the cycles of nature, rebirth follows death. When you embrace the polarity you include all of life. When you embrace the whole picture, everyone benefits.

You don’t have to pull yourself apart in an internal tug-o-war. You can drop the rope and welcome both teams to your party—but on different days!

If we can stay with the tension of opposites long enough—sustain it, be true to it—we can sometimes become vessels within which the divine opposites come together and give birth to a new reality—Marie-Louise von Franz



  1. Denny Anker

    Thanks, Juliet, for your timely and helpful words.

    I face a similar dilemma concerning 5th November – Guy Fawkes Day (celebrating someone’s threats of violence in another country 400 years ago!), rather than remembering and commemorating what happened in our own country at Parihaka also on 5th November.
    Most of our local Parihaka Support Group accept that our events need to work around the Guy Fawkes Day events until the time Aotearoa-NZ can let go of that.
    We’d like to see the fireworks transferred to Matariki – and there would be several practical reasons for that. For example, children would not have to stay up so late waiting for darkness, there’s more need for colourful celebrations in winter, and there would be less fire risk.

    Best wishes

  2. Peta Joyce

    Such a healing solution, Juliet, to embrace the polarity. For years I have found the disjunction between the New Zealand seasons and the Northern Hemisphere calendar (such as Halloween and Christmas) painful, and such an expression of our profound disconnection with the cycles of nature. Like you, I used to stage a protest, but found this just alienated me further. I love the idea of following the celebration of death with a celebration of life in tune with the season of Spring – bravo!

    • Juliet Batten

      Peta, thank you. I’ve wrestled with this one for years, and just wound myself up. Healing solutions seem so simple and obvious, once they have emerged.

  3. Juliet Batten

    Exactly, Denny! Commemorating Parihaka makes much more sense: replacing a day of violence with a day of peace — and definitely moving fireworks to Matariki/Winter Solstice. Thank you for posting.

  4. Hannah Sinclair

    Thank you for this great post! This advice applies to so many things in life – accepting what *is* makes things easier!
    We are having a dress-up Halloween party for my Canadian flatmate on Friday – I’ve never celebrated it before but it is starting to get quite exciting. Opening my heart to this celebration has given me an opportunity to learn about his culture as well as connect with friends. The focus is on fun and friends.
    I’ve had a bit of criticism and surprise from friends who were surprised I was doing this – I find this disrespectful of my values – whatever my reasons for having a Halloween party – it is quite frankly no one’s business but my own.
    Softening towards another’s values softens your heart and your relationship with them – I have learned a lot already from this experience and will definitely stop before judging imported celebrations again.
    Many blessings, Hannah

    • Juliet Batten

      Hannah, thank you for your comment. I think staying conscious is the key, and staying heart connected. Your flatmate is connecting with his culture and the northern hemisphere right now, and you are joining him in that. Maybe he’ll also be open to learning about our southern hemisphere celebrations at some point as well.

  5. Connor

    Dear Juliet this is Connor in Taranaki , (we have met a few times)I just read your newsletter when it arrived which is rare for me as I usually put aside to look at later and the message so deeply resonated about embracing polarities!!! Since I am from the Northern Hemisphere originally I know the powerful influence from USA and I tried to ignore Halloween and then I thought, oh I am American why not just get the treats I always wanted as a kid and just embrace it along side of my spring longings so your words have just touched me deeply, right where I am right now! Again Thank you for all your wisdom!

    • Juliet Batten

      Connor, so you are honouring the needs of both parts of you: how wonderful. Thank you for your comment.


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