Spring Dilemma

by | Oct 21, 2015 | Seasons Newsletter | 13 comments


Spring Dilemma 2


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

And I’m reposting my message from last year, for 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?


Who won?

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.


Is there a win-win?

Yes, 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.


Three alternatives

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, and every now and then still make a protest, but I find that this approach just feeds 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


This post is from the Seasons Newsletter. If you’d like to receive the full Seasons Newsletter by email, you may sign up on the Home Page of this website and receive a free audio gift.


  1. Jennifer

    Thanks as always Juliet for the call to alignment and consciousness in the most serving ways for self and world…:-)

    • Juliet Batten

      Jennifer, lovely to hear from you, and thank you for your appreciation!

  2. Julie

    Thank you Juliet. As always, yours message is a timely breath of fresh air in my in box. I really appreciate you providing this ongoing source of inspiration and reminder of seasonal attunement.

    • Juliet Batten

      Julie, I’m glad it brought you some fresh inspiration. Thank you, it’s always so nice to know that the newsletter has ‘landed’.

  3. rosanne kuiti

    Embracing the polarities is an awesome way of teaching our children as well through seeing the two together they will be able to make the connection between them easier.

    nga mihi Rosanne

    • Juliet Batten

      Rosanne, thank you so much for posting your comment here. Yes, it’s so valuable to teach our children how to embrace a big picture. I wish you well with doing this.

  4. Dana Leigh Lyons

    Ahhh…another beautiful message delivered with beautiful imagery, Juliet!

    Love your tug-of-war metaphor here–both for the wonderful fit, and for your artful use of details and memories.

    Also–as someone who’s from north America…but who’s spent other years of my life living across the world–I so appreciate your perspective on this sort of dissonance and (in my mind, unfortunate) clamouring toward seemingly shiny, northern hemisphere doings. I don’t feel anger really–more a sense of loss–around such changes.

    And yet, I see such wisdom in your embrace of polarity–and of staying connected to this while also finding acceptance of that….and imagining a way for them to coexist. Beautiful post, beautiful teaching!

    • Juliet Batten

      Dana, your feedback is a treasure to me! I’ve struggled with this particular dilemma for years, and then came out of the tangle into a bigger place. It was a relief. Thank you so much for ‘getting it’ so fully, and for your appreciation.

  5. Jane Valencia

    Wow, thank you for this post. As someone who loves the death rituals of Halloween and Day of the Dead, I would indeed feel appalled if my communities were drawn into celebrating them in spring! I love your solution – it’s creative and holistic!

    • Juliet Batten

      Jane, it’s certainly very jarring. My communities have begun to hold the death rituals in their true place in the seasonal cycle: April 30 in the southern hemisphere, and the meanings fall into place. Thank you, and I’m glad you like the solution.

  6. Margie McCallum

    Dear Juliet

    Thank you. I’m slow getting to read your newsletter, but love your Third Alternative. Life is full of such possibilities when we hold two (seeming) opposites in tension, isn’t it?.

    I have been pondering what to do about All Hallows Eve next year. (Is anyone from Dunedin doing your course? I was not in a place to be able to, but hope you will offer it again next year.) Part of the response to the Halloween “stuff” for me is to be able to talk about where the celebration originated and what it’s really about. An academic spoke about this in Dunedin. I wasn’t able to go, but will be in touch with her. I was very pleased! Some churches and other community groups offer a “positive alternative”, but somehow that misses the boat.

    • Juliet Batten

      Margie, thank you for your comment, and I’m glad you got to read the newsletter! For many years I held a vigil on Ponsonby Rd on April 30, then moved it inside as a ritual to honour our beloved dead. I have plenty of material about this in my book ‘Celebrating the Southern Seasons’ and the sequel ‘Dancing with the Seasons’, and when April comes along I’ll be posting on my Facebook Books page again on this subject. I love Samhain/All Hallows Eve; it’s so beautiful to honour the dead ones and the ancestors. No-one has yet done the Sacred Art of Ritual from Dunedin, though I’ve had one from Christchurch.

      • Margie McCallum

        Thank you, Juliet. I shall look up your books when I am re-joined with my belongings – soon I hope!


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