Images: The Four of Swords and Ace of Wands from the Everyday Witch Tarot by Deborah Blake and Elizabeth Alba
A friend and I always start our workweek off by getting together for coffee each Monday morning. We call it our office hour, even though we talk about both personal and work-related items. This Monday, which happened to be the first day of spring, found us both full of energy, ideas spilling from us, revelations and creativity flowing all around until we felt like children playing in a fountain.
The awakening of spring always takes me by surprise. By now you’d think I’d be prepared, knowing how my soul follows the cycle of the year. But then, maybe that’s part of the magic, that shocking and pleasant jolt of waking up.
As our long Minnesota winters progress and linger, I grow increasingly restive. It is as if, metaphorically and sometimes literally, a heavy quilt covers me, movement hampered by the weight of the season. The lethargy is hard to bear and harder to fight. But fight it, I do, at least some of the time. “Do something,” I tell myself. Aside from the mundane work that needs doing, though, not a lot happens. That’s the way it feels, anyhow.
The truth is that a lot is happening, but I just can’t see it. The soul work of winter takes place below the surface. Like many people with pagan leanings, the Wheel of the Year shapes how I view the world, how I trace the rhythms of my soul. In the fall, the fruits of our soul labors are harvested and the soul garden is put to bed. Putting a garden to bed means harvesting, cutting down or pulling out the remains of the season’s spent plants, and covering the ground with mulch. During the winter, under the mulch, the remains of garden decompose and the soil is nourished. It is really very magical and yet because it is unseen and mostly unfelt, we easily mistake this period for stagnation. At least I do.
During my winter Monday office hours with my friend, I felt like each week I had nothing interesting to say, no life-changing revelations, no spectacular creativity. Especially as winter drags on, I become more and more impatient with myself, accusing myself of laziness, cursing my lack of energy, mourning my lost ambition.
And then, like magic, this Monday my soul showed signs of new life, like the crocuses bravely blossoming in the still cold soil, and I felt alive, awake, excited. Although a little ashamed and embarrassed by forgetting the hard, important, invisible work of winter, I was grateful to be reminded of it by the evidence of new life.
Perhaps next winter I will remember that even though things feel stagnant, they are not, and I will honor this valuable time and be gentler with myself. It is such a surprising miracle to wake up feeling transformed when all the while I thought nothing was happening.
May you recognize the gifts of your soul’s winter’s work.
May you be rich and ripe and ready to receive new seeds and nourish new life.
May you honor all times and seasons, accepting their gifts with gratitude.
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