Join me on a journey to rediscover ancient traditions, seasonal living and wellbeing practices. A theme for each season. Winter: resting, Spring: planting, Summer: sprouting and Autumn: harvesting. We will explore them literally and metaphorically.
You may want to get yourself a note pad, as at timesthere will be journaling prompts. It's good to put pen to paper but if tapping away at your keyboard or making notes on your phone is more suited to you go with that. There are no rules.
I will post in line with the Celtic seasonal calendar (approx every 6 weeks) but there will be no link to the previous post. I want to avoid people feeling that they 'have to catch up'. So if you miss a season or two just start right from where you are.
If you enjoy my scribbles, please share them with those you think would like them too.
Note: originally these scribbles were weekly. They took two days to put together but due to having to be more 'present' in my real world I do not have the capacity to maintain that level of writing, so apologises if you are dropping in to read a sunday scribble to find that they are now seasonal.
Are you feeling the shift in season? Traditionally in the UK March has turbulent weather and is a blustery month. The sea is cold but the sun is getting higher in the sky and warming the earth, creating a mix of cold and warm pockets of air resulting in windy weather. We have certainly noticed the months changeability, sometimes over the space of one day. A morning can start out wet and windy, then mid afternoon we can be tempted into sitting in the garden bare armed.
These moments are the perfect time to get outside and look for the signs of spring emerging, as biologically the energy of spring boosts our mood and motivates us. We can see this reflected in other aspects of nature. With the increase of sunlight you should notice morning birdsong starting earlier and the busyness of nest building. It has been joy here to watch blackbirds making a home in our ivy, although I have noticed that the female seems to be doing most of the work.
Other changes that I have observed in the garden is pollen in the air from the now fully lengthened golden catkins and the emergence of leaves from the Hawthorn tree and blackberry bush.
If you have sycamore trees near you, keep an eye on their bulging pink buds. Once they burst open and the leaves spring forth, the eggs of the sycamore aphids hatch and the bugs suck up the sap of the new foliage, which in turn attracts birds to feast on the aphids.
In this same vein, an increase in slugs will see hedgehogs stirring and moths in the evening will slowly bring out bats.
Are you ready to come out of hibernation, shake off the stiffness of winter and return to activity?
If you rested properly in the winter, you may have already felt energised during the season’s transition and have arrived at spring feeling fresh and full of optimism. Spring energy is assertive and without it things would wither and die. However, move tenderly through the season and don’t let the burst of energy run away with you or you could be in danger of the crash and burn.
The spring equinox is associated with the element of air, which brings inspiration and change. It is also a day of balance, when the light and darkness are briefly at equal length before the light increases and days become longer.
Reflect on the ideas that arose during our winter hibernation and became plans at Imbolc. Take time to consider the balance in your life. What seeds have taken root and are waiting underneath the surface ready to bloom? What can remain dormant? Be discerning about your priorities with regard to your day-to-day life and achieving your plans.
If you have literally planted seeds these past few weeks, you will know that different seedlings become into being at differing times. Even those of the same variety sprout at their own pace. And some don’t take hold at all.
Do the same. Work through the plans and ideas that you have been gestating and allow them time to flourish at a pace that suits you. This could mean keeping your cards close to your chest, to guard against the critical analysis and negativity of others. And/or having a digital detox. Because if we see that our dream is being seemingly done bigger and better by others we can be left feeling deflated and demotivated. ’Comparison is the thief of joy.’ - Theodore Roosevelt.
As we did in at the winter solstice (if you are new here, start from where you are). Take daily snapshots of your life for a week. Aim for a photo am & pm each day. Not stylised (unless that’s your cup of tea) but a simple capture of what you are doing at a given moment, it will give you time to pause. We will do this exercise periodically, so you will have a visual overview of your year. Put the am & pm photo together as a diptych, I use the layout app from instagram.
If you live near a water source, observe it. What is its colour, murky/clear? What is its flow, stagnant/turbulent? Jot a note or take a snap as one of your captures. We will return to this later in the series.
20 March: Vernal equinox. Vernal means spring. And equinox comes from two Latin words, ‘aequi’ = equal and ‘nox’ = night. Also known as Ostara. This is the astrological beginning of spring, named after Eostre the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, as is the Christian celebration of Easter. Her sacred symbols are the egg and the hare, which we still see in the traditions of decorating/exchanging eggs and the easter bunny.
There is much folklore around hares and they are associated with shape shifting, fertility and re-birth. These attributes don’t have to be taken literally but metaphorically. To shape shift, means we can change, make a fresh start and become whatever we choose.
Eggs are also a symbol of fertility and new life. The round shape is representative of the cycle of life and the golden yolk, the coming summer sun. They are also symbolic of the full moon and letting go of things that no longer serve us, materially or energetically, to make space to create a new way of being.
Happenstance, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon that follows the vernal equinox, which is why it doesn’t have a fixed date on the calendar.
In ancient times it was traditional to celebrate the changing of the season with a drink of dandelion and burdock or eating bistort, as the bitter leaves were thought to be an invigorating tonic to cleanse the body of fats accumulated during winter and ‘dull humours’ produced by Lenten fasting. If bitter leaves aren’t to your taste, have some fresh leafy greens and mint tea.
An ancient site that marks the vernal equinox is Chichen Itza in Mexico, built by The Mayans around 1000 AD. When the light hits on the spring equinox, it looks as though a snake is slithering down the steps and the day was called ‘the return of the sun serpent’.
Out and About:
If you see hares chasing across fields and boxing each other, it is the female fighting off the amorous intentions of the male. And you may catch a glimpse of chiffchaffs, sky larks and lapwings overhead. Those who live near coastal cliffs will start to see the return of sea bird colonies. And chaffinches return to the garden.
Apart from the ubiquitous daffodils you may see wood anemones, sweet violets and the foliage of bluebells.
Buds are coming through on the hedgerows and blackthorn is starting to flower, if the blossoms are plentiful that should mean an abundance of sloes for autumnal sloe gin making.
For those who like to forage, there are now bit and bobs to gather; Alexanders, bistort, burdock, chickweed, comfrey, dandelion, fat hen, hop shoots, nettle tips, sea beet, sorrel, sweet violets and wild garlic.
Jobs in the Garden:
It’s time to fertilise your plants and prepare your beds for sowing seeds outdoors by weeding, turning over the soil and topping up with compost. It is now the last opportunity to plant fruit trees and bushes.
Potato and Jerusalem artichoke tubers, plus onion and shallot sets can be planted out now, alongside broad beans, cabbages, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsnips, peas, spinach, spring onions and sprouting broccoli. If frost is predicted you will need to cover.
Dahlia tubers should be planted now, so they can take hold before the slug population gets too prolific and gobbles them up before they have got going.
A Poem for Spring:
The words below were originally written in 1931 as a poem but have become well known as a hymn after being set to a tune. A wonder if you can read them without the melody popping into your head. I couldn’t.
Morning has broken
Like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken
Like the first bird.
Praise for the singing!
Praise for the morning!
Praise for them springing,
From the first word.
Sweet the rain’s new fall,
Sunlit from Heaven,
Like the first dewfall
In the first hour.
Praise for the sweetness,
Of the wet garden,
Sprung in completeness,
From the first shower.
Mine is the sunlight!
Mine is the morning
Born of the one light,
Eden saw play.
Praise with elation,
Praise every morning
Spring's recreation of the new day!
Next scribble: 1 May