EMBRACE ALL THE Seasons
…OF YOUR LIFE.
“Now is the Winter of our Discontent.”
The world we live in is so driven by technology, company culture and external results that we have lost touch with nature, and with our own natures. So much is driven by the bottom line which demands profits all the time, every year, every quarter. What then? Then there must always be productivity. We must be “on” all the time, we must grow and grow and grow and grow. ALWAYS. Without stopping.
And so we rush madly from here to there, we drive ourselves and others to produce results endlessly, we reap and harvest and reap and harvest and never allow fields to lie fallow, never wait, never rest.
THIS IS UNSUSTAINABLE.
It is madness. We may know a whole lot of sophisticated things about how to upgrade the latest technology and and how to take the perfect photo for Instagram, but we have forgotten and ignored some really basic stuff that seriously matters and it is breaking us into pieces.
Put it like this. Let’s say there are four seasons to any creation you are going for, whether it be a piece of art, a relationship or a successful business. They are: Spring, Summer, Autumn (Fall), and Winter.
is when ideas are fresh and full of life, when you are brimming with hope and inspiration, when you are energised and enthusiastic and motivated. Actions are easy in Spring, and results come fast and effortlessly.
is harder work than Spring, it’s harvest time, that’s when you do the work to bring your creations home. It’s hot, the work is intense, but results are still plentiful and rewarding.
comes and things move slower, inspiration begins to die, quiet time is coming, death is coming.
is when death comes.
In creative terms, this means hard times as you build something, or rough bits of life; divorce, destitution, financial ruin, illlness, or depression, to name a few examples. This is the time of inner, of soul-searching, of despair. It’s when your demons rise and haunt you, and everything is harder.
It is also the time when the seeds are sown which bear fruit in Spring and Summer.
One of the great tragedies of our time is that we have fallen in love with Spring and Summer and we no longer honour Autumn and Winter.
Because we’re smart; smart enough to be able to speak to each other on opposite sides of the world, and travel into space, and cheat death, and so we think we can circumvent the natural world and avoid Winter altogether.
Whole industries exist to try to avoid or mitigate or ignore “Winter”. Think Pharmaceuticals, Insurance, Illegal drugs, Alcohol, etc. etc.
Think about it.
Why are we so horrified when someone in our life dies, or when we get really sick, or when our relationship starts to break down, or our business fails, or profits are low? It’s partly because we think it shouldn’t happen to us. We think we should be able to avoid it. We think, ultimately, that Winter has no value.
This is a terrible, idiotic and dangerous untruth.
Resist Winter, and what do you get? An eternal summer. Everlasting productivity with no rest, no wisdom, no time to consider. What does that lead to? Well, look around! Our planet is suffering the consequences of our inability to accept nature, in all her seasons.
Winter is painful, yes. Winter is challenging, terrifying, and uncomfortable. It is also hugely creative, full of momentum, and one of the most powerful drivers of transformation that exist.
To be truly powerful creators, to truly live inspired lives, we MUST change our relationship with Winter, and indeed all the seasons. We must learn to embrace them, and we must learn to let them go.
Ancient cultures understood the wisdom of the seasons.
They knew that Winter follows Autumn, and Summer follows Spring, and they knew the meaning of this. They knew the value of embracing each of the seasons, they knew each of them would pass, and they held each in reverence.
THE GREEK MYTH OF THE Rape of Persephone
…RUNS LIKE THIS:
PERSEPHONE, a virgin goddess of spring, is out dancing in a field, innocent and beautiful.
HADES, the terrifying god of the underworld, sees her and lusts after her.
She’s picking flowers, laughing and singing, and suddenly the earth opens up in front of her – a great chasm appears, a dark wound in the pretty field, and from it leaps the God of Death, resplendent on a black chariot, drawn by two huge black chargers.
The myth doesn’t say you were terrified, Persephone, but I imagine you were. There you are all alone in a bright field, and then out of nowhere Hades tears open the earth and surges out at you, and your beauty pales instantly with shock, and you are scared into frozenness, and he takes you, unresisting, onto his dark chariot and leaps back into the ground and the earth gobbles you both up, and there is nothing left but a bright field.
All in under a minute.
So fast your mother, CERES, Goddess of Nature, didn’t notice, nor did any other God. So quickly you are gone. Completely gone. Swallowed up by a dark power no-one else can see.
Your mother grieves deeply. She travels the earth and sky looking for you. Just at the edge of hearing all living things can sense her keening lament. All her creatures can feel her yearning, her deep inconsolable sadness, and so all of life begins to die. Corn won’t grow. Wheat sickens and falls over before ever reaching ripeness. And the people of earth begin to starve.
The other gods try to prevail on Ceres to get back to her work, to nourish and nurture the earth so that things can grow and live and thrive, but she will not be consoled. She has lost something too precious.
In the end, ZEUS, the all Father decides enough is enough and uses his all seeing to find Persephone, held captive in the dark court of Hades. He tells Ceres, who swoops to the underworld to save her daughter and they are re-united amidst much celebration and tears of gladness.
All is not entirely well, though.
In her time in the underworld, Persephone has eaten three pomegranate seeds, and eating the food of the dead always has the power to hold you in the world of the dead.
Ceres and Hades strike a deal: Persephone will rule over the underworld as his queen for three months of the year, and for the other nine months she can run free in the outer world, the natural world, and be with her mother.
And so it is said, every year for three months (in Winter) Ceres grieves again the loss of her daughter, and all things die, a little, but then Persephone rises again to the earth, and her mother is filled with joy and all things live and make love and make merry in the glorious explosion that is Spring.
Persephone forever after this has two faces: as Queen of the Underworld she is a symbol of great power, mystery and intuition, whereas when she is a spring goddess she is full exuberance, youth, and impressionability.
THERE IS A LOT OF WISDOM IN THIS MYTH.
Most of all, it tells us Winter must exist, that Hades (death, illness, darkness) has his place in our world, and that Spring follows Winter as naturally as Summer follows Spring. And it shows us the deep and abiding relationship between Death and Growth. Hades (God of Death) and Ceres (God of Nature) are in-laws, forever bound together by love and hate.
DEATH IS PART OF LIFE.
Every mother knows this deep down. Because when you give birth to life something dies in you and it never comes back. This is natural, but we’ve forgotten that’s its okay for parts of us to die, so instead of celebrating it, we brand women who suffer more obviously from this loss with post-natal depression and we “treat” it with medicine…
If it were me treating women like this, I would say: “Yes, I know it hurts in you, because something in you has died, and you are in mourning, and I know it’s terrifying and confusing, because at the same time you rejoice in the new life you have brought, and you love more deeply than you have ever known, and perhaps your pain at what you have lost feels like a betrayal and you can’t reconcile it with the love you feel.”
Or something like that.
And there are some women never get over the trauma of the death of part of them, and they spend their lives chasing the maiden they have lost, instead of embracing the mother they have gained.
In French, orgasm is called “le petit mort” – “the little death”. Sleep is kind of like death also (it certainly looks a bit like dying), you might call it another “little death”. These things are necessary to humans – they give us great pleasure and rejuvenation. Without these little deaths we would shrivel and die.
We are made of water. 60% of our bodies are comprised of water. It’s natural then that we would have tides. Ebb and flow.
Imagine if the ocean was arrogant enough to try and always be high tide, and never recede back to low again!
But this is what we are trying to do now. We think we can transcend nature.
IN GREEK MYTHOLOGY, THE GREATEST HUMAN SIN WAS ALWAYS HUBRIS.
What is hubris? Overweening pride. The pride of a puny human where they think they are as powerful, or as beautiful, or as clever as one of the gods. Story after story happens where an individual places themselves above the gods in some way, only to be punished, harshly and for a long time, sometimes forever.
When we resist Winter and Autumn in our lives, we commit hubris ourselves. We try to be larger and stronger than nature, than our own natures. I call this trying to FORCE it. For some people, force can work for a time – some individuals have very strong wills, strong enough to push hard enough to get results regardless of the “season” they are in.
But two things happen when you do this:
It hurts. Going against nature causes unnecessary pain and suffering. Imagine trying to run a marathon on a broken leg – it’s like that.
You start accruing a debt to Nature that will be called in at some stage. The longer you run without Winter, the bigger this debt becomes, until Nature decides enough is enough and that’s when you see executives crash and burn, cancer arise out of nowhere, strokes and heart attacks, mid-life crises, uncontrollable rage and grief or relationships breaking down (to name a few examples).
HERE’S THE THING:
if you can’t accept the “little death” of a regular Winter, you WILL have to face the “big death” of all your unlived Winters landing on you in one go. And that will slaughter you, shatter your momentum to nothing, and break your confidence into pieces. And, of course, it will prove that Winter is a bad thing and you’ll pull yourself together and start avoiding it like crazy all over again, all the while accruing up your debt once more.
There is another way. There is a way to flow with nature, and with your own nature, and to create the life you love more pleasurably and more effectively. But you have to FACE THE MUSIC.
Every creation, every life, includes the seasons. Sometimes things are easy and they flow, and sometimes they are hard and challenging. Always there is loss. Always there are little deaths, and big deaths. If you can’t face Winter, you can’t really grow. Your life will remain stunted and small. Your creations, however magnificent they may seem to the outside world, will be a fraction of what you’re really capable of.
If you want to be an amazing creator, if you want to live your purpose, if you want to have a real impact in the world, embrace your seasons. Don’t try and produce results ALL of the time. Don’t be so horrified when things sicken, or die. Learn to face the dark, and learn to love it, because it WILL come for you at times, and it’s so much easier when you can embrace it.
There is a way to surrender to life and at the same time manifest what matters to you. You can focus like crazy AND yield to something larger than you, and when you do, there is flow, there is pleasure, and there is true mastery.
I think the tension in the world right now is calling us to wise up – really it’s saying: evolve or die.
Instead of blindly continuing to try and force results, how about we give in?
How about we act in concert with nature, and find our true rhythm and flow?
By Willow Davies
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