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Seasonal Living: Spring into Renewal, Curiosity, & Play

As the wheel turns, we are entering the threshold time between the end of winter and the beginning of spring, marked by the Spring Equinox. Spiritual systems and traditions from across cultures and the world offer teachings and wisdom about what it means – and what the benefits are – to living in harmony and alignment with the cycles of nature, including the seasons.

As nature awakens from its winter slumber, the coming of spring offers powerful opportunities for and invitations into refreshing and renewing aspects of our lives. As nature and the Earth renews outside, what is it revealing inside each of us? And the beauty of the spring season is that it also brings qualities of curiosity, spontaneity, playfulness, vibrancy, and intuition – which we are harnessing as a part of this blog post!

As a spiritual seeker, you may have come across places in your studies where teachings or wisdom from one tradition or system on a particular topic seem to contradict the teachings or wisdom from another about the same topic. Let’s take the seasons and the elements, as an example. For starters, there are four-element systems (earth, air, fire, water), as found in the Western esoteric tradition, Western alchemical tradition, and various indigenous systems. And there are five-element systems, like those found in Ayurveda (earth, air, fire, water, ether/space) and Chinese medicine (fire, water, wood, metal, and earth). Both the four- and five-element systems correlate the seasons and elements in relationship to one other, and what results are quite different perspectives, all of which have unique relevance and value.

In this blog post, we'll explore an array of teachings and perspectives from across multiple traditions, including the incorporation of imagery and sounds as a way to engage our senses in and on the journey.

There are no right or wrong answers in all of this, and there's no need to try to memorize any information. We are simply inviting you into exploration and the lightness of Being that spring offers to us.

What you'll find in the coming sections:

  • Models (which I also like to think of as maps):

    • One example each of a four-element system and five-element system, as they relate to the seasons, and including some key words/qualities/correspondences 

    • The astronomical and astrological significance of the Spring Equinox 

  • A visual and symbolic representation of Spring you can take into a reflection/journaling practice, yoga, and/or meditation: The Empress card (Major Arcana III) from the Rider-Waite tarot deck

  • A sound/musical experience: Eastern Sun” by Ayla Nereo

  • Nutrition wisdom in the form of Ayurvedic tips for eating with and for the coming of Spring

Let's dive in...

Four- & Five-Element Systems

Astronomy, Astrology, and the Spring Equinox?

First, what is the difference between astronomy and astrology?

Astronomy is the scientific study of the physical universe outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. The study of things like the physical/measurable properties, positions, movements, etc. of celestial bodies and objects, including planets, stars, asteroids, other bodies, galaxies, and more.

Historically, astrology and astrological systems were based on and in astronomy – in the actual positions and movements of celestial bodies from the perspective of Earth. For example, when astrology says: the Moon is in the sign of Scorpio, it doesn’t mean that in the greater Universe, the Moon exists in something concrete called Scorpio. Instead, it means that from the perspective of an observer on Earth – and when doing actually very complex and specific calculations related to the cycles and movements of the Moon – the moon is aligned with, and appears in the backdrop of the night sky, to be situated within a constellation of stars humans have named Scorpio.

Today, certain systems of astrology are aligned with the current astronomical realities of the movements of the celestial bodies (e.g., Sidereal astrology); whereas certain systems of astrology are based in historical calculations that do not reflect the current astronomical realities of the movements of celestial bodies (e.g., the most popular-in-the-west Tropical system).

Astronomically-speaking, the Spring Equinox is related to all of the science that explains why we have seasons altogether: the tilt of the Earth on its axis (about 23.5 degrees), the daily rotations of the Earth (24-hour cycles that create our experience of day and night), and the movement of the ‘tilted’, rotating Earth in its 365-day journey and orbit around the sun (well technically, more like 365.25 days, which is why every 4 years there’s a leap year, like this year).

The seasons are a result of the way the sun shines differently, at different angles and intensities and for varying numbers of hours, on the ‘tilted’ and rotating Earth throughout the year. The most obvious examples of this are mid-summer and mid-winter. In mid-summer, there are not only the longest days (the greatest number of daylight/sunlight hours), but the sun’s path across the sky is a large arch across the highest part of the sky, and which results in the sun’s light and heat being and feeling much more direct and intense. Whereas in mid-winter, there are the shortest days/longest nights, and the sun’s path across the daytime sky is much lower in the sky, and it doesn’t shine as intensely or result in as much direct/intense heat.

So, the Spring and Fall Equinoxes are both times when the Sun is positioned exactly over the Earth’s middle, or equator – hence equal number of hours of day and night – and the difference between the Spring versus Fall Equinoxes has to do with whether the sun is crossing this positioning from the north or the south. The astronomical event (positioning of the Earth and sun in relation to one another) of the upcoming March Equinox marks the Spring Equinox for us, in the Northern Hemisphere, and the Fall Equinox for the Southern Hemisphere.

On the upcoming Spring Equinox --- Tuesday, March 19 at 8:06pm in Central Oregon --- the sun will still astronomically be in the astrological sign of Pisces.

However, in systems of astrology that are not necessarily concerned with the the current astronomical realities of the movements of the celestial bodies, those systems say that, astrologically-speaking, the Spring Equinox is aligned with the movement of the sun from the 12th sign of Pisces (water sign) into the first sign of Aries (fire sign). In these systems, the Spring Equinox is like an 'astrological new year.'

Again, no right or wrong – different systems have different strengths and wisdom to offer – but if you’re an astrology-dabbler and/or more serious student, notice the things you follow on social media, blogs, etc. Leading up to the approaching Equinox, pay attention to which astrologers talk about the astronomical event that is the Spring Equinox, versus those who talk about it from an astrological perspective as the time when the sun changes signs into Aries.

Interested in honoring and celebrating the Spring Equinox in community? Join Lauren Davey at her Spring Equinox Meditation & Cacao Ceremony on Tuesday, March 19, 5:00-6:30pm (just a few hours before the astronomical Equinox).

A Visual Representation of Spring: The Empress

The Empress card in the tarot (Major Arcana III) has many layers of meanings – many having to do with Feminine creative/creation/birth/rebirth energy.

Sound like one of the seasons?

However, instead of listing all of the meanings here in writing, we invite you to get curious, engage some playfulness, and set aside some time for the following practice.

Practice invitation: weather-permitting, find a comfortable place to sit outside. Otherwise, find a comfortable place inside – ideally, a place near windows with blinds/curtains that open, letting outside light shine in. Bring your journal and a cup of hot tea, and spend some time reflecting on the image of The Empress and the following questions:

  • Where/to what are your eyes first drawn when you look at the card?

  • What color(s) in the card stand out to you?

  • What shapes and/or symbols stand out?

  • What about this card draws you in?

  • Is there anything about the card that some part of you doesn’t like/feels repelled by?

  • If you close your eyes, and think of and feel this card from the inside, what gets highlighted or comes alive in your body?

  • If the image on this card represented something like “the Goddess of Spring Herself,” what message does she have for you?

In variations of the four-element model, the season of spring corresponds with a similar energy to that of the daily sunrise. In the northern hemisphere, the sun rises in the east. This song, Eastern Sun,” by musician Ayla Nereo, has beautiful lyrics that could refer to the experience of the dawn of each new day; the turning of the seasonal wheel from winter to spring; and/or an experience in our personal lives when, regardless of the external season, we feel we are emerging from our own internal winter into something like a personal spring or rebirth.

Note and tip: the links above are to the “Eastern Sun” music video on YouTube (which is absolutely beautiful and worth watching); however, before doing the below practice, we suggest you find this song on whatever streaming platform you use, so that your practice isn’t interrupted by ads, as well as because it gives the opportunity for you to put the song on repeat for the option of a longer practice (the track itself is only about 2.5min long).

Practice invitation: Sit or lay down comfortably – with support/props/blankets/etc., if that feels nourishing. Settle into yourself, in whatever way(s) you know how or your body is asking for - perhaps taking some slightly bigger, deeper, longer breaths. Eyes can be closed or softly open. And when you’re ready, play the song (once or on repeat), and let all of the layers of the song flow toward you. Notice where you can receive the music and words in your body. Notice if particular aspects of the music and/or certain words or phrases stand out to you. Draw or journal afterward.

Nutrition: Ayurvedic Tips for Eating With & For the Coming Spring Season

Spring, in Ayurveda, is associated with the Kapha dosha, which is characterized by qualities of elements earth and water in that system. These are the most dense elements, as compared to air, fire, and space/ether. As we’ve discussed, spring is a time of rebirth and renewal, but in Ayurveda, there is also the acknowledgement and awareness that it’s simultaneously a time of melting snow and rising damp, which can lead to feelings of heaviness or sluggishness in the body and mind. Nutrition guidance for the spring season focuses on encouraging balance and harmony of the elements through eating that brings invigoration, freshness, and lightness:

  1. Light and Warm Foods: Choose light, warm, and dry foods. Think steamed vegetables, light soups, and grains like barley and quinoa. Limit heavier foods like dairy, which can lead to sluggishness in general, and contribute to increased mucus production in the body, more specifically. Warm (not cold) lemon water is a gentle way of bringing a quality of detoxification into your daily routine, without needing to do any extreme detox protocols or intense cleanses – which are safest and most beneficial when done in partnership with a knowledgeable practitioner.

  2. Add Warmth through Spices & Bitters: Incorporate spices like ginger, turmeric, cumin, and black pepper. These not only add flavor, but also bring qualities of warmth that aid digestion and metabolism. Warming greens like dandelion and arugula also bring warmth and invigoration to metabolic processes (metabolism).

Did you know NYC's Founder & Owner, Suzie Newcome, is not only a massage therapist, but also an Ayurvedic Health Counselor? You can book Ayurvedic snehan treatments with Suzie -- whole-body oil application with medicated herbal oils to nourish, revitalize, and detoxify body tissues -- here. Or, text her directly to schedule an Ayurvedic health counseling session: 541-241-0270.

By feeling inspired by the seasons, learning about them, and adapting things in our lives to align with seasonal energies – like our personal practices (e.g., yoga and meditation), eating, and other aspects of our lifestyle – we can step into each season with intentions of and for growth, transformation, and thriving. Journeying through our lives in collaboration with the seasons also has the potential to nourish and nurture our connection with ourselves, with each other, and to the natural world.

We hope that yoga, our Spring Equinox Ceremony, and other NYC offerings are a part of how you choose to welcome the spring season, and thrive all the way through it!

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