A Shamanic View

Living With the Seasons


Fall has started. There are plenty of articles about how people celebrate the change of seasons, but I want to say a little about living according to the seasons.


Ancient people had little choice but change their lifestyles to fit the seasons. But we can spend all the time inside with plenty of light, so shortening days don’t have to affect us.


But the world around us goes through all kinds of changes. We’re all familiar with animals preparing for winter, storing food and fat, some hibernating. And just as the animal spirits have their lessons to teach us, their medicine, so do the seasons themselves.


The trees around us are aware of the coming colder weather, and are preparing for it. By winter they’ll be able to survive temperatures as low as 30 below. First they stop growing. They drop their leaves to reduce water evaporation. Their cells go through changes that alter the chemical compositions, lowering freezing points. Water is pushed outside of cells to freeze outside so the cells don’t rupture.


Meanwhile, photosynthesis stops and and the trees stop producing sugars and starches. Energy is stored to last through winter. Ultimately only respiration continues. Everything else about tree is dormant. The same goes for most plants.


So each season is about different parts of the year’s cycle, and different activities. While summer was a time of growth and business and productivity, fall is a time of harvesting and reaping the results of all that summer work. This relates as well to adulthood and aging, or evening, times for appreciating what has been and what we have. What has the work of summer brought us? Take the time to appreciate those things. Fall is also a time to look at the things that we don’t need anymore, and to let go of them. Are there things around the house that we don’t need? Perhaps more importantly, are there ideas and beliefs that just aren’t working for us anymore? What about relationships that are draining our energy away?


Then Winter will be a time for resting, for introspection. For starting the plans that will drive the coming year’s work. This correlates with nighttime, and death, times to rest before starting anew. Winter is when we should be letting ourselves slow down, rest, and recover. Reconnect with the people that sustain us.


Then spring brings the time for new births, for awakening. This is when animals are giving birth, when the plants awaken and the fallen seeds of last year sprout. That’s the time for starting new projects, bringing dreams to life. Spring connects to new births and early childhood, and to mornings.


And then in the summer we’ll work on making those dreams grow. Next fall we’ll see how those things turned out.

All these cycles have their lessons for us. If you try living your life around similar cycles, and the lessons (medicine) that comes with these seasons, you might find yourself having to put less energy into your life, and you might find additional meaning in a number of unexpected places.