The Slowing Season
In North America we’re at the tail end of the harvest season and heading into winter. In a day or two our darkest six weeks of the year begin. I’ve been thinking about hibernation — as in turning within and slowing down. This is a bit contrary to the time warp that seems to leap frog us from Labor Day to Thanksgiving to the heart of winter in double time along with the outward string of holiday celebrations, parties, and intense travel schedules. But we can make choices about how we tend our time and pace ourselves.
And there’s also the matter of how best to use the potent darkness …
The Seeding of the Imagination
I have an idea. These darkest six weeks is, after all, a powerful time for planting visionary seeds in the soil of your imagination.
- Make a “cave space” for yourself for the next six weeks. It can be small. Three feet by three feet? Maybe use a large cardboard box to mark off a space, an old end table, a cleared spot in the attic, basement, garage, or a corner of a room. Select a place you don’t routinely use for something else.
- Add a little comfort so you enjoy spending time there. A chair or a large pillow to sit on. A surface big enough to hold a snack. Maybe a favorite old sweater or the handmade afghan a friend gave you. Set this up in your cave.
- Find an object that holds special meaning for you in relation to your spiritual life. Maybe you have a note sent to you by one of your spiritual mentors. Maybe it’s a talisman of good fortune that speaks to your spiritual journey, a symbol of an important insight or turning point. Put that in the cave.
- Now if you can find the oldest notes you still have about your dreams or goals for your life. Something handwritten hurriedly as the ideas tumbled out of you once upon a time. Maybe a list of insights you had on a spiritual retreat, or journal notes from a retreat or workshop. Pull them out. If they’re online, print them out and bring those to your cave.
- Get some favorite papers and pens; index cards; construction paper; scissors, colored pencils, markers. Maybe some old magazines and some glue sticks. The accouterments you like to create or play with. Bring those to your cave.
For the next six weeks, spend at least an hour a week in your cave. If that’s too much, spend what time you can. Remember, you’re investing in your own precious self. Use those six hours to plant seeds. Re-read your old notes. Let your mind wander. Meditate. Write and see what comes out on the paper. Cut out pictures that inspire you from the magazines and make some collages to conjure up the magic of the subconscious. Don’t control; just flow.
“When the soul wishes to experience something, she throws an image of the experience out before her and enters into her own image.”
Create your own ritual when you enter your cave. Each time you cross the imaginary or real threshold, leave everything behind but Spirit and you. Hibernate with your heart and see what wants to be nurtured in the dark of days of winter, ready to bring new life into being in the spring.