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Living in Season from Waverly Fitzgerald

Living in Season
The official newsletter of School of the Seasons

January 12, 2008


My Season: Receiving Blessings
Networking: Getting Creative in the New Year
Living in Season: The Magic of Names
Celebrate the New Year:
French Republican Wall Calendar
Natural Planning Journal (email)
Candlemas Holiday Packet
Slow Time Book: First Chapter Posted
Signs of Spring
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Welcome to my semi-monthly newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life.

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My Season: Receiving Blessings

I'm right in the hinge of the year, with that two-faced God, Janus, still looking back at the old year while dreaming about the new one. I made a list of my top ten favorite books of the past year that's posted on my blog (at I'm trying to distill all my myriad wishes for the new year into a few pleasurable themes.

This year I'm sharing my visioning process with the group of students who signed up for the Introductory session (New Year Dreams) of my Natural Planner. I was a little afraid they would think I was crazy for developing such a complicated system but, no, they seem happy with my suggestions while coming up with their own creative ways of approaching the new year.

One inspiration for starting the New Year arrived in my mail box in the form of a newsletter from a friend and colleague, Melissa Gayle West. She wrote about how much she dislikes New Years Resolutions. Around the New Year she was standing under the cherry tree in her garden (yes, foolish cherry trees do blossom in Seattle at this time of the year) and she was struck by the sense that all she had to do was be open to receiving blessings from an endlessly blossoming universe.

So her goal for the new year is to receive blessings. Nothing active, nothing productive, nothing goal-oriented. Just noticing the blessings she receives daily. She passed this idea along to some of her clients (she coaches women over 45) and they found new applications for her insight. One woman is playing with receiving love, another is noticing what delights her and a third is paying attention to contentment.

That got me thinking about what a hard time I have accepting appreciation. I often feel unappreciated even though I get a lot of appreciation. For instance, I noticed during my year end review that I received 36 pages of email messages from School of the Seasons subscribers in 2007 telling me how much they appreciate my work, yet I rarely let this soak in. I seem to turn away from it, just as I turn away from promoting myself, as if it were unseemly.

So my goal for this new year is to soak up all the appreciation that comes my way. What would you like to receive in the new year? Melissa is interested in posting wishes in her next newsletter. She can be reached at

May the new year shower you with blessings.
Waverly Fitzgerald

Networking: Getting Creative in the New Year

It's almost time for the SmARTist-telesummit, which offers wisdom and inspiration to artists eager to create and promote their work in the new year. I will be appearing on the Finding Balance panel on Thursday, January 17 and presenting a workshop on Creative Rhythms on January 21, but you will love learning from some of the other speakers as well, fantastic teachers who have inspired me for years, people like Mark Silver, Molly Gordon and Jennifer Louden. You can learn more and sign up at:

Living in Season: The Magic of Names

(An excerpt from the Spring correspondence course. I'm still trying to figure out how to bring this back. I think it might turn into a book. I'll let you know when it's available again.)

You should try to hear the name the Holy One has for things.

There is something in the phrase: "The Holy One has taught him names."

We name everything according to the number of legs it has;

The other one names it according to what it has inside.

Moses waved his stick; he thought it was a "rod,"

But inside its name was "dragonish snake."

We thought the name of Blake was "agitator against priests,"

But in eternity his name is "the one who believes."

No one knows our name until our last breath goes out.

— Robert Bly, News of the Universe

I always begin my Writing Your Life classes by asking people to write about their names. It's amazing how much significance our names carry for us. Names often say something about our heritage, our ethnicity and our religious background and people (ancestors, relatives or heroes) who were significant to our parents.

New names are often conferred during rites of passage. A name is conferred at baptism. Catholic children choose a new name at puberty; they select a saint's name as a confirmation name. (Do you remember the name you wished you had when you were an adolescent? My favorite name was Jenny but there was no Saint Jennifer, so I had to settle for Julia, a much more dignified name.) Brooke Medicine Eagle writes that children in the Native American tradition were given an adult spiritual name at puberty. "Sometimes this name was received in vision by the young person herself, sometimes it was given by the Great Mystery through the elders, and sometimes it was given because it had been earned by the young person's conduct during her first thirteen or so years."

Marriage is another rite of passage when women often change their name, adopting their husband's last name. I was once told the story of a girl named Fleur-de-Lis Gottbaum whose mother chose this mellifluous first name because she hoped her daughter would marry a man with a distinguished last name, like Stern or Marvin. But Fleur-de-lis married Mr. Fudderman and became Fleur-de-lis Fudderman. Of course, many women choose to retain their birth surname, while other couples hyphenate their last names or choose a new last name altogether to share. Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda gave their children a completely different last name than either of theirs to make the point that their children were separate individuals.

In many cultures, the person's true name is hidden because to know a name is to have power over the individual, as in the fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin. In Egypt, the child's soul name was breathed by the mother on her child as she put the child to her breast. Without a name, the child wouldn't eat. The name of the Hebrew God was too sacred to be spoken, so the initials YHWH were used instead, but soon this too acquired too much power so the appellation Adonai (Lord) was substituted.

In many cultures, individuals take spiritual names as the result of an initiation or powerful experience. Important social or emotional events or a vision quest may bring forth another name. Witches often take a magical name which they use only in circle. Walker says that in many languages the word for name is similar to the word for soul. In Latin, nomen, numen and anima are cognates.

I am particularly interested in names because I was given the name Nancy at birth, a name which felt wrong from very early on, although I loved it's meaning; grace. I knew that I wanted to change my name but I couldn't decide upon a new name — it seemed too important. Then when I turned 30 and moved to Seattle, I seized the opportunity. Some friends who knew of my quest for a name had just suggested "Waverly" to me. I liked it for lots of reasons but particularly because I'm a historical novelist and I associated it with Sir Walter Scott, the first historical novelist, who wrote the Waverley novels. It took about a month before I would respond when someone called me "Waverly" and almost a year before I stopped talking to myself as "Nancy" but now, it's my name (although I keep threatening to change it again when I turn 60 — I figure everyone should change their name every 30 years).

It was a while before I found out what Waverly means. I knew it was an English place name because of the suffix ~ly which means meadow. My favorite explanation for the "waver" part is that it's short for "weaver" and means "the weaver's meadow." I like all the implications of this image. I also like the fact that my name is androgynous (in fact, the name Waverly is a male name in England).

Candlemas (February 2) is a good time for taking a new name, as it's a time of initiations, of pledges. Circles of women or covens often choose this date for an auspicious beginning. Choosing and using a new name can call forth new aspects of your personality.

If you haven't already done so, research the meaning of your names: first, middle and last. Surnames are often interesting since they may give you indications of ancient family occupations or totem animals or family qualities. Go back farther and research saints and goddesses associated with your names. My old name, Nancy, comes from Anne and Hannah so I could research the goddess Anath and St. Anne.

If you are named for a Catholic saint, you have a name day as well as a birthday. This day is often celebrated like a birthday. In addition, your saint is seen as a personal patron, someone to whom you could turn for advice, like a heavenly godfather or godmother. So this is also an appropriate time to make an offering to your saint. To find out your name day, go to:

Perhaps you feel like taking a new name. Some of you will already know what that is. It may be a name from your past. If not, ask to have it shown to you. Look through name books. Ask your friends. Check out the numerological possibilities of your new names. When you've decided upon a name, confer it upon yourself with a ceremony.


Bly, Robert, News of the Universe, Sierra Club Books 1980
Medicine-Eagle, Brooke,
Buffalo Woman Comes Singing, Ballantine 1991
Walker, Barbara,
The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Harper and Row 1983

New Years Gifts from School of the Seasons

Though I spent a lot of time exploring options, I just wasn't able to pull off the Calendar Companion Weekly Journal. Sorry. I hope to find a publisher who will do it for me so I can provide it next year. But I am very happy with the two items I did create: the French Republican wall calendar and the Natural Planner.

French Republican Wall Calendar
I didn't fully describe its glory in my last newsletter because I was still working on it and I wasn't altogether sure I could pull it off, but I did. The first thing everyone notices are the incredible photographs by Christine Valters Paintner, which illustrate the themes of the French months (right now we're in Nivose (Snowy) but we're about to enter Pluviose (rainy). You can see how gorgeous it is by looking at these sample pages:

The new system developed by the French Revolutionaries in 1792 assigned an item to each day of the new 30 day months. Every fifth day has an animal, every tenth day a tool, and the days in between are usually plants, but sometimes minerals. These are surprisingly seasonal and applicable two centuries later. I enjoy the scavenger hunt aspect of looking for these items in my daily life or meditating on their importance to me.

There's both a print version (which costs $16) and a download version (for $10) which you can order through our Store.

Living in Season Natural Planning Journal
For 2008, I'm launching a new email service that I'm calling the Living in Season Natural Planning Journal. This will be a way of formulating themes and goals for each season and moon cycle and using those natural rhythms (and the balance between action and rest they offer) to accomplish your dreams. The service will include four weeks of preparatory assignments via email in January, to help you identify your themes and goals for the new year. (Those of you who start your new year in a different season, can do this at any time.) For the rest of the year, email messages will arrive shortly before each new season and new moon, suggesting possible themes for the season or lunation, and reminding you of your intentions at the start of the year. You will have the option of posting your responses to a list-serve, if you would like to share the experience with others.

Sign up for a full year for only $120 ($10 a month). You can also sign up in modules. Each season will be $40. The introductory module, "New Year Wishes," is also $40. This will be a new adventure for me and I'm looking forward to seeing how it works.

You can order it through our Store.

Candlemas Holiday Packet

It's a good time to order your Candlemas packet if you want to prepare for the next big seasonal feast on February 1st and 2nd.

The Candlemas packet contains 45 pages of ideas for celebrating early spring holidays.

This illustrated 45 page portfolio includes:

  • Ancient holiday customs for the early spring festivals of Candlemas, Imbolc, Groundhog's Day, St Brigid, Chinese New Year and Tu B’Shevat
  • More rowdy customs from the early spring full moon festivals of Lupercalia, Valentines Day, Purim and Mardi Gras
  • Recipes for fritters, doughnuts, Hamantaschen, Agatha's breasts and other rich pastries of the season
  • Instructions for creating Brigid’s Crosses and candles
  • Lyrics for Candlemas songs, including the Ash Grove and a song to Brigit
  • And much more.

The packet is available in two versions: sent email as a Word attachment or as printed pages sent via regular mail in a portfolio. Order quickly if you want to receive your packet in time to prepare for your Imbolc celebration.

It is available in an email version for $10 (sent within 24 hours) or via snail mail for $15 (please allow 10 days for delivery).

Order through our Store.

Slow Time Book: First Chapter Up

My new Slow Time book is a great gift for yourself or someone you know who's already wishing for more time in the year ahead. It provides twelve weeks of ideas plus gentle exercises for working with different intervals of time from the moment through the lifetime. To see the book, read an excerpt or order a copy, go to:

If you're willing to take this process slowly, you can download a chapter of the book every month from the website. By the end of the year you will have the complete book.

Signs of Spring

In Seattle, the cherry trees and forsythia are already blooming and you can see green shoots spiking out of the ground. (You can see pictures posted on my blog at

What's happening where you live? Do you see any signs of spring yet?

Where ever you live, send me your signs of the season and I will post them on the website at Signs of the Season. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, or you wish to update your profile, please click below.


Copyright © Waverly Fitzgerald 2008
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Living in Season in other electronic or print publications as
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