Living in Season
The official newsletter of the School of the Seasons
Volume 2, Number 16
October 20, 2004
Peak of the Orionid Meteor Showers
- My Season: Falling Leaves
- Living in Season: Take Back Your Time
- Next Slow Time Class
- In My Library: Calendars
- Holiday Packet: Halloween
- Signs of the Season: Autumn
- Promoting: Patricia Monaghan's Sacred Tour of Ireland
- Autumn Correspondence Course
- Subscribe - Unsubscribe
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My Season: Falling Leaves
Ah! Autumn. I fall in love with the season all over again every year. I was humming with pleasure last Friday while driving home from my writing class. The sky was dark-it was about to rain. The streets were lined with bright splashes of orange and red, from the leaves pooled in the curbs and around parked cars. The wind was brisk and leaves were falling all around me, twisting and turning as they spiraled to the ground.
I seem to be back in the rhythm of frantic busyness, like the squirrels on my city block who are much more active now, reflecting my experience of autumn. I'm back in full teaching mode (three or four classes a week) plus developing the Slow Time class and gearing up to write a novel during National Novel Writers Month in November. And I'm leaving Thursday morning for a four-day writing conference in Surrey, British Columbia.
May you ride the rhythm of the season at the tempo that is best for you.
Meteor Alert: Orionids
Sometimes I'm embarrassed by the fact that I have an AOL account and sometimes I'm irritated by it, but this week I've been grateful. I found an interesting article on timing (link below) and tonight a reminder of the Orionid Meteor Showers. A little web research informed me that the best time for viewing them is after midnight, ideally in the hour before dawn. The meteors will seem to originate from over the left shoulder of the constellation Orion. But if you are watching for them don't look at that area, as they'll be coming straight at you. You'll have a better chance of seeing them if you look straight up into the sky. Viewers in the Northern hemisphere should lie back in a comfortable lounge chair with your feet to the south; the opposite will work better for those of you in the Southern hemisphere. Don't give up if you haven't seen anything after ten minutes. It takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the darkness.
Living in Season: Take Back Your Time
I've never been a big fan of artificial holidays-you know those holidays like "Ride a Miniature Pony Day," declared by someone with an agenda. My work with the calendar has revealed a lovely correspondence between traditional holidays and the energy of the seasons, so I believe the holidays exist to help us connect with the natural rhythms of life lived on this earth, particularly in the place where we live.
But I'm a big fan of Take Back Your Time Day, celebrated on October 24, a holiday declared by a coalition of people working to call attention to time scarcity and its deleterious effects on Americans. Begun by Seattle film-maker, John DeGraaf, who has also compiled a book of essays on the topic, it has spread across the nation, enthusiastically embraced by a wide range of individuals and groups including labor unions, religious leaders, mothers, policy-makers, health care professionals and even veterinarians (who notice the effects of our busyness on our pets). Most Americans work nine weeks more per year than their European counterparts, the equivalent of stopping working from October 24th until the end of the year.
Have you noticed that being "busy" is the new badge of importance in our society? I have. I've even caught myself using my "busyness" in a self-righteous way as a reason I can't meet with friends whose company I value or go out to a social event. I think my attitude really reflects my frustration at not being able to do the things I want., letting my priorities be swept aside by a flood of obligations and deadlines.
I've noticed in teaching my correspondence course that my students who live close to nature because of their work or life-style seem to have more time than the rest of us. It's a little harder to slow down when you live in a city. Researchers have found a direct correlation between the size of a city and walking speeds of pedestrians. The bigger the city, the faster we walk. It seems that part of our time scarcity comes from the unnatural environments in which we spend our lives.
I'm fascinated by the distinction between natural time and artificial time. Much of what we think of as real is not. Think of a unit of time? What are the first concepts that spring to your mind? I'm going to space down a bit to give you a chance to think.
Probably most of you first thought of seconds, minutes, hours, weeks, months or years. All of those are artificial constructs. You can't see of feel any of those units of time, although you can measure them. A few of you (I hope every one enrolled in my Slow Time class) probably came up with more natural intervals of time: day and night, lunar cycles and the seasons.
Minutes are the thralls of the clock-simply even divisions of an hour-when we all know a minute can last an hour in the right (and sometimes the wrong) circumstances. Hours themselves are artificial divisions of a day that fluctuates by season and latitude. Six o'clock is a different hour on a dark winter night than in the heart of summer. 6 PM on a winter night in Los Angeles is shortly before sunset whereas in Seattle the sun has been gone for two long dark hours.
The concept of the week was developed originally to name the interval of time between regularly spaced market days and thus was different in different cultures-four days in parts of Africa, eight days in Rome. The seven-day week came from the Babylonians thus preserving the magical correspondence between the days of the week and the seven planets/gods for which they were named. The custom of working 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, was developed to fit the week, although there's no reason for most workers to work these hours anymore. We can bank, shop and work 24/7 with the aid of cell phones and computers. A frightening prospect really.
The other marker of the week, the Sabbath, has vanished as well. Some of you are probably old enough to remember when banks and grocery stores and retail shops were closed on Sunday. I believe there is one town in America which still retains the blue laws, or Sunday closing. The townspeople voted to retain it because they saw the value it had for community and civic involvement. It freed people up to spend time with their neighbors. The Sabbath is, of course, different in different cultures-Jews celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday, for Muslims, Friday is the holy day. Perhaps that's part of the reason it has disappeared. As our culture becomes more diverse, we want to avoid imposing our religious values on others. But I'm cynical enough to think the main reason is commercial. If money can be made 24/7, well, then we should be making it.
Whatever the reason, we've lost the old rhythms of rest and renewal. All the natural cycles have rhythm. Day and night. The waxing and waning of the moon. The round of the seasons with the deep time of hiberantion in winter. As humans, we've participated in these rhythms for centuries. As Michael Ventura writes:
Human beings once woke with the sun and usually went to sleep not long after dark. Depending on which archaeologists you believe, this went on for anywhere from a quarter of a million to three million years. It has changed utterly and drastically in the last one hundred. One hundred years is such a tiny part of the human time line that as a collective we're in the first split second of this change; we've barely had time to blink twice. Say it slowly: we have dispensed with what the human nervous system knew as time, and since we know that time and space are intimately related, to be lost in time is also to be lost in space.
Animals, plants and trees all live in attunement with the natural world. It makes sense that we should too. I suspect many stress-related illnesses, like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, occur when people drive themselves at the pace of technology. In my Slow Time class, I talk about getting back in tune with the natural cycles: figuring your best times of the day, insuring a deep sleep by avoiding artificial light (like the computer screen) right before bed, honoring the Sabbath, taking time off during the dark moon and determining your affinity for the seasons so that you can use the round of the year to grow those qualities and projects most important to you.
But there is also an intuitive sense of timing that belongs to each individual, that can't be linked with any interval of time. When I presenting my views on Natural Time at the Take Back Your Time Day conference in Chicago in July, some of the students got very excited about this concept. One woman, in particular, described how she was often late when going to the airport. Her friends who were driving her would get agitated but she was able to be calm because she had an intuitive understanding that she was moving at the right pace. And she always caught her planes.
At the end of the conference, I remembered her story because the train which I was taking to the airport was delayed. I was sitting across from two of the other conference attendees and I could have spent my time talking to them. But instead I obsessed about the timing, looking at the map of the El stations and ticking them off, trying to figure out how I would get to Minneapolis/St Paul in time for my connecting flight if I missed this first one. When the train finally pulled up at the airport, I raced off, dragging my suitcase, and ran to the ticket counter, only to find out my flight had been cancelled. There was another flight leaving in an hour and I made my connection just fine. It was a good lesson for me to notice how my obsession about something over which I had no control (the train's schedule, the airline's schedule) prevented me from enjoying what was real (a fascinating conversation).
As Take Back Your Time Day approaches, ponder how you can take back your time. Check the Time Day website to see if there are any activities happening in your area.
Or simply cancel anything you have planned for Sunday that you are doing simply out of obligation (you can always say you think you're getting the flu) and spend the day doing only things you love.
In My Library: Books on Time and Health
While working on my Slow Time class, I was thrilled to learn that health professionals have recently become quite interested in natural rhythms. And I was even more delighted when I logged on to my AOL account after writing this newsletter to find the lead article was on what hours of the day are best for what activities. Some were practical and obvious (like when to schedule a doctors or dentist appointment) but others focused on natural rhythms:
Smolensky, Michael and Lynne Lamberg, The Body Clock: A Guide to Better Health, Holt 2000
One of the books mentioned in the article above is the one I've been using for information on scientific studies on body rhythms. It's thorough, clearly written and interesting. The topics are indexed by disease and by body system, so for instance, you can read all about the menstrual cycle and fertility or you can look up diabetes and see how it is affected by the menstrual cycle, time of year, time of day, etc. It was in this book that I found out that female sexuality peaks late at night and male sexuality peaks in the morning. That verified my own observations but seems like an inherent design flaw, doesn't it? Maybe from a biological point of view it maximizes chances for conception.
From this site I learned of another book with a similar title which I haven't yet read: The Body Clock Advantage by Matthew Edlund (Circadian Press).
In the Marketplace: Calendars
Given the topic of time and the arrival of all the 2005 calendars in the store, I thought this would be a good time to review my favorite calendars.
Like many self-employed people, a weekly planner is one of the necessary tools in my life. I've been a devoted fan of Planner Pads for over ten years. It helps me keep track of my appointments and deadlines but more important, it gives me an opportunity to review each week the various tasks I want to accomplish for each of my various projects. That's because it has a unique design (for a weekly calendar) in which you first fill out a top section where you list all your desiredactivities for the week by category (I put mine in priority, with spiritual work first, writing second, and money management last-hmm, is there a message there for me?). Then you fill in your tasks per day in a middle section (this always helps me see where I've got too much to do on one particular day). In the last step, you slot them into appointment times as in a regular weekly planner. I find this planning process both useful and soothing. For people who aren't juggling so many balls as I am it might be overkill. The planner pad also has a two-page spread which covers the full year and pages which show a month at a time.
The problem with this tool is that it's pretty plain. No lunations or solstices. In fact, you can buy a Planner Pad with no dates so you can fill them in yourself (thus starting anywhere in the year). I use my other calendars to fill in the dates of the new and full moons, the equinoxes and solstices.
Jim Maynard's Pocket Astrologer
My favorite calendar for astrological information has always been Jim Maynard's Pocket Astrologer. I like the size (and the amount of information packed in: an ephemeris showing the movements of all the planets, good dates to plant by the moon, times when the moon is void of course, information on eclipses and meteor showers, and much more. Maynard also makes a wall calendar and a week-at-a-glance engagement calendar. I like to give the small calendars as Christmas presents to my astrological friends (once you give them one, though, you have to keep it up or they'll be disappointed and they're often sold out by the start of the new year).
Good Timing Guide
Other friends, especially the entrepreneurial ones, swear by Madeleine Gerwick-Brodeur's Good Timing Guide. I've resisted getting this for years because I thought the price was too high but I admire the way she lays out good days for communication, signing contracts, starting a new project, in the most vividly visual way so you can see at a glance what days you want to send out your next newsletter or schedule a class. Available from www.amazon.com
Of course, there's always the beautiful WeMoon almanac, a labor of love from a collective in Oregon, full of wonderful and diverse artwork and writing, and with great astrological information. The theme for this year is Sacred Paths. The only reason I don't get this one is because there's not enough space (a week for each two-page spread) for me to keep write in all my activities.
This datebook is similar in design to WeMoon, featuring lovely engravings, interesting recipes and good informationon the solstices, etc. Llewellyn also publishes similarcalendars on other themes: herbs, tarot and astrology.
Most calendars are solar calendars, designed along the classic lines of months, weeks and days, although the ones above do record the movement of the moon. There are several calendars devoted specifically to the cycles of the moon.
Lunar Calendar by Nancy Passmore
This wall calendar, now in its 29th year, has a page for each lunation, along with poetry, artwork and information about the Celtic tree that corresponds with each moon.
Moon Phases Card from Snake and Snake
Not really a calendar but a card that shows all the phases of the moon for the year. Until I reached menopause, I always had one of these little cards tucked into a folder by my desk and colored in the moons when I was bleeding with red ink so that I could track the way my rhythm fluctuated with the rhythms of the moon.
Lunaria Day Journal
I just spotted this new calendar today while doing research for this feature. It does a great job of interweaving the solar calendar with the lunations. The very attractive format on the right hand of each page features a week from top to bottom, from Sunday to Saturday, overlaid over visuals of the moon's phases. The left hand side of teach two-week spread is blank, offering an opportunity for journaling, sketching or other notes.
Slow Time Class: Next Session
So many people signed up on the waitlist for the Slow Time class scheduled to start at the end of this month that it is already full. If a few spots become available (because people change their minds) I will let you know in the next newsletter.
If you are on that waiting list, I will be sending you a link so you can register late on Sunday, October 24th. If you don't receive that information by November 1, contact me at email@example.com
If you're interested in taking the class, I will be offering a third session starting in January, a good time, I think, to adopt a new attitude towards time. Watch this newsletter for details.
Holiday Packet: Halloween
You can still order a Halloween packet if you want to receive it in time for planning your celebration of Samhain, Halloween or Days of the Dead. This illustrated, 60 page portfolio includes:
- A panoramic review of how Days of the Dead has been celebrated, including Guy Fawkes, I Morti, All Souls, Samhain & Martinmas
- How this holiday evolved-a history of our alienation from the ancestors
- The last of the autumnal transformation mysteries: making cider
- Divinations for this particular crack between the worlds
- Recipes for traditional foods like dead man's bones, sugar skulls, bread of the dead and soul cakes
- Instructions for making skulls, masks and turnip lanterns
- And much more.
$9 plus $2 shipping and handling. Please allow ten days for delivery.
An email version is also available for $8. It will be sent as an attached Word file within three days of receiving your order.
To order go to our Store!
Signs of Autumn
Alyss from Oregon writes about one of her favorite signs of the season: the turkey vultures migrating. "Every autumn as the birds head south they pile up in this valley, waiting for a warm afternoon updraft to lift them high enough so they can soar over the mountain pass to the south. One year I saw what must have been hundreds of birds circling over the campus of Southern Oregon University. I just saw a couple yesterday afternoon, but I did see them very clearly reach the top of their spiral and soar southward towards California. Seeing them leave in the fall always reminds me to look for them coming back in the spring."
I love getting a glimpse of the season in so many different places. me the signs of autumn where you live and I will post them as well.
Promoting: Patricia Monaghan's Tour of Ireland
My friend and mentor, the Goddess scholar, Patricia Monaghan, who has written many fabulous books including The Red-Haired Girl from the Bog, asked me to let you know about the Garravogue Festival of Arts and Healing in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland, March 17 through 20, 2005. It includes talks on the sacred sites and stories of Ireland, tours of the sacred sites nearby, classes and a chance to see the artwork and hear the experiences of Fiona Marron, (also a friend of mine) who researches the sheela-na-gig, that mysteriously fertile (or vulgar) female figure carved above the thresholds of many Irish churches. Fiona is also a talented artist, who is currently working on paintings of the Irish landscape. If you're interested in more information go to this website:
Winter Correspondence Course
November 1st is the Celtic New Year and the start of winter by the old British reckoning of the season (as illustrated by the alternate name for the Winter Solstice: Midwinter). So it's time to order the Winter correspondence course if you're interested in ideas for aligning with the rhythms of Winter.
The Winter correspondence course is now available. (Of course, you can also order any season out of season, if you like). For a list of topics and the subjects covered, click here.
Copyright ©Waverly Fitzgerald 2004.
All rights reserved. You may reprint material from Living in Season in other electronic or print publications as long as you credit me and provide a link to: http://www.schooloftheseasons.com. Please send me a copy of the publication.
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