Seasons of the Soul

Mark Josephs-Serra, England

(Submitted by the author)

Traditionally, all communities gathered at least four times a year. Ritual gathering can re-attune a community to its core-note. Seasonal celebrations are not only about planting or harvesting. They are also about an archetypal intrapsychic cycle. Just as our moods can respond to sunshine and cloud cover, somehow we respond to the moods of the seasons. Just as nature pulls itself into itself in winter, in the darkness of winter we ourselves are re-conceived.

In the awakening spring we too are re-born. Then in contrast to the introversion of winter, in the brightness of summer we act, we shine. Until in the autumn, once again, we mellow and reflect, and drift back inside ourselves again. The candles of midwinter, whether of Christmas or Chanukah or Divali, do not only light the night of winter, they re-connect us with our flickering souls’ quick journeys from birth to death.

The seasons' rhythms
Of course, to the degree that we are alienated from the seasons’ rhythms, whether by pre-modern heavenliness or modern urban slickness, we will lose contact with the seasons of the soul. We might even doubt their existence. And then there is another factor, our personal journeys’ cycles and moods ... We might, for example, be in a state of inwardness, even depression, in midsummer. It is not that everyone, always, automatically shines in summer. But although our individual journeys might sometimes clash with the prevailing emotional climate, there is a collective psychological response to the year. It is not by chance that we tend to take our holidays in the summer. Nor would it be a good idea to start school at the beginning of summer...

The psychology of the seasons
The psychology of the seasons has its subtle-objective existence. And the celebrations that take place at the solstices and equinoxes, although they have different mythologies and rationales within different cultural contexts, do not mark sectarian or even culturally-specific phenomena. They consecrate the universally significant wave of psychological time.

And in gathering at these times, whether we tell the story of the resurrection or of the re-birth of Israel, we cluster as a community around the mysterious essence of our bizarre situation: the finding of ourselves (whatever we are), on earth (whatever that is, wherever that is), temporarily alive (whatever that means), with each other. And the link with the seasons, with fertility and barrenness, embeds us in this situation. We too have sex and age. And as we touch the essence of that mystery together we are bound in sacred appreciation. Sometimes, in times of horror or wonder, a community can be profoundly bound. But that is spontaneous. Seasonal ceremony and celebration offer the opportunity for a community to regularly bond in its deepest sacred humanity.

From 'Sex, Spirit & Community', Mark Josephs-Serra, 2000, Jon Carpenter Publishing.

Image credit: Levi van Veluw:



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