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Let nature put a spring in your step


Daffodil trumpets herald the spring
Our garden has come alive in the last week or two and in recent days it has felt like the earth has emerged from her winter sleep.
Mythologically speaking, Persephone (daughter of sky god Zeus and Demeter, goddess of agricultural fertility) has returned from the cold underworld and all of nature is celebrating.

Daffodils have been blooming for a couple of weeks now, their golden trumpets heralding the spring, young buds are unfurling on some of the trees, and birds are swooping and diving, and rummaging among last autumn’s fallen leaves. The garden is buzzing with activity.

One weekend, my son and I went exploring and we discovered tiny ladybirds, a primrose basking in the afternoon sun, a queen bee replenishing her energy after emerging from hibernation, magnolia flowers breaking out of their confinement, and starbursts of red flowers peeping out on the cobnut tree. My appreciation of spring has been helped, I think, by our gentle bike rides down quiet country lanes.

Tuesday’s spring equinox signalled the dawning of the year – like the young morning sun rising over the horizon – and the waxing of the light. Easter, which is linked with the equinox, comes from the name of the early English goddess Eostre – which probably derives from the Greek winged goddess of the dawn Eos, sister of Helios (sun) and Selene (moon).

Although the Christian (and now commercial) Easter will not be celebrated for a couple more weeks (because it is set to take place on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the equinox – and the next full moon is on April 6), Nature’s Easter is clearly under way and throwing off the shackles of winter.

Indeed, it is a good time to throw off our own shackles, to break free from whatever has been holding us back. Sometimes what holds us back can be difficult to let go of. Some people will cling to anything just for a sense of stability in an ever-changing world. They may even hang on to their grief or pain, anger or fear because these feelings or thought-processes have become so habitual and familiar that they are like a comfy pair of old, worn-out shoes. Doing so can reinforce their negative self-image as the person who was wronged, the victim. Some states of mind may have helped them to survive in the past but are no longer relevant to their lives and may now, like the old shoes, leave them leaking and with bad (mental) posture.

Spring is a perfect opportunity to embrace nature’s rhythm of renewal and resurrection to throw off these bonds. To be free, we need only let go.

A symbolic act can help us to make the necessary psychological leap of faith in our abilities. One such technique I’ve come across (in, among other places, Starhawk's The Spiral Dance) is as follows (usually in a group of like-minded  – or simply open-minded  – friends but it can be adapted for one or two people): with a light piece of wool tied – loosely! – around your wrists, you name what binds you (for example, it may be anger, despair, guilt, grief, disappointment, or any other emotion which has become debilitating and prevents us from living joyfully); then consider which positive inner quality you need to awaken (for example, forgiveness, courage, joy, compassion) to dispel the gloom; then, when you can feel that quality radiating like the sun through your body, you snap the wool. 
Psychologically, we have taken our first step into freedom.

Easter is a time of renewal, resurrection and rejoicing, a time to feel the living soil beneath our feet, the lush grass between our toes, and the steadily growing warmth of the sun on our faces. 

So throw off those winter shackles and let nature put a spring back in your step.

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