I recently had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Angeles Arrien, a powerful Native American spiritual teacher, healer and anthropologist who wrote “The Fourfold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary.” In it, she reflects on the season of Winter:
“Many native peoples attribute the way of the Warrior to the direction of the North, the home of Father Sky, and all birds and winged creatures. Winter is the season that is most attributed among some shamanic societies to the direction of the North. Winter is the season for incubation, gestation and consolidation.
Although Winter does not universally entail ice and snow, each hemisphere has its own Winter season of rest. During this season many indigenous societies complete that which is unfinished. Winter is the season for reflection and contemplation. It is considered to be the best time to prepare for the renewal and healing that are provided in the season of Spring. When we are tested, it is important to embrace our challenges with the dignity, power and grace of the winged ones.”
I used to really dread the oncoming of the winter season. I despise cold weather and miss the sun when it goes into hiding during this period of the year. Though I no longer have to contend with heavy snow and ice as I did whilst living in the midwest and East Coast, winter on the West Coast is now a time of abundant, chilly rainfall. I have always, and continue to use winter as a time for hibernation, rest and reflection and indeed feel it will be important to prepare for the transformations and new beginnings I feel are in store for me this Spring.
My high school drama teacher Mrs. Sanders once said “You can’t get the rainbow until you’ve had some rain.” We can’t experience the beauty, vitality and light of spring without the dreariness, despair and darkness of winter. If springtime is a time of new beginnings and rebirth, then winter must necessarily be a time of death. A time of endings. And of wisdom: of ourselves and of others.
While I don’t now love the winter, I have learned to respect it for all the learning it has to offer me. I honor winter for teaching me the powerful lesson of letting go – making room for something new to grow. On rain, I have written a poem in tribute to the current weather pattern of my winters:
Thank You, Rain
as the sacred gatekeeper
the sky cries
as the pain dies
into something new.
From rain, the
The seeds a flower
have begun to grow
into sweet fruits.
Thank you, rain,
for the beauty of the