In this season, the contraction/expansion exercise is especially beautiful. Use the discount code January2016 for a 50% discount.
The Hidden Gifts of Winter
In these dark evening hours, the rain is pouring over my roof, making its welcome music as it splatters through the trees and onto the ground. I love our California winters. Their cold and dark are enough to drive me indoors, but not as bitter as my childhood winters in Chicago were, when my tiny fingers became number with cold and the wind cut through my clothes, no matter how many layers I wore.
Our California winters echo these extremes more gently, but still invite me to draw near to our wood stove and take advantage of the long, quiet evenings to study and read. In winter, I like to go deep and turn my thoughts to winter things. My mind becomes more quiet, as my inner life becomes more rich.
My human experience is thus aligned with the experience of the natural world. As the animals become quiet, or even draw into their caves to hibernate, the movements of the natural world become hushed. The trees become bare, the annual plants wither away, and the earth pulls a blanket of darkness around her. As the sun and the earth turn their backs upon each other for a season, the earth is breathes her life into herself.
Rudolf Steiner tells us that the movements of the planets around the sun are more than mere mechanical phenomena: they are the expression of the movements of spiritual beings. These may at times affect one another closely, and at other times move apart and become relatively independent. The changing relationships of the spiritual beings of the sun and the earth in specific are the archetypes of the seasons.
In a beautiful meditative verse, Dr. Steiner speaks of how we can experience the dynamic life of the soul of the earth through the changing faces of the seasons. He says the earth-soul is awake in deep winter. When she is furthest away from the direct forces of the sun, she harbors within herself the wisdom of the plant world, entrusted to her through the untold billions of seeds that rest in her. All the seeds carry in themselves the archetypal forces of the planets and constellations, and we can imagine them scattered as stars buried in the soil. Her consciousness is quieted, and she enters into quiet communion with these star forces.
We are also invited to imagine that, buried under the protective mantel of fallen leaves and drifting snow, the rocks and crystals are re-enlivened in deep winter. They, too, are quickened through the star forces in the earth. And we can imagine how it might be that the metals in the earth are energetically freed in deep winter, so their forces seem to flow as rivers through the veins of ore deep beneath the surface.
As the season begins to turn towards spring, however, the forces of potentiality hidden beneath the surface begin to become physical realities. The promise of the seeds will give way to material form. The soul of the earth becomes the bride of the sun, and allows herself to be clothed in the beautiful garments of the plant world. From the greening of the leaves to the rainbow colors of the flowers, and on to the dizzying flights of the insects as they dance through the heady fragrances of the blossoms, the earth-soul manifests herself in the life of nature. And perhaps we are surprised to consider that the soul of the earth is asleep when she has poured all of her thoughts into material expression in the forms of nature.
Asleep is the soul of the earth in summer’s heat, While far are spread the shining rays of sun in space. Awake is the soul of the earth winter’s sleep, While deep within brightens in spirit the real sun. Summer’s day of joy For earth is sleep. Winter’s holy night For earth is day.
(verse by Rudolf Steiner)
For us as human beings, these two dynamic seasons offer us the opportunity to experience two faces of the World Creator. In summer, we can open ourselves in praise and gratitude to the magnificence of the created world. It is a season for outer adventure, for celebration of the life of the senses, for looking for God’s signature in all the colors and fragrances and shapes and sounds of the natural world.
In winter, however, we can turn our attention inwards. We can use this time to listen to how the creator lives inside of us. In winter, our thoughts can become cleaner and clearer, and if we polish them with our attention they shine with crystal clarity. We will find that the star forces of the universe live as seed forces inside of us, and through our exercises in consciousness we can bring them to life.
Deepen your experience with Eurythmy!
Winter is a great time to deepen your eurythmy experience. You can use these long winter evenings to extend your practice to 15-30 minutes a day. The exercise “Contraction/Expansion” is an especially fruitful movement for this season. Use the coupon code January2016 to receive a 50% discount on this lesson, from now through Jan. 31.https://eurythmyonline.com/product/contraction-and-expansion