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April 18, 2019
Spring is here! The days are getting longer, blooms are popping up everywhere, and there’s a renewed energy in the air. There’s a special joy in springtime–you can see it in the plants and in people. It’s a season full of ritual and celebration for many cultures. I wanted to share a few rituals to help mark the changing season.
In many places, people have practiced certain traditions since time immemorial. Here in the United States, our cultural backgrounds are mixed, and many rituals have been lost. However, now more than ever people are seeking to reclaim lost rituals and meaning.
Ritual reconnects us to the fundamentals, things we take for granted: clean air, sunlight, warmth, growth, and the community of friends and family around us.
Some cultures believe that without ritual, things like rain, a good harvest, and renewal of life aren’t guaranteed. For me, ritual is a way to step back, to practice mindfulness, gratitude and reverence for the earth and our communities, human and otherwise.
Take a long walk in nature, noticing the change in seasons. Leave the phone at home, pick a direction, a favorite park or trail, and go! When I am outside, I want to be fully present. I want to take everything in, to breathe deeply, to walk slowly. Walking in nature is like a meditation for me! There is so much to see. I’m not a hiker who goes for miles, but one that wants to see everything.
Walking outside and noticing the variety of life around me is a ritual itself, whether it’s in my neighborhood or on a trail. There are always seasonal changes to notice, in the sky, in the leaves, in the flowers.
Regular walks in springtime can help transition from the lethargic season of winter into being more active. Stepping outside may take some motivation, but in time it will become a habit.
Bring fresh flowers and plants into your home. Sometimes, I speak to the plants I bring in (silly, I know, but it means something to me). I put them in a place I see often and take a deep breath each time I pass. Fruit trees often carry beautiful flowers in spring. Fresh cherry blossoms, the epitome of a spring symbol in Japan, are one of my favorites.
Make a wreath from willow branches. It’s fun and simple, as willow is naturally flexible and easy to weave. Willow is one of the first trees to green in spring. Its branches grow quickly, so no harm is done by harvesting a few (check this out for details on harvesting). Circular wreaths symbolize time and the cyclic nature of the seasons. Making wreaths for each season is a way to mark the passing of time.
Fire rituals. In some parts of Siberia, winter is burned in effigy—A “person” is made, stuffed with straw or old rags, and then lit aflame, signifying the passage of winter and the renewal of spring.
If you have a safe place to make a fire, think about burning some local aromatic plants along with something ritualistic from the past season—some written intentions, or old thoughts you want to discard. If you made a winter wreath, now is a good time to burn it. If you don’t have a safely enclosed outdoor fire pit, even a few candles will do. You can light some incense, or aromatic herbs such as rosemary, or my favorite, dried lavender. Be sure to have water or sand nearby to extinguish burning objects.
I hope you enjoyed these thoughts and stories! Do you have a personal ritual or practice that you do in springtime? Please let us know in the comments below.
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