thoughts from Scarlett Penn, our Co-ordinator / Chief Exec
This year, for the first time ever, I do not feel myself resisting the darker, quieter months of autumn and winter.
I’ve had an attachment to high energy, to light, to moving forward, getting things done, striving and achieving. When October arrives – and particularly when the clocks go back – I’ve found it frustrating and truly challenging to change down the gears, decelerate and contemplate reduced expectations of output. I’ve felt resentful of the lower energy, inhibited by my lazy body, constrained and almost suffocated by that murky monster The Dark.
Over the years some very good friends have told me the darker months are their favourite time of year. I’ve always been mystified and – to be honest – taken aback. These were intelligent, dynamic women; why did they suddenly want to curl up in bed at 7pm with a mug of cocoa and a book? Or even more confusingly, sit by the fire just…knitting?? Of course, it had to be because they are cold / bored / depressed and winter was to blame for the deadening of their spirits.
My solution was a laughably long winter to-do list, written (of course) in my summer mindset. Never did I pause to remember in my body what the darker months actually feel like; to question what my I might feel like doing when all around was a step away from hibernation; to give value to exploring the more dreamy, reflective qualities of the down time.
Only recently have I realised I was stuck in a linear and masculine pattern of action and achievement, timelines and goals. That’s not entirely surprising, because most of society and industry is set in this same pattern. The culture around us hardly recognises the feminine aspects of cycles, fluctuations, the rhythm of the Earth and of nature, the energies of the human animal within.
I now understand the sense of upset and frustration comes from internal conflict, the pushing and pulling; the trained and conditioned mind wanting to move forward and keep ‘succeeding’ but the soul connecting with the turning wheel of the earthly year. The energy of autumn and winter is ‘down and in’ – it’s unnatural and unhealthy to keep trying to mimic the ‘up and out’ energies of spring and summer, no matter how highly prized these qualities may be by the wider world. I also now know that if I continue to force myself to be switched to ON, I am not giving body, mind and spirit the chance to rest and reflect, to tap into deeper feelings and knowings, to bring their wisdom to emerging plans for the year ahead once I’m rejuvenated and the sap rises once more. I might have been able to get away with this pattern of constant activity for some years more, but I know too many people who have burnt out or whose health has suffered because they have not listened to the natural pattern of ebb and flow.
Recent teachings have shown me how the patterns of the seasons can be overlain with other natural cycles and energies; the 24-hour day, the moon cycle and closely related, the feminine cycle, the stages of spiritual development and a human lifetime. It’s interesting to see how many of those things are represented on the Wombdala (as opposed to mandala) created by Jewels Wingfield.
So this year, eager with new awareness, I sat through September with increasing anticipation of the rest I’d ease into when October struck. And as I waited I realised how much I was looking forward to it, how much I wanted to sink into the comfortable arms of autumn after a hectic half year of growing, visitors, events and lovely WWOOFers.
At this point, the Universe played a little dig-in-the-ribs joke on me and landed me unexpected lead in the huge IT project which is the launch of the new Common WWOOF Platform website, due 1st of November (more of that elsewhere in the newsletter) and the ripple effect of which will inevitably continue for much longer. This really was unplanned and under non-ideal circumstances, so it quickly jolted new-found relaxing Me back into intense awareness and activity. It’s fine – I’ve taken the jibe in the spirit as it was intended, but I’m also pleased to notice a mild resentment in having to return to full speed ahead. I plan to demonstrate my graceful comprehension of this lesson by ceremonially ripping up the winter to-do list…perhaps…yes! On a vile and windy day; let the pieces flutter far wide. Maybe I’ll even cackle as I do it.