The Reasons for the Seasons
Here we are just little over a week past the Equinox… and still waiting for spring to show up! The spring or ‘vernal’ equinox is a date we recognize as marking the end of winter. Not just an indicator of the changing seasons it is also significant astronomically. On March 20 at precisely 12:57 pm EDT, the Sun was positioned directly over the Earth's equator, an event that means our days and nights are now approximately equal in length. Equinox translated literally means ‘Equal Night’. Gradually the days will begin to lengthen as we head towards the summer solstice in June, the longest day of the year. A second equinox occurs in September to mark the autumn equinox and shortening of the days.
Equinoxes are due to the 23.4 degree tilt of the Earth's axis. They are the ‘reasons for the seasons’. Because of this tilt, we (in the northern hemisphere) receive the Sun's rays most directly in the summer. In the winter, when Earth is tilted away from the Sun, the Sun’s rays pass through the atmosphere at a greater slant, making it much cooler.
Humans have recognized the vernal equinox for thousands of years with rituals and traditions to herald the arrival of spring. Many early peoples celebrated for the simple reason that their food supplies would soon be restored after a long hard winter. The date is significant in Christianity too because Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox.
For the Chinese, Yin and Yang represent the two opposite principles in nature. Yin characterizes the feminine nature of things and yang stands for the masculine. Yin and yang are found in matching pairs such as night and day, moon and sun, female and male, cold and hot, etc. The nature of yin/yang lies in interchange, interplay and balance of the two components.
One of my heroes, Leonardo da Vinci, understood this concept of balance implicitly. The beneficent smile on the face of his classic Mona Lisa painting is a magical expression of the timeless dance of yin and yang. He captured the totality of Nature and human experience serenely composed in one singular piece of artistic perfection.
Why is this piece so iconic? Probably because we sense that Mona Lisa is a reincarnation of Eve, an individual completely balanced and at one with herself, residing peacefully in an Eden-like environment. This is something which we all intuitively long for. “The core of our [Christian] creation story, the story of paradise, is a metaphor for the need to balance and integrate the masculine and feminine principles. We all emerge from a source of pure potentiality, the Garden of Eden, and we all have as our birthright both the masculine (Adam) and feminine (Eve) principles.” Balancing these energies within allows us to return to the Garden – a truth that lies not only at the base of Christian belief “but one that has been intuited by traditions as diverse as yoga, Taoism, and psychotherapy … Leonardo’s Mona Lisa is a masterpiece of painting that seems to represent this masterpiece of inner work.”
The above quote is from Da Vinci Decoded by Michael J. Gelb, a great little book from my personal library that I just finished re-reading. It demonstrates how the principle of ‘as above, so below’ applies not only to our physical environment (which is a mirror of activities on the cosmic level) but how it can help each of us individually. In last month’s newsletter I wrote about finding ways to balance elements of ourselves … balance is a big a theme for me because I work with one of the most balanced things of all – the circle. And you will be hearing more about this subject in the coming months as I begin revealing my new series of ‘elemental’ paintings.
But for now we still wait for an answer to the question on everyone’s mind about spring: “are we there yet?” Well, yes we are actually. Mother Nature is just a little behind with the program! Things may be a little out of balance in the cosmic ‘above’ but let’s hope all the current adjustments will result in a fruitful, warm and hope filled summer for us ‘below’. There is a reason for the seasons after all. Balancing and harmonizing opposite principles is the masterpiece of Nature and our lives.
Speaking of fruitful … I have been personally engaged in a wonderful creative flow on the series of new works I referred to above which are specifically for this year’s Weekend in the Woods Event. It’s going to be an incredible show in August. But summer is still a long way off. In the meantime please check out current offerings at my studio including special Mother’s Day themed ‘Art in the Round’ sessions on May 10 and May 11 and my new Beltane Festival Workshop during the Alton Mill's Spring Open House event.
May you enjoy the dance! See you next month.
Artist & Shamanic Practitioner
Dancing Moon Designs
Illuminating the Creative Spirit ...