The best thing about 2018 for me so far is... the whole year! I feel like I've been given the whole year trussed up in gift-wrapping and served on a silver platter. I also feel like I've been given a magical cosmic job description. And I couldn't be happier.
On the last Friday of 2017, just a couple days before the end of the year, it hit me. The Calm & Confident Holiday Wellness program I'd started before Thanksgiving and was still running - it was only the beginning! I had started it without knowing exactly how it would end or what would follow. I just work intuitively that way anymore. I get an inspirational download that sparks my interest and I go with it, see what happens, and then see what's next. Well, it's a good thing I like irony, because ironically, what I got this time was a plan! In fact, it's the whole year ahead all planned out for me. Ha ha.
I realized on that day in late December that I can do a program like Holiday Wellness for every season of the year - and for me there are eight of them, each with its own holiday. Roll them all together, from Winter Solstice around through Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, Autumn Equinox and you come back to Yule. The other four seasons are called cross-quarter days as they fall directly in between the previous four. They are Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. Together, these eight holiday seasons comprise the Wheel of the Year, based on ancient Celtic and Norse traditions, which I have studied and celebrated for many years in various ways.
I love holidays, love the seasons, love the Wheel of the Year. I love living close to the land in rural Vermont where it's hard to be out of touch with the seasons - usually they conk us on the head every time we step out the door! Even now, in the deepest winter when the nights are still long and we've just recovered from a week and a half of below zero weather to be greeted with a few snow-sleet-and-freezing-rain storms, I love this time of year. It's a real season, not just after-Christmas and before-Spring. When I discovered long ago that the ancient Irish celebrated Imbolc at this time as a very magical moment in the turning of the year, it really resonated with me as what I had already been sensing for many years, decades before moving to the country permanently.
I love Imbolc, with its simple candle flame illuminating the hope and comfort of hearth and home; the celebration of Brigid who was and is a woman of legend, goddess and saint; the handcrafts that honor her and fill our home with beauty and love made visible. I love the gathering energy of the year just waiting to be unleashed, all the possibility that lies ahead, the anticipation, the long breathless moment before launching into Spring. It's a wonderful time to dive deep into sleep, dreams, journaling, reading, crafting, meditating, walking in the snow, warming by the wood stove, cuddling under a blanket. Imbolc feels like a whole season to me, just like Christmas, Easter or Hallowe'en, also known as Yule, Ostara and Samhain, which are more than just one day to celebrate.
So I realized I could just go on to the next season with a similar program. I was enjoying Calm & Confident Holiday Wellness and people in my community seemed to appreciate it as well. We were posting daily in the Facebook group, meeting at local programs, deepening into Reiki work together, and connecting through many conversations about wellness in the hustle and bustle of that festive season. It suddenly made perfect sense to continue in a similar vein, and, of course, to build on it and add more to it - write books! Teach workshops! Create rituals! And if I could do it for Imbolc, then why not the rest of the seasons? While each has its own theme, they all share a common framework that can seamlessly flow from one season to the next. From tables of correspondences to archetypes in the life cycle of the year to signs of change on the land, crafts, rituals and more, we'll weave a web of colorful threads throughout the tapestry of the year!
And so this is how we find ourselves here in the middle of January just embarking on a journey around the sun that we can share in deep wellness, celebration and growing community. We're already one week into Opening Your Gifts, the title and theme of which seemed fitting to follow those December holidays that can sometimes be so materialistic and focused on giving and getting presents tied to confusing relationships, economic struggle and status.
Now we turn inward and appreciate our own innate gifts, which is hard sometimes if we've been taught not to toot our own horns or we are concerned about becoming too egotistical. If you're concerned about it, you probably have nothing to worry about! It's the people who are not at all worried about bragging and showing off who really need a helping of humble pie. The key is all about balance. We're all equal, which means we need to care for ourselves just as much as we serve others, and vice versa. There, isn't that simple? At least in principle it is, but I know it's sometimes harder to put into action regularly.
This is a moment in history when we need all hands and hearts on deck, so I'm seriously encouraging you and everyone you know to level up with me and reach deep into the wellspring of our creativity, healing, intuition, courage, passion and compassion to bring forth the miracles that the world needs now. No more business as usual - and that means it's time to celebrate!
And so the Seasonal Celebrations Cycle is born! We'll follow the Wheel of the Year through the seasons celebrating total wellness and conscious evolution together as a mutually supportive community and in harmony with Nature. All eight seasonal programs will include an online circle in the form of a Facebook group, free local programs in Vermont and New Hampshire, and a free Open Circle you can join, which will give you the new Seasonal Celebrations: a Basic Guide and other additional materials to help you enjoy and benefit from each season. There are also packages available with each season's unique Guidebook and customized Reiki and personal wellness support sessions. Just visit essentialarts.net for details and enrollment options.
Meanwhile, we're just finishing Week 1 of Opening Your Gifts, in which we have gifted ourselves with a word each day, to be saved and opened at the end of this session, in a few weeks. I posted my word each day in the Facebook group, then I wrote it on the back of a post-it, rolled it up and tied it with a piece of handspun yarn. Now all seven are safe in a lovely little box and I feel like I carry those gifts with me inside every day.
Our next adventure will be a 7-day Passion Challenge, starting tomorrow. I'll post suggestions for celebrating our passions each day in the Opening Your Gifts Facebook group, and you are welcome to post as well, about this or anything related to your experience of the season or exploring the gifts within you. Yes, there's even a video of silly dogs playing in the snow. Why not.
So, welcome to 2018! I guess I know what I'll be doing this year, for a change - and I'm so excited. I am in absolute heaven-and-Avalon all at once ensconced in my cozy nest of books and papers and candles and magical things, looking out at the most gorgeous winter wonderland like I'm living in a snow globe. And I'm looking forward to teaching crafts and giving Reiki and celebrating this season in so many wonderful ways in our community, in person and online. I thank you for the fabulous gift of your glorious presence, and I eagerly anticipate opening our many miraculous gifts together.