In The Blink of An Eye
The Wheel of the Year spins far too quickly. The seasons change at such a rapid pace that one day it’s May Day and in the blink of an eye, it’s Halloween.
Each season has it’s own charm and a special meaning. Sometimes it’s difficult to put those feelings into words, but way back around 1721, Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi was able to put it to music when he wrote four violin concertos, each of which gives musical expression to a season of the year and he fittingly called it The Four Seasons. It was considered to be a new concept in musical conception because they are also among the first examples of program music, illustrating the world around them by musically emulating sounds of things like a spring cuckoo, flowing creeks, buzzing flies, frozen landscapes, and warm winter fires.
I’m not sure I can put my feelings about each season into words like Vivaldi did with music. To me, the four seasons are more of a feeling. The obvious sensation that most people have with each season is a change in the weather. Here in Los Angeles, those weather changes are subtle, unlike other parts of the country where there actually are four seasons, so for me, the strongest feelings for each of the four seasons aren’t tangible. They arrive with a lifetime of memories and emotions instead.
I could be wrong, but I think lots of people have the season which coincides with their birthday as their favorite. Those of us born during the Summer not only have birthday memories, but we also had the added bonus of the 3 month summer break from school, spending days at the beach and going away on summer vacation or summer camp. For me, It was also time for a visit to Disneyland. Even though Disneyland was only about 45 minutes away, we only went once a year so it was a highly anticipated and wonderful day in the Magic Kingdom. So for me, summertime is largely childhood memory-based but now in my adult life, it also a time to celebrate the Summer Solstice and Lughnasadh, the Sabbat marking the beginning of the harvest season.
During the beginning of Autumn, the weather here is still on the warm side and that evil Daylight Savings time comes marching in, stealing an hour of light. On the plus side, Autumn is when the anticipation starts to build about the Halloween season, Samhain and the Autumnal Equinox. While I have wonderful memories of dressing up and going trick or treating and to costume parties, as I grew older, Samhain, the Witch’s New Year and also marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year, is also something to look forward to. It is a wonderfully magical time in both my magical and mundane worlds. It’s a time of having the opportunity to celebrate the cycle of death and rebirth. For many Pagan traditions, Samhain is a time of reflection of the past year, a time to reconnect with our ancestors, and to honor those who have died.
With winter comes the traditional holiday season, with all the bells and whistles. Winter is another very magical time of the year with the Winter Solstice, Yule and Imbolc. The childhood memories of Christmas past come flooding back. For me it was big family gatherings for Christmas dinners, going to the Santa Claus Lane Parade on Hollywood Boulevard each year, Christmas shopping and looking at the holiday department store windows and in later years, trying to forget one particular New Year’s Eve that I would certainly have avoided at all costs if I ever had the opportunity to do it all over again. But one bad New Year’s Eve aside, the New Year is a time of new beginnings and making a fresh start. Imbolc, on February 1st, also called Brigid's Day, marks the beginning of spring.
Spring never left much of an impression when I was young, except for the Easter Bunny and Easter egg hunts, May Day, Spring Break, and in elementary school, we danced around the Maypole every year without having a clue as to why, but it was still a lot of fun. As I got older, spring also represented the fire festival of Beltane and the Vernal Equinox. Spring is a time of fertility, rebirth, and for me, gardening. Luckily, living in Southern California, there is no need to wait for the snow to melt or the ground to thaw. It’s just all about heading to a favorite nursery and stocking up on new seeds, new plants and a whole new crop of goodness to come. Nothing makes me smile as much as walking outside and seeing all the bright colors of the flowers in bloom and the hummingbirds and butterflies zipping around from flower to flower.
And with that, the wheel comes full circle. As I mentioned up top at the beginning, the wheel seems to spin faster and faster each year. Although we can’t slow it down, we can try make the most of it as we live it. Here’s a bit of homework for you. When you have a spare few minutes, sit down and jot down your memories and feelings of each season like I did and then put them safely aside. No need to overthink it. The highlights (and maybe a lowlight or two) will pop into your head. Then a year from now, re-read them, and add new memories and feelings from this year. We can’t turn back time but we can remember, learn from it, and cherish the memories.