I’m taking a break from my ongoing series on Grassroots Leadership to join the Tarot Blog Hop on the theme of the Spring Equinox. Although, the particular magical act that is the rebirth of spring–and planting the seeds for the dreams you wish to bring into fruition–is an important part of a leader’s work.
I don’t know about you, but it’s been a long, hard winter for me. I’ve been in a wrestling match with the depression that tried to take hold after my car accident in December, and I’m so grateful for the longer days and melting snow. The past month has been incredibly reinvigorating for me and I’m really ready for spring planting.
Some people are physically planting seeds at this time of year, but for most of us it’s more of a metaphor. And yet, the seasons still have their pull on the ecosystem of our bodies. I often look at the time November through the silence of winter as the time to release what we really need to let go of. To identify what seeds we need to actively not plant in our garden again.
I look at New Year’s Eve and the attendant New Year’s Resolutions, and those months leading up to Imbolc and the Spring Equinox as the inspiration energy, preparing for new growth. Spring Equinox, then, is a fantastic time to make a solid commitment to something we’ve been thinking about or working with.
Spring Equinox is that fresh start, that rebirth, that time to really plant the seeds of something we want to bring into our lives.
Tarot and Rebirth
Often when we pull out the cards, we’re looking for help with a decision or with choosing a direction. I know that nothing is more personally frustrating for me than when I know that I need to make a change in my life, but I feel stuck, unsure of which direction to choose. Or unsure of what’s holding me back.
Tarot can be a great way to help you get at what’s going on beneath the surface.
With Tarot cards–or just on your own–you might begin to consider first what you want. What are some of the goals that you dream of but perhaps haven’t yet put into place? It could be actual farming or gardening, or starting a family, or changing careers, or starting a business, or starting a new community initiative or perhaps a particular creative pursuit like writing or painting. What are the things that you would like to accomplish?
You might also begin to think about what you’ve let fall away from your life–or what you need to let fall away. Perhaps it was a bad relationship, a toxic friend, a job that didn’t serve you, a mindset about money. I’ve often heard that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. And yet, so many people (myself included!) have gotten stuck repeating the same old things. I know that I’ve found myself in a few relationships that were abusive–both romantic and professional.
Often what we need to let fall away is more directly related to the pain we’ve suffered in the past. Call them old wounds if you like. These are the things that were done to us in our past, and we develop coping mechanisms to deal with them. And–it keeps us alive, it keeps us sane–but those coping mechanisms ultimately hold us back. In school I was emotionally, verbally, and sometimes physically abused by my peers. I toughened up, decided I didn’t need anyone. I got defensive, I looked at anyone around me as an enemy. And a dozen other small coping strategies.
Literally, it kept me alive. If I hadn’t done all that, the emotionally sensitive younger version of me might very well have tried to commit suicide.
But later, when I wanted to connect to people, develop friendships, nobody wanted to be my friend. I blamed it on so many things…”They don’t like a fat chick. Screw them.” And, that was certainly true for some of them. Yet it was also my attitude that pushed people away. I was looking at everyone I met as if they were the kids from middle school, about to hurt me. I treated people like that.
Figuring out what to let go can be the work of years. Your own meditation or journaling might help with it. Therapy can help, talking to a friend can help. Exploration through Tarot can help you see what’s too close to your own face.
When you begin to release what doesn’t serve you, you can then look again at what you want to bring into your life. This is where popular concepts like the Law of Attraction start to come in, but it’s often oversimplified. Thinking positive is not enough–it’s the way to shine the light of hope, like a lighthouse in the distance. But there’s all the work that it takes to get there, all the work to release what doesn’t serve you and to make room for what will serve you.
What do you want in your life? Love? Friendships? Connection? Creativity? Life Force? Abundance? I want to do what I love and get paid for it, among other things. I want to write and create art and travel and teach, and connect to other people who are doing similar work and share resources with them and build something that lasts. I want to leave the world better than how I came into it.
Ritualizing and Embodying Planting the Seeds
We humans are physical creatures. A lot of spiritual work seems to try to get us out of our bodies, but truly, are bodies are pretty powerful spiritual instruments.
When we sing, dance, and drum together, something changes. Our bodies help us to get into that trance state that can help us take the work deeper. It’s one thing to think about what you need to release, or what you want to bring into your life. It’s another thing entirely to embody that through singing, chanting, dancing and drumming.
Or perhaps even just to embody releasing by cutting a piece of string, or to embody bringing something into your life by burning an intention written on a piece of paper, or focusing that intention into a cup of water and drinking it.
Here is a “sketch” of a ritual that I’ve offered for groups at this time of year, and perhaps the words and the process will offer you some ideas for how you might physicalize setting an intention for yourself to plant the seeds of hope, of rebirth. Much of the language below is something that I might use when facilitating a ritual or ceremony for a group.
Planting the Seeds of Hope
What is often useful first is some kind of a sound purification. A singing bowl, a gong bath, singing a chant or an om. Any sound with intention can help to center and focus you.
You might also invite in any spirits, allies, or other forms of the divine to assist your work. Elements, ancestors, deities, or just honoring that you are a part of the larger universe and that the work you do to set intention has ripples throughout the fabric of that universe, whether or not you can see them.
It can also be very potent to choose a physical object to work with to represent your seed such as a stone, gem, seed, or any small object.
Can you feel and smell the season turning from Winter to Spring? The seeds begin to awaken within the earth, softening with the melting snow and rains and stretching toward the rising light. The winds of change are blowing, and the tide is turning to spring and growth and warmth and life force is rising up in our veins.What seeds do you plant, what are the dreams yet to come? What are the hopes and wishes you pray for?
As you celebrate the return of the light, breathe life into the seeds of your personal dreams. Bless the seeds of hope for healthy communities and earth sustainability. Imagine…inspire, empower, and reach for the seeds of your future.
Will you hold the seeds planted in the rich earth of your heart, and imagine the tree grown strong?
When you name your seeds you bless them. What are your dreams? What are the seeds that you plant? What are your hopes and prayers for this year? What is one big dream, a tree you would like to grow? How will you send blessings and abundance to those seeds, those dreams.
The Seed. What is the seed you wish to plant? What seeds do you plant now, or have you planted in the earth before the cold season? What are the seeds that you wish to tend for this year? For the years after?
What is the dream that you wish for? Will you dream big? What are your hopes, your wishes? When you imagine the seed, what is the plant, the tree that it will grow? What fruits will that tree bear? Standing in the place of now, can you imagine the tree grown strong and full? What is a dream that you hold? What is its scent, its taste, what does it look like or sound like? What is your dream of the future, one dream. Is it a dream of abundance, of prosperity. A dream of a new job, a dream of something you wish to learn, a new business, a new project.
Perhaps it is a maple tree, swift growing. Perhaps it is an oak tree, long to grow and long to stand. Do you hold a dream for social change, a dream of healing, a dream of a creative project? A healthy family, a healthy community?
Hold the image, the sound, the feeling. How do you hold your body here in the place where your seed has taken root and grown tall, where you can pluck the fruits of the tree. And coming back to now, when you hold the seed within your hand and your heart. What is the seed you will plant, or have planted already?
What is the soil that grows your dream? The Dreaming in the Darkness. What rich, loamy earth does your seed require to flourish? What are the nutrients your seed will need? Imagine being under the earth, in the moist darkness in the weeks and months, waiting for the thaw and waiting for the time to be right. Here is the time in the darkness, in the deep, in the waiting. When do you require darkness and silence and rest, when does that fill you and feed you?
What is the soil that will feed your dreamseed? Is it words of encouragement, is it time alone, is it the support of friends, is it financial abundance, is it family or community, what are the resources you need? What does your dream need, your seed need?
(At this time, you might plant the representation of your seed into earth, dirt, sand, or something soft.)
The water that softens the seed. Can you remember being under the earth, can you remember that darkness going on and on, the winter not letting go? What is it like to be so ready for light and heat and moisture? Have you ever been under the earth for what felt like a thousand years of darkness? And then….the waters came.
Can you remember what it felt like to have the waters touch the edges of the seed, the edges of your skin. The waters soften the seed, prepare it to grow. Can you remember the warm rains flowing down to cleanse you, prepare you?
Have you known joy or known sorrow? Why do you care about this seed? Have you felt the rains falling down on you? Or were they the waters of the stream or the lake or the ocean? How did the waters flow? Do you remember feeling? What brings life to your seed? What do you love?
Did your heart break? The Sufi say the heart must break to make more room for God to enter. When did your heart break? Where is the love inside of you, are you in love with this seed and this dream? Can you feel the waters of your love softening the edge of the seed, filling the cup of your heart, slaking the thirst of this growing plant as it grows and grows?
How do you feel? What feelings bring life to this dream seed, to this tree that will become?
(You might bathe your hands in water here, or even pour water over yourself.)
The sunlight, the fire. What is the sunlight that feeds your plant, brings it life force and vitality? What is the will that rises within you?
Fire will be the sun and the light, the Will to make the dream happen, what lights us up. What gets you on fire? What sparks your imagination? What causes the fire in the head and heart, that life force shiver to rise up your spine? What gets you excited, what is your vision of the future? Can you feel it inside you, can you reach for that sunlight that will feed you?
Can you imagine that golden beautiful radiance and as it touches your leaves and your skin and you’re bathed in it, it fuels you and feeds you.
(You might light a fire at this point such as a candle, or even a campfire or bonfire if you are outside. Or you might also reach your hands up toward the sun itself, reaching for that fire.)
The breath of life. What is the name of the divine? I am that I am. What brings life and consciousness to this seed, what gives it its name? Will you name this dream that you are planting, will you name the tree it will become? Will you blow a name into the seed, into the wind, and commit to making this seed a reality?
Will you turn and whisper its name to someone next to you, will you tell its story and bring it to life? Will you risk naming this dream, call it forth?
And will you say aloud one thing you can do, to take a step toward making this dream happen?
Fueling Your Intention
At this point in a group ritual I typically engage people in singing a chant together which builds in intensity. We sing, we dance, we play drums, until the energy of our song and movement reaches a peak. If you’re doing this exercise on your own, I recommend engaging in some kind of energetic activity in order to “fuel” the intention, the seed, that you are planting.
There are lots of ways to raise up life force. You can sing a chant or tone along with a singing bowl or a chant cd, you can go out for a run, you can go dancing at a club or a drum jam, you can rock back and forth, or do an intense workout. Heck, you can go sing a song that fits the work you’re doing at karaoke. Anything that makes a sound and gets your heartrate going is generally going to lay the pattern deeper.
If you sing, sing like it matters. Sound is energy. Life force is energy. Breathing and moving is energy.
Rebirth, Planting Seeds, and Planning
When you’ve done the work to set an intention, the work is not yet done. There’s still the long road from here–where you are right now–to there. Envisioning what “there” looks like can be a powerful motivator, and essentially strikes the “bell” that is the fabric of the universe and says, “Hey, this is my intention, this is what I want to happen.” But there’s all the rest of the work we have to do to get there.
Whenever I’m planning something–particularly something big that’s going to require a lot of work–I make a map. I identify what I want as clearly as I can, and then I pull out all the steps I’ll need to take in order to get there. It’s like a to do list, only a little prettier. I can start to get a sense of what tasks need to get accomplished first so that I can progress closer to the goal. For instance, getting a web site. Finishing a book. Getting more artwork done. Planning more traveling and teaching engagements. Or even cleaning up my art studio so that I can do more painting.
While there are a lot of thankless tasks and busywork on the way from Here to There, connecting them firmly to the big goal is a way to help you visualize and stay on track. And–if you enjoy crossing things off lists as much as I do–as you get those things done, you can see yourself on the map, getting closer to that goal. Some things don’t map out as well as others, but if you have a big complicated goal this can be a good way to break it down.
And it’s another place where Tarot cards can come into play as you’re beginning to make decisions about particular things. Tarot is a great way to look at what’s going on beneath the surface, and short 1-card or 3-card pulls can tell you a lot.
I wish you the very best in reaching for all of your dreams. Happy Spring!