Whether it is Amaterasu retreating into a cave or Demeter mourning for Persephone in the underworld, causing the light to go away and lands to go barren, almost all cultures throughout history have myths speaking to the importance of the sun, solar cycles, and seasons.
The framework of the seasons is something we all live within, even today, and there is guidance in taking notice of their messages and living in tune with them.
The actual points of the seasonal cycle are the winter solstice, vernal equinox, summer solstice and autumnal equinox. Winter solstice is when the night is longest. The vernal equinox is equal length of day and night in the spring, and daylight is increasing. The summer solstice is when the longest day. The autumnal equinox again sees day and night being equal in length, but this time the length of daylight is decreasing.
This is our annual solar cycle. It controls our agricultural cycle, and so has always been at the center of human life. The sun therefore has been linked with life itself. No matter how cultures may have represented the idea in their myth, they knew the sun’s relationship to the seasons and therefore its importance in their lives. They knew they were not separate from these cycles, but very much living within them.
This is an important point, because by our very nature and collective history, by the very nature of this world we live in, we are tied to the solar cycle – to the seasons and what they represent. While many of us are no longer living agrarian lifestyles, and we have the ability to override adhering to nature’s cycles, we are indeed still dependent on the food grown even if we aren’t the ones actually doing it, and we are still tied to the earth – it is still what sustains our life – and so to ignore the natural rhythms and cycles of nature is to remain disconnected from that which we all depend on for life.
Many of us are now finding that our lives today do not nourish that connection with nature that has been so important to humanity over time. There are many examples of how this disconnection is unhealthy for us, and many of us have experienced the effects of it, even if we do not fully realize it. We have forgotten how to access the innate wisdom and guidance that following these cycles provides.
Layered over the annual solar cycle, the lunar cycle is a shorter version of it that occurs monthly. We have the new moon, the first quarter moon, the full moon and the third quarter moon, which wanes to the dark moon and then we begin again with the next new moon.
The moon reflects the sun’s light, so the lunar cycle shows us the interplay between the sun and the moon.
The new moon is when the sun and moon are sitting together. This correlates to the winter solstice in the solar cycle. Then the moon begins to “wax” as it reflects more and more of the sun’s light for the two weeks up until the full moon, which correlates to the summer solstice. The halfway point in between the new moon and the full moon is the first quarter moon. When you look at the moon at the first quarter moon, you will see only half of it illuminated; equal parts light and dark. And the moon is waxing – the light is growing. This correlates to the vernal equinox in the solar cycle – day and night are equal lengths, but the length of the days is growing as we move toward summer solstice. Then the full moon is when the sun is directly opposite of the moon and the moon fully reflects the light of the sun. This is the climax of the cycle and correlates to the summer solstice – the longest day of the year – the most light. From here on out we are in the waning cycle. The days are getting shorter. The moonlight is being taken over by shadow. We reach the last quarter moon, and this correlates with the autumnal equinox. And then we fall into the darkness – into the dark moon, or into wintertime – in preparation for the return of the light.
In the annual solar cycle and the monthly lunar cycle, we see a beginning, a time of increase, a climax, a time of decline, and then a low point before the new beginning.
In astrology, this is taken a step further, and this is where you become the hero in your very own myth. The sun, again so strongly associated with life itself, represents you – your consciousness, your life. The moon, that which reflects the light of the sun, is your subconscious. The moon reflects the light of the sun. So then we have a new take on the lunar cycle. The sun and moon sit together at the new moon, and this is a time of setting intentions. Then for the next two weeks, as the light of the sun steadily grows in its illumination of the moon, we take action in alignment with our intentions. The full moon is the point of climax where realization or culmination is reached. Then the light steadily decreases for two weeks and this is where we release what no longer serves based on whatever was realized, turning inward in preparation to set new intentions for the next lunar cycle at the next new moon. This creates a foundation for an upward spiral of growth in personal consciousness, where the starting point of the next cycle begins at a “higher” point than the previous cycle.
The annual cycle follows the same principal, with intention setting at winter solstice building to a climax at summer solstice and then the release phase takes us back to setting refined intentions at the next winter solstice. Whether we are speaking of the daily cycle, the monthly cycle, the annual cycle, or even larger cycles, following nature will show us balance. Nature will show us that work requires rest, growth requires release, and creation requires destruction. We work in cycles, in spirals, not in straight lines. Nature shows us that we won’t perfectly fit in that box, and life isn’t something that can be analyzed on a spreadsheet. Maybe we ARE supposed to color outside of the lines, and maybe a fish was never meant to climb any tree. Look outside. Look up and around. The dirt cannot be the clouds in the sky, and neither would we expect that, nor would we want that. Look at nature and pay close attention because you are part of it. There is wisdom in nature – in the cycles, in the rhythms, in the uniqueness of every living thing.
With every month and every year, through every cycle, you are living your myth, and you are the hero, on the hero’s journey, on your quest to conquer the demons of your underworld by confronting them and raising your consciousness. Nature itself is showing you the way. If you follow this guidance, with every cycle, you peel back another layer, and with every cycle, you soar higher and higher.
Published in E.P.I.C Magazine, Durango Edition, Jan/Feb 2017
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