To celebrate the Earth's yearly solar cycle is to take part in an ancient tradition of Earth-awareness, handed down from our Celtic past. These Earth festivals help us re-establish and revive our lost sacred connection and partnership with the land. Celtic spirituality has its roots in a holistic perspective and stems from a time when the Earth was revered as a life-giving Goddess who embodied the five elements essential for life: Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and the interconnecting invisible web of Spirit. Honouring the five elements of life lies at the heart of how we celebrate the old Celtic Earth festivals today. Experiencing our deep heartfelt connections to each of the five essential elements of life sets off a chain of understanding that brings us closer to rediscovering ourselves and our love and respect for our unique and special planet and the gift of life. By celebrating these old Earth festivals in a way that has relevance for us today, we subtly re-align ourselves once again with the Earth, the source of life itself.
Holistic spirituality, and the rising tide of unity consciousness, is growing out of our own needs and the needs of the Earth at this time. It is a grassroots movement that is not being imposed on us, but feels like part of our evolutionary journey. We are embracing the holistic view that everything on Earth is part of a vast interconnected network of life, including ourselves. The realisation that we do nothing in isolation is the beginning of our shift from the old separation-consciousness into unity-consciousness. Embracing a holistic world-view changes how we live our lives; changes the way we think; and changes the way we consume the Earth's resources. We become more conscious of our impact on the Earth and this fills me with hope for the future.
Celebrating the Earth festivals is also a grassroots movement that has steadily been evolving and growing. The Earth festivals are our legacy from Celtic and pre-Celtic times but we celebrate them in a different way today than they did in the past. They are evolving to answer our present need to be part of the natural world again and to follow a path of the heart. There is no hierarchy of spiritual authority, and we are free to follow our own path, seek our own relationship with the sacred and develop our own authentic spirituality. We are each responsible for inspiring others to be guided by Love, respect for the Earth, compassion and simple loving-kindness.
The old Earth festivals fall at eight points during the solar year. The four seasonal heights form the quarter festivals - summer and winter at the two Solstices; spring and autumn at the two Equinoxes. The four transitional points in the seasonal cycle, when the energy is about to change, are the cross-quarter festivals of Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain, and fall in-between each of the four seasonal heights. Celebrating the Wheel of the Year is not just a matter of changing from one season to the next. Beneath the outer manifestation of seasonal change there is also change within the subtle energies of the Earth that affect us all (consciously or unconsciously). It is an ebb and flow of outer growth and fertility, and of inner growth and regeneration. By aligning ourselves with the flow and direction of this energy, we can move with it as true inhabitants of our planet Earth. We are all influenced by the underlying energy of the Earth's seasonal cycle and in the many subtle ways this affects our own energy, and we can consciously work with this. For example, in the autumn we can let go of things that no longer serve us, like the trees let go of their leaves. In the winter we can withdraw from outer activity to explore our inner journey and strengthen our roots, giving ourselves time, like the Earth, for rest and renewal. In the spring we can plant our new seeds as the new beginnings that we wish to set in motion for the season ahead.
We can use the festivals as an opportunity to take some time out from our busy lives to be on our own, to reflect on our lives and our changing relationship with the Earth. They fall approximately every 6 weeks and this brings structure to our lives. By consciously creating connection to the passage of time, we are able to more fully observe our path within it. Each festival is an opportunity to anchor and observe ourselves in the moment, and to look back at what we have achieved in the six weeks since the last festival. We celebrate our inner journey, our heart journey, our growing emotional and subtle intelligence as well as our outer achievements. We then stand in sacred space and set our intentions for the next six weeks, until the next festival offers us another opportunity for reflection and review. At each festival we honour and celebrate the Earth, the five elements of life and the beauty of the season. By giving thanks and counting our blessings we set in motion a chain reaction of love and appreciation that has far-reaching and subtle effects on our relationship with all of life.
We can celebrate the Earth's cycles on our own, with others, or both! By celebrating the festivals with others, we affirm the basic human need for community and creating ceremony together. By sharing food and drink, singing and drumming together, reflecting and sharing our experiences and feelings, we forge lasting friendships and affirm our common spiritual bond. If you haven't got a local group, begin with yourself and a friend. Tell others about what you do, and see if any other friends are interested in joining you. Those who need to find you will find you.
The Earth festivals are also an opportunity to engage with our need to protect and defend the planet. We are at a critical time in the history of the Earth: a time of increasing climate chaos, mass extinctions, and the disruption of the Earth's equilibrium that has maintained life as we know it for millions of years. Through our growing holistic consciousness we are becoming more aware of our human impact on the planet and our influence on her delicately balanced eco systems. Increasingly, we are taking responsibility for our role as stewards and guardians of the Earth. The Earth festivals are a means by which we can anchor and explore these new understandings that are rising within us. When celebrating the Earth and her cycles, whether alone or with others, we become a community of like minds, a force for change, able to work at the subtle inner levels, as well as affirm our outer actions and willingness to serve the common good and protect the environment from further harm.
As we change ourselves, we become part of the change in the world. We become part of the solution, and our own healing and the healing of the Earth become one.
Glennie Kindred 2017