I believe that we are entering a new phase in the evolution of humankind. It is one that is spreading from a deep grass roots level, creating hope and healing and a clear direction to move in. The roots of this transition lie in a major shift of consciousness as we move from our old separatist way of 'us and them' thinking, to a new understanding of our place in the interconnected web of life.
This is not new. Our tribal ancestors understood the interconnectedness of life and the knowledge is still retained in ancient cultures around the world. Our own culture of separatist thinking was brought about by science picking everything apart, by religions which created a divided framework of earth, heaven and hell, and by suppression of the earth-based pagan religions which were naturally holistic. Industrialisation and consumerism have added further layers to our disconnection and isolation.
Now technology has given us world communication and with it the gift of 'overview'. Through this we are finding our reconnection to our common humanity and a recognition of the interconnectedness of all things. Science has also moved on and quantum physics, string theory, and the quantum vacuum, reconnect us to our common bond of unity. And we are stirred, and we are moving as individuals with an awareness of the whole.
We are learning to be part of the natural world again by finding ways to reconnect to the Earth, so that we feel ourselves to be part of creation and not somehow fragmented and separated from the whole. We are exploring ways to to connect to our feelings and our intuition, to help us to balance our inner sensitivity with our outer understanding.
Celebrating the yearly solar cycle is a means by which we can connect to the Earth's passing seasons and acknowledge the way this resonates within ourselves as part of the natural world. In the autumn, for example, we celebrate our own personal harvest as well as the Earth's harvest. We let go of anything that we have finished with or is not helpful to us. We then gather the seeds of our new ideas and future longings and take these into the dark of the year, letting them incubate and strengthen inside us until the time for action comes with the emergence of the outer growth cycle in the spring.
With this awareness we balance inner growth with outer growth. We see the value of the dark as a time to rest and day-dream. We wait to see what inspiration comes bubbling up from the depths of our inner wisdom and we learn to trust our intuition. We remember to value and nurture ourselves and to use our imagination to visualise and strengthen what we wish to bring into our lives and into the world. We gather our inner power and set our new intentions, ready for the rebirth of the outer growth cycle that begins at Winter Solstice.
To celebrate the solar cycle is to take part in an ancient tradition which has been handed down to us since before Celtic times, from a time when the people of Europe lived close to the land and were in harmony and balance with the spirit of the land. The ancient festivals of our ancestors fell at eight points during the solar year. These included the fixed points of Winter and Summer Solstices (the longest day and the longest night), the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes (day and night of equal length) and the four seasonal peaks of Spring, Summer Autumn and Winter.
In our pre-Christian past our ancestors would have met on the land at these eight points in the year. The Druids, men and women honoured for their wisdom, would have had an awareness of the influence of the Moon and the stars. They would have had knowledge of the Earth's energies and the places of power on the land where the energy converges and is strongest. The people would have walked the old energy routes, gathered in the stone circles or would have celebrated and lit community fires on the high places. Some would have gone into the barrows and journeyed with their ancestors to gain insight and wisdom and tap into the deepest parts of themselves.
The earth energy is still there for us to connect with. Each of the eight festivals is an opportunity for us to get out onto the land and experience its changing energy for ourselves. At these times we can extend our awareness and explore our true, personal and honest connection to the Earth and once we truly feel this connection and experience the intrinsic unity of life, a natural shift in our consciousness begins to evolve.
The way the Celtic festivals are celebrated is a matter of choice and experiment. What matters most is the experience of communicating with the outer world, bursting with created abundance and connecting to our inner levels and spiritual path. The changing year provides a wealth of experiences through the cyclic ebbs and flow of the Sun's energy. Interwoven with this, are the monthly cycles of the waxing and waning Moon, and the planetary influences.
Each festival is a chance to feel ourselves as part of the whole, and also to connect to the moment, the here and now. From this point of being we can look back on what we have been doing, feeling and thinking; on our health, and our spiritual journey. We can also look forward with an understanding of the Earth's (and our) inherent energy flow, to where we wish to go and how we may best use the oncoming energy for our greater good, the greater good of the Earth, and all those around us.
Each cycle of connection to the wheel of the year brings new awareness, direction and an understanding that healing ourselves and healing the Earth are the same, as all things are connected. There is no doubt in my mind that the Earth will continue with its own slow and evolving journey as it needs to. But the survival of the Earth as we know it is inextricably linked to our own survival. Our united healing depends on our ability to each take responsibility for our own 'separation patterns' that disconnect us from our inner wisdom, from each other and from the Earth. And at the same time we need to embrace a new and integrated perspective that will transform everything we do.