Life is a continual journey along the wheel of time. In winter our footsteps drag along the frozen road, stopping to watch our breath rise into the pale sky. It is harder to notice new experiences because we are so busy contemplating and assimilating what has gone before.
Now, as light pushes back the dark, we feel a spring in our step and wish to begin adventures in the fresher air. Adventures emerge from our surroundings when we open our eyes and focus, interpreting experiences with both intuition and knowledge, enabling us to grow and move along our chosen path.
I have chosen to recall the sights, animals and birds which crossed my path during this week leading up to Spring Equinox.
The adventure started in the Cotswolds. First was a rabbit, hiding between the front door and the crate when I went to bring in bottles of milk. He ran off slowly, showing the extent of his final illness. The following morning, he was crouching in sunshine beyond daffodils, hardly able to move. To let him suffer further would be cruel, so he was dispatched with a blessing.
Rabbits normally represent abundance, comfort and vulnerability. They can also bring hidden teachings and intuitive messages. To me, this wild brown rabbit embodied the ending of winter; slow, sluggish and diseased seeking the warmth of the sun and a swift passage through the veil. In the evening, we sat and watched his warren mates running up and down the boundary walls, a firm reminder of continuing life and health.
At midday, a hawk came and sat on the electricity wire in the middle of the field. We are used to seeing birds of prey but it was the first time I’d seen a hawk this size. The hawk enables you to see your life in perspective, freeing you from unnecessary baggage and connecting you to ancestral roots. He seemed to continue the rabbit’s message to release the detritus of winter and seek inspiration from the new season.
Part of our spring tasks is to clean. I began to tackle the greenhouse, rubbing off mould and fungus built up over the past ten years of neglect to reveal a transparent surface for sun’s rays to traverse.
The glass extracted a toll from my fingers. I saw yarrow growing in a corner but let the blood flow, seeking instead small crosses of plantain to chew into a drawing poultice, confident it would remove anything which did not need to be there. Plantain talks about strength and healing. No matter how much it is trodden on, it will always spring up and provide help to soothe raw places until all is well.
We drank nettle in tea and soup as we gathered together. Nettle teaches transmutation and integration of painful experiences, helping us learn and grow from our winter lessons. Its strong, golden roots a living sun amongst the dark earth.
Primroses taught us many things, not only about its innate abilities to soothe both nerves and respiratory tracts but also about new beginnings, new opportunities and a rise in creativity after the void of winter.
I planted a new bed of six mullein rosettes. These scattered children of a single plant could not remain in the lawn where they geminated to grow their yellow spikes of summer, they needed a safer home. Mullein instils courage, preventing approach of both unwanted wild animals and evil spirits. On a physical plane, it takes away ear ache and brings up the deepest infection from our lungs. These young rosettes could be sacrificed to help re-align unbalanced spines. It is a powerful plant.
Thinking to clear a bed of unwanted growth, couch grass reminded me not to discard such mass without proper consideration. It has much to offer those whose urinary tracts become inflamed, the slender rhizomes retaining their shining purity amongst the soil.
Looking up from my labours into a clear, blue sky, I was amazed to see six buzzards soaring overheard, quartering the fields in their daily search for food. One pair have flown this land for decades, sometimes with one young but to see six together was an amazing sight. I wondered what this might mean and then I realised. Six is the number of balance, of the equinox.
I had been given six in both earth and sky, how fitting for a number which connects above and below! It also signifies reconciliation, intellectual creativity, discrimination, union, love and perfection. It shows the ability to use imagination and the intellect combined whilst taking responsibility for choices.
As the week progressed I returned to Warwickshire, driving home along narrow country roads. Bright eyes in my headlights showed another rabbit followed by my totem companion, the badger. He is the strong, deep healer. Daring to go where others fear to discover the root of dis-ease. He is also the keeper of stories reminding us that we might change the details but the core of any tale remains the same.
Next were two foxes. They pointed out the need for diplomacy and sometimes cunning; to be seen but of times to be silent or disappear from view. Their wildness cannot be tamed.
Lastly was a tiny stoat, skittering across my path, disappearing into the undergrowth. This silent creature has many lessons to share. Their powers of observation are keen and their energy helps us watch what others are doing and realise the hidden meanings behind actions. We can observe who or what needs attention, or a solution, and offer assistance in our own quiet or discreet way.
So much to see, so much to learn. No matter the blackthorn has called back the cold mantle of winter, we know our spring adventures have just begun.