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Nature-Inspired Rituals, Wisdom, and Self-Care for Every Day of the Year
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Before clocks, seasons were the original calendar that cultures would use to survive and thrive! The essential magic of the natural world is available to us all, if we are open to living back in alignment with nature's flow. And experiencing this meaningful shift doesn’t require a huge life overhaul—simple little daily changes and rituals honoring the turn of the seasons will make a huge difference in how we lead our lives. In Sacred Seasons bestselling author and moon mentor Kirsty Gallagher teaches us to embrace these moments of pause and ritual with nature. From solstices and equinoxes to festivals (Litha, Samhain, Imbolc) and the signature energies of each season, readers will learn to tap into the rhythms of the world to unlock the best within themselves.
Organized by season (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter), the chapters in this beautiful book offer opportunities for us to check in, catch up with ourselves, review our lives, make any necessary nature-inspired changes, and move forward into a new season with renewed clarity, direction, inspiration, purpose, and motivation. Living in alignment with nature in this way ensures that we are constantly evolving, renewing, releasing and growing, just like nature does.
Welcome to Sacred Seasons, a book that has been stirring within me for a long time, just waiting for the right time to be brought into the world.
That time is now.
As difficult and challenging as the last few years have been, during, and since the COVID-19 pandemic, I feel that one of the greatest gifts these years gave us was the opportunity to slow down. Previously, we spent so much of our time indoors, running from home to car to public transportation to office to gym or bar or restaurant and back again. But suddenly, in lockdown, our only option for taking a break from our newly set-up home offices was the hour-long window we got to go outside for a walk.
And I believe this is where magic happened.
We began to take in the natural world around us. Following the same walking route every day gave us a chance to witness Nature moving through her seasons. The tree that one day was in full bloom, over the months began to shed its leaves, going through a death-and-rebirth process, back to full bloom. We saw snowdrops and bluebells and daffodils. We heard birdsong.
We connected back to Nature, her seasons and her cycles. And I believe that something shifted and stirred within us.
Nature healed us. She held us, she taught us. Just as she always had and always will. But now, perhaps for the first time, many of us were listening.
And it wasn’t only the earth that grabbed our attention; it was also the skies. More people than ever before noticed the moon in the sky and developed an interest in astrology and spirituality. I’m often asked why I think that is, and I always give the same answer: we were all looking for connection.
In a time that felt so disconnecting, confusing, and isolating, it was a comfort to know that Nature was a constant all around us and that, wherever we were, all of us were looking at the same moon in the same sky.
And then there was the search for answers. In a world that suddenly no longer made any sense, we did what our ancestors did for thousands of years: we sought answers and solace in Nature and the skies. I’ve spoken to so many people who say that in the months and years of the pandemic, they felt a deep connection to Nature but weren’t sure what it meant or how to deepen it and keep it alive.
I hope that these pages will hold the answers.
About This Book
This book is designed to be a companion, a guide, a mentor, a friend. My hope is that you will keep it by your side as you journey through life, referring to and working with it often.
One of the original meanings of the word “sacred” is “entitled to reverence and respect.” My aim with this book is that you will make each season sacred—not only in Nature, but in your life, too. As with Nature, there will be times in your life when you’re in full bloom and growing, and others when you feel like you are in a void and everything is falling away. The seasons of Nature mirror the ever-changing seasons of our lives, teaching us how to adapt, flow with, and honor them, treating each turning point, change, and transition with reverence and respect.
This book will take you on a year-long journey to help get you back into alignment with Nature, establishing a rhythm and flow of natural cycles that keep everything moving. A journey which keeps you in tune and connected, not only with Nature but with your own true nature and, in turn, with the seasons of your life, and yourself.
PART I: THE BACKGROUND
Part I will provide you with the all the information you need to understand the why, what, and how of sacred seasons and connecting back to Nature. I will explain, among other things, the Wheel of the Year (an annual cycle marking the seasonal shifts in Nature), astrological seasons, Nature’s seasons, what we can learn from Nature and why and how we should live once more in alignment with her.
PART II: THE PRACTICES
Part II is split into twelve chapters, taking you through every season from the beginning and middle to the end, on a year-long journey alongside Nature, her seasons and cycles.
We open with the start-of-spring season, which includes Aries season and the spring equinox, as this is the beginning of the astrological year and the perfect time to start to live in a new way. But, in truth, this book can be started in any season, at any time.
Each chapter includes a sacred pause—a moment, as the season turns, to reflect on where you are and to prepare for where you want to go in the next season. All too often, we rush through the year—and life—never stopping, never checking in, and in doing so, we lose, scatter and abandon ourselves along the way. We get disconnected—not only from Nature and her rhythms, but also from ourselves. Pausing at the start of each season and reflecting on its energies will help you to align with Nature, the earth, and yourself.
Where a Wheel-of-the-Year celebration falls in that season, I have shared all you need to know about marking this transitional turning point, providing practices and rituals to honor each one. Taking time at each turning point of the Wheel of the Year recognizes not only this transitional time in Nature, but also in your own life, evolution, and journey. I see these as markers in your life—opportunities to pause, take stock, and connect back to yourself and the journey of your soul, helping you to form conscious realizations and make changes in accordance with the seasons to keep you and your life in a beautiful state of flow.
Each chapter also gives you information on the relevant zodiac season and ways to connect and work with its energies, as well as insight into the new and full moon that will fall in that season and ways to harness the lunar energies through mini moon rituals.
I also share altar and ritual ideas to help you develop a daily devotional practice for each season and ways to connect with Nature as you move through the seasons.
How to Use This Book
You may choose to dive in fully—take the sacred pause at the beginning of each season, work with the zodiac energies and each of the eight Wheel-of-the-Year celebrations, create an altar, form a daily ritual practice, and celebrate the new and full moon during each season. But for some of you, this may feel like too much, in which case you may simply honor the sacred pause and Wheel-of-the-Year celebrations, dipping in and out of the rest when you need extra support or guidance from the natural world around you. To help with this, I have provided “Sacred Season Made Simple” entries at the end of each chapter, giving you a brief overview of how best to attune to the energies of the season in question. I have also included moments of reflection, and I’d love you to take the opportunity to do just that—reflect on what you want and will commit to doing in the relevant season.
This book is not designed to be something you read, nod along to, and then put to one side. I want you to use it to help create real, tangible, lasting change in your life; and for this to happen, you need to take action, do the inner work, and hold yourself accountable.
Knowledge only becomes wisdom when it’s embodied, and that means taking what you are learning through Nature, her season and cycles and celebrations, and applying it to your own life. This will give you a lived experience of what it means to grow, let go, and move through transitions and cycles of your own.
As you work your way through the chapters, please find your own rhythm and approaches to connecting with Nature. What is important is that you show up for yourself and mark these turning points—Nature’s, the zodiac’s, and your own—as this is when you will feel the biggest difference in your way of life, and how you will forge a deeper connection to the wisdom of Nature, and therefore yourself.
So pull this book out at the beginning of each season, or any time you feel a little lost, and allow Nature to gift you the answers and wisdom to connect you back to yourself.
To help you get the most out of Sacred Seasons, this chapter contains some important information and a few things you may want to consider before moving on to Part II.
Sacred Seasons Journal
I would suggest getting a special journal for your sacred seasons journey. This way you can journal on the prompts given to you in the sacred pause at the beginning of each season and in the Wheel-of-the-Year celebrations. You can also journal on the new and full moons, your reflection moment, what you are observing and connecting to in Nature, and anything else that is calling your attention as you move through the season.
Journaling is one of the best ways to get to know yourself and your inner world. Putting what you are thinking and how you are feeling on paper helps you to recognize patterns, themes, and progress and, in turn, to process them. It’s a powerful tool for self-awareness, self-expression, and self-understanding.
We have many routines in life but very few rituals.
The main difference between a routine and a ritual is the attitude behind the action. While a routine is usually more mundane and done out of duty or the need to get something done, a ritual makes something sacred. It gives it a deeper meaning and offers a pause to truly connect with what you are doing.
Daily rituals have always been incredibly important to me—a time that I dedicate to myself, my growth, and my journey.
A ritual can be as simple as lighting a candle to welcome yourself into the day, placing your hands over your heart and checking in with yourself, repeating affirmations (see here), connecting to your intentions (see here), meditating (perhaps with a crystal, if you use them in your practice), and/or journaling.
In each chapter, I offer suggestions to help you create a daily ritual for yourself. Feel free to try these to begin with, but, over time, learn to trust in yourself and what you most need, as you flow through the seasons and cycles of the year. The most important thing is not necessarily what you do, but that you show up every day for yourself and do it. It’s in these moments of showing up every day that you will notice the biggest changes and transformations over time.
The Wheel-of-the-Year celebrations mark the turning point of the season, so I will give you rituals for each of these, too, to help you reflect on where you are, so that you can transition into a new season.
Sacred Seasons Altar
An altar is a sacred space that you use for your daily rituals. It can be as simple as a shelf or a small space in the corner of a room, and it’s where you go to perform your rituals and connect with yourself. My altar is an integral part of my daily practice, and I hope that it will be the same for you.
I will give you altar ideas in each season, so that you can connect more deeply to your daily rituals and the seasons’ energies. You may choose to change your altar at the start of each major sacred season (spring, summer, autumn, winter) or once a month, as the seasons flow.
You can decorate your altar with a colored cloth and add flowers, images, or things that you collect from Nature that signify the current season. You can also add anything that represents what you want to embody, manifest, and connect to during that season.
Before you “build” your altar, get clear on what you want to create and manifest in your life, so that it holds the energy of whatever you want to devote your attention to over the coming season.
There is always a candle on my altar that I light daily as a means of connection to myself and the day ahead. I also always have a crystal grid there that holds the energy of my intentions for the lunar cycle or season ahead. (Simply put, a crystal grid is when you arrange crystals with an intention for a desired result; for more on how to work with crystals and grids, check out my book Crystals for Self-Care.) You can also have just one crystal on your altar that you connect to daily.
If you are using intentions and affirmations (see here), you can write them out and place them on your altar, under your candle (or crystal, if you are using one). If you keep your intentions under your candle, imagine sending more energy to them each time you light your flame; if you keep them under a crystal, it will continue to amplify your intentions, drawing to you what you need, even when you are not there.
I will give you suggestions for candles, crystals, affirmations, and much more for each season, but again, please feel free to use your intuition and add other things that feel right or are meaningful to you.
For each season I will give you suggestions for crystals to work with that resonate with the energy of the season and/or zodiac sign in question. I have tried to use the more common and easily accessible ones and, occasionally, the same ones in different seasons, so you can get the most out of your collection.
You may choose to set your intentions for each season on these crystals and carry them around with you, keep them on your altar or as part of a seasonal crystal grid. You can also meditate with them every day to connect with their energy and your intention.
For an easy grid for your altar, take the crystal you are working with for that season, set your intention for the season on it and then surround it with four clear-quartz points. The grid will then hold and amplify the energy of your intentions for the season.
Setting intentions is incredibly important as they give our lives direction, meaning, and something to aim for and grow toward. They become a guiding force that helps us to align our thoughts, actions, words, choices, and energy in the pursuit of what we want.
You may choose to set intentions at the start of each season, at each new moon, or even both. I very often set smaller intentions with each new moon and then, at the start of each season, I’ll set bigger ones that I want to work with over the full three months.
Writing down your intentions gives them extra weight, as does saying them out loud. Like spells, our words have such incredible power, so repeat your intentions aloud to yourself when you set them, and once a day as part of your ritual, if you can.
Affirmations are positive statements that you repeat to yourself over and over to reprogram your thoughts, helping you to overcome doubts and fears, and improve your self-belief. They can be a powerful tool for helping you to embody the energy of each season and use it to the full.
Affirmations need to be in the present tense, contain only positive words (so rather than saying, “I release doubt,” you’d say, “I trust in myself”) and be specific and clear.
I will give you examples of affirmations for each season, but feel free to get creative and use your own, especially if there is something you want to work on or manifest in that season.
Gathering with Others
You can do everything in this book alone and take so much from it that way, but I feel that now, more than ever, we need to come together in community. And so, just as our ancestors did, you may choose to gather with others and share these transitional points in Nature and our lives.
Celebrate the turning points of the Wheel of the Year with friends and family, teach your little ones to embrace a natural way of living, create a WhatsApp group with your friends to share your sacred pauses and what you are learning.
Being part of a community gives us a deeper sense of belonging and further reminds us that we are all connected and part of this beautiful world we live in.
In this book, I will weave the wisdom of Nature with the Wheel-of-the-Year celebrations and astrological seasons, taking you on a year-long journey to come back into alignment—not only with Nature, seasons and cycles, but also with yourself.
Just as we, at our very essence, are connected to Nature, her seasons and cycles are intrinsically connected to the Wheel of the Year and the astrological seasons.
As the earth moves around the sun (at a slight slant, which is what gives us seasons), the sun, from our vantage point on earth, appears to move through the sky, along what is known as the ecliptic. The constellations of the zodiac run just above the ecliptic, meaning that, throughout the year, the sun moves through each sign of the zodiac. It is the date the sun goes into the cardinal signs of the zodiac (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn) that marks the solstices and equinoxes, and this, in turn, marks the beginning of Nature’s seasons.
Throughout this book, I will refer to the astronomical seasons, which use the dates of the solstices and equinoxes to mark the beginning and end of each of Nature’s seasons. In astronomy, for example, spring begins on the day of the spring equinox, when the sun moves into Aries (approximately 21 March) and runs until the summer solstice, when the sun moves into Cancer (approximately 21 June). According to the meteorological seasons, however, spring runs from 1 March to 31 May.
The date the sun moves into the different zodiac signs (and therefore the dates of the solstices and equinoxes) can shift by a day or so either side, year on year. This is because we count a calendar year as 365 days (or 366 in a leap year), but the earth takes 365.24 days (or 365 days, 5 hours, and 48 minutes) to orbit the sun.
Leap years were created to compensate for that extra quarter of a day/six hours a year to better match our calendar year with the solar year, and keep the seasons, solstices, and equinoxes in line with the calendar. But those leap years every four years mean the day and time the sun shifts into the different signs can move by a day or so.
It is also worth briefly mentioning here the difference and relationship between astrology and astronomy: astronomy is the scientific study of the stars, planets, and the galaxies; astrology is the study of how the movement of these planets and stars influences human life. Astronomy and astrology were studied together until the seventeenth century when they were separated into two disciplines.
Note: the seasons in the northern hemisphere are the opposite of those in the southern hemisphere. So to my southern-hemisphere friends: please adapt the seasons where necessary. Now that we know a little more about how Nature’s seasons connect with the Wheel of the Year and the astrological seasons, let’s take a look at this in slightly more depth.
The Wheel of the Year
The Wheel of the Year consists of eight annual celebrations that mark the turning of the seasons. These moments of pause between seasonal shifts keep us connected to Nature and give us an anchor through which we may pause, reflect, give thanks, and make conscious changes in our own lives before moving into a new season.
There are four fixed quarter points in the year: two solstices and two equinoxes. These represent the beginning of a new season and are celebrated on the day when the sun moves into the cardinal zodiac signs. The four quarter points are then crossed again by the four cross-quarter festivals; these fall at the peak of each season at the exact astrological midpoint between the solstices and the equinoxes (see here).
Here is a list of the eight celebrations:
Spring equinox (Ostara):
20–23 March (northern hemisphere)
20-23 September (southern hemisphere)
Sun 0° Aries
1 May (northern hemisphere)
31 October (southern hemisphere)
Sun 15° Taurus
Summer solstice (Litha):
20–23 June (northern hemisphere)
20–23 December (southern hemisphere)
Sun 0° Cancer
1 August (northern hemisphere)
1–2 February (southern hemisphere)
Sun 15° Leo
Autumn equinox (Mabon):
20–23 September (northern hemisphere)
20–23 March (southern hemisphere)
Sun 0° Libra
31 October (northern hemisphere)
1 May (southern hemisphere)
Sun 15° Scorpio
Winter solstice (Yule):
20–23 December (northern hemisphere)
20–23 June (southern hemisphere)
Sun 0° Capricorn
1–2 February (northern hemisphere)
1–2 August (southern hemisphere)
Sun 15° Aquarius
The word solstice means stopping or standing still, from the Latin words solstitum—sol (sun) and stitum (to stop).
The summer solstice occurs in June when the sun is at its farthest north and highest point in the sky, bringing us the longest day of the year and marking the start of summer. The winter solstice occurs in December when the sun is at its farthest south and lowest point in the sky bringing us the shortest day of the year and marking the start of winter. These days—at the midpoint and end of the traditional year—are the ideal time to be still and check in with where you are.
The word equinox means equal, from the Latin words aequi (equal) and nox (night).
Equinoxes occur when the sun crosses and appears directly above the equator, making day and night of equal length. The spring equinox in March marks the start of spring and the autumn equinox in September marks the start of autumn; as such, they offer a moment of pause for you to catch up with yourself once again and stand poised in the present, before tipping over the edge into a new season.
THE CROSS-QUARTER FESTIVALS
The cross-quarter festivals are also known as the four great fire festivals and occur when the energy of each season has reached its peak and the signs of the next season are beginning to show. They were traditionally celebrated when the sun reached the halfway point (15°) of the fixed zodiac signs. As this date changes slightly year on year, dates have been agreed upon when the crossquarter festivals are commonly celebrated, approximately midway through the fixed zodiac sign seasons. However, some people still choose to celebrate on the exact dates of the sun’s arrival at 15°, on the nearest full moon to the midpoint or simply when the energy feels right, and Nature and the weather are reflecting the seasonal shift.
- On Sale
- Jun 13, 2023
- Page Count
- 240 pages
- Running Press