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On embracing hibernation season, and gentle planning for 2023
“Here are my resolutions for the next 3 months; the next lap of the year.
To have none. Not to be tied.
To be free & kindly with myself, not goading it to parties: to sit rather privately reading in the studio.
To make a good job of ‘The Waves’
To stop irritation by the assurance that nothing is worth irritation [referring to Nelly].
Sometimes to read, sometimes not to read.
To go out yes – but stay at home in spite of being asked.
As for clothes, to buy good ones.”
The Diary of Virginia Woolf, 1931.
These lines by Virginia Woolf are ones I return to often at this time of year. I first stumbled upon them when studying her diaries as an English Undergraduate at St Andrews and all these years later - now teaching two of her novels as a secondary English teacher - Woolf’s resolutions, or non-resolutions, still resonate greatly. To simplify. Not to have grand plans. To read and to write. To nest and make a home. To enjoy nice clothes.
The onslaught of “new year, new you” posts has already begun online - around the same time that the sales started - promising if we just try harder, do this, buy that, stop this, start that, that we will magically become our ‘best selves’. Simultaneously we have the personal and professional “year in review” round-ups, where nobody ever seems to stand still, promotions and proposals proliferating. All this at a time when our bodies and minds are crying out for hibernation, in a season during which our ancestors would do the opposite of our ever-moving modern world: instead, they slowed, echoing the rhythms of the natural world and turning inwards, focusing on survival. Yule, Midwinter, was a time of fire and feasting yes - but also one of reflection, of honouring the symbolic death and rebirth of the year.
This year has been a lot, and I am tired. I feel like I can’t be the only one? For me, much has changed this year, much that I had lost all faith in by the end of 2021. I didn’t make grand plans last December and January, in fact quite the opposite - but something in the universe shifted. Quiet, hard work - years of work - began to pay off, in all sorts of ways. As Ostara and the Spring Equinox arrived, suddenly everything came together all at once. Overwhelming, exciting, terrifying. One thing this year has taught me is to expect the unexpected. Is not to give up. So I’m bucking the trend and, again, I’m not making resolutions. I don’t have grand plans, and after a busy year in which many of my usual coping strategies fell by the wayside in circumstances beyond my control, I’m trying to practise what I preach: simplifying, slowing down.
One of the reasons I started this newsletter - and earlier, my blog and Instagram - was to remind myself as much as anyone else of the value of these old ways. To create a place for old souls like me to forge a community centred around seasonal living. I’m delighted that so many of you choose to join me here - thank you. Next year I plan to keep sharing my musings following the structure of the Celtic Wheel of the Year, the solstices, equinoxes and their midpoints: Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lùnastal, Mabon, Samhain and Yule. Seasonal to do lists, nature notes, recipes and craft projects inspired by each of these seasonal celebrations and my Celtic roots.
I want to provide you with the keys to reconnect with the rhythms of the year: times to sow, times to grow, times to harvest and times to rest. I’ve got lots of ideas simmering away that I can’t wait to share, especially involving a look behind the scenes of that long writing project I’ve been hinting about - I promise I’ll be able to tell you more in the Spring, so listen out for more then.
In the meantime, please leave a comment to let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see in this space, either in my monthly newsletter that goes to all subscribers, or in my paid subscriber community. I’m so grateful for all the follows, shares, likes and comments. All the best to you and yours for 2023.