Create your Own Special Holiday Celebrations to Reconnect with Nature

 One of the most ancient ways of honoring and celebrating the human-nature connection are seasonal festivals. For Millennia our human ancestors have recognized peak times in nature when seasons begin to shift. Since they were utterly dependent on the Earth’s bounty to survive they needed to be careful observers of changes in weather and food sources and these potent points in nature needed to be acknowledged and ritually honored. These Sacred Earth festivals are the original Holy Days and Nights and have been celebrated by indigenous cultures throughout the ages all over the planet.

  For the old Celtic cultures of Europe there were eight such significant peaks in the wheel of the year, which later morphed into Christian holidays: winter and summer solstice, spring and fall equinox, then the cross-quarter ones; Imbolic on Feb 1, Beltane on May 1, Lugh on Aug. 1, and Samhain (Halloween) on Oct 31. The Celts marked these changes as Sacred Time and celebrated with festivals of food, flowers, games, fairs, dance, music, storytelling and fire. In this way, the powers of nature were praised and propitiated and the tribe’s survival thereby ensured, along with the fecundity of crops, women, and animals.

 Since we all have dormant ancestral memory, we may feel an instinctive need to meaningfully connect to nature during these seasonal shifts in ways beyond the superficial, secular rites our culture encourages of mindlessly consuming food and buying presents. Often the manifold addictions of modern high-tech, high -speed living and constant consumerism are surrogates for the deeper need we unconsciously feel for union with nature. It is now essential that we repair this broken bond with the Earth for our own healing and that of our planetary home. Deeply celebrating seasonal festivals offers a primordial way we can reunite with nature as individuals, families, and communities.

 Whatever our traditions, we can enhance the holidays by reclaiming our earlier ancestral pagan roots and reinventing them to enrich how we celebrate. The word pagan means country, and does not imply anything sinister even though the term has associations of ‘evil.’ There are plenty of passages in the Bible that worship the majesty and power of spirit in nature. Most of us know that the churches took over the earlier pagan holidays and temple sites in order to usurp their power and gain the allegiance of the local people, but some remnants of the old ways remained.

 Honoring the cycles of nature with celebrations and rituals gives us a structure for living in energetic harmony with our larger Earth home. By consciously crafting seasonal rituals for ourselves, family and friends, we strengthen our connections to each other and open ourselves to the heightened energies of nature during these peak times of the year. These collective ceremonies can revitalize and inspire all who participate with intention and reverence.

 Potent peaks of seasonal energy like the Winter Solstice are also portals for soul initiation and growth. Festivals are sacred containers for holding the forces of nature and making them available to us. Each season has its own colors, powers, virtues, and archetypes, which we can access through ceremonies and invocations. By harmonizing ourselves with the greater forces of nature, we can expand our awareness, energize our bodies and reclaim our place in the web of life.

 For our family, keeping the festivals gave us a structure for progressing through the year, which has proven to be both stabilizing and transforming. They provided  ways to resolve conflicts, transcend resentments and misunderstandings and affirm the larger heart space. Everyone could contribute something. We blended pagan Celtic, Christian and Anthroposophical traditions with our own creativity and our festivals usually include live music, poetry, singing, homemade seasonal food and lots of good cheer. Often the celebrations coincided with birthdays or other occasions, but those were folded into the larger nature festival.

 You can create your own festivals for yourself or with a few close friends. They do not need to be large group gatherings by any means and you can always do inner celebrations. In the following short blogs or eco-posts, I’ll briefly share my understanding of the festivals and give a few examples of possible rituals, but the arena is wide-open for your own ideas and needs.