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Living in Season from Waverly Fitzgerald

Living in Season
The official newsletter of School of the Seasons

September 7, 2007


Seasonal Quote
September Calendar Update
My Season: Autumn New Year
Survey Contest Winner
Living in Season: La Bella Luna
New Slow Time Class
What I’m Reading
Flower of the Month: Michaelmas Daisy
Holiday Packet: Harvest Packet
Links: Harvest Song
Calendar Companion
Signs of Autumn
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Welcome to my semi-monthly newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life.

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Seasonal Quote

It is sad to grow old, but nice to ripen.
— Brigitte Bardot

September Calendar Update
The September calendar is up and full of amazing moon feasts, including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the Eleusinian Mysteries, Sukkoth, and the Mid Autumn Moon Festival. To learn more about these and other September holidays, like Michaelmas, check out the September calendar September calendar.

My Season: Autumn New Year

I always feel like autumn is the start of a new year. In this, I’m in line with the Jewish calendar (Rosh Hashanah falls on the new moon of September this year). I’ve always attributed this sense of a new beginning to my birthday (Sept 4) or to the start of the school year (something I anticipated eagerly throughout my life).

I’m working on the Seasons chapter of my Slow Time book right now and revisiting the research done by Lawrence Wright who found that intellectual activity peaks in fall, with a smaller peak in spring. This was based on scores on tests, filings for patents and the number of library books checked out. Kay Jamison in her research on creativity discovered a similar rhythm: artistic and other creative works peak in early fall, with a smaller peak in spring.

Whatever the reason, this year the sense of a fresh start is really palpable. The Slow Time book which I was planning to launch in January is almost ready to be born (a gestation period of nine months). I hoped to be able to announce its availability with this newsletter but it will probably be another two weeks before I’m done with my editing, formatting and proof-reading.

I took the summer off from my teaching and consulting which has meant a decline in my finances but an increase in my time (why do those always seem to go together?) which allowed me to plunge back into the material of the Slow Time book. I’m really loving it and remembering with fondness the students I got to know through the online classes I taught. So I’m offering the online class again beginning in mid-September. See below for more details.

Thanks to your suggestions in the survey, I’m already working on my next project, a calendar or weekly planner for 2008 — perhaps both. I’ll let you know more about that in November.

My blog has also sprouted new life. I updated the template, giving it a whole new look, and added some features that make it easier to find topics and (eventually) to link to other blogs.

Perhaps it’s not that Autumn is the start of a new year, but a time of Harvest, a theme that is resonating for me this year and at this particular stage in my life. Harvest was one of the themes I chose to work with back in January when I was creating a vision of my ideal year. And like a squirrel stashing nuts for the winter, I’m also deeply engaged in the project of organizing my writing and research: sorting through my paper files, printing my newsletters and compiling them in notebooks, getting rid of duplicate files on my computer, all with the dream of being able to get all of my writing out into the world.

May you enjoy an abundant harvest this Autumn,
Waverly Fitzgerald

Contests: Winners and New Chances
Last month I asked you to respond to a survey about School of the Seasons which I created using Survey Monkey and promised a School of the Seasons gift certificate to the winner. I’m happy to announce that the gift certificate has been awarded to Julie Spilker of Portland, Oregon.

If you didn’t win that contest, here’s another opportunity. I’m looking for new ideas for newsletter topics and thought I would open it up to you. If you have an idea for a topic or a question you’d like me to answer — something seasonal preferred although anything having to do with time is fine — please send it to me. For every idea I use, I will award the sender a gift certificate as well.

Just send your ideas and questions to

Living in Season: Rhythms of the Moon

We don’t often get to see the moon in Seattle so it was a pleasure last month to watch the lunar eclipse during the full moon of August. I didn’t watch the whole eclipse but did see the start of it, the inky blot slowly creeping over the luminous disk. It always give me chills down the back of my neck. In honor of the moon, I thought I’d publish some sections on moon rhythms from the Slow Time book.

O Lady Moon your horns point toward the east;
Shine be increased.
O Lady Moon your horns point toward the west;
Wane, be at rest.
Cristina Rossetti

The lunar cycle has the same phases of increase and decrease as the other natural cycles. Usually the moon's cycle is broken into four phases: new, waxing, full and waning. The new moon refers to the time when the moon is in the sky at the same time as the sun and thus invisible. When the moon is waxing, it increases in size, until the full moon, the peak of the cycle. During the waning phase, the moon shrinks down to a crescent again and then disappears for about three days.

I’m always amused when I read in books the phrase “the new moon was rising.” Does the author mean the new crescent? A new moon is invisible. I’m equally amused by the fact that location shots show the full moon overhead every night on shows like Survivor that take place over several weeks. No wonder some of us are so out of touch with this cycle.

When I first started working with lunar cycles, I got my information from calendars that showed the dates of the new moon and full moon, thus helping me to identify the waxing and waning phases. But as I integrated natural rhythms into my life, I also taught myself to recognize where we were in the lunar cycle by observing the moon, even though it is not visible as often as I would like in Seattle because of the cloud cover.

At the start of the cycle, the crescent moon is shaped like a backwards C. I think of it as a cradle or boat to remind myself that the moon is setting off on her journey, or her life. One of my students passed along a saying her husband uses to recognize a waxing moon: "bright on the right." During the waning phase, the crescent is shaped like a C (my handy mnemonic for recognizing this phase is to think of C as in Crone).

You can also tell whether the moon is waxing or waning by its position in the sky. During the waxing phase, the moon becomes visible high in the eastern sky after the sun sets (it rises while the sun is still out but is often not visible because of the bright light of the sun); then it sets in the west before midnight. At the full moon, the moon rises at the same time the sun sets. Afterwards, the waning moon begins rising after sunset and is often still in the western sky when the sun rises.

I like to keep track of the lunar cycle because it represents a natural rhythm that gives me a framework that is smaller and more intimate than the seasons. I've been working with the cycle of the moon for so many years that it has become a constant influence, like the sound of ocean waves, cresting and ebbing in the background of my life.

When working with the energies of the moon, the new moon (or dark moon) is considered a time of rest and renewal. It's an excellent time for performing a personal spiritual practice or taking a day off for self-nurturing or rest. The new moon is a time for wishing. Wish for something you want when you see the first crescent moon in the sky.

Sheila Belanger, Northwest astrologer, says we seed things at the new moon and harvest them at the full. One of the students in my Slow Time class seeded an intention at the new moon to take better care of her self. She then completely forgot her promise and kept on making poor choices of food and exercise. Then two weeks later, she was suddenly ready to start a new regime. She was startled when she realized that this change of heart occurred at the same time as the full moon.

The moon is considered full for at least a day before and a day after the official full moon date. The full moon is the culmination of the lunar cycle, the lunar equivalent of summer. Z Budapest in Grandmother Moon says the full moon is good only for ritual, lovemaking or dancing. Watch out if this energy is repressed.

September’s full moon on September 26 is one of the richest full moons of the year. I’ve written about many of these holidays in previous newsletters. It is the Harvest moon. It is also the full moon that presided over the Eleusinian Mysteries. It’s the full moon the joyous Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot. And it’s the full moon of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, when Chinese women gather in courtyards to eat foods sacred to the Moon and write poems in her honor.

Belanger, Sheila,
Budapest, Z, Grandmother Moon, Harper San Francisco 1991

New Class: Slow Time

Online course, thirteen weeks

September 20 – December 20, $120 (includes a copy of the Slow Time book)

In honor of the launch of my book, Slow Time, I’m offering the Slow Time online class again, after a hiatus of over a year. This twelve week course is designed to transform your experience with time, through a series of exercises and steps, which move you from seconds, through hours, days, weeks, moons, months, seasons, years and finally to the spacious arena of the night skies.

Here are some of the things you’ll learn:

  • the difference between artificial time and natural time
  • the way your past affects the present
  • how to consult your soul when designing your schedule
  • simple ways to attune with the natural rhythms of the seasons
  • ways to slow down and savor your life
  • which season and hours are best for your personality according to Chinese medicine
  • how to create a sacred relationship with time

How the class works: At the start of the course you will get a copy of the Slow Time book which will be both syllabus and reference. Every week you will receive a message suggesting tasks you can do to bring yourself into alignment with natural time. Once a week you will check in to the facilitated online forum (hosted by Yahoo) to report on your observations and experiences with time during the week.

Of course you could just buy the book and work through it on your own, but if you’re like me, it’s much easier to participate in a structured experience with homework assignments. Plus you will receive feedback from me and have a chance to receive inspiration, encouragement and camaraderie from the other students. Class is limited to ten participants.

For more information or to register, click here.

What I'm Reading

Orion: Nature/Culture/Place

I’ve been reading magazines, looking for homes for my essays on getting to know plants, and just rediscovered Orion. In its beauty and quality, it reminds me of one of my old favorites, alas, no longer publishing: Doubletake. Orion contains excellent writing paired with gorgeous design and great values. I was thrilled to see they’ve awarded their inaugural 2007 Orion Book Award to my friend, Jay Griffiths.

Wild: An Elemental Journey by Jay Griffiths
Tarcher/Putnam 2006

I met Jay Griffiths at the first Take Back Your Time Day Conference in Chicago in 2005. She was an incantatory presence, reading from her book A Sideways Look at Time. Like a bard of old, she wove a spell of magic and enchantment with her words, exhorting us to open up to the juicy possibilities of time.

Last year she released her new book, Wild: An Elemental Journey, one she’s been working on for seven years and she’s packed in seven years of insights and adventures, research and reflections. Jay knows the magic of words. She knows their raw meanings and loves to play around with them. She uses them to dazzle and delight. She follows them down serpentine paths that lead to surprising places. Though she is always pondering meaning, her work is never dry; she is always grounded in the sensuous and the sensual, even the bawdy and the erotic.

I’ve been reading this book slowly ever since I bought a copy when Jay was here in Seattle in February to read at Elliott Bay Books. It’s the kind of book, you can savor, dip into here and there, use as an oracle. The structure is based on five elements: earth, ice, water, fire and air, and corresponding landscapes Jay visited: the jungles of the Amazon, the Arctic, the South Seas, the outback of Australia, and the mountains of Papua New Guinea. In each place, she connects with the indigenous people, the plants, the animals, setting aside Western assumptions and exploring what it is like to live in these wild places. You can read it as a poem. You can read it as philosophy. You can read it as a grand action/adventure story. I don’t think you can read it without being challenged and changed.

For an excerpt from Wild go to the Orion site.

Flower of the Month: Michaelmas Daisy

It’s been a year since I posted a flower of the month, but I’ve finally compiled my information on the Michaelmas Daisy. Michaelmas (September 29) has always been one of my favorite holidays, and I’m happy to feature the flower named after it.

Holiday Packet: Harvest

The Harvest holiday packet contains over 50 pages of ideas on how to celebrate the Autumn Equinox, including the:

  • Ancient celebrations of Harvest and Michaelmas
  • The meaning of the Harvest Moon
  • The September Full Moon holidays of Mid-Autumn Moon and Sukkoth
  • Transformation mysteries of beer and wine
  • Recipes for gingerbread, ginger beer and other traditional Harvest foods
  • Instructions for creating wheat weavings, a corn dolly and a basket to honor Demeter
  • And much more.

Download sample pages from the Harvest packet here (PDF format).

It is available in an email version for $10 (sent within 24 hours) or via snail mail for $15 (please allow 10 days for delivery). Order through our Store.

Great Links: Harvest Song and Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot

Bringing in the Sheaves
Here’s a great song to add to your harvest packet. Although it’s usually sung in Protestant churches, the first verse in particular will work equally well for those who simply want to celebrate the harvest of the Earth.

Charity Dell, whose work I featured in an earlier newsletter, reminded me of this great harvest song. She has also compiled a list of links for information on Sukkoth and Feast of Tabernacles celebrations. You can find it (just scroll down a little) at this website.

Calendar Companion: Leaves from the Tree of Time

This is a graceful way to incorporate spirit and seasons into your life. Use it along with your usual planning tools and calendar to help you:

  • Slow time down
  • Consult your soul while creating your schedule
  • Make time for what's truly important in your life
  • Move in rhythm with the seasons and the moon

Every week for 52 weeks you will receive a brief email with a reflection on the qualities of the present time period and one suggestion, task or question that you can savor throughout the week.

Start whenever you like. When you order the Calendar Companion, you will receive the next week's calendar companion, along with an introductory email.

$20 for a year's worth of gentle reminders to help you stay aligned with natural rhythms. To order or to see a sample reflection, go to our Store.

Signs of Autumn

June from North Texas reports that she knows summer is over when the cicadas stop singing. On August 31 she wrote:

the cicadas have simply stopped, I think the nights might be cooling off too soon, or it has been too dry.  I saw a few carcasses today in the woods when I took my students out. I also saw the first few crickets. Summer is ended here, though the hot weather lingers.  The light has changed and the breeze is fresher.  I am hearing more and more goldfinches in the trees.

For more of June’s signs of the season in North Texas and to see what’s happening in other parts of the world, visit Signs of the Season. Please send me your signs of the season and I will post them as well.


Copyright © Waverly Fitzgerald 2007
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Living in Season in other electronic or print publications as
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