In Ayurveda, rtucharya describes the cycle of the seasons through
the year. The word comes from the root rtu from the Vedic rtam,
meaning “cosmic rhythm.” Within the great mandala of the yearly
cycle, the Earth completes its orbit around the Sun, bringing cold
and heat, dark and light, to our environment, including all creatures and our own bodies.
The uttarayana, the six-month period that begins with Winter Solstice, is a time for the great exuberance of life. The plant world
grows from seed to fullness with the waxing light of the sun, which
strengthens and intensifies until summer solstice.
Winter can generally be divided between the vata and kapha energies. The early part of Winter, marked by wind and dryness (vata),
then shifts to the later colder, damper aspects (kapha). In this cycle, it becomes important to stay in alignment with the forces of
nature as we move from the lightness of Fall to the heaviness of
Winter, then yield to Spring.
This is a time of renewal and rebirth for all cycles, offering awakening, warmth, and growth. Kapha predominates during this time,
as the forces of earth and water are strongest and exert their influence upon the earth and our bodies. Pitta emerges in later spring
as the sun begins to peak.
And still, after all this time, the Sun has never said to the Earth,
You owe me. Look what happens with love like that. It lights up
the sky. —Hafiz
The first signs of spring are the breaking open as death gives way
to life: buds bursting from the trees, shoots leaping from the earth,
a great rising amid the debris of winter. For nature, renewing herself through dying is the only way she can be reborn. And this rebirth is what links the Spring Equinox to the other holidays of Easter, Passover, Purim, and the Goddess Sarasvati festival Vasant.
Alban Eilir, “light of the earth,” is the balance point between the
Winter and Summer solstices of Imbolc and Beltane. The Spring
Equinox is one of two times during the year when the tilt of the
Earth’s axis is parallel to the center of the Sun. On this day, the
forces of darkness and light are equally matched, with light on
the increase. It is a time of great fertility and hopefulness, containing the promise of abundant crops and bourgeoning creativity,
aligned with the holidays connected to the reigniting of the candle
flame — from the Jewish Passover as a time of liberation, to the
Christian Easter as a time of the resurrection of the light. Mayan
temples also affirm the cyclical process of time as the serpent of >>
Tending the Fire of the Seasons
BY SHIVA REA