The Winter Path

The Earth takes a very specific journey throughout the seasons of the year. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of biodynamic agriculture, describes this journey as a gradual breathing out, followed by a slow in breath. He is speaking of the movement of the focused vitality or life force of the earth.

In early spring the outward breath begins, and we see the first signs of this life force in the green sprouts of new grasses and the pale green leaves popping out of tree branches. The outward breath continues in summer with the brightly colored fruits, vegetables and flowers.

We know from our own breathing process that an out breath must be complemented by an in breath. At Summer Solstice the tides are turned. As the earth begins her long and steady in breath we watch the grasses slow down their growth, and our garden plants wither back into the soil. Deciduous trees show us a flash of color before releasing their leaves back to the soil as a last hurrah before drawing the life forces into the center of the earth. This is not a picture of Earth dying in winter but an image of containing her vitality deep within herself ….an inner strengthening in preparation for spring’s rebirth, when the out breath begins anew.

It is my understanding that we human beings are most aligned with our true nature when we follow a similar journey through the year. For the past 15 years I have made a conscious commitment to slowing down my outer activity during this time of year. It takes some real “get to it” discipline – especially with holiday shopping and celebrating. However, the extra time that I devote to journaling, reading, and simply pondering by the fire during the winter months builds up an extra reserve of strength and creativity that pop out of me just about the same time that I notice those soft green baby leaves in the spring. It’s a practice you might want to try – I hope it yields wonderful results for you.

-Janey Newton, 3rd generation land steward and Foxhollow Farm “Vision Holder”


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