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ROTAtions: Cycles & Seasons

Updated on April 7, 2016

Nature's Calendar

can be celebrated in any number of ways. From simple spontaneous contemplation to full on large scale festivals, the one essential component is this:

Fully engage ALL your senses.

  • Begin by breathing in. Inspiration is literally breathing in. Take a tip from your canine relatives and sniff the air. Temporarily close your eyes and ears and just take in the essence of the place you are in, the time of day, the time of the season. No need to check your watch, instead compare your impressions at dawn with those at midmorning, noon, dusk, etc.
  • Take a tip from your snake relatives: thrust out your tongue and taste the air. If you are celebrating a food festival, taste a sample of raw produce, unadorned by any seasonings, sauces or dressings.
  • Open eyes, shut ears, and look, really look, at your surroundings. Pretend that you are seeing this for the very first time. I've discovered that full appreciation of an experience is gained from pretending that this is both the first and last time that you will engage in the activity or have the experience. Look with new eyes.
  • Now close your eyes and just listen. What does that season, that time of day sound like in this space where you are? How does it change from season to season, during different times of day?
  • Touch the ground. Take off your shoes and walk barefoot. Touch a tree trunk and feel its bark.

Engage ALL your senses. Are we really limited to just five?

Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.Henry David Thoreau
Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.Henry David Thoreau | Source

"It's the Time of the Season..."

We have seen in "Building a ROTAtions Wheel" that certain times of day are linked with certain times of the year. In "Fun with Phenology" we learned about the Sit Spot. If your sit sport is close enough to you that you can even go there in your pajamas, it might be fun and interesting to visit at dawn during the spring equinox, noon during summer solstice, dusk during the autumnal equinox and midnight at the winter solstice. This way, you can get a full-on sensory experience of the season!

Late summer early autumn harvest season is the prime time for community festivals and fairs. Usually a variety of food is on offer. It can also be fun to go to or arrange a feast featuring on just one type of food. Apple festivals, for instance, pop up in many areas. You can host a potluck festival where everyone brings a dish or drink featuring one particular food, for instance, a blackberry, or tomato. Before sharing the varieties of ways these foods are presented, take a bite of the simple unadorned fruit - and savour it.

Carnivores who love their BBQ festivals and picnics, please don't just mindlessly nosh on those pork ribs or chicken legs. Take a moment to give thanks to the animals who gave up their lives so you can feast. Did you know that those sacrificed at ancient Roman holidays were given the royal treatment, paraded and garlanded, before the time of sacrifice? And then, if the animal squirmed, it was set free and another chosen!

A Poem as Lovely as a Tree

Songs and poetry are also ways to celebrate nature's phenomena and seasons. Several years ago, a wise woman taught me an invocation that is easily adaptible for this. The words in [italics] indicate the variations. In this example I am celebrating the violet, a "twilight" plant, noticable at both the spring and autumn equinox.

"[Violet], I celebrate you and your land/sky body of [open woods, borders of woods, fields, meadows, glades, hillsides, streams]. Blessed be your faerie realms. May they grow in wildness and love, suffusing our inner beings with wilderness wisdom and primal joy. May these wildlings thrive, gain life in abundance, and reborn in due season. May the wilderness realms of [violet], [wild pansy, Johnny-jump-up, nymph, flower of twilight, beloved of the Faerie Queen*], bestow upon me your genious for [simplicity, stretching out runners to create new possibilities, twilight bathing for well being, finding the liminal, unobtrusive beauty]. Cosi sia.

*here you can insert descriptive words, common names, scientific name, etc

"Cosi sia" is Italian, meaning "Amen" or "So Be It". Another way to close would be to say "In honour of All Our Relatives" - you may be familiar with the Lakota saying Mitakuwe Oasin "All Are Relatives".

If you are at a bar-be-cue, you might say "...I celebrate you and give thanks for your sacrifice. May the flesh of your body bestow upon me your genious for [any trait you associate with the animal, for example, strength]." Make sure nothing gets wasted.

By Seed and Root and Stem and Bud and Leaf and Flower & Fruit

One of my hobbies is perfumery and I enjoy blending fragrances inspired by the seasons. Perfumes are extracted from various parts of a plant. A spring fragrance might consist of any combination of the following:seed-coriander, root-carrot, stem (bark, resin)-cedarwood, bud-rose, leaf-violet, flower-magnolia, fruit-bergamot.

The progression from seed to fruit and back again, or plant morphology, can be associated with the phases of the moon:

plant morphology
moon phase
waxing, also disseminating
waning (activity is underground)
new, waxing crescent
waxing crescent
full to disseminating

This is not to connote that plant morphology is necessarily on the same schedule as the moon phase, of course. Budding, flowering, etc can happen at any phase of the moon. The correspondences are symbolic, and these phases are used in almanacs to plan life events and in gardening.


Traditionally the New Moon is the best time to start a project; as the moon waxes toward fullness, the project likewise expands and develops. Annuals are planted in the garden from new crescent to full moon. Shortly after the Full Moon is the disseminating phase, considered a time of sharing the fruits of our labour. Perennials and root crops are planted, fruits and vegetables and grains are harvested. As the moon wanes, loose ends are tied up, waste is disposed of, and we plan for our next cycle of activity.

Plant morphology, like moon phases, are also associated with the cycle of the year:

  • seed gathering, seed fall: autumn
  • root: late fall into winter (activity is underground)
  • stem: winter, at this time trees are identified by their trunks, bark, and branch formation
  • bud: pre-vernal season
  • leaf: spring, also seed dispersal
  • flower: spring into summer
  • fruit: summer and autumn harvest

ROTAtions: Cycles & Seasons

is the original title of this course of study. I started going public with it via Communiversity and also I have a Pinterest page of that title. An obsession? So it would seem, for sure. But a good one.

Summing up:

  • WHO? & WHAT? are the Observer & the Observed, the hubs of the wheels
  • WHERE? & WHEN? the compass of place, the wheel of time -"Building a Phenology Wheel" expands on the Who, What, Where & When, exploring the symbology and formation of the Wheels of Time & Place
  • HOW? Finding a Sit Spot, participating in Citizen Science, celebrating, etc - "Fun with Phenology" "Celebrating Phenology" and this article offer some ways, means, and methods
  • WHY? For one thing, it's fun! It can even help make the world a better place. Also it inspires gratitude and appreciation for our life on earth. I believe that phenology is one of the best uses of time that anyone can engage in.

So WHY is ROTA capitalized?

This course can be thought of as a Journey; a transposition of the letters R-O-T-A literally means "Royal Road", and the anagram ROTA, Latin for "Wheel" is the means of journey on that road. At first this was arcane esoteric knowledge, revealed only to a chosen few. Now it is as common place as a game of cards.

Where there are Wheels, there are Ways...



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    • profile image

      Helen Park 21 months ago

      Thank you, Juneaukid. I intend to read that book.

    • juneaukid profile image

      Richard Francis Fleck 21 months ago from Denver, Colorado

      I enjoyed reading this --it reminded me of parts of N.Scott Momaday's Way to Rainy Mountain.