Next to my computer is a beautiful amaryllis plant that is preparing to bloom. Iâ€™m delighted by its timing this year, emerging at roughly the Lunar New Year. The beginning of February also marks the end of the darkest three months, a transition I warmly welcome every year.
This plant growing beside me needed roughly three months of going dormant and I trusted it, not giving it any water until it showed signs of blooming. The previous growing season it seemed to skip the dormant stage and re-bloomed by the winter solstice. This year it needed a long rest. When it was ready, little green shoots began to emerge.
My plantâ€™s timing coincides with the conclusion of Winter Rest, the weekly community practice of welcoming unplugged darkness in our lives. It was truly a joy to connect with so many people across the country for this intentional rest. My hope is that simple extra hour of resting in darkness each week created more space for blooming in our lives.
Last week was also the celebration of Groundhog Day in the United States. The tradition of observing the groundhogsâ€™ behavior on February 2, the halfway point between the solstice and equinox, is a tradition brought to Pennsylvania by German immigrants. The German tradition was to observe the hedgehog and make forecasts about the agricultural year. The groundhog became the American hedgehog.
Essentially these traditions honor hibernating animals. Think of all the bears, badgers, groundhogs, sleeping deeply in earthen caves the woods surrounding us.
The groundhog hibernation does not end until early March. In early February, the male groundhogs wake up and start preparing for the mating season in March. They scout out their territory and make sure they are some good female prospects in the area.
Then they return to their burrows and resume their hibernation for another month. I’m fascinated by how they interrupt their deep hibernation in this way.
It reminds me of my partnerâ€™s early February ritual of ordering seeds. Itâ€™s still too early to plant, even indoors. But the dream for what we will plant has begun.
February is my favorite month for refining my dreams and intentions for the year. I know many annual plans and budgets are set in the fall. New Years often involves some goal setting for the year. Many things are already in motion for my yearâ€™s calendar. It might seem out of step to be refining our intentions now. Rather than a visioning time, February has sometimes been associated with doldrums and cabin fever, like Dar Williamâ€™s song â€œFebruary.â€
Itâ€™s taken me a while to learn to appreciate February for the potent time that it is. Sometimes my last hour of sleeping is the most potent with dreams. Maybe that can be true with winter as well.
If we have wintered well,* we have allowed ourselves to slow down and come into what is essential. It takes all the way to February to prepare ourselves to be a vessel for the spark of new inspirations for the year.
How to Access the Spiritual Gifts of February
Donâ€™t get ahead of yourself and donâ€™t skip this rich final stretch of winter. Try not to overbook yourself. Buy seeds but donâ€™t plant them.
Do your practices for connecting to the whole of life. Greater meaning, guidance, and dreams come from our connection to the greater wholeness of the universe. Make time for your practices, and even better, practice in the wholeness of community.
Listen. Pay attention to how the universe is speaking. You might write down your dreams and dialog with them. You might spend time observing nature and paying close attention to the movement of sky, birds, animals, and all beings.
Based on the above guidance, hone and refine your intentions for the year to come. Can you synthesize your intention into a single priority that will be a theme through your year?
I wish you all the blessings of a deepening, enlightening February.
With big love,
Community to support your spiritual deepening
Drop in any week to Healing Waters Qigong, a Spring Forest Qigong practice group, or to dance outside with the Wisdom Dances Circle, based in Laura Shannon’s research on women’s traditional ritual dances as tools for healing and transformation.
* You might be thinking â€œwintering wellâ€ is not in your vocabulary or experience. I know this has not been an easy winter for so many reasons. Wintering is something we practice and as with anything that requires practice I employ the attitude of â€œgood, better, and best.â€