Let the Four Seasons Inspire Your Creativity
“What makes this time of the wheel special for you?” Jay Cassels Sacred Healer asked us to explore this most wonderful time of the year for the Tarot Blog Hop. I love any chance to begin anew. In fact, I love it so much I realized that not only could I celebrate the start of every season, but that seasonal symbolism could inspire my creativity four different ways. Are you ready to launch? Match the four seasonal New Years to the tarot suits and elements to discover four ways to begin your next creative project.
The Four Seasonal New Years are Four Ways to Get Creative
To me, the winter solstice has always felt like a clean slate, like the sparkling invitation of fresh snow. Yule celebrates the Sun as new-born when it rises after the longest night. However, those same Pagan traditions assign the New Year to the late fall harvest festival of Samhain on October 31. Meanwhile, the astrological calendar correlates the spring equinox to the start of the year. In fact, quick research reveals a full year’s worth of New Year’s days around the globe.
But to simplify, the winter solstice is one of four quarterly steps in the solar cycle. And these four compass points of the sun’s annual circle share symbolism with both tarot and astrology. By matching these four seasonal New Years to the tarot suits and classical elements, we can outline four ways to begin something. So if you’re ready to launch something new, follow these tips to make any season your kick-off time of year. Let’s get started!
The four seasonal new years and the Four Tarot Suits
Although there are a variety of ways to match the four tarot suits to the four seasons, the one I first learned is still the one I use. The Tarot Wands are spring with their budding leaves, overflowing Cups relate to the abundance of summer, Swords point to the blowing leaves that let go in fall, and Pentacles hoard supplies for the winter season. But why these associations?
For one reason, the elements of the four suits correlate to the cardinal signs of astrology. These four signs mark the beginnings of the seasons, thus our four seasonal new years. So cardinal fire is Aries, the spring equinox, and the tarot Wands. Cardinal water is Cancer, the summer solstice, and Cups. Next, the cardinal air sign is Libra, the autumnal equinox, and the swords. Finally, cardinal earth is Capricorn, the winter solstice, and the tarot Pentacles.
The Four Tarot Suits and the Four Worlds
But curiously, this arrangement of the elements (which interestingly is not the only order of the elements taught in metaphysical philosophy) matches another important cycle. It also matches the four steps of creation known as the four worlds. The four worlds bullet point a sequence of Divine creation, from spark to finish. Each world also corresponds to a tarot suit and element, as follows:
1. First World: Atziluth
- The World of Emanation
- Element of Fire
- Suit of Wands
- Something-out-of-nothing inspiration
2. Second World: Briah
- The World of Creation
- Element of Water
- Suit of Cups
- Wide imagining of possibility
3. Third World: Yetzirah
- The World of Formation
- Element of Air
- Suit of Swords
- Strict decision to whittle away
4. Fourt World: Assiah
- The World of Manifestation
- Element of Earth
- Suit of Pentacles
- The final completed form
Getting Creative on the Winter Solstice New Year
Although I’ve always thought of the winter solstice as a time of birth and beginnings, it is the last step in the solar cycle. Likewise, the element earth is the final step of the creative process. But our January 1 flip of the calendar, observed by most countries, is a winter New Year. Lunar New Year festivals in the northern hemisphere also fall in the winter season. The ancient Incans celebrated a June new year, on the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere.
So if we were to celebrate a New Year during the winter season, what would its symbolism be? Earth is solid, secure, foundational, lasting. When you want to start something new at this time of year, you love a good plan. Something reliable. Something you can count on for the long haul.
During the winter, it takes me more time to leave the house. Partly because I’m warm and cozy and don’t necessarily want to venture out into the cold. But also for the simple reason that it takes extra time to put on my coat, hat, scarf, gloves, and boots. Likewise, I’m not just going to bop over to the shop hoping what I want is in — I’ll call ahead. Winter limitations demand that everything goes right the first time.
If you start your creative project in the winter or, if you are a very earthy person, you need a more detailed plan, extra time, and a promise of success. Your don’t do well if your creative project needs revision or if the expectations change mid stream.
When earthy people need help getting started on their creativity, breaking down your plan into practical objectives and tasks will get you back on track.
Getting Creative On The Spring Equinox New Year
The birds are chirping, the buds are bursting, and the sun has stopped lurking behind clouds. It’s spring! It’s my favorite time of year. I’m excited, motivated, full of ideas, and ready to go! Aries marks the astrological New Year. Historically, the Babylonians celebrated the New Year on the new moon after the spring equinox. And many cultures around the world honor a spring New Year.
The symbolism of spring is the warm and nurturing fire of a Sun that melts away the ice and snow so that fields can be planted. The fire that inspires, beckons, excites, and catalyzes. Starting a new creative project in the spring aligns your energy with the pollination and procreation expressed all around you in the natural world. Spring creation is spontaneous, easy, and natural.
If you’re kicking off a project in spring, or if you’re a fiery person, feel free to jump on the first idea you get and ride it to wherever it wants to go. A change of plans is just another budding opportunity. Fiery creation is all about the individual, so chaos reigns. But it all fits together in a riotous garden of unique and colorful expression.
When fiery people are creatively stuck, “just do it” is the best advice. Leap before you look, and you’ll skip right to the finish line.
Getting Creative On The Summer Solstice New Year
Although some parts of the world can dry up in an overheated summer, the traditional symbolism of the summer solstice envisions the luxurious and lazy water-drenched cool-down of the greenest season. Cold beer and chilled wine in the garden, drifting down rivers, and picnics by the lake. This season of Cups is one of enjoyment, connection with others, relaxation, and merriment. In fact, the ancient Egyptians celebrated New Year in the summer, about a month after the solstice. They watched for the star Sirius to rise in the pre-dawn sky, which happened around July 20. This heralded the flooding of the Nile and the beginning of the growing season.
A summer New Year is one of coming together for work and play. Abundant water makes the earth fertile and growth generous. Creative endeavors at this time of the year start with big dreams and beautiful visions. Planning sessions are social events, with excess food and entertainment and a paucity of rules and limitations. A watery creative process bubbles up from the deep, intuitive unconscious and flows in a steady but meandering stream.
When your creative launch is a summer one, or if you’re a watery person, let yourself dream. An overabundance of ideas lets you drift into the right one for you. Brainstorming can be done solo or with friends. In fact, you probably already have a team involved. Many hands make light work. And anyway, you need one of those hands to hold your umbrella drink.
Stuck? Daydream, fantasize, or look at artwork that expresses what you’re feeling if you’re treading water with your project. Or try vision boards, which stimulate the visual part of your brain, the source of the imagination. Similarly, the flow of music can help you emotionally connect with your project.
Getting Creative On The Fall Equinox New Year
There’s a slight frenzy to fall. Some people call it Back to School Days. But even if you’re not involved in the traditional school year, you still feel the seasonal pressure to use your time wisely while the weather’s good. This combination of excitement and stress can wind you up like a top, but isn’t it fun to spin like a dervish?
The fall New Year is so common in our culture that we have calendars specially devoted to it — a school year datebook is a required tool for many people with or without kids. But other groups celebrate a fall New Year as well. In fact, the new moon closest to the fall equinox marks the Jewish New Year Rosh Hoshanah, which celebrates God’s creation of the world.
A fall New Year is crisp and fresh. There is a coolness to the wind and it smells like the invigorating rot of dead leaves and fallen apples. It’s time to sweep everything off the table and get to work. Like the tarot suit of Swords, clear focus, careful consideration, and decisive action are valued.
When you’re an autumn creator, or an airy person, a single overriding goal combined with strong leadership is the key. The hierarchy of the football team is an example of fall creativity. The smart one is at the top, the other bodies follow the chain of command. “Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do or die.” My eighth grade science teacher taught us that. Not surprisingly, strategy, the military, and science all correspond to the suit of Swords. Swords don’t mind cutting away the dross, not to mention killing your darlings (Stephen King has three planets in Libra). Visionary leadership, unemotional evaluation, and a one-track mind are hallmarks of the airy process of bringing something into being. Don’t question orders. Protocol dictates everything.
List making is a thoughtful way to kick start the airy creative process. Research and fact checking will also get windswept creators back on track. If you’re starting a fall project, pick one idea and see it all the way through. And don’t forget to delegate.
What Will You Create for the Four Seasonal New Years?
I hope this way of looking at the seasons, the elements, and the creative process helps you blast off on your next adventure. Or unstick you if you’ve hit a snag. I’d love to hear from you! What creative projects do you have coming up? How can you use the four seasonal new years to jump start your process?
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