MARCH MARKS THE start of a new cycle of life. Spring in the northern hemisphere (for southern hemisphere readers, see my autumn post). It’s traditionally a moment of new beginnings and the time for inaugurating rites of passage. A century ago the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky began his controversial ballet Rite of Spring in which a pagan girl dances herself to death. www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uKMkmeGx1I It’s a powerful metaphor for transformation.
Astronomoically-speaking, the equinoxes occur when the Sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly. In March, the Vernal Equinox marks the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north and vice versa in September.
It is also the start of the Zoroastrian / Persian calendar (Norooz) and the astrological year, as the Sun enters the first sign of the Zodiac. Our ancestors saw in the patterns of the stars figures of people, characters that represent common archetypes, or personalities, handed down from antiquity. For centuries, these stories have been teaching civilizations about change.
There’s an important industrial design principle known as bio-mimicry which seeks to learn from the way nature puts things together: how do spiders spin thread that is stronger and less dense than steel? How do some owls eliminate flight noise in order to swoop silently on their prey? Creative facilitators often use nature to inspire new ideas and the ancient stories and archetypes carry timeless messages about dealing with life
Thanks to John Wadsworth, of the Alchemical Journey, for this poem by Dorsha Hayes, which really captures the inertial spirit of spring.
“Filled with the clutter of unsorted stuff
A spark can set a man ablaze
What’s there heaped high among stored rubbish,
At a puff will burst into flame.
No man can be aware of how inflammable he is,
How prone to what can rage beyond control,
Unless the piled up litter of his life
Is known to him, and he is able to assess
What hazard he is in, what could ignite.
A man disordered and undisciplined
Lives in the peril of a panic flight
Before the onrush of a flaming wind.
Does it now seem I seek to be profound?
I stand on smoking ash and blackened ground.”
(by Dorsha Hayes)
Our ‘innovation adventures’ begin with a workshop to help you identify your own spark of fire. The primary process of the old alchemists was the calcification where, through repeated cooking, the base matter is burned to ash.Throughout the journey we are encouraged to ask ourselves: What is burning in me? What fires my passion? For what am I burning with desire? What am I willing to sacrifice to the fire of transformation?
The start of Spring is possibly best represented by moment expressed so poignantly in the alchemical image of the initiate with the sword poised over the egg, ready to strike. The initiate must seize the moment and recognise within himself that kairos of opportunity and match the passion and courage of the new born chick about to hatch with his own and dive full-blooded into the moment.
Only when imagination is alight with passion, enthused with desire, aflame with the inspiration of the moment can one know that the journey has begun. We see it expressed in the primal scream of the new-born, the irrepressible enthusiasm of youth, the war-cry of the warrior’s charge, the spiritual awakening that ignites our hearts. The alchemical quest was for a divine union, for which one had to experience separation at its most intense and be ignited with a longing to return.