February: Listen for the Seed

Winter is often an emotionally challenging time. In the darker months with shorter days, psyche invites us to slow down and dip into her underworld where we find unshed tears, unexplored fears, and latent dreams. We can avoid our shadow during the long days of summer with endless fun-filled distractions, but when winter settles in, past the rush and glitter of presents and parties, when the long, long month of January unfolds into February’s silence, there’s no place else to turn but inside. And if we don’t have a steady relationship to our emotional life, what our culture calls depression can easily ensue.

Depression has many meanings, and from a Jungian perspective depression is the soul’s call to sit still and become comfortable with the waiting and nothingness that defines the liminal – or in-between – zone. From the perspective of transitions, just as a newlywed often experiences post-wedding blues as she comes down off the high of her wedding, winter depression is what necessarily follows the high of summer. What goes up must come down, and when we make room for this truth of life we can stop fighting the archetypal energy that is so present during these months and instead breathe into the stillness and perhaps discover the gifts that lay wrapped inside.

When we drop into stillness with reverence and curiosity, we may be surprised at what we find. Yes, there may be wells of grief and tears that need to be shed. There may be loneliness and uncertainty, vulnerability and the fear of the unknown. But there’s also something glimmering underneath the winter snows, a seed of creativity, a moment of possibility that, when given attention, can be nurtured into something new: a poem, a story, a project, a recipe, a dance, a song, a painting. It’s not ready to blossom into the fullness of its manifestation, but the tiny beginning is here, and you can only hear it if you slow down enough to listen.

February is my personal portal month, by which I mean that it’s the month that I’ve had the breakdowns and breakthroughs that have led to my life as I know it today. The seed of me began in February 1971 (conception). In February 1993, I had my first panic attack, which initiated a seven year descent into a hell that would reveal my deepest unfolding. In February 1996, I had my second breakdown, a panic attack so severe that I couldn’t eat properly for the next four years and which opened me to an outpouring of words, ideas, and poetry like I had never known. In February 1999, on the heels of a very difficult January, the seed for my first business, Conscious Weddings, was born. There have been many Februaries where I’ve fallen prey to an anxious thought or an unnamable depression, and just as many when I’ve alighted on the wings of a new idea and flown through the darker months with a secret joy inside, the joy that arises when something new and creative has taken hold.

How much control we have over which direction we follow – anxiety/depression or creativity – is, perhaps, somewhat of a mystery. But I do believe that we can catch the anxious thoughts before they spiral into the hamster wheel of mental addiction and change our train of thought. It could be in that one moment when you harness your mental discipline and say, “No, I will not follow that thought but choose instead to drop down into my heart and sit with the feelings I find there,” that a new thought-direction, something creative instead of destructive, can take hold.

I invite you this February to listen for the seed that wants to gestate. Listen for the slight vibration of “yes” energy that longs to create new life. While my personal history predisposes me to viewing February as a portal month, my sense is that there’s an archetypal energy embedded in February, as it’s the month that precedes spring. The sap is starting to quicken. The animals, while still deep in stillness or slumber, are sensing that the first warm wind is close. The crocuses are centimeters away from poking their purple heads above ground. What is vibrating inside of you? What small creative impulse is taking root, ready to begin its journey down the birth canal of psyche and emerge, one day, as something new and alive that will be birthed into this world?

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As always when I’m writing about seasonal transitions, if you live in the southern hemisphere feel free to refer to this article in six months!

26 comments to February: Listen for the Seed

  • Leisha

    Sheryl, I was just sharing with my husband some of these similar sentiments. I always seems to feel a bit “off” this time of year. I recognize it now, but I used to feel overwhelmed with such intrusive, anxiety producing thoughts. Chloe and I were shopping around an outdoor mall today and we turned a corner and beautiful flowers lined the walkway. It was quite uplifting and brought awareness to how seasonal changes truly affect our moods. I find the more comfortable I am handling these moments of “quiet”, the stronger I feel about who I am. Thank you, as always for your insight. It seems your timing is always right!

  • Ginger

    Thank you!!! Old anxieties gone with a relationship that didn’t work. Today I’m facing a new relationship producing some common fears. Thanks for your guidance even though you didn’t know you we’re walking with me!!!

  • Andy

    Dear Sheryl,
    I have to second what Leisha said, which is that you always have the right words when I need them. Winter certainly conjures up some difficult feelings that are difficult to work through. As a young adult in my mid-twenties, it seems as though I am only now getting used to certain feelings like those that are associated with the wintertime. I guess when I was younger, I never felt the need to neither address nor label such feelings, like the wintertime blues. Now, it seems that I am understanding some aspects of life like a time for loss and mourning and a time to celebrate life and rebirth. I am doing my best to listen for the seed and help to plant it within me but it sure can be challenging. However, thank you always for your beautiful posts. They always seem to conjure up some positive feelings while reinforcing me that I am not alone. : )

  • Adelina

    Fascinating!All my life February has been the most challenging.My grandmum used to say that February is the darkest month when everything sits still.I’m quite unsure whether she meant the gloominess of our north-facing small living room or the silence inside us.With my first major panick attack last February,I am closely approaching the anniversary of being more conscious and wiser every week.I’m having some difficult days – not surprising – but I will sit with the silence and carry digging deeper.

  • Alex

    Hi from Australia. I actually think what you’re saying still resonates for us, despite the opposite season. For us, February marks the end of all the ‘fun’ months: summer, Christmas & New Years all wrapped into one. Most of us have taken long holidays, work has been secondary to the beach. February feels like the month where reality hits again. It has always been a very trying month for me too. A heavy, portentous month.

    Plus, my mum always said “weather in February is terrible everywhere on earth!”

    I think we southerners can still apply what you say: do we choose to give in to February’s foreboding or see it as the beginning of a new year filled with challenge…and promise?

    • Great to know, Alex! Thanks for chiming in.

    • Clara

      Also from Australia, I agree with that. There’s something desolate about February, and the fact that it’s hot, still, parched, withered adds to that in an unusual way. The sun gives the feeling that we should be outdoors doing something, but this is so at odds with the internal feeling.

      Thank you Sheryl for your summary of your journey with Februaries. How fortunate we all are that you walked the path you did.

      • Thank you, Clara : ). And how fascinating that the parched heat is a corollary to the desolate winter here. Somehow that makes perfect sense to me, as if all parts of the world are connected even if it’s not obvious at first glance.

  • Lindsey

    I really needed to hear this today ~ and is more pertinent than I could believe. It is scary for me to ‘sit still’ ~ but this is helping me understand that filling the time, while familiar, is a disservice.

    Thank you.

  • Christina

    You are brilliant. I read your January blog, somewhat similar, but didn’t make the connection until now. January was a difficult month, but I am holding together much better than year’s past. Maybe February will be my portal month too.

    Thank you!

  • In Ireland February heralds the festival of Imbolc where we honour the Goddess Brigid. Your writing captures so much of the essence of Brigid. Brigid reminds us to go deep within and to fan our inner fire. Her fire burns away all that does not serve us anymore but also provides heat and warmth for new seeds to germinate and grow in the coming ahead.

    Blessings are our new seeds take root in the months ahead!

    Much love

    Catherine

  • Liza

    What a wonderful entry, but then again, I love all your posts! I appreciate your courage to approach life at its deepest and most personal level. I particularly like your insight into winter and the beauty it can offer. Whenever I have felt winter’s dark pull and given into it, there was always something good on the other side — in the springtime. (I think that’s why I love spring!)

  • Mary

    Thank you for the post! I always feel my lowest in January and February, and this year is no different. I’m very cold natured, intensely dislike the darkness that comes by 6 PM, and look forward to March. Spring always comes early here in Georgia. As the other poster said, you always know what to say and when to say it.

  • AprilBride

    I love this post! I’ve suffered the biggest heartbreak in the month of February. A year to the date of that heartbreak, the anxiety hit like a skycraper falling on my head. But I’ve also felt the anxiety start ease in the month of February after one year of it being so intense. I met my fiance in February and got engaged last February! I never stopped to look at the signifiance of this month in my life, and how the cycles of the earth are tied to the cyles of our psyche and soul. Thank you 🙂

  • Yellow

    As I read this, and tried to see how it could be applied to my life and anxieties, I realized suddenly that my first panic attacks were in February too. How weird and wonderful. I think you really are on to something here. Thank you for this post. When anxiety attacks (almost always manifesting in partner criticism), how do you best recommend to keep your heart open to see what is really going on deep down?

    • Find the willingness to take full responsibility for your reactions/triggers and recognize that when you’re judging someone else it’s always a reflection of what’s happening inside of you. When you assume the mindset of full responsibility, you can look inside with compassion and curiosity and begin the process of exploration that will result in uncovering the root causes of your triggers.

  • Yellow

    “compassion and curiosity” ….what a great outlook. When I take responsibility for my negativity, it’s always in the form of self-judgement. Very helpful.

  • Yes, compassion and curiosity are KEY! You won’t get very far in your exploration when you approach yourself with judgement and criticism (and yet it’s SO common!)

  • Jessica

    This fits in with my belief system, and the celebration of Imbolc. I call the new moon coming up “Seed Moon” because of this!