January is incubation time

The sky was so deep and dark and starry last night.

Wrapped in two blankets against the freezing air I stood out in the yard beneath a million tiny dots of light, a million tiny possibilities and ideas. I could hear a horse breathing in the field, I could make out its breath in quick, panting clouds.

It’s January. Where I live, that means deep winter. Precious little light and long, cold nights that seem to eat up half of the morning. The festivities are over and there’s a long wait til spring. A freezing snap of bright, bright days and deep, dark, clear night skies. Long weeks of rain and mist and cold.

This is incubation time.

New year’s is a wonderful time for resolutions or intention setting, sure. It’s a wonderful time to think about what to let go and what to welcome in, and perhaps changes we want to make in our lives.

What I find jarring, however, is the next thought – that change magically begins and happens on new year’s day. Personally, I didn’t wake up on the 1st feeling I wanted to go for a jog or remove something from my life or revamp my business of whatever. I woke up feeling a little surer of what I wanted 2018 to feel like, and ready to take the whole year getting there.

Listen to the seasons. They offer a pathway through the year from intention setting to realisation to integration.

Winter offers a time of grounding, incubation, hibernation. For me, it is the season of earth, of north, of the suit pentacles. Letting the seeds of our intentions bed in and begin to germinate in the warmth of the inner world. The festivities of December are done, life has calmed down, and, if we did choose to set intentions for the coming year, this is a wonderful time to sit with them and let them crystallise. If actions come, wonderful! But know that there is a whole year ahead of you for manifesting your dreams, and sitting with them through the remainder of this precious season is an important part of that process.

Come February, the earliest signs of spring, days lengthen, light grows, and perhaps a little unfurling may take place. Sap rises in the trees. We begin to welcome the element of air into our lives, bringing clarity, awakening. What we incubated in the deep dark may begin to crystallise, to know what it wants to become. Learning, planning, spring cleaning and clearing space are all the kinds of preparatory things we might feel like doing as, bit by bit, spring moves in and swells the pace.

Onwards towards summer, warmth and energy rising in the earth, in trees, in ourselves. We welcome fire into our lives, activity, excitement, it may now be time for all we have been preparing to start taking shape. Think of the suit of wand and all of the movement and passion and confidence we find there. This can be a time of bold experimentation, of feeling into our ideals, as we move through the solstice – peak sunshine. In summer, our ideas can be given full illumination.

All of this before Autumn brings us water. The season of cups. Checking in, feeling into our experiment, deepening our practice, allowing what has so far been drowned out by activity to bubble up from the depths. A time of retreating from the boldness, turning back towards the encroaching darkness, bringing inwards what we have learned and processing on an emotional and spiritual level.

Then winter again. Celebrations, gratitude, integration of the whole journey into the self. We return to earth, changed, having moved through another wheel of the year’s gifts, colours, lessons. All we have learned we take inwards, to inform our intentions for the coming year.

A few years ago, I tried to illustrate this journey by drawing a poster I call  elements of the year (you can download it for free if you like.) Having been around the wheel a few times since then, I’m feeling pulled to re-draw the journey, to re-imagine and re-map.

Because what’s always interesting is how sometimes we don’t take on the energy of the season. Or the moon, or the stars, or whatever you personally might follow that provides an energetic map through your life. After coming across the wheel of the year, in my left-brained way I immediately decided that ‘this was it’, that this was a failsafe guide to my energy and feelings throughout the coming year. And when I didn’t feel that way, why, I criticised myself for not being ‘in tune’ enough.

Some cycles later, I’m softer with it all. I’ve integrated the cycle into my spiritual practice and I’ve made space for me to simply be me, showing up for each season with whatever I may have. The ‘map’ I’ve written about here is not the only route. It does not bring any kind of ‘should’ or ‘must’ or ‘have to’. It is only a set of symbols in a cyclical arrangement, offered to you by nature. It is suggestion, ever shifting.

As with all things on this blog, please help yourself to what works for you, and let the rest blow away on the breeze.


  1. Cassandra Snow

    This is beautiful, Beth! I actually do feel motivated by a new year but hit a February freak out (some of it is because I care a lot about my birthday because I have a lot of trauma about my birthday and that’s a whole other thing, but a lot of it is from going hard and then hitting a slump) and the reminder to give everything their season is so important. You’re writing is also just beautiful and lilting as always.

  2. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for writing and sharing this Beth. It moved me as I was able to let out a breath of relief. My body is on shut down right now, and knowing I have the rest of the year and the seasons to Do Stuff makes me feel much calmer. There’s no rush, and I personally needed that pointing out. <3

  3. Lumina says:

    Hi Beth! Thank you for sharing these beautiful thoughts with us! I specially like this phrase: “I woke up feeling a little surer of what I wanted 2018 to feel like, and ready to take the whole year getting there.” I wish I can experience a better 2018 than my 2017. I know how I want to feel and your words give me courage. Thank you!

    In harmony,
    Lumina ??

  4. Jessica says:

    So lovely–a lot of my personal life is up in the air this January, so I’ve been really feeling the invitation to just sit with things for a while. The energy to do new things will come when I need it. For now, I’m thinking about boundaries and about practices that already serve me.

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