A white background with 4 beige drawings, one in each corner. One is painted eggs, a group of cheerleaders,  grains of rice, and a flow depcting an ecosystem of a human, rabbit, plant, and sun.

The Role of Human-persons in Changing Seasons

For Yule I got a rice maker. Awesome as it is, the best thing about it is that because I registered it with Zojirushi, they send seasonal emails to remind me to clean it, and they include the instructions on how to do so. That really simple support, so efficient and thoughtful, reminded me of the things I do seasonally to tend my life force, soul, place-space, and ecosystem. In the spirit of a clean rice maker, I’m sharing my approach to Spring cosmology hygiene rituals with you.

 For me, this year Spring has been far less about celebrating what’s coming in and more about releasing the heaviness and debris of Winter. It seems that given this stage of pandemic, the weight of unreconciled unquiet dead along with the enthusiastic buzz of Spring has generated an intense atmosphere. There’s a lot more going on in this shift of season than in cycles past and it feels pretty tense. Still, I want to honor the shift, while doing what I can for what rest can be given.

Why do seasonal rituals? The same reason we winterize the planting beds and chop wood in Autumn: to take responsiblity for the human-person part of ecosystem and our impact on it. Yes, I do all kinds of rituals all the time, though the point of seasonal rituals is a bit different.

Human-persons are part of seasonal change.

What? The season won’t turn without human-person engagement? Not exactly. Sure, the season turns regardless of human-person involvement. Rather, season changes and all of the ecosystem knows and does their part in it. So should we. We should do the parts of seasonal human-person impact that are cleaning up debris, feeding the birds (depending on specific ecosystem needs), pruning back the dead, and tending all the plant life we ornament our yards with (which can radically offset the balance of native ecosystem).

More than any of those, we cheerlead the ecosystem as it does its thing, because when we’re more intentionally part of it, IT can be bigger. It can be more enlivened with all who participate actively involved in its care and tending. We are family. We need to act like it in our supportive rituals. In this way we celebrate seasonal change intentionally by cheering our ecosystem’s hard work, beauty, challenges, and integrity.

I’m not one who prescribes the details of ritual. Maybe plug-n-play sacred works for some folx or in some cases, but it rarely works for me. My neurodivergence doesn’t tolerate it well, and frankly, my ecosystem isn’t your ecosystem. Even if you’re right down the road from me, my experience of Spring or its arrival is not yours. We are not in relationship with ecosystem in the same way. For that reason, nuance in how we engage it in ritual should reflect that uniqueness. Below are some of the ways I cheerlead Spring:

  • Re-introduce myself
  • Re-establish my commitment to my ecosystem
  • Sing to the sun
  • Sing to my ecosystem, and specific kin therein
  • Sing to my Ancestors
  • Learn who’s in residence
  • Listen to their needs
  • Work with Berkana, half-month rune of Ostara, and Ehwaz, half-month rune of Disthing (in the calendar I work with)
  • Clear out old growth with intention; preparing for new growth with intention
  • Re-arrange or update yard ornamentation based on current occupancy and needs
  • Reintroduce our pup to garden boundaries
  • Update frithgard area commitment

Following are a few prompts to consider as you help usher in Spring:

  • What indigenous observations are associated with Spring where you live? How can you honor them and their history?
  • What is your ecosystem? How do you experience it?
  • What ecosystem spirits do you recognize in your cosmology? What ones recognize you?
  • How do the elements show up in your cosmology? In your ecosystem? How do you honor them?
  • How do the directions show up?
  • How are you in relationship with other human-persons of your ecosystem? How do you honor them?
  • What human-persons are authorities on your native ecosystem?
  • What are you bringing into Spring that needs to be deathwalked?
  • What needs to be welcomed and have space created for it?
  • How can you carry your ecosystem with you wherever you go?

No, I don’t feel I can give you the step-by-step for cheerleading Spring the way that Zojirushi does for my rice maker, though I hope that by considering your relationship with Spring and your ecosystem, you’re able to more confidently and thoroughly craft your own. I would love to hear how it comes together for you. Drop me a line in the chat if you want to talk about it.

My best of this transition, for you and yours. 


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S. Kelley Harrell, M. Div.

I’m an animist, author, deathwalker and death doula. For the last 25+ years, through Soul Intent Arts I’ve helped others to ethically build thriving spiritual paths as fit, embodied elders, who upon death become wise, capable Ancestors. My work is Nature-based, and focuses soul tending through the Elder Futhark runes, animism, ancestral healing, and deathwork. I’m author of Runic Book of Days, and I host the podcast, What in the Wyrd. I also write The Weekly Rune as a celebration of the Elder Futhark in season. Full bio.

#beyourcommunity ~ #youareecosystem

elder well, die well, ancestor well


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