2024 - Spring-rituals

The Role of Human-persons in Changing Seasons

Just like last Spring,  Zojirushi, sent me an email reminder to clean my rice maker, with detailed instructions on how to do so. Last year, I wrote about my need for that same kind of really simple seasonal support–efficient and thoughtful–that I do  to tend my life force, soul, place-space, and ecosystem. Again, in the spirit of a clean rice maker, I’m sharing my approach to Spring cosmology hygiene rituals with you, though they’re a bit different this year.

Usually, for me Spring is about releasing the heaviness and debris of Winter, along with celebrating what’s coming in. This past Aurumn and WInter were, rough, and the marks they left linger still.The grief and distress brought up personally and collectively has been slow to process and even more toilsome to cope with. When life is that heavy, how we experience seasonal change reflects it. As well, the change in horticultural zone this year to 8a where I live hasn’t gone unnoticed. We basically had no winter, and the heat and humidity began coming in much earlier. I’ve commented that when I talk about Spring I find I’m dreding up memories of how it used to be rather than how it actually is now. Even as I want to honor the shift, which for me has always signaled a New Year, I do so with a bit more reserve than usual, with more curiosity and less assurance. And, honoring the coming of Spring still must be. But a bit of preface from last year, first:

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.

Some of the ways I cheerlead Spring are:

  • 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

Apart from those, the sheer destabilization of the cold season has left me questioning many things, yet also knowing as many. For me this season’s shift into warmth comes with really acknolwedging who I am, what I’m doing here, and how I plan to go forward in a way as a better elder. In some ways, as a brand new elder, and letting go of other ways of eldering that no longer work.

For that reason I’ve committed to a seasonal ceremony to help with that observation and shift. I will be hosting Intiving the Runes, an art–making- inspired ceremony for Spring Equinox, based on the Ostara initiation in Runic Book of Days. You watch my overview video about the ceremony, and another one about the art I’m focusing on for our time together. 

This event is donation-only, and you will receive a downloadable handout when you register. The handout contains a private ritual experience to complete prior to the ceremony on 17 March at 11am EST. While together we will make an artistic rendering of our dreams for Spring, for ourselves, and how our dreams bless our community. Please join us, and let’s have some fun together.

Until then, here 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. And feel free to come to the Equinox ceremony.

My best of this transition, for you and yours, and the best of you for us all to cherish.


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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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