By Gary Zukav
When I lived in the city, I never knew what
an equinox was. It is an astronomical term for the time when the
sun crosses the equator, making night and day of equal length in
all parts of the world. In December, the sun is lowest in the
sky and the nights are longest. This is the winter solstice. In
June, the opposite happens, the sun is highest in the sky and
the days are longest. This is the summer solstice. All of this
has to do with the equinoxes, but I didnít learn any of it by
I was forty-five when I moved onto a remote ranch in the pine
and fir of northern California. I lived alone. The nearest town
was fifteen miles away. I had no electricity or phone. When I
returned from infrequent trips, I would get out of my car and
stand still for several minutes, listening to the sounds of the
evening, and of the stream behind the house. When I walked
toward the house, the noise of my boots on the cinder seemed so
loud that it startled me.
Winter came, then spring, summer, and fall
again. I lived a complete cycle with nature, for the first time.
I saw how the sun moved from north to south and back again, and
from low in the sky to high, and then down again. I saw the
grass in the meadows turn from green to brown, and then
disappear under the snow. I saw the stream freeze, thaw, and run
freely again with butterflies playing over it.
More important, I felt the seasons come and
go inside me. That is how I learned about the equinoxes. They
are midway between the times when the sun is highest (in the
when it is lowest (in the winter). The days are not overly long
or overly short. We call the equinoxes spring and fall.
In the United States, the spring equinox,
also called the vernal equinox, comes in the month of March.
Farmers and gardeners plant crops and all of us relax into the
warming weather. Everywhere south of the equator, it is the fall
equinox. Farmers and gardeners are harvesting and everyone is
preparing for winter.
Do you see the perfect balance? Day and
night, spring and fall, hot and cold, planting and harvesting
everything is balanced at the equinoxes. This balance could not
exist without the extremes. Midway between the heat of summer
and the ice of winter, between sowing and reaping, between
darkness and light, life goes on. That is now.
When you strive for balance, be gentle with
yourself. How can you recognize balance without recognizing
imbalance? When you rejoice at the good that you discover in
yourself, or despair at the evil, do you move past the balance
point between them without noticing it? If you strive only to
avoid the darkness or to cling to the light, you cannot live in
balance. Instead, try striving to be conscious of all that you
are, and to choose responsibly at each
That is balance
In the northern hemisphere, where I live, it
is spring. Blossoms are blooming on the fruit trees and leaves
are budding. Everyone is relieved that the winter is over at
last. Why speak of trust when everything is becoming fresh anew,
vibrant, and wondrous?
It is not only things going wrong that
frighten us. It is also our lives going profoundly right. It is
clarity piercing the armor of encrusted prejudices about others
and ourselves. It is new vitality sweeping away the stagnation
of lethargy. It is deep roots, long buried beneath the surface,
sending up sprouts to at last burst uncontrolled into sunlight.
That sunlight is your consciousness. The
birth of new life is as challenging as it is exhilarating, as
frightening as it is liberating. Are you prepared to leave old
fears, angers, and judgments behind? Are you willing to see
yourself as endlessly creative, and responsible
for what you create?
Spiritual growth is not an easy escape from
the painful circumstances of your life. It begins with an
eyes-open exploration of them and their cause. You are the
cause. Every insight that brings you to this realization is a
springtimeís a new beginning. Every impulse to follow your
heart is a springtime, too. As you move away from the familiar
orientation of being a victim of circumstance to the new,
accurate understanding of yourself as a powerful creator, you
leave behind the familiar props upon which you once depended.
These are your righteous judgments, unchallenged beliefs, and
feelings of superiority or inferiority. You are in new
territory. The old is gone and everything that is emerging is
That is what is happening now, in the spring.
No one doubts that new grass growing in the spring is a miracle.
Everyone can see that flowers blooming in the spring are
miracles. Can you see yourself that way when new insights cause
you to question old values? Can you see yourself as blooming
when old goals fall away and new, surprising aspirations require
you to change your life?
You cannot grow spiritually and remain the
same. Understanding that is knowledge. Seeing it is wisdom.
Knowing it is trust.
THE SUMMER SOLSTICE
One special day in June the sun is higher in
the sky than it is at any other time of the year. That day is
also the longest day of the year. It is the summer solstice.
Maximal potential and maximal growth are happening together. The
spring gives way to the full force of summer, but the harvest is
still months away.
When I lived on my ranch I felt most at ease
during the summer. I had no fires to build, no pipes to thaw, no
snow to shovel, and I knew that I had months until the fall to
lay away the firewood that would keep me warm in the winter. A
friend down the road had a black Arabian stallion named Darshan.
Each summer I let him graze in my meadow. The split cedar fence,
laid into place decades before my arrival and enclosing three
acres of grass and
wildflowers, seemed to me the perfect place for this magnificent
animal, and apparently he felt that way, too. As the summer
stretched before me, I lost track of the winter behind me and
the winter ahead. I walked the stream in the hot afternoons and
jogged old logging roads in the cool of the morning. I repaired
the generator, cleaned the wooden water tank in the old barn,
and wrote my book. Surrounded by thousands of acres of
timberland, I soaked in the heat and the vitality of the summer
and immersed myself in them undisturbed
The fall approached almost imperceptibly. The
heat of September days gave way to the coolness of September
nights and I began to appreciate again the warm clothing I had
put away and forgotten so long ago, at the beginning of the
summer. Perhaps because I gave myself to the summer I was ready
for the fall, and because I gave myself to the fall, I was ready
for the winter when it arrived again, too. As the year completed
itself and another began, the summer became more to me than the
beautiful season of warmth and light that I love so much. It
became part of a larger picture that I began to love even more
than its many parts. I didnít realize it at the time, but my
awareness was expanding beyond my limited perception of the
summer to a larger perspective of the cycle that contains and
produces summers, and beyond my limited perception of my life to
the larger perspective of the soul that generates and utilizes
Honor the insights that appear in you the
same way. As the seasons of your life come and go, acknowledge
the shifts that happen in you and allow them to mature in their
own time. Donít think of yourself as hypocritical because you
arenít living the fullness of your vision immediately. The
limitations of your perception are already giving way to a
larger perspective in which your struggles are a part of the
goal you are striving for and inseparable from it. The fullness
of your most noble and healthy aspirations will come, just like
the fall harvest always comes. The harvest and the sprouts do
not occur together. First come the sprouts, then growth and
maturation, and then the harvest.
Let wisdom and love sprout and grow in you
the same way.
And enjoy the solstice.
THE WINTER SOLSTICE
In the hemisphere where I live, the deepest
moment of the winter comes not in January or February, but in
December, when the night is longest and the day is shortest.
This day and night is, as we have said, called the winter
solstice. It is the mirror image of the summer solstice in June
when the day is longest and the night is shortest.
The winter solstice is a very powerful time
in the cycle of life and death, death and rebirth,
disintegration and renewal that controls all Life on the Earth,
including you. It is the time when motion ceases and at the same
moment, Life begins to stir again. Animals in hibernation and
seeds in sleep beneath the snow will not move until the spring,
but deep within them a process has completed itself. The
contraction of energy that the long nights and cold days reflect
reaches its limit and a cycle reverses itself. From that moment
forward, even though the winter remains to unfold as it must,
the spring has been born, and the summer, and the harvests of
the summer will follow with it.
This dark and trying season is repeated in
your life again and again. Each tragedy, loss, failure, and
humiliation reaches its inmost movement, spends its energy, and
from that long journey another begins‚Ä"a journey to
warmth, light, and expansion. The season of celebration, of
growth, of Life, and of movement is repeated again in the same
way. One season follows the other. The arrival of one signals
the coming of the other. They do not exist apart.
These seasons of the year, and seasons of
your life, come and go, complete themselves, and give way to
each other whether you are aware of the dynamic that controls
them or not. If you are not, the seasons appear to have lives of
their own and you forget they are each part of a cycle‚Ä"a
cycle that you have encountered many times before and will
encounter many times again Your life is built on this cycle of
seasons‚Ä"on the continual repetition of them. The
arrival of winter, the coming of darkness and death, initiates
the coming of light and life. This cycle controls the unfolding
of your life and all within it.
When you are aware of this cycle, you can
participate with it. You cannot stop the death that comes in the
winter nor the life that comes with the summer, but you can
determine in the winter what will be born in the summer. You can
contribute your intelligence and will to the intelligence and
movement of a dynamic larger than you. You can plant the seed
that will sprout in the spring. You can lay the foundation for a
different winter to come after the summer that has yet to
arrive. You can only do this for yourself.
When you are in deep winter, the nights are
long and the days are short. The Earth grows cold and life
retreats. Now is the time for you to awaken to your place in
this cycle, and to use it consciously. What is darkest in your
life? What loss or disappointment, fear or terror moves through
you? What powerlessness haunts you? These are given to you for
your benefit. They are brought to your awareness so that you can
change them. They are your avenues to the clarity and love that
you are waiting for. You cannot become fearless at your command,
but you can determine how you will respond to your fear. You
cannot become kind with one intention, but you can determine how
you will respond to your own brutality, righteousness, and fear.
This is the power of the deep winter. It
challenges you, confronts you, and shows you what you must
change in yourself. It is a holy and precious season. It
illuminates your holy and precious life. It is your potential
beckoning to you, disguised as an adversary, a tragedy, or a
disaster. Will the adversary, tragedy, or disaster shape your
experience, or will you shape your experience of it? Will your
fears overwhelm you, or will they show you new and different
ways to respond to them?
What new life is stirring in you this Deep
Excerpted from Soul to Soul
by Gary Zukav Copyright © 2007 by Gary Zukav.
Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon &
Soul to Soul is profoundly simple, wise,
and poetic, a book to treasure and return to again and again for
guidance and inspiration. It is now available for pre-purchase
by simply going to www.seatofthesoul.com.