The Reasons for Seasons

Most of nature remains silent much of the time. It would be false to suppose this to mean they do not communicate with one another and chat away just as any other species. It is only the clamour of the human race that prevent us from hearing more closely the conversations that pass daily between them. A clamour made more emphatic by the daily round of drivel the media pour into the mind of its users. The glib phrase, the endless repartee. A friend was once asked – or himself asked – what is the greatest movement in the universe? His response was digestion. Nature is a great feast, for which we are all grateful. Even those who think that food comes from a 35 hour week working in the bank.

For the majority of animals they are either prey or predator, rarely if ever both. But both perceive the value of silence. For the prey no noise is a safer policy since the slightest sound might betray one’s presence to a predator. Only among the young do we find unrestrained noise making. Calling for food or jabbering with one’s confreres until, as they grow, they learn the art of silence. Among predators the need for silence is again in betraying presence but this time in the reverse direction – towards potential meals. Part of the reason humans are afraid of spiders is due to the stealth with which they approach.

An obvious exception to this generalisation is among birds. But birds have a tactic which is not available to most land animals. They can fly. So they chatter away among the bushes and come down to ground to pick and peck away until a sudden disturbance will cause them to fly in a flock up into the branches above them. However among birds which live primarily on the ground and only give way to flight on rare occasions we find again the law of silence dominates their lives.

It will be noted that many animals have distinct seasons in which they are available for impregnation and a subsequent season when they give birth to their young. The red deer have their rutting season, the elephant comes into must. Why should this be so? With humans this is not the case. Neither is it the case with cattle, both of whom, humans and cattle, carry their young in the womb for nine months before giving birth and both of whom may become pregnant at any time of the year. It is for this reason, the suggestion is, that the Hindu counts the cow as sacred – and not to be eaten – and that Pythagoras said that both the cow and the human left the tree of life at the same juncture on that stem.

However to answer the question posed before, one reason would seem to be that in having a distinct season of the year in which all the young are born allows a maximum chance for the young of any individual mother among the pack or herd or flock, to survive the predations of those animals which use that species as a food stock. The principle is the same as the herd instinct. By having a surfeit of young most of the young will survive. One cannot be sure of this if they are dropped haphazardly across the year. For a given period of time the herd is on maximum alert. This would not be possible throughout the year.

Why should cattle be different? I have no answer for that at present. It is certainly not learned behaviour. It could denote a close association with the Moon, since the Moon governs ovulation and is probably the reasons the sky was seen in some traditions in the form of a cow, and with it the galaxy called the Milky Way. The word Galaxy itself is directly related to milk, through the Greek Galacto. It is after all the sound that a child makes on slurping down its mother’s milk. Perhaps it was to suggest to humans that they, too, are a species of animal.

What is generally not accepted by those who propose the existence of a soul, however is that the human is not so different from other species and wanders between the whole of the animal kingdom in search of experience and understanding. Perhaps that is only a recent western predilection. The Celts acknowledged such a migration as their literature demonstrates. Certainly the Hindus accept the possibility of animal incarnations according to the virtues of one’s current lifetime. The Buddhists too, that schismatic Hindu expression, accept that incarnation into the animal kingdom is possible, even issuing directions on passing through the Bardo, or lower astral as Western Occultism might call these realms, to avoid such an eventuality. Needless to say the Shamanic cultures around the world also accept the full identity of the individual animals and it would be false to suppose that these cultures think of themselves as individuals as anything other than another incarnation of the great principle of life on the planet.

Lyall Watson in his masterpiece Supernature, describes a moment in the annual life of the Pacific Ocean in which, during the full of a given moon, all of the species of creatures release their seminal fluids and the ocean blossoms with this flurry of fertility.

Author: Keith Armstrong

Dance teacher, writer, film-maker, educationalist, enthusiast.