TWG Student Field Notes: Four Shields

Posted in TWG Student Field Notes

Written by Jarhae Maldonado

TWG Student Field Notes: Four Shields

Throughout life we are continuously making transitions, which is not always an easy thing.  The natural transition between seasons is a beautiful visual example of this.  In winter everything is cold and dormant and as spring slowly crawls closer, life begins to remerge.   Spring so badly wants to be present and full of life but is always fearful of an unexpected life-threatening freeze, until it is time for winter to be present again, causing Spring to lay its head down to sleep for another year.

Throughout life we are continuously making transitions, which is not always an easy thing. The natural transition between seasons is a beautiful visual example of this. In winter everything is cold and dormant and as spring slowly crawls closer, life begins to remerge. Spring so badly wants to be present and full of life but is always fearful of an unexpected life-threatening freeze, until it is time for winter to be present again, causing Spring to lay its head down to sleep for another year.

Recently in the Transformational Wilderness Guide Certification program we have been learning about how the seasons are parallel to our lives. We have been exploring the Four Shields Model*. Each “shield” represents a “season” (Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer) which represents a state of life that we are in. One season, or stage in our lives, must end before another one can begin, and this transition is like moving through the unknown. It challenges us to take risks of uncertainty, to step out of our comfort zone. The Earth has recently made the transition from winter to spring, and many of us may be making humanly transitions. The winter shield of our lives is very much about storing and waiting while building potential for the next stage. When we are in our winter shield it can be seen as a very “adulthood” like state of being. We can be seen as responsible and very aware of whom we are and what it is that we want. However, as great as being a responsible adult is, as humans we are always eager for change and this is when the spring shield enters our lives.

The transition from winter to spring in our lives is very much like that in the natural world. It can prove to be difficult and trying, throwing unexpected storms into our lives, those of us living in Colorado know this first hand. The spring shield is a metaphor of new life within us. When we find ourselves in spring we are looking for new growth, we are full of inspiration and creativity. The spring shield is a representation of infancy. We are in a state of questioning but not fully expressive of this the way we do in summer, where we will move to next. We must embrace the inspiration of spring and see where we will go. Spring in the natural world is a season full of life and growth and beauty. All things that are great gifts to cherish in life.

The season shields of life are not age restricted. A very young person can be in the winter stage but they will move into spring then into summer into fall and back to winter. Life is constantly changing just as the seasons of the natural world are. Change is beautiful if we learn to look at it as such and embrace it. I encourage you all to take some time in the natural world, observe the current season and the changes the Earth is making and then look deep within yourself and try to figure out what season you are currently in. If you are unhappy in the season you are in in your life, the good news is that unlike the Earth you don’t have to wait for an equinox to change. Spend some time outside and listen to the Earth and your mind, body, and soul. Ask the Earth how to change the seasons of your life and act upon it. You are amazing just as the Earth is and you always have the power to change the season you are in, it is not always easy but worth it!

*The 4 shields model is decried in Stephen Foster and Meredith Little’s book, The Four Shields: The Initiatory Seasons of Human Nature.