Alternative Wheel: Other seasonal cycle stories

When this column started, it was all about exploring different ways of thinking about the wheel of the year, reflecting on aspects of the natural world to provide Pagans alternatives to the usual solar stories. It's still very much an alternative wheel, but there's a developing emphasis on what we can celebrate as the seasons turn. Faced with environmental crisis, and an uncertain future, celebration is a powerful soul restoring antidote that will help us all keep going, stay hopeful and dream up better ways of being.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Nimue Brown

Nimue Brown

Nimue Brown is the author of Druidry and Meditation, Druidry and the Ancestors. Pagan Dreaming, When a Pagan Prays and Spirituality without Structure. She also writes the graphic novel series Hopeless Maine, and other speculative fiction. OBOD trained, but a tad feral, she is particularly interested in Bardic Druidry and green living.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Celebrating winter trees

For those of us who live in landscapes with deciduous trees, winter creates opportunities to appreciate them in different ways from summer. The loss of leaves means that tree shapes become truly visible. This is especially true of field trees, whose solitary positions make them easier to appreciate. Field trees have much rounder forms than their woodland counterparts, but in the woods, winter reveals the patterns of branches and the sky above.

Trunks and bark become more visible in the winter – and there’s such an array of textures, subtle colours and surfaces. Fungi on trees are more present at this time of year, and resident moss and lichen is easier to spot. I’ve blogged over at Druid Life about my favourite winter tree exposure.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Celebrating the first frosts

Here in the UK, the first frosts can turn up any time in the autumn, but represent a significant shift towards the winter. In terms of being something to celebrate, I admit to mixed feelings. The coming of the frost is an important part of the wheel of the year, but it means moving into cold and hardship.

 Frost is of course beautiful. It sparkles on grasses, leaves and spiderwebs, creating delicate beauty and catching the first light of the day. Today, with the first frost in my little corner of the world, the fields were iced at first light, giving them a sheen of mystery and otherworldliness.

...
Last modified on
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Sue
    Sue says #
    What a refreshing change to see another viewpoint! I sympathise very much with your thoughts on the first frost. I have an elderly

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Celebrating Collaboration

It’s getting towards the end of the harvest season – quite a sensible time to be thinking about collaboration. For most of settled human history, harvesting was a big job that required the work of entire communities. Before that, survival for our ancestors certainly depended on working together. Modern technology has ‘liberated’ us from the apparent need to fit in and work alongside others, but the truth is that our ‘freedom’ also means loneliness and isolation for many people.

Any Pagan ritual or celebration is an opportunity to come together and make something. One of the reasons I especially like improvised ritual is that it creates the scope for everyone to be equal participants, crafting something in the moment.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Spider Season

One of the joys of autumn is the finding of webs, dew decked and glinting in the early morning light.

Spider webs are amazing constructions, and the whole spidering business is fascinating – all spiders produce 8 or more kinds of thread, and they only don’t get caught in their own webs because they remember where to stand.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Holidays, Holy Days and Harvests

Right now it’s the summer holidays, and in many places, the young people are home from school, and families are off doing the holiday thing. Or trying not to kill each other. It’s worth noting however that the origin of the summer holidays has nothing to do with having a good time, and everything to do with needing the young people to help get the harvests in. The norms of our school systems pre-date the combine harvester and other such devices.

You don’t have to be much of an etymologist to spot that ‘holiday’ comes from ‘holy day’ and for many of our Christian ancestors, the holy days were the only days off, if you were lucky. Servants tended to have to work on Sundays and over Christmas etc, but religious celebration has provided our ancestors with much needed opportunities to down tools and socialise. The pilgrimage is the ancestor of the tourist industry, and holy journeys and holidays have a great deal to do with holidays.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Coming of Age, in Fur and Feather

This is the time of year when many of the young things born in the UK’s spring will become independent. Inevitably it means this is also a time when a lot of them will die, through accident and inexperience.

The transition from dependant to independent varies from species to species, and part of why it varies is the complexity involved in being an adult. You can spot newly fledged birds, because they’re often waiting around making a racket, with parents coming back to feed them regularly even though they’re now out of the nest. They look like teenagers.

...
Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Nimue Brown
    Nimue Brown says #
    What a brilliant way of doing things! And a good way of reinforcing the responsibilities we have to our communities in taking part
  • Ann Edwards
    Ann Edwards says #
    When I was young we had a number of family celebrations or events which recognised various stages of coming of age. The first one
Alternative wheels for a changing world

It’s June. It’s cold and raining, and everything outside my window says ‘climate change’ to me in ways that make me deeply uneasy. High winds, torrential downpours, and at the same time, an explosion of hawthorn flowers like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The wild garlic and the horse chestnuts have been exuberant as well.

What does it means for Pagans? The ancestral dates of festivals no longer relate reliably to what’s happening. We don’t know what’s coming, or how it will impact on us. Our world is changing. The seasons are changing, the climate is changing.

...
Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Nimue Brown
    Nimue Brown says #
    I was struck when visiting the States by how very different the oak trees are.
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    They are so common around here that they are practically a weed. I must have dozens of seedlings on our property. This one usually
  • Nimue Brown
    Nimue Brown says #
    That is huge for a hawthorn, if American ones are like the British trees, they are very slow growing, it may be really old.
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Funny you should mention hawthorn: our huge tree (30' tall) seems very abundant in this year's warmth (Oregon was QUITE warm, espe

Additional information