Alternative Wheel: Other seasonal cycle stories

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.

  • 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 and Druidry and the ancestors. She also writes the graphic novel series Hopeless Maine, and other speculative fiction. OBOD trained, but a tad ferral, she is particularly interested in Bardic Druidry and green living.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Seasons of bare earth

Exposing the soil is, in temperate climates, something people do when farming or gardening. Drier lands that do not support many plants can have much barer earth.  Mountains and deserts can be something else again. I’ve seen small islands where the winter grazing of birds will take out all vegetation and bare the ground. There are all kinds of possible seasonal variations that might expose the soil. Where and when and why this happens is well worth a thought.

Left to its own devices, England is a green sort of place and manages this most of the year round. We lose the leaves from the trees in the winter, but not the green from the fields. Even in the hottest summers, we stay green rather than fading to the yellows and browns of hotter climates. If we don’t dig the soil, then the soil seldom stays bare for long.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Celebrating the sun

Solar festivals are definite fixed points in the wheel of the year. Shortest day and longest day, and the two days when light and dark are equal. It all seems very straightforward, until you start trying to make sense of the details or work out what you, personally, want to do in response to all of this.

When do we celebrate? Is it the dawn, or the setting sun, or the sun at the height of its power at midday? When is the midpoint of true balance at an equinox? And in practice, Pagan groups are only sometimes able to gather and celebrate the day. Normal work patterns mean that we’re more likely celebrating the nearest weekend to a solar event. At which point it’s more about celebrating the idea than an immediate experience of connecting with the occurring solar festival.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The year of trees

Of all life forms, the deciduous tree appears to be the one most in synch with the solar events of the year. Sleeping in winter, budding in spring, resplendent with leaves in the summer, fruiting in the autumn and then back to sleep. There are of course also an assortment of tree calendars (mostly owing to Robert Graves) which put different trees as being prominent at different times. Based on what, exactly, I am seldom sure.

The more time you spend with trees, the less this whole idea of a single wheel of the year narrative for trees holds up. For a start, it only works if you live somewhere that has the kind of climate that delivers summer and winter. You have to have deciduous trees, not pines or cacti. If your seasons are all about wet and dry, the solar year and the tree year are not going to be the same. The solar/tree year is fairly Eurocentric, and will fit anywhere with similar conditions, but not everywhere.

...
Last modified on
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Claudia Priori
    Claudia Priori says #
    Thanks for your post, Nimue. In Australia, our seasons are not typical, especially when some eucalypts drop their bark and branche

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Time for melancholy

In theory Pagans honour the dark half of the year as well as the light, bright growing times. However, in practice we spend autumn talking about harvest, and while we do acknowledge the dead at Samhain, midwinter tends to be more about the return of the light than the deep darkness. There are many things the wheel of the year doesn’t give us much space to honour and explore. Loss, misery, nostalgia, regret, and despair don’t really find a place.

Of course it’s tempting to focus on the ‘good stuff’ in life – what seeds are you planting this spring, where’s your fertility for Beltain, what have you harvested, and lo, the sun is reborn and round we go again! However, if you don’t have a lover, and your health is poor or your plans aren’t working out, then these are tough things to celebrate and it can feel like there’s no room for your experiences amongst everyone else’s cheerful optimism. The wheel of the year encourages us to look forward in hope, not fear, and not to look back except when we can be pleased by the results.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Rituals for unbalance

We’ve not long passed the equinox, that twice yearly point in the wheel where normal Paganism stops to talk about balance, and usually alongside this, peace. World Peace Day falls close to the autumn equinox and Earth day, and Earth Hour are around the spring one. Peace and balance are, without a doubt, good things to work for.

Some days my life has little of either. On the whole, I have a quiet, easy, privileged sort of life, free from many of the things that torment many of the world’s inhabitants. Even so, I find celebrating balance really difficult. Not least because I do not see much of the balance of nature as a comfortable harmony – all too often, balance is created by things in tension, pulling in opposite directions. Conflicting needs counterbalancing each other can create harmony very easily when you look at the whole effect. The experience of any part of the whole, is not of the harmony, but of the conflict.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Embracing the Spring

There is no set date, no temperature, nor is there a light level at which nature in the Northern hemisphere agrees on spring having arrived. It doesn’t help that freak storms and late frosts are always an option. Do you start early and hope to get ahead or hang on a bit longer in the hopes your precious eggs and shoots aren’t frosted to death?

Tree by tree, bird by bird, each individual makes their own choice about when to push forward into this new cycle of living. The choice to live is the risk of death and failure. At this time of year, there is nothing else. Living is a risky business, but wait too long and the opportunity passes, it is summer already and you have nothing to hatch.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Planting the seeds

I’ve planted seeds in ritual, at Imbolc before now. Of course if you wanted bulbs, those had to be in ground weeks, if not months ago. There are many things too delicate to put in the soil at this time of year – leafy salad plants and other exotica from warmer climes won’t tolerate the tail end of winter on the UK. There are still heavy frosts, and many plants can’t bear them. Some things won’t be planted until much later in the spring.

In life, as in agriculture when you plant may well depend a lot on what you are planting and when you hope to harvest it. Many projects take years to come to fruition. As an author I find I’m usually seeing the fruits of things I wrote months ago... this February, it’ll be seeds from years back that finally send up shoots. The third volume of Hopeless Maine (that’s the book cover adorning this post) comes out as a webcomic at www.hopelessmaine.com while a book I wrote years ago – Fast food at the centre of the world, finally comes to life as an audio series at www.nerdbong.com. Often we plant things with no idea of whether they will grow, much less when.

...
Last modified on

Additional information