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.

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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.

Look carefully at a tree without its leaves, and you will see signs of spring in the depths of winter. I’ve seen a lot of Pagan writing suggest that the trees are sleeping at this time of year, but it isn’t so. The sap is down, tree life is slower, but preparations for spring are underway. I write this in December, having already seen next year’s catkins in the making, and next year’s leaf buds. At the moment, they’re all folded down, and their colours are muted, so you won’t necessarily spot them without getting close to the tree. Look carefully though, and the promise of renewal is with us even in the coldest and darkest days.


(Image from Hopeless Maine – a project by Tom and Nimue Brown, art by Tom Brown.)

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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.


  • Sheila Dorsey
    Sheila Dorsey Saturday, 17 June 2017

    It is important to notice nature in all times of the year. Things are ever changing and it is important to get a good close up look at things.

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