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.
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.
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.
I am more naturally conscious of ancestry around Beltain than I am at Samhain. Partly because there are so many traditional songs that start with someone roving out on a bright May morning. Usually to get laid, or to indulge in the kind of voyeurism intrinsic to folk music. And partly because of my grandmother, who loved the bluebells.
My grandmother was a keen walker for much of her life, having grown up with a mother who went walking on Sundays in preference to going to church. In old age, she could no longer climb the hills each spring to go looking for bluebells, and so this time of year became a source of grief to her. I have never driven a car, I was never able to take her out, but others did, and I’m not the only one to think of her when the bluebells are flowering.
When I first started on my pagan journey I was presented with the Wheel of the Year and it seemed most pagans worked with it. I spent ages trying to remember the dates and learn the names and correspondences, even to this day I have to stop and think about it when trying to recall what is what!
I also started dressing my altar for each sabbat and looking up all the correct colours, herbs and associations to know what to put on it.But I have to admit I started to lapse and I realised that I wasn’t connecting with the celebrations and what I was doing was just a mechanical action because I thought I had to.
Bonnie Blackwell (Fort Bragg, CA) I channel art and poetry. I live two lives: one, at my home by the sea in northern Calif, and the other, in Zurich, Switzerland.Anyone interested in my work can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org Autumn Skye Morrison (Powell River, BC) In creating art I find my stillness and rhythm, my teacher and passion. Each painting offers a reflection of the light and shadow of our humanity, our sublime geometry, and our timeless divinity. May we celebrate this fantastic adventure, inspire, and be inspired. autumnskyemorrison.com
The Winter Solstice falls this year on the 22nd of December. The shortest day and the longest night of the year, the sun is now at it's very lowest point. For three days, it's position in the dawn sky will appear to 'stand still' in the furthest south-easterly position of its it's cycle, before it begins to be seen rising ever so slightly further north each morning until the summer solstice, or longest day.