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Paganistani Children's Games (Winter): Wheel-Tag

It's Deep Winter, and we're well into the holiday thirtnight known variously as Yeaning, Ewesmilk, and February Eve*. If where you live is anything like where I do, the snows lie piled deep.

Ergo, it's the perfect time to play Wheel Tag.

Wheel Tag is just like regular tag—non-binary “It” and all—but you play it on a track in the snow.

Here's how you play.

Lay out a Wheel in the snow and tromp it down well (or, if you're ambitious, shovel it out). If your track is relatively small, make a Wheel with four spokes. If you've got room to spread out—the snow on top of a frozen lake is ideal for this—go with eight spokes.

Then pick an It, and away you go. Remember: you have to stay on the Wheel. Anything that happens off-Wheel doesn't count.

Like most traditional kids' games with a grounding in ritual, the purpose of the game is to play itself through and start over again, around and around: like the year, like Life. Like a Wheel.

In Witch Country, even games are profound.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Let's Build a Wheel-Cairn

You know that cairn that we've been talking about building? The one where people can depose the ashes of the dead?

Well, here's an idea: let's build it in the shape of a Wheel.

Check out this wheel-cairn from Sälle in Fröjel on the island of Gotland (Sweden). (It's about 2000 years old.) Let's build one like this, oriented East-West, big. I'd see the spokes and rim as maybe a foot high, the Hub- and Quarter-cairns higher.

It's a Sun Wheel, of course. That makes it a prayer. As the dead go West with the Sun, so too may they be reborn with him in the East.

And it's the Wheel of Time, the Wheel of the Year. As time, as the year, move in a circle, so may those who were be reborn to the People.

The Wheel, of course, is also the Journey. The dead have a journey to make. As our people have followed the Sun, traveling from East to West, so do the dead continue their journey.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Wheel Dance

At the very heart of our Yule each year turns the Great Dance of the Wheel, the dance of the Sun's Rebirth.

Listen while I tell of it.

Wearing holly, the circle of men faces outward. Wearing ivy, enclosing, the circle of women faces in.

The two circles take four steps toward each other, then four steps back.

Then the circles wheel. One moves sunwise, the other, widdershins.

(There's a metaphor to be savored here, but that's for later.)

Again the concentric circles expand and contract. Once again they wheel, reversing direction.

Then repeat.

The song that accompanies the dance tells the seasons of the Sun's life: winter, spring, summer, fall, and back again to winter. In one infinite instant, the Sun is begotten, born, begets, and dies. Like the dance, the song wheels, returning again to its own beginning. In the end, it becomes a round, turning and turning on itself.

In this way, we work our magic.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Good question, Ian. I would think that what you wanted to wear and where you wanted to dance would be up to you. Tradition is fixe
  • Ian Phanes
    Ian Phanes says #
    What would you do if a non-binary person (like myself) wanted to dance?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Sun Wheel

It's one of our people's oldest and most sacred symbols.

If anything could lay claim to the status of "universal pagan symbol," this might well be it.

Yet in Pagandom at large, they're few and far between.

The Sun Wheel. The Sun Cross. The Wheel Cross.

The equal-armed cross in a circle. It's the Sun. It's the Wheel. It's the coincidence of harmonious opposites. Male and female. Rounded and straight. Rectilinear and curvilinear. Up and down. Horizontal and vertical. Movement and stillness. Technology and Nature. Heaven and Earth.

In the Sun Wheel, Time and Space meet and embrace: the world with its four quarters, the year with its four seasons.

Such a deep and ancient symbol. Wherever has it gone?

Last modified on

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Winter

(Art by Barbara Bargiggia)

Ah, January. In like a lion roaring exciting resolutions and plans, out like a tired bear hibernating in a Winter cave. New or continued schedules after the holiday break quickly become rote trudging performed in the icy cold of the bleakest part of Winter. Short days don’t seem to hold enough of the activities we wanted, and we find ourselves playing catch-up with little energy input from Sun or Earth’s abundance. Plans for early bed and early rising fall to the freeze-out of not being able to stop finishing tasks until after bedtime. Or to a seized-up will. Emotions expand and freeze, slicing with icy edges the hearts of these organic creatures trudging through the dark, cold, short days. It’s enough to make you want to hole up and wait it out. Let Spring bring the fuel and the will to rise again.

Until the crocuses or groundhogs peek out and whisper of Spring’s coming, it seems a natural time to pause and rest, perhaps do inner-work in the quiet space of our own heads and hearts. Light a fire in the hearth and stir pots, stare into the fire, find underworld songs rolling around your tongue, and find tangles in your forgotten hair.

But the time does come to fetch more firewood, or you’ll freeze. The stirred pots eventually give forth sustenance and medicine and more will need to be added or you won’t eat tomorrow. There’s life in there, and it demands to live. It has slowed, but it will move… even in the cold, even in the dark, even before any message from Green Spring arrives to promise quickening. This isn’t death, it’s just a pale rehearsal. With a glowing ember inside.

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Gh movie Here in the good ol’ Keystone State (Pennsylvania USA) we’re celebrating Groundhog Day on February 2.

In case you’ve lived under a rock the last few decades (or underground in a burrow), in 1993, Groundhog Day was commemorated in a movie starring Bill Murray.

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