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 the greening

In my part of the world the green returns somewhere between the standard Pagan festivals of the spring equinox and Beltain. It’s something I quietly celebrate, because the return of colour to the world, and the return of leaves is something I find uplifting. It’s not an event, and it’s impossible to ascribe a reliable date to it. The greening happens in response to light, temperature, and the mysterious whims of plants.

Underwood tends to leaf first – I’m seeing elder and hawthorn leaves. Weeping willows are in leaf, osier willows still have bare branches. Chestnut is underway, ash isn’t particularly. Each tree comes into leaf in its own time. Other plants all have their own unique relationship with the seasons – early spring flowers are going over, a new set of plants are flourishing, the woodlands are green with the leaves of garlic and bluebells, while the fields and hills brighten with new grass.

In much the same way, human flourishing is not an event, not something we have to tie to a specific season. In the autumn, it’s the toadstools that flourish – even in what seems like the dying away part of the year, something is fully engaged with the processes of living.

For me, the vibrant greens of new leaves are joyful. They offer rejuvenation, hope, and the delight of colour returning to the landscape. The early part of the year can be grey and washed out, but now the skies are often blue, and everything seems that bit more vivid.

Watching the returning colour is part of my day to day experience of this part of the cycle of the seasons. It’s something I celebrate quietly, noticing each tree as it comes to leaf, seeing how my immediate environment changes, and how I am changed by this. The absence of a fixed point for this process means we tend to formally celebrate the beginning and the end of it, but for me, the exciting bit is what comes in the middle.


This month’s image is my new book cover (art by Tom Brown) , a nice mix of the bare branches and the green, I thought, and also a way of flagging up that there’s some new fiction in the offing...

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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.


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