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 what falls away

Letting go is often hard, and clinging seems obvious. We cling to habits, to possessions and to people, long after they’ve stopped having a meaningful place in our lives. We cling because we like what’s familiar and because loss can make us feel vulnerable.

Autumn is the ideal time to celebrate the process of dropping away. At this time of year, deciduous trees shed their leaves so as to better deal with the winter. A weight of snow on leaves could damage a tree, and those leaves act like sails and make the tree more prone to damage in winter storms. Further, there’s not enough light in winter to make leaves worth the bother. Tress let them go, and start over. Further, they do it with a display of colour and beauty that is easily appreciated by us human onlookers.

It’s a powerful image to remember when you find yourself at the shedding part of a cycle. Anything that is part of your life has the potential to not be part of your life. Sometimes by choice, sometimes out of necessity, sometimes because change is forced on you. Things fail, and die and fall away. It is easy to be alarmed by this. However, if we think about falling leaves, it is easier to remember that loss often creates opportunity. Fallen leaves go to nourish the soil. It is the loss of old leaves that makes way for the growth of new ones. It is the light under the trees before the new leaves come that allows spring flowers to bloom. Losses that aren’t life threatening have a knack for bringing their own gifts.

Celebrate what falls away, even if it hurts you as it goes. Celebrate what was good in it, and what is needful about its departure. Celebrate the space and opportunities it will bring you.

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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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