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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Crazy season

This time of year is always a bit mad for me. My sleep patterns are light-affected, so as we race towards midsummer, I stay awake later into the evening, and surface earlier. That might not sound too insane, but I have the kind of mind that hallucinates once it gets sufficiently sleep deprived, so if around midsummer I’m exceedingly wakeful for a few days – as if often the case – my whole experience of reality gets rather interesting.

Knowing that I tend to do this, I approach the lightest days of the year with a degree of caution. Madness is really a measure of dysfunction. If you can take what you’ve got and turn it into something productive, you aren’t deranged. You’re probably an artist, an author or the like. Going out to the edges of human experience and bringing back useful and beautiful things is part of what many creative folk do.

I have a lot of slightly manic energy at this time of year, so the trick is to find good things to throw this at.

In my relationship with light levels and my sleep patterns, I come closest to upholding the regular wheel of the year narrative – the thing I’m trying to quietly subvert with this blog column! Last year I skipped over the whole issue to talk about different things. I hear people who do the wheel talking about how at this time of high energy, we should bring our plans forward, then after midsummer we’re back to dropping away for winter.

I felt the changes in late April, when the light levels had altered enough to impact on my day length, energy levels and enthusiasm. I can expect to still be high and manic well into July – probably right to the end and Druid camp. If I am not careful with me, I’ll break and collapse, falling suddenly out of the reality of summer and into my own private, wintery dead season. Too much excess can take you out of connection with the season. We can be so summer that we become winter. In just the same way that with too much sun, we move beyond life and abundance to dryness and death.


I’m hoping for a moist and fertile season, intensely productive, but with enough gently spent summer evenings to stop me falling over. 

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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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