Many wheels of the year

Nov 30th, 2015 | By | Category: Articles

Nimue hillBy Nimue Brown

The Wheel of the Year sounds like ‘a thing’ a single, fixed, reliable sort of construct. Which it perhaps could be if you live in the bit of Northern Europe the wheel of 8 festivals is based on and experience average weather conditions. Despite living in the zone, I don’t find my personal wheel of the year experience matches the calendar dates. When the May blooms, when the snow melts (if there is any) when the grain is harvested… it varies.

In July of 2013 I started doing a monthly alternative wheel of the year column over at Sage Woman blogs. It’s turning out to be an interesting experiment. Two and a bit years on, I’m not struggling to find new things to say at the start of each month. The weather conditions vary, what I notice varies, how I engage with the seasons varies.

Of course for the many Pagans who do not live in Northern Europe, the Euro-centric nature of 20th century Paganism causes some practical issues. In the Southern hemisphere, the calendar needs a radical reimagining.

What are we celebrating? We can honour the solstices, Imbolc, Beltain, Lugnasadh/Lammas and Samhain as ancestral festivals wherever we are, if we see these as ancestral festivals. Followers of other paths not so influenced by Gerald Gardner and Ross Nichols need a totally different calendar anyway. These are not Roman or Greek festivals, they are not what the ancient Egyptians celebrated, nor what the Norse, Viking, Saxons and other Heathen folk celebrate. In any land, there will be indigenous dates and traditions, which raise an array of other issues – including appropriation – for practitioners.

The tradition of celebrating the equinoxes is, as far as I know, entirely modern.

For me, being Pagan means being of the land. Not ‘the land’ in a generic, abstract kind of way, but the exact land I live on. This place. This valley. This hill. This year. Not an idea of what spring or autumn look like, but the reality of my encountering them.

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