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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in wheel of the year

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Spring

Spring
what are we leaping towards
what wants to push up from cold ground
what wants to open to the sun
what is it that we need to know

What quiet, steady pulse beats
below the surfaceb2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_0576.JPG
what hope watches from the wings
what light grows broad
upon a patch of ground

Shedding
releasing
changing
renewing
growing
healing
springing

Letting go
leaving behind
casting off
sloughing
opening…

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
How straight is your wheel?

Our usual solar stories about the turning of the year focus on the birth, maturing and death of a sun god who might fight his rival at midsummer and will probably father himself. Imbolc is all about pregnancy and birth. Beltain is all about impregnating. It’s a very heterosexual narrative, when you get down to it.

Nature is not exclusively about heterosexual reproduction. What we would understand as homosexual behaviour crops up in all creatures. If you’re part of a wolf pack or a bee hive, it’s about the group, not about spreading your own genes directly. Many plants have both male and female sex organs – if you insist on understanding them in those terms! On top of this, plants will also reproduce through suckers, bulbs and other ways of doing it for themselves without any need for pollination. Some creatures change gender. Oysters have all the kit, and effectively change gender every few years. Other life forms – fungi particularly, are asexual, and reproduce without any input from anyone else.

Where, in the traditional wheel story, would you honour the oyster? Or the male seahorse who carries his young in a pouch? Where, in the cycle of the year do we talk about how most of the elm trees in the UK are probably descended from just the one tree, and spread asexually? Where are the stories that place our equally natural gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, not so gendered and asexual Pagan folk within the wheel of the year?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    That's one of the reasons I'm glad I'm a heathen, specifically an Asatruar, because our ritual structure doesn't have heterosexual
  • Nimue Brown
    Nimue Brown says #
    If we have three kinds of ancestors (blood, land and tradition) then we must also have three kinds of descendants. While that cann
  • Anna Belle LaFae
    Anna Belle LaFae says #
    Thank you for this article! After my child was stillborn and then subsequent infertility the reproductive emphasis of so many pag

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I spent a bit of time in my garden yesterday, and one emotion overwhelmed me more than any other: despair, and yearning.

Well, that’s a bit dramatic. But I’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking about the Wheel and how it relates to my practice, and the seasons too, and this season is definitely my least favourite. For me, the seasons are intrinsically connected to my practice, which is indeed earth-centred and intimately connected with the land. Working with, and not against, the land can be a challenge at times. Especially when the seasons turn harsh and the spiritual struggles that accompany, particularly the sense of ‘waiting’ can be the bane of the more impatient amongst us!

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Sorry for the sloppy communication, Lee; in my case, at least, I was referring to ME as the whiner - not you. As I was here in th
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Yes, Greybeard, as a Phoenician I was thinking the same thing. My wife and I have lived here for 30 years - and yes, Lee, I unders
  • Lee Pike
    Lee Pike says #
    As much as this post is a 'whine', it has been confirmed the hottest summer on record for Perth, Australia, including the hottest

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Times of balance

The spring equinox is only a few weeks away. It is part of the modern festival wheel, not because there’s any real evidence for it being celebrated historically, but because it balances things up nicely. It being the time when days and nights are the same length, we tend to talk a lot about balance around these two festivals. However, every lunar month offers two rounds of balance between light and dark in the shape of the moon, so there are other times we might feel directed to consider balance, too.

Are equinoxes really a time of balance? I do not feel that point of day and night in equilibrium especially. What I do notice a lot at this time of year, is the racing change in day length. Around the equinoxes, we have the greatest pace on the balance between night and day changing. Every day right now is a little longer than the one before it, and I’m intensely conscious not of balance, but of a sudden feeling of hurtling towards summer.

I’m waking earlier as the first light comes a lot sooner, and I’m seeing shades of blue in the sky into the evening. My living patterns shift with the changing light. I have more energy in the light half of the year. My days are longer, and soon I will be able to go back to waking in the evenings – something I love to do but which just doesn’t work in the middle of winter. So on a personal level I’m not feeling balance, I’m feeling change, and that shifting from the hibernating part of the year when I don’t want to go out much, into the better weather and more light, when I have more energy and feel more inclined to be out and about.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

It seems to me that the Witches Ladder is one of those unique and valuable, yet greatly under-appreciated bits of craft lore that has fallen to the wayside of contemporary Witchcraft. If you're not familiar with the term, there's a good article you can read here on Wikipedia that will give you the background and basic gist on the ladder. And if you Google it (images) you'll find a wide variety of ladders, made in many different ways and used for many different types of craftwork. Like much of modern day Witchcraft, people have taken an old idea and done something new it, and so have I.

But there are certain challenges that arise from this type of new growth within the Craft. There are so many of us taking old bits like the Witches Ladder, reclaiming it, remodeling it or recreating it. But we're not renaming it. As a result, all these neat new and original creations like prayer beads are being labeled  as "Witches Ladders" and sold on Etsy. Make no mistake, I'm not criticizing the idea of "Witch Ladder Prayer Beads," in fact, I love the idea. I am however, trying to point out the confusion this form of appropriation and re-association can create.

For this reason, among others, we call our Witches Ladder a "Scala," which is Latin for ladder or staircase. We have several different kinds of Scala in our tradition, and today I'd like to share with you the Rota Scala or the "Wheel [of the year] Ladder." Much like the traditional Witches Ladder, the Rota Scala is a length of rope or cord. We prefer twisted manila rope, it's made from an organic fiber and usually consists of three strands woven together. While organic over synthetic is a common Pagan preference, there is a special significance to the three strand braid within our tradition. It represents Tela, the inherent spiritual interconnection between all things. Like an umbilical cord, Tela is our connection to the world and all things therein contained. This interconnection forms a "web," the very definition of the Latin word, Tela.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Imbolc and the Inner Child

               Often we find ourselves speaking about wanting to embrace magic in our lives, about wanting to reconnect to that sense of joy and wonder that we remember having in childhood, about reclaiming that excitement and exuberance that is so evident in the very young. Often we speak in terms that indicate all these experiences are kept in some faraway place: in memories of times so long ago. And in some ways this is true, but it is also a place that is very much within reach.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

One of the things I love most about working with the Wheel of the Year is how precisely applicable it is to our own inner life. Certainly, the Festivals that lie around the Wheel are connected with the agricultural cycle. For our ancient forebears, to ignore such a cycle meant disaster on a very tangible level. Without supplies and stores to bring the Tribe through the winter months, starvation and death were a very real possibility. An enormous amount of focus and energy went into meeting the basic needs of food, shelter and safety. The eight Festivals, as we know them today, marked significant moments throughout the year addressing the movement from preparation to planting to harvest to rest. As is known by every Pagan, the ancient traditions of celebration have found their way into many contemporary ones. These traditions reflect the outer world – the things we do “out there” to connect us with the energy of the season. However, as said by renown comparative mythologist, Joseph Campbell “When your mind is trapped by the image out there so that you never make reference to yourself, you have misread the image”. We joyfully join in honouring the Festivals in our communities. This is significant and important for connecting us to others and feeling a part of a larger whole. The Festivals help us to be conscious of the world around us and to live in alignment with the land. But how can we draw upon these festivals to become more conscious of ourselves? How can we ‘pull the image within’?

Each Festival has its core archetypal energy. When one scans across the landscape of ancient Western culture, it is possible to see the correlations between gods and goddess, traditions and activities. All these give us clues as to what the synthesizing element is – what connects the varied names and traditions together into a cohesive pattern. Interestingly, when one identifies the archetype of each Festival, there is a direct correlation to traditional psychology which is reflected in family systems theory and childhood development. The Festivals offer us a doorway through which to explore inner alignment.

At this time of year, the anticipation of Yule is high. For many of us, there is a soft (and cold) blanket of snow upon the ground. The darkness sets in what feels like mid-afternoon. The desire to cocoon is strong – gentle firelight, a warm mug, perhaps a catchy book. The dark surrounds us and we seek that which brings comfort. We are not that far removed from the ancestors who would gather around a hearthfire to be regaled with lengthy, heart-stopping epic tales.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The plans of trees

 

The deciduous trees stand, bare and apparently lifeless through the winter months. The popular take on this, is that they are sleeping. It is a perspective which depends on paying no attention or thought to what the trees are really doing. Those bare branches are a misleading focus.

 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Gaia's Winter Mantel

Often when I sit down to draw or paint, I don’t have a preconceived plan. I just want to start putting something down on the paper; maybe a few lines with a pencil, maybe just wild strokes of color.

This time, though I had something specific in mind. In fact, I’ve had it in mind for a while now. I’ve even made a few attempts in recent weeks, but each time there has been a disconnect between my head and my hand. I want to portray the Goddess in winter, but instead I keep filling my paper with the hot and bright colors of summer.

Living at the far western region of the Lake Superior basin, the season of cold comes early and stays late, like an unwelcome guest. I make that analogy with a hint of shame. I am a pagan priestess. I am supposed to have a relationship with Gaia in all of Her seasons. I should embrace each turning of the wheel for the aspects ushered in, but winter vexes me.

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  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    Beautiful art and photography. Maybe the warm hued Goddess that keeps showing herself to you is the other side of winter, hearths,

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

 

The 31st of October is traditionally Samhain, and also All Hallows Eve. It has a long tradition as a festival, as do Beltain, Imbolc and Lugnasadh, all popular with modern Pagans. However, Pagans in the Southern hemisphere have long since decided that it makes no sense to celebrate Samhain at the start of what, for them, is the spring. Southen calendars swap the festivals around, putting seasonal relevance before an ancestral connection with dates.

 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_ID-100112631.jpg

For me, Autumn is far less about the dying away, and far more about the stocking up. Granted, the leaves beyond my window are turning, shades of yellow and brown creeping in amongst the greens. It’s late this year, but then, so was the spring.

 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Going Back

There is no place in a regular wheel of the year where it makes sense to talk about going back, returning, backtracking or heading the wrong way. The cycle of the year does of course bring us round the same seasons, reliably, but there is always a sense of moving forward.  Turning, not returning. Time as we experience it only flows one way. However, there are many ways in which we can go back.

 

We can make geographical returns to places that were important to us, and practical returns to ways of being that we have parted from for a while. Paganism as a whole can be seen as an attempt to go back to something that was lost, and like all lost things, raises issue around how much can be reclaimed. Is anything gone forever? Is it possible to return? As the saying goes, we cannot step into the same river twice. Whatever we go back to is not the same as before. It will have changed over time, too, we will have changed.

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    This is poetic and evocative, Nimue; thank you. Here in Phoenix, AZ we are out of touch with the "natural" changing of the seasons

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I hope that you are enjoying a wonderful Lughnasadh.  I hope that you are harvesting all that you can manage and just enough to share. 

Here in the mystical MidAtlantic, there are lots of jokes about sneaking onto our neighbors' porches to leave bags of zucchini; we can all get overwhelmed this time of year by what our gardens produce.  I want to remind everyone in that (enviable) situation that most food closets and soup kitchens will gladly take extra produce -- they're masters at turning out soups and casseroles filled with your extra produce.  It's not so much a sacrifice as a way of sharing, a way of continuing and reviving the gift culture that may, one day, supplement, if not replace, capitalism.

As we've danced into Lughnasadh, I've been thinking a lot about sacrifice and its role in our magical/political lives.  Some say that this Sabbat springs from funeral games declared to honor Lugh's mother Tailtiu, a strong woman who died clearing forested land for cultivation by her people.  I want to honor both the sacrifice of the woman who cleared the land and the sacrifice of the forest.  I want to spend time today thinking of those who gave their lives to make our lives better, even when their sacrifices had unintended consequences. 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

In your standard Pagan wheel of the year arrangement, harvest happens in the autumn. We tend to celebrate it at the autumn equinox, when many regular Pagan teachings encourage you to reflect on wider ideas of harvest in your own life. However, if you grow soft fruit or salad vegetables, the odds are that you’ve been harvesting since some time in June.

 

The exact timing of harvests varies according to the weather. There needs to have been enough rain to fatten things up, and enough sun to bring about the necessary chemical changes. The shift of colour in berries and grains that shows ripening, is a chemical shift of sugars, hence the radical difference in taste between an apple in early summer and late autumn. Some fruits and roots do not ripen until frosts have acted on them to make changes in the chemistry.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for your words on harvest and harvesting - it is indeed a lovely thought to think of the mini cycles of planting and har

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Sometimes I Think We Talk Too Much

and sometimes I think we don't talk enough. 

Quandary.

When I was coming up in these spiritual systems, it was all about connecting with some Divines, usually a cobbled together "pantheon" of cultures and attributes that we liked.  We set that up within the elegant framework of the Wheel of the Year. I love the Wheel because it is a sweet crucible for connecting, as well as celebrating and honoring. Simple and very user-friendly.  There are two Solstices and two Equinoxes (and don't bother to correct me--I know those aren't the accurate plurals)--placeholders that mark the visible change in seasons in those places that still have four of those.  They actually happen--they are not based on lore or myth.  You can look them up--they happen for everyone at the same time.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    It's a tribute to the health of these spiritual systems that we can change and move--I only wish we didn't leave so much behind.
  • Trine
    Trine says #
    I should perhaps also note that I'm writing from a Scandinavian perspective. I think the movements have changed in their own ways
  • Trine
    Trine says #
    Well said. When I first started on my path almost a decade ago, I remember that eclecticism was the Big Thing. In the forums I fre

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
How Being Pagan Cured My Winter Blues

I have lived in upstate New York my entire life. For the most part, I love it here. I love the changing seasons and the beauty of the rolling hills. What I don’t love so much is winter—probably not a good thing in an area where the first snow often falls at Halloween, and it isn’t unheard of for it to snow in the middle of April. Essentially, of the twelve months in a year, five of them are winter. That’s a long freaking time if you don’t like that particular season.

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  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    You're most welcome, Deborah. Yes, it's actually a variant of SAD, if you can believe it! http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/seaso
  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake says #
    Thanks Janet! The summer blues, eh? Well, I do find the summer energy overwhelming sometimes, so I guess I can see how it would b
  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    What a great post, Deborah! I don't have winter SAD (my husband does), but SUMMER SAD (if you can believe it). The symptoms are a

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Quiet Time

In the little corner of the world where I exist, on the small 13 acre plot I call home, it is quiet. The hurly-burly of 'the shopping season' is far away from us, and that is something for which I'm very thankful. By-the-by, 'hurly-burly' is one of my favorite words picked up from reading Homer. At our place, this is not a time of holiday shopping, frenzied consumerism disguised as 'needing to stretch my money further'. Our families know that if we give any gifts at all that they were made by our hand. No, this is a time for something much different..

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