General Blog Description: Exploring Southern Hemisphere neo-pagan practice and culture from the point of view of a progressive witch living south of Perth, Western Australia.
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!
A Twitter account that I enjoy following for regular weather updates posted this image today and it really illustrates quite well the weather in Perth and surrounds:
This might seem delightful to some people, but spare a thought to how we cope with so little water. It is beyond impressive that we manage to sustain a population that is water-addicted. And for 6 months of the year, the sun is more often than not, a very harsh sunshine with temperatures regularly soaring to 40°C, making being outdoors generally unbearable. I am not a sun lover, and winter in Perth is much more appealing, with plenty of sun but the sort of sun that is pleasant to bathe in, rather than the burning, searing-the-flesh-off-my-face kind!
Even though it is so-called ‘Autumn’ here in Perth, the season is more accurately described by the Noongar peoples who are native to this land. This season is Bunuru: it is a time that is the hottest part of the year, and very dry. The land has been baked to a crisp, and there is death all around. The long summer draws out every inch of endurance from the living things that populate the land. And birds are everywhere as they looking for food and making a mess on my patio as they drop seeds from the palm that stands tall above and they nibble on the flowers and ripened fruits. Dust is on everything and the hot Easterly winds continue to blow off the desert. My soul desperately craves rain as I sadly tend my garden which is suffering from the unrelenting sun. We are currently experiencing a drought, and as of today there has been 89 days without rain, a record breaking amount for the town where I live. I have stubbornly refused to water my front lawn and it has all but dried to a hay-like crisp. I miss the summer storms, and saw with envy the voluminous clouds that those in Sydney have received recently. Time for a rain dance?
So how does this all connect, in a spiritual sense? In my coven we have resumed with a version of the Wheel of the Year which we have been fine tuning over the past 8 years (after taking a short break to reflect), assimilating it so it fits to the land in a way that is both meaningful and respectful. We have deviated further and further from the duotheistic myths that are often found in the neo-pagan wheel and developed a more ecstatic practice that tunes in with the earth, the sky and the sea. This remains a wonderful time of the year to spend time with the element of water to achieve balance, and to examine the effect of the heat on the spirit as it can be revealing when unease occurs. I have floated in rivers, frolicked in oceans and given offerings of thanks when and where I can in order to sync with the cycle and achieve a sense of balance and peace.
This all makes me think about the parallels with my northern hemisphere neo-pagan counterparts: during a harsh winter, I imagine similar experiences as people are forced indoors due to the harsh elements, and feel a sense of yearning for a change of weather to bring respite, so that the green can come again and productivity can once again be felt. Whilst we are turning inward, and the north is turning outward, to me that resembles a spiral dance, and there is a perfect sort of harmony to it all. In this way, I sense that while the Wheel is flipped for many here down under, there are still important parallels, which can make up for the dis-ease that occurs with the Western secular celebrations that can sometimes feel somewhat jarring at times.
In the meantime, I will continue to pull out dried weeds, mow the uneven, crispy lawn, and get my garden beds ready for the green to come again.