“Pride cometh before the fall” is a message I recall hearing many times as a child. The warning that, though there was the expectation that I would always do my best, it was not appropriate to express the positive glow of success and accomplishment. If one did not self-monitor humility, one faced the very real possibility of being “brought back down to size”. Messages that urge us to be humble, to keep quiet, to deflect compliments away are fairly strong. Having internalized these messages, there can definitely be a waft of distaste when we encounter boasting. We feel the wave of Ego come towards us and instinctively step back.
The longer I spend online browsing blogs, lurking in discussion forums and generally talking to other witches and pagans, the more often I see the comment that many people do not celebrate the Wheel of the Year as they have decided the dates as they are traditionally understood in contemporary practice as simply not being a fit any more for their own practice.
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.
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!