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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Alternative wheels for a changing world

It’s June. It’s cold and raining, and everything outside my window says ‘climate change’ to me in ways that make me deeply uneasy. High winds, torrential downpours, and at the same time, an explosion of hawthorn flowers like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The wild garlic and the horse chestnuts have been exuberant as well.

What does it means for Pagans? The ancestral dates of festivals no longer relate reliably to what’s happening. We don’t know what’s coming, or how it will impact on us. Our world is changing. The seasons are changing, the climate is changing.

Many of us are engaged in the active process of trying to stop everything going wrong. Radical lifestyle changes, political efforts, and reimaging are underway in many places. We need more of this.

I don’t usually use this column to promote other things, but I’m going to this month because sharing ideas and inspiration is a critical part of the solution. So, if you’d like more of me talking about radical change, please do have a look at my Quiet Revolution posts over at . If you’re interested in books, words, authoring and stories please also have a look at this blog post from Kevan Manwaring on beauty in desolation  -

Do also check out Jane Meredith on Witches and Pagans writing about local magic and seasonal celebration -

It is easy enough to keep our Paganism indoors, behind closed curtains as we keep our heads down to celebrate an imaginary wheel of the year, based on what we imagine nature is doing. In face of climate change, it might be tempting to just hide and deny, but a nature based spirituality, or magical practice just isn’t going to work if we aren’t connecting with what’s happening.


We need more alternative wheels.


This month, Rachel Patterson’s Arc of the Goddess comes out, taking a month by month approach to the wheel of the year. It’s based on a lived experience as a British witch, so won’t translate to all locations. I’m aware of other authors working on regionally specific ways of thinking about the seasons, too, and this can only be a good thing. We need to navigate the changes by engaging with them, whatever the future brings us.

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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.


  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Wednesday, 01 June 2016

    Funny you should mention hawthorn: our huge tree (30' tall) seems very abundant in this year's warmth (Oregon was QUITE warm, especially in April) but, unless I blinked and missed it, skipped blooming this year. I wonder if it likes the cold and wet better?

  • Nimue Brown
    Nimue Brown Thursday, 02 June 2016

    That is huge for a hawthorn, if American ones are like the British trees, they are very slow growing, it may be really old.

  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Thursday, 02 June 2016

    They are so common around here that they are practically a weed. I must have dozens of seedlings on our property. This one usually blooms profusely, I'm going to assume it's having an off year. This one is native to Oregon, so it's species may be different from the ones you have in Britain.

  • Nimue Brown
    Nimue Brown Thursday, 02 June 2016

    I was struck when visiting the States by how very different the oak trees are.

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