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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No longer a lamb

When they first appeared in the fields, the lambs were small and sprightly, curious about everything. They ran and leapt about, little bundles of wild enthusiasm. There comes a point in the year – and we’re about there now – when lambs stop being little bouncy things, and start noticing that they are in fact, sheep. They fill out, getting that barrel body. They eat grass rather than relying on milk, run less, get sensible, because this is what sheep do.

Some years ago I met a guy at a badger hide, who was talking about the badger group and how one of the young badgers was totally bonkers. He hadn’t figured out what being a badger was all about, and was still running round like a mad thing. It was speculated that eventually he would get this sorted out, and grow up, and become like a regular badger.

We arrive in the world full of enthusiasm and curiosity, with no idea who and what we are. We run around like mad things. For humans, there isn’t a specific time of year for settling down and honouring a sensible transition to proper, steady adult behaviour. If we did rites of passage for our young folk, perhaps this would be different. If we did those rites of passage, perhaps they should be at this time of year, when so many other young mammals are dealing with the transition into adulthood.


It is interesting at this time of year when you can watch the lambs figuring out that they’re turning into sheep, to consider what we have turned into, and whether that was what we expected. It probably isn’t what we initially hoped for or planned. Those of us who wanted to be wolves, but turned into sheep. Those of us who took off our princess dresses, hung up our fairy wings and got a proper job. Those of us who surrendered dreams for the sake of imagined security, only to find out nothing is as certain as we were told it would be. There are also the ugly ducklings who turn out to be swans, lost children who are really princes... there are many transformation stories to tell. Now that the lambs are no longer so small and bouncy, it is good to stop and remember them, and honour the change, while questioning our own.

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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.


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