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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November – a difficult time for celebrating

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Last year I wrote about the first frosts as something to enjoy in November.

This is without a doubt the month I find hardest to be positive about. Samhain with all its spooky joys is now behind us. The winter stretches ahead. The cold has its teeth in and will likely keep chewing for months to come. The ground becomes slippery and treacherous, the days short and dark. Everything is harder. And I’m one of the lucky ones; I have a home, I can afford to heat it and I can afford to eat.

There’s a part of me that can’t help but feel that winter celebration is often more about privilege than anything else. So many people suffer so much at this time of year. Of course there is some scope for celebrating in a state of gratitude, if things are better for you than they might be, but I’m not sure how healthy a thing that is to practice. Gratitude that you aren’t falling through the cracks can help to normalise the falling through the cracks.

About two weeks ago I was up on the common, I found a scabious and a dandelion in bloom. Late season flowers. There’s always a few who struggle on into the cold, dark part of the year, blooming when it makes no sense at all to bloom, and putting their colour into the world.


At the table where I’m working, there are more flowers. Last winter I homed a half-dead Christmas cactus that proceeded to keep flowering until after Easter, and has, this autumn, decided to try being a Samhain cactus as well. I have no idea what’s going on there, but the profusion of bright flowers cheers me. The crazy, unseasonal blooming of things that won’t give up cheers me as well. Pagan wisdom has it that nature is turning to the long dark sleep of winter right now, but I’ll be looking out for the flowers who didn’t get the memo, and who follow their own strange rhythms and add colour to the darkest days.

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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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