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.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Searching for Owls

One of the things I love about this time of year, is that the evenings are often warm enough to be out and about at twilight, but it gets dark early enough that I can be out at night without overtiring myself. I’m not good at late nights, and around midsummer I often end up in bed before its properly dark. As someone who loves night creatures, this can be a less than perfectly happy state of affairs.

But now, early autumn is upon us, the dark comes earlier and I can be out in it. I go out to listen to the owls – we get little owls, barn owls and tawny owls around my home. They often start calling before the sun has set. Pipistrelle and noctule bats both come out a little bit before the sun sets, too. Most bat species need it to be properly dark, so the odds of seeing them are slim.

I often find that hunting bats will get pretty close to me as they fly past. Recently, one flew at my face in pursuit of a moth, caught said moth inches from my nose, and flew up over my head. It was a very intense moment, and for a second there my field of vision was just an extreme close up of a bat face!

It won’t be long before it is too cold for me to stand around outside after dark. At some point in the autumn it will be too cold for the moths, and the bats will retire for their winter sleep, and I will miss them. I never know until afterwards, when my last bat sighting of the year was. It’s an odd thing, you can’t tell it’s happening until after the event. It’s also funny because we think of bats as creatures of the dark, but they are really summer beings, they may well not be flying by Halloween.

The owls will be with me all winter, and on cold nights I will sometimes hear their cries even with all the windows shut. Owls are not subtle. I notice that they warm up at the start of the evening with their owl songs just as diurnal birds warm up with the dawn chorus. You can hear them checking in with each other as well, calls and answers. They clearly don’t roost in the same spots night after night, but that, I gather is because day birds hate them and attack them. Owls eat small birds as well as mice, and small birds know this.


The image with this blog is Foggy Foggy Night, a Hopeless Maine reimagining of a much more famous painting. It’s a collaboration between myself and Tom Brown.

Last modified on
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.


Additional information