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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in turning the wheel



When my father died at the end of August, he left me a wheel of cheese.

We're big cheese-eaters in my family. Several times a year, I would open the front door to find a box of cheese waiting on the doorstep. À propos of nothing in particular, Dad would have decided that his son needed some cheese, and would send it along accordingly.

Cheese is a sacred food: sacred, in particular, to the Moon. Moon, milk, whiteness: it all fits. (Not to mention cattle, with their crescent-decrescent horns.) When they say that the Moon is made of green cheese, it's a reference to a wheel of ripening (“green”) cheese. Because the cheese isn't ripe yet, it's still uncut, i.e. round, like the full Moon.

That, of course, we refer to a round of cheese as a “wheel” is in itself a prime indicator of sanctity. To pagans, the Wheel—meaning the Cycle—is a prime symbol of Being. Time is a wheel, the world is a wheel, life is a wheel. To pagans, it's all wheels.

The last box of cheese that my father sent me before he died included a large (= five pound) wheel of Baby Swiss. It's sat in the refrigerator for months now, because once a wheel of cheese is cut, you've got to use it up, and there's no way that I could eat that much cheese before it would start to mold.

Well, Yule is coming up. One of the many things that I learned from my father—not from what he said, but from how he led his life—is that your job as a man is to see that your people are taken care of. If that means that you have to work two jobs, you work two jobs. If that means that you have to pick up a gun and shoot someone, then that's what you do. Not because you want to shoot anyone, not because you want to work two jobs. You do it because that's what it means to be a man.

I was never the son that my father expected; I never married or had a family. In the end, every man has to find his own way to manhood. There are many ways to be a man, and Dad always had the love to let me be my own kind.

So, Yule. We don't usually exchange gifts in the coven anymore—thank Goddess, we decided to discontinue that as-if-Yule-weren't-already-stressful-enough practice several years ago—but this year I've got something very special for everyone regardless.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, I'm really sorry about your Dad's passing. Having lost both parents, as a fifty-something man, I can empathize. Your

Posted by on in Culture Blogs




Everybody knows that witches don't have leaders. Granny Weatherwax was the leader that the witches didn't have.”

(Terry Pratchett)


I'm fortunate in having friends who aren't afraid to ask the Big Questions, so let me ask you one such that my friend and colleague Frebur posed to me recently: What is the Great Work of the Witch?

To answer this question, we first must ask another: What is the witch's most important tool?

(If you said “athame,” think again.)

Having established means, let us next establish ends: What is the Witch's Work?

Well, that's easy: the Work of the Witch is Transformation.

We transform What Is into What Is Not.

We transform Winter into Spring, and Summer into Fall.

We transform a Line into a Circle, and a Circle into a Line.

We transform What Is Not into What Is.

What, then, is the Great Work of the Witch? Is it not, as Frebur wrote, “to live every aspect and moment of one’s life as a witch?”

Is not, after all, the Greatest Transformation ultimately the Transformation of Self?

Some are content to be who they are. Well, there's no shame in that.

But that's not the Way of the Witch. The witch will never be content with being who she is.

The witch wants to be who she can become. This is the deep witchery.

Well, there are witches and witches. You know the ones that I mean: the ones that witches themselves look at and say, Now there's a witch!

Now there's a witch, they say, shaking their heads: half in admiration, half in disbelief.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



A friend's high priestess sent her a beautifully crafted wooden wheel for Yule. An apt gift, certainly.

(Witches are big into wheels. Life, Time, Space: for us, it's all Wheels.)

Naturally, my friend called her up to thank her.

My friend: What's the symbolism of the ten spokes?

(The Witches' Wheel usually has eight.)

High Priestess: No, it has eight spokes.

MF: No, it has ten.

HPss: (Changes subject.)

Myself, I was pretty disappointed to hear this story.

(Talk about a teachable moment. When your student asks you a question that you can't answer, what should be the first words out of your mouth? Obviously, "Well, what do you think?" As a teacher, you don't teach stuff; you teach thinking.)

First off, I was disappointed that the woman hadn't looked carefully enough at the wheel—it was a gift, after all—to realize that it had ten spokes rather than the canonical eight.

Second, I was disappointed that she didn't know the symbolism of the ten-spoked wheel.

Third, I was disappointed that she didn't try to bullshit her way out of it.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Meditation in a Time of Plague

Stand before it, the Life-Tree: of all trees, biggest and best.

Step in beneath those Branches.

Lie down beside that mighty Bole, beneath those spreading Branches.

Lie down, look up, and see.

See the Bole beside you.

See the Branches above you, raying out in each direction.

See the Circle of Branches around, the great round rim of twig-tip.

Bole, Branch, Circle. Do you see?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Wheel Dance

At the very heart of our Yule each year turns the Great Dance of the Wheel, the dance of the Sun's Rebirth.

Listen while I tell of it.

Wearing holly, the circle of men faces outward. Wearing ivy, enclosing, the circle of women faces in.

The two circles take four steps toward each other, then four steps back.

Then the circles wheel. One moves sunwise, the other, widdershins.

(There's a metaphor to be savored here, but that's for later.)

Again the concentric circles expand and contract. Once again they wheel, reversing direction.

Then repeat.

The song that accompanies the dance tells the seasons of the Sun's life: winter, spring, summer, fall, and back again to winter. In one infinite instant, the Sun is begotten, born, begets, and dies. Like the dance, the song wheels, returning again to its own beginning. In the end, it becomes a round, turning and turning on itself.

In this way, we work our magic.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Good question, Ian. I would think that what you wanted to wear and where you wanted to dance would be up to you. Tradition is fixe
  • Ian Phanes
    Ian Phanes says #
    What would you do if a non-binary person (like myself) wanted to dance?

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

We stood on a rock on the top of a ridge, forested hills and valleys on every side. It was past dusk and heavily overcast, though the full moon shone behind the clouds so they glowed faintly. The mists came in, blanketing out the further hills, filling the valleys. Five of us, and looking at the others, wrapped against the chill and dampness I thought I could be gazing at standing stones, not people, or druids from another time and place, or magicians gathered to create a spell. I could see only shades of grey and black.

We had gone to this particular place because it is in the North-East of our Circle, the direction of Beltaine in the southern hemisphere and that's the time of year it is, here. But the mists and the grey and the isolation - it could have been Samhain, it felt like a night between the worlds. Sometimes the opposite Festivals reach across the Wheel so strongly, holding hands at the hub of it that it's impossible not to see this open secret - whenever it is Samhain in half the world, in the other half it is Beltaine. The earth can never have one without the other, just as it can never have night without day, simultaneously. It's not just that the opposites both exist, but that they both exist at the same time. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Samhain in September

My gods. It just gets earlier every year.

Oh, not the stores. I gave up on those years ago. Samhain stuff going up? Must be September.

What's next? Jack o' lanterns at Lunasa?

Oh, well. In its own way, commerce helps turn the Wheel.

But at home? Folks, we're not even out of the Harvest thirtnight yet. Isn't it a little early for orange lights and skeletons?

Don't get me wrong; I love Samhain as much as the next guy.

But then—let's remember—comes Winter.

And for that, quite frankly, I can wait.

A while back the youth of Zuñi pueblo put together a traveling show of traditional dances. Before they hit the road, they danced for the elders, to get their blessing.

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