What Are These “Seasons” You Speak Of?

grassy hills, thick cloud cover, but just a tiny bit of blue sky poking through
Glasgow, Scotland. 28 May 2013. Raining. Again. 55°F/13°C.

It was sunny on Friday. And Saturday and Sunday. Sunny and beautiful and downright Spring-like. Only here in the UK, they call this “Summer”. Summer starts at the beginning of May, with a nice long weekend heralding the start of trips to the seaside, walks in the countryside, and summer art festivals like the one we just had here for the past two weeks in Glasgow’s Southside.

Monday came with heavy rains. I’m not talking about the bits of drizzle that pass for a rainy day during a normal Seattle Summer’s day. These were like the torrential rains of a coastal Texas summer, only without the heat and all day long instead of just for an hour or so.

I ask local Glaswegians about this weather. Is it normal? No, they say. Sure, it’s always colder and grayer here than in other places, but this is a thing beyond the usual Scottish cold. No. It’s not supposed to snow in May, as it did not too far from here last week. No, it’s not usual, they tell me, but it’s a lot like last year, actually. There were about two weeks of summer last year, they say. I guess I was lucky to see some of that sun last July. But then again, it did rain the day we drove up to Loch Lomond during that trip.

Global Weirding. It’s not just getting warmer. The weather is getting weirder. It seems we don’t really know what our seasons are any more.

Perhaps we need to learn about our seasons all over again. Maybe we should just stop thinking that we “know” what the seasons are any more, and start fresh. I say this as a Pagan, not as a meteorologist or astronomer, of course. Astronomical seasons are in no danger of changing, as far as I know, and it seems to me that meteorologists are the ones keeping their eyes on the skies and avoiding assumptions past the few days’ weather they predict for the news, the farmers and the transportation authorities. The rest of us may need to stop, sit still, watch and listen to the Earth. We may need to take Her at face value rather than trying to impose our existing cultural ideas of “seasons”. We may even need to adjust our mythology to help us cope.

When I was in my late teens I lived in El Salvador for a while. I was surprised to learn that they call the season from late June to late September invierno (lit. “Winter”). El Salvador may be South of the US, Mexico and Guatemala, but it is still quite a bit North of the Equator. It’s hot as can be in July and in August when the country is full of local fairs for the Saints’ Festivals. But it rains every day during this season, and it doesn’t rain during the months that North Americans call Winter. For them, “Winter” equals “The Rainy Season”.

How often have we all read discussions in Pagan blogs and books about whether we should follow a standard eightfold holiday calendar, some other historical holiday system, or just celebrate the changes in the Earth around us? This isn’t just about migration and living in places that don’t fit the calendars we follow. This is about learning how to live and breathe with our Mother. Whether we shift our holidays or not may be irrelevant. How we relate to the “seasons” on the ground is a matter of serious need.

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