This is a subject I have written and spoken about before but I find myself again struggling with the winter solstice – not because I want to argue with the planetary alignment (I wouldn’t dare, they are much bigger than me…) but because of the mad weather in the UK. It just doesn’t feel very wintery especially as this morning I have just dead headed some geraniums (pelargoniums) in my front garden that are still happily flowering away…
In the beginning
When I first started on my pagan journey I was presented with the Wheel of the Year that it seemed most pagans worked with. I spent ages trying to remember the dates and learn the names and correspondences. Even to this day I have to stop and think about it when trying to recall what is what.
I also started dressing my altar for each sabbat and looking up all the correct colours, herbs and associations to know what to put on it. But I have to admit I started to lapse and I realised that I wasn’t connecting with the celebrations and what I was doing was just a mechanical action because I thought I had to.
As my journey has deepened and the years have passed I don’t worry about any of it any more. I don’t particularly work with the sabbats or at least not the set dates on the calendar. Especially as Mother Nature appears to be having a menopausal melt down here in the UK and the seasons are all completely squiffy. I have summer bedding plants in the garden that have continued to flower all winter and daffodils and hawthorn flowering in January, it has all gone completely mad. It makes it quite difficult to celebrate the specific sabbats when nature isn’t playing ball.
Wheel of the Year
If you do follow the Wheel of the Year and it works for you then please, please continue to do so. I am not knocking the system, I just want to share with you how
I work with the seasons and it is more on a monthly/weekly/stick your head outside kind of basis rather than following the set dates on a calendar. It works for me, it might not work for you.
I left the Wheel of the Year behind and started working with the energies of each month, it started a few years ago and actually has evolved to me working not just with the energies of each month but sometimes even the specific energies of the week or the day. One of my lovely friends refers to it as ‘falling off the wheel’. It is all governed by what nature and the weather are doing at any given time.
Also the energies will change depending on where you are in the world and how your seasons work. Our ancestors would have welcomed the first day of spring when they saw the signs of spring in the plants, the earth and the weather, not because it was 2nd of February (Imbolc).
Whilst it is useful to have the sabbat dates to use as a universal guide, the first signs of spring aren’t always on a specific date. I struggled when spring was early or late and didn’t arrive when the calendar told it to. With the UK having a very mild winter last year it was hard to acknowledge Yule/the Winter solstice when the weather was so warm I didn’t even need to wear a coat…
So I follow my intuition and see what the energies of the day, week or month are going to bring. Be guided by nature, when she starts to send out the first shoots of spring on her plants, when the frosts have finished, when you open the door in the morning and you can feel the warmth of the early morning sun on your face, listen to the birds, watch them building their nests, follow the progress of the baby birds learning to fly, watch the flowers opening on the plants and the leaves as they journey through the year from buds, to green, to orange and then fall.
Nature is all around you, even if you live in the city there will be at least a tree or a bush that will give away the tell tale signs of the seasons. Breath in the air each day and see if you can tell when spring turns to summer and summer to autumn then onto the crisp cool air of winter, trust your senses.
It is a journey of discovery…