Planting Seeds, Turning the Wheel

Planting Seeds, Turning the Wheel September 3, 2018

Turning the Wheel

“Witches’ work is turning the wheel”, says Minneapolis witch Steven Posch. This is a reference to progress; the progression through the seasons AND the progression of justice.

A painted Wheel of the Year from the Museum of Witchcraft, Boscastle by Midnightblueowl

Many of the earth-honoring traditions see the acknowledgement of the turning of the seasons as a religious duty. For Wiccans, celebrating the solstices, equinoxes, and cross quarter days connects us to the cycles of the seasons and gives us a framework for the spiritual work we do. The seasons progress from the incubation of Winter. Then we move, with the earth and the sun to embarking and planting of Spring. Next comes tending what we have planted in the Summer. Then, our attention turns to the harvest or manifestation of Autumn. The wheel of the seasons turns finally to integration, a kind of storing-of-insights, when the cycle to begins again with Winter incubation.

There are four ways that “Turning the Wheel” rituals are important. First, it is valuable to acknowledge, celebrate and simply NOTICE the changes in the world around you. Second, participating in the rituals of seasonal progression has an internal psychological and spiritual effect, creating internal transformation. Third, many people believe that these rituals have a physical effect on the natural world. Fourth, the transformation that is wrought within each participant can manifest in action to create changes in the world through our voices, hands, behavior and votes.

Poetic Truth

There’s a fine line between turning the wheel, where we think of our rituals as necessary for the life cycle to continue, and celebrating the wheel, where we think of our seasonal rituals as inspiration for internal and societal transformation. Indigenous teachers are often vague about making this distinction. They are speaking poetic and mythological truths. Back when I lived in upstate NY, I heard the Iroquois elder, Ama Lee, urge those of us living in Iroquois territory to do the rituals because the the corn needs the rituals of “the people” in order for it to thrive.

Personally, I’m agnostic about the effects of human rituals on the plants and the earth. Acknowledging the poetic reality where our rituals are necessary to our natural world, I’m willing to participate without empirical evidence. I do have evidence, however, that our rituals have real effects in each person’s psyche, and our social interconnections.

Countryside Vegetable Garden – CCO Public Domain

We in the Northern hemisphere are in the harvest time of year. Our backyard garden is trying to escape the fence. We picked blueberries and froze them. They are ready to burst flavor in January and February. The cucumbers from our garden are outpacing our ability to eat, turn them into soup, or pickle them. But what spiritual insights are emerging at this time? What can we harvest from the planting and tending we’ve done over the Spring and Summer?

Change in the Real World

Certainly in the area of U.S. politics seeds have been planted. The response to the current administration has opened up awareness of deep divisions in our country and activated well-meaning, but heretofore unaware people of privilege, to work for justice. More people who LOOK LIKE and LIVE LIKE the people they will be representing are running for office. This change in the political landscape will be harvested in November. I plan to tend, as best I can, this new life and hope so that people from school board members to senators are elected who will lead our people toward justice, compassion, and a return to ideals which I value most about our nation.

2015 Strike in “Dinkytown” Minneapolis/St. Paul – Photo by FibonacciBlue

Seeds were planted in the area of economic justice as my town, and others, adopted new minimum wage laws. On April 15th, 2015 fast food workers across the USA walked out on strike to hold protests and marches demanding a $15/hour minimum wage. In the Twin Cities, striking fast food workers were joined by university workers, students, janitors, retail workers and airport workers. They called for a $15/hour minimum wage, paid sick days, and fairer scheduling of work hours. For large employers, the minimum wage became $9.65 on January 1, 2018. In Portland, Oregon, where I am, beginning July 1, 2018 the minimum wage increased to $10.75.

Labor Day

Labor unions and labor justice activists created Labor Day. The work of change-making was not easy. There were divisions of culture and language among the workers. The owners controlled the police and militias. The workers were mostly immigrants so they didn’t have the sympathies of the general public. Never-the-less, they persisted.

IWW Textile workers face militia during 1912 strike in Lawrence MA

Child labor laws, the weekend, fair wages and safe working environments were instituted because of the pressure the workers put on the companies and government. All these things have been eroded over time. We have allowed the war against unions, that is waged through propaganda, to turn the wheel back.

There is argument about whether the current United States is an oligarchy (rule by a few who hold power of various kinds) or plutocracy (rule by the rich). Whichever it is, we generally agree that the workers of the United States do not feel represented by their elected officials. As the influence of unions has eroded, there is no longer a strong, unified, force protecting workers.

This is the work of this age, to rebuild the connections, solidarity, and heart for activism that defies the forces of economic greed. This is the work of turning the wheel. This is the work of earth-honoring people and all those who recognize the one-ness of our sacred worth.

From the labor movement to laboring for one another

After the wave of activism that gave us unions, there were other waves of solidarity and activism; other movements toward caring for our fellow human beings and our home, planet earth. Feminism, anti-racism, fair treatment for people with disabilities, eco-consciousness… All of these began to take hold through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

If you watched the movie “Hidden Figures” you probably noticed the many challenges women of color experienced while working at NASA. One main reason Katherine Johnson, and many other women, got jobs at NASA was that the men were at war and employers were desperate to find talented, brilliant people, even if they were women, and even if they were women of color. Desperation turned the wheel toward progress.

Actors and producer of “Hidden Figures” NASA Kennedy/Kim Shiflett

I recently read an article that was written by a psychologist about Donald Trump. He made some guesses about Trump’s mental health. His analysis applies to ALL people who misuse power. He advises us to “be clearer than ever about your core values, beliefs and principles, and rely on them for guidance and comfort.” His advice for those of us who are working to create a world of compassion, justice, and sustainability applies no matter who the current “person in power” is.

We need to speak truth to power. We need to be prophets in the Hebrew Bible sense (one who tells the people in power how they are wrong and what they need to do to better serve their God.) We need to turn the wheel of justice. We need to “Challenge every day the natural inclination to feel overwhelmed, fatigued or numb.

Your Wheel May Not Look Like My Wheel

The wheel of the year as passed down from English strains of pagandom don’t make sense in many locations in the world. My father in Chile tells me about the cooling temps while I talk about trees budding out. My cousin in Hawaii, like island and equatorial people, pays attention to seasons of rain and arid months. Climate change is shifting much of what many of us experienced in our childhoods.

We are so mobile now, traveling far from the places we grew up, that the seasonal rhythm you knew as a child may have no bearing on the seasonal rhythm where you live now. I travel with my spouse from Oregon, where I grew up, to the South West in the Winter. At first the desert felt like a foreign land, even a moonscape, to me. We’ve learned to live lightly in our travel trailer in a dry climate. Even simple changes, like how we wash dishes are different from what we do in the very wet Winter of Oregon. I’ve had to learn about this new-to-me land, and a learn a new way of honoring the season of Winter there. I’ve also learned different ways of being a part of social change because Southern Arizona is very different from Portland, Oregon!

Note: Distances are exaggerated and not to scale

We need to look, listen, pay attention to the cycles of the natural world where we are and learn what they are telling us, for the place where each of us is now. We need to look, listen, pay attention to the rhythms and changes of the political, social, and cultural worlds as well.

Turn Your Wheel

So, yes, pay attention to the rituals so that the corn, (or sugar cane, or sweet potato, or peanuts, or whatever fills that niche in your area) can thrive. And pay attention to these rituals so that your heart and your head and your spirit deepen into your core values, beliefs and principles. Do the rituals so you can shift toward planting seeds and tending the tiny growing tendrils of justice.

Turning the Wheel
By Steven Posch (2003)

Witches’ work is turning the wheel,
and round the wheel doth turn.

Time wheels, the world wheels,
time and space
embrace in the wheeling circle,
the dance of the wheel.
The only constant is constant change:
the nature of a wheel is to turn.

Witches’ work is turning the wheel:
to divine the course of change
and to aid it, to add her will
to the will of the wheel;
for the witch is the agent of change.

And witches’ work is turning the wheel,
and round the wheel doth turn.


Reverend Amy provides spiritual mentoring to dispirited helpers yearning to uncover and use their spiritual superpowers to create more love and justice in the world. See more at

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