Textual Arachne

A weaver of threads.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


(Phew! Glad I wrote that previous entry...it seems like it always takes a self-referential musing before I can dig back into real topics.)

One of my deepest loves about Pagan practice is the wheel of the year. I love the feeling of constant movement and the conflation of the circular time (Equinox coming up again) with linear time (last Vernal Equinox, I was doing such and such...) . I suppose it must be similar for any religion with a strong liturgical year, but there's also a feeling of being in rhythm with the earth that comes from the wheel.

(Aside: One of the Pagan groups that holds public rituals is nontheistic in their celebrations of the year, and I really appreciate that. It reminds me that there's far more to the world, and consequently more to the divine, than the semianthropomorphic figures I pray to.)

So what does it do to the wheel of the year when the weather's as bizarre as it was this winter?

January was unseasonably warm, in an almost scary way. When snow finally came, it was primarily a coat of ice that lingered in yards and on roofs, heavy and slick. Friday's snowstorm was something of a relief to me, even as I'm craving more crocuses. How do you think about the return of the light in February when you could have been wearing shorts the week before? Or, for that matter, how do you celebrate the Summer Solstice when June has been nothing but chilly rain? If these changes are simply the unpredictability of weather, that's one matter--but if this is the effect of global warming, what then?

Nature doesn't recognize the boundaries we put on it with our holidays and with the ideas we develop about what each holiday means and "ought to be like." The year progresses outside of the conventions of the wheel of the year, and snows and thaws will hit regardless of human plans.

So the answer for me, then, is to take it as a reminder to shrug off my preconceptions about the year, while having faith and trust in the return of light and warmth. The plants will grow and summer will come, even if the process isn't "pretty" or "normal." And what seems like bizarre weather is how the wheel continues turning, integrating the human damage of global warming into its constant movement.

The spring will come, but it may not be the spring we are wanting or expecting--it may include destruction, flooding, caterpillar infestations, hurricanes. All that is guaranteed is that spring will come, over and over, year after year. The rest--what the holiday brings, what it promises, what we can make out of what happens--is up to us.


At 3:16 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

Well-said (even though the reference to caterpillars makes me shudder even now! *wry grin*)

I've been trying to explain to my southern mother why I'm so relieved to have snow now, and I think it's because the winter just wouldn't have seemed right without it. 60s in January is just plain weird, for where we live, and I"m much more comfortable with snow at the end of March. Besides, after 15 years of inhabiting this clime, I've learned to see signs of spring in the reddening of the twigs, and if we don't get proper winter, those signs aren't intelligible any more.

You raise a good point also that nature doesn't care a whit for what structure we do or don't lay over how the year unfolds. We may need, over time, to adjust our understanding of what the different seasons mean. But I still think the wheel of the year offers, as you say, a chance to live both in linear time and in cyclical time -- valuable beyond measure.


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