Tag Archives: Wheel of the Year

Season of the Miniature

Summer solstice has passed, and the earth is reborn in miniature.

Tiny helicopter seeds on the manitoba maple are the size of my fingernail.

Acorns on the oak are tiny green pebbles.

Half-sized squirrels recklessly cross the ground near me, not yet having learned the caution of an adult.

Families of fledgling foragers feast! Magpie groups of about 5 birds array themselves in high bushes and low tree branches. The young, with their tell-tail stubby tail feathers, suitable for close quarters in the nest, still with the low raspy call of a nestling demanding food – always accompanied by the anxious adult shepherd with their long graceful tail & higher, piercing call.

A nuthatch came to the seed feeder yesterday, followed by another who watched from the tree, followed by a third – half the size of the adults. A young fledgling learning life outside the nest from her parents.

I’ve felt especially sympathetic to the nestlings this spring, as I cuddle close a young fluffy-headed chick of my own.

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Nature’s New Year

Midway between equinox and solstice, the dark time of the year begins. And right on cue, the first snowflakes fall from the sky, beautifully drifting down at a meditative pace.  The leaves have dropped from most trees, leaving behind decorative bright red berries or helicopter seed pods. In nature lore the sacred Crone mourns the death of her spouse for the next six weeks, until the solar babe is born and the light begins its annual growth. A time of peaceful reflection, rest, and waiting.

 

Light returning

Now the ends of the daylight reach to meet the ends of my day – light for the morning dog walk and light over the valley returning home in the evening. Always a milestone in my year. The light  highlighting wisps of morning cloud is all the more beautiful after weeks of dark-sky morning walks.

Sickle moon

Saw the merest wisp of the sickle crone moon low in the sunrise-pink sky around 8 this morning – crescent so delicate it could melt away in a moment; just a glimpse of her back as she slips out the door.

The sun still had a ways to climb before breaking the horizon on this solstice weekend.

Moon and sun meeting at the darkest end of their cycles.

A perfect weekend to enjoy the gifts of the darkness – healing rest, quiet contemplation, stillness – a peacefully introspective time.

Autumn Moon

A wonderful moon! Gateway to Autumn, easing us in slowly, deliciously…

It began with the first inklings of summer’s end:
Two bright yellow jewels in the green grass – the first fallen leaves.
Six geese making their pilgrim way across dusk-darkening sky at 9pm.

It shines brightly now on comfortably cool nighttimes; darkness falling ever-earlier.

Mornings are moonless at this time: sunrise presides over crisp morning walks,
under bright clear skies trailing high clouds that capture ever-shifting colours.
Elm trees presenting a single, stark, yellow-clustered branch among the summer-green.

And it will end with the autumnal equinox, ushering out Summer.

Imbolg, the beginning

Imbolg can be considered the beginning of the annual cycle, inasmuch as a cycle has a beginning or an ending.

The sabbats equally divide the year into eight parts: the points of longest and shortest daylight, and the midway points of equal day & night mark the four quarters, and then the midpoint between each of these make up the four cross-quarters.

They are eight small, even stitches in time which serve as ideal points to step aside, out of the path of regular life, and reflect. These points have also been connected to the human story writ large, the one you have to step back to get the big picture of – beginnings, growth, wisdom, endings – happening over and over again throughout each lifetime. While the eight points highlight the cycles in nature, they also reflect the cycles we experience in life – stitches connecting our concrete reality with abstract reality.

All of this by way of exploring, why am I coming to you, snow piled high outside, calling it a seasonal beginning!?

We are poised mid-way between two big flashy sun-points: shortest day and equal day-night, Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. In fact, I might expect Spring Equinox, when the idea of SPRING is celebrated (if not the reality yet, on the cold, frozen northern prairie!), to be “the beginning,” but the image of spring is one of lush, verdant shoots, bright flowers in bloom – life already in full swing, springing into action under the warmth and light of the sun. The real beginning is quiet, below the surface: the planted seed, the waiting bulb. Winter followed by Spring – the seasons now poised on the brink of that invigorating, inevitable roll into warmth and growth and abundant daylight.

It is the waiting in the wings time before Spring dances onto centre stage for the first act.

Imbolg translates as “in the belly” – womb-time, which feels right for this season – still the deep heart of winter, time of hibernation, the ground hard and unchanging, but holding within it the roots and bulbs of life, potential in stasis, waiting for the right time for growth and emergence. A time of candles, symbol of inspiration (not to mention a seasonally welcome activity!), this particular stopping point in the path can be devoted to reflections on inspiration, attentiveness to new ideas forming, making mental space to allow awareness of creative (ad)ventures lurking beneath the surface of conscious, day-to-day living. Inspiration – the very earliest stage of new growth in our lives.

I was reminded today that Chinese New Year, also this weekend, is really Spring Festival, also connected to sun and moon cycles, and that many cultures have a celebration at this time. I’m curious to learn more about the global connections in these celebrations. What fascinates me, too, is the continuity from centuries past of the Chinese celebration. What does a tradition look like that has had that long to steep, continued unbroken, evolving through the ages into modern times? I’m intrigued to learn more…

 

Dark of Winter

The wheel of the year turns, bringing us round to the dark time. It is the season of long, deep nights, with restful darkness drawn about us like a soft quilt: that comfort at the  heart of winter.

Luminaria in the snowThe ethereal blessing of prairie winter nighttime is the abundance of bright, reflective snow. Every light picked up a million-fold in the water crystals along the surface of their banks and fields. It mysteriously hangs twinkling in the air as if snow fairies had just danced by. It is a beautiful, magical season.

And now, on solstice morning, we’re “half-way through the dark,” as they so aptly put it in a Christmas Dr. Who episode not so long ago. The dark and light ebb and flow, like the ocean tides in celestial slow motion. The darkness now begins receding – and as I sit by my window on this sacred morning, I feel a friendly loneliness for it at the prospect.