It’s not winter yet, but I feel myself leaning towards “Is it time to hibernate?” the past week or so. Dealing with fatigue is never fun, and the desire to nap is stronger when one is also curled underneath a comfortable and warm blanket. I also find myself moving from wanting to be outside all the time to wanting to be inside, with a book, something warm to drink and hot, comforting meals.
I love this time of year- it feels absolutely liminal. It’s the period after the hellish heat of summer, and the cold of winter. The nights get longer, the rains hold a chill, the migrating birds leaving, while other animals prepare for their winter sleep. The leaves are a magnificent array of colors. This year the reds in my are incredibly bright and striking. Not that the yellows and oranges are any less beautiful, mind you.
One of the things I love best about my path is living by the seasons. Connecting, in some way, makes each season new and exciting. In spring, I love to see all the new growth, and to hear the songs of the birds return. After winter, where I haven’t been able to have many fires, the return of fire night is always renewing. In summer, even if I don’t like the heat, I love my garden, and all the fresh vegetables that grow. I love being out by the fire in shorts and a t-shirt, almost too hot because of the fire, drinking mead, dancing and drinking mead. I love camping and hiking and swimming too.
Autumn, we see that struggle between the heat and the cold, light and dark. The air turns crisp and I enjoy Fall foods- pumpkins, squashes, apples, and heartier meals slow cooked all day. Fire nights turn back into reminders of the purpose of fire- to stay warm. And winter, while I struggle a bit because the shorter, darker days create havoc to my mind and body (SAD- seasonal affective disorder sucks!) and my area gets slammed with snow and bitter cold, has become this period of internal work, heavy blankets, hoodies and the hottest of foods. Perhaps this year, I will try to get out, and enjoy winter for what it is- though I say that every year. I apologize to the winter spirits- I just don’t like the cold very much!
Of course, everyone is different. Not everyone gets all four seasons, so what's the norm for me may not be the norm for another. Particularly in these modern times when there’s so many options and a disconnect from nature, I think exploring what the wheel of the year and/or the seasons means to you is important. There’s nothing wrong, of course, with using the "basic" seasons- heck, it makes it easier in many ways.
I shared with you a part of what I see and experience and enjoy each season, but my seasonal “dates” are not as traditional. Winter Solstice, for example, is simply when the light and dark become balanced once more, and then the light begins to slowly return. The same for the Summer solstice- the light and dark are balanced again, and then darkness begins to return. Both I call midwinter and midsummer, though oddly- I feel they are the start of the seasons, particularly winter, which feels like November to April around here.
Both Spring and Autumn are liminal seasons, where this play of light and dark, and warm and cold go back and forth. In my area, the temperatures in September can range from 37º F to 84º F (averages, I’ve seen above 90 in September before!) and the same in May or June! And that’s the other thing I’ll point out! For me, at least in my area, the seasons aren’t exactly 3 months. Winter is 6 months, Spring is 2 months, Summer is 2 months and Autumn is 2 months. And it changes, and is changing as we see more and more the effects of climate change.
I share this because I encourage others to sit and contemplate these things for themselves. It’s another way to connect to your local spirits, and your local seasons. For me, it opens the invitation to experience the seasons deeply. It’s a form of mindfulness practice, as well as being able to express gratitude. Sure, I do prefer a certain temperature, sky color and level of sunshine- but being thankful for each and every day, no matter the temperature and weather makes my days better. Because honestly, I could be miserable all winter, but in the end, what does that accomplish?*
Not only that, knowing how you see the seasons around you helps to build ritual, whether that's daily or seasonal. By connecting to each season as you perceive it, you learn to watch for signs of each season as it begins. For me, I know spring is on it's way not just when the crocuses begin to pop up up through the snow, but when the seemingly endless rains begin. The ground begins to go from ugly brown to a deep fresh green, and you can smell Spring. I watch for other signs in Summer, Autumn and Winter. And I move through my wheel of the year my own way, connected to the Land.
So get out there and experience, observe and be mindful of your wheel of the year, seasons and how it touches your land. Mostly, just find a little something to keep you connected, and appreciative of these days.
*Note- I am not perfect. I really still struggle with liking winter. Some days are great, some days, I’m a cranky “this witch has cold tits and wants things to burn.” It has gotten a lot better though.
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