Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spiritual Nomads Module IV: "Reinventing the Wheel"

"There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to move through the year, as long as it feeds you."  -- Dianne Sylvan

The main homework 'assignment' for week four of the Spiritual Nomads e-course was to examine your annual holidays & celebrations by starting with a blank slate (or blank circle, rather) & filling it in from scratch. I loved this exercise. Loved it. 

I had been meaning to reexamine the "Wheel of the Year" anyway, especially after my whole existential meltdown around Samhain. More importantly, as a gypsy snowbird with an eye towards bioregionalism, I find that the "traditional" wheel does not always work very well, particularly in the climes I inhabit. I worked on it with my husband, our effort comprised of part instinct, part reflection. This is the culmination of our work so far:

One Animist's Wheel of the Year.

The simplest way to discuss this will be to move from the centre outwards, moving clockwise around each circle, when appropriate.

I. The Core: The centre of the wheel shows our bioregions & the approximate portions of the year during which we reside in each. I never noticed this before, but this pictorial exercise reveals that our year is split very nearly by the Solstices; the waning half of the year in a boreal forests/coastal region of Alaska (I think it should be noted that this area is also urban), the waxing half of the year in a high desert region of Utah (this area is very isolated & rural). These two disparate sets of conditions shape our lives & are the building blocks for the most of the events on the outer wheels.

II. The Moon: (Esbats) The full moons are perhaps the most important for me, or maybe they are simply the most personal. My relationship with Lady Moon goes way back -- back to my childhood. So recognizing the ebb & flow of Her cycles remains a basic observance. However, do I have difficulty with the Esbats that fall after Midsummer in Alaska when the Sun remains in the sky most of the night. Recently, I have been considering using the window between the Summer Solstice & the Autumnal Equinox as a time to focus on Solar observances. 

III. Seasonal Events: These are the major, astronomical events that create the quarters. I stopped to consider if they were really actually important to me, to us as a family, or if maybe I was just clinging to the old wheel, but frankly, as an Earthling, they just make sense. We have been observing all of them as a family in one way or another, all along & for the most part, they played a part in my "days of yore" as well. For the Winter Solstice & Vernal Equinox we have well-developed family traditions. The Summer Solstice & Autumnal Equinox we prefer to share with our community in Alaska. (Especially the Summer Solstice which is an ever-developing, ever-growing weekend-long festival.)

*Season Names, (between the Esbat wheel & the Seasonal wheel) will be discussed in section V. Bioregional Influences/Events.

**The symbols for the Solstices & Equinoxes come from A Save The Universe Club (ASTUC), creators of this: A Bioregional Calendar (ABC). The purpose of the "ABC" is to provide "humanity with the ability to organize while encouraging autonomous cultural expression." Although I find the nomenclature of the calendar confusing, I am very attracted to its premise.

IV. Calendar Events: There are a handful of observances which are tied to the Gregorian calendar that we felt were important: birthdays, Thanksgiving & Lughnassadh. (Only our immediate family's birthdays are on this version. We did not include all the important birthdays because space was limited.) Lughnassadh is not exactly a carry-over from the "days of yore" because it has evolved & holds additional meanings for us. It is certainly remains a time to reflect on our harvest, but over the years of sharing this holiday together, it has come to represent the winding-down of Hubby's epic work season. It is a time when we celebrate the onset of a new part of the cycle, a time when he can slow down & we can spend time together as a family again. Lughnassadh is about creating a beautiful meal togetheractually sharing it, or going to a park with a great ale & just enjoying the togetherness. 

V. Bioregional Influences/Events: The outer wheel. This is the rich & complex part where the natural world co-mingles with life & we find ourselves in a dance with the seasons. I begin at the Migration South which is followed by a brief rebalancing & the onset of our Season of Creativity & Production. During this window, little work is done outside the home except for volunteering, so there is much time for creativity, home improvement & preparedness. As time moves toward the Vernal Equinox, familiar signs of Spring emerge; my mother's hens resume laying, the cattle begin birthing, sleeping desert creatures begin to stir, etc. Passing the Equinox, signs of the waking Earth continue. Hubby must leave & the time for Planting & Preparing begins. During this time, the children & I tend to plants & prepare ourselves & our home for our departure.

After the Migration North, we have another period of rebalancing, coupled with the Summer Solstice which, in Alaska, is most decidedly a significant bioregional event. (All hail the Midnight Sun & then some!) The First Bolete is our symbol for the commencement of the Foraging Season. During this phase, we take our cues from the land & it's creatures most keenly. Fungi reign supreme in our hearts & minds while wild berries & salmon follow, a close second. Shortly after the Autumnal Equinox (typically) the arrival of the Termination Dust signals the beginning of a rapid shift into cold, darkness. This is a period of waiting, a time to Pause & Rest before gathering ourselves up & returning to our southern climes.

Final Considerations: I have been thinking about other celebrations & festivals that might be meaningful additions, but when I consider that Esbats alone make up thirteen events every year, it seems as though our year might already be adequately filled with revelry. However, I am attracted to the Chinese tradition of having a festival during the largest full moon of the year, I have a personal attachment to World Refugee Day (there is an explanation, but I don't want to elaborate here), I intend to look more carefully at the formal observances for specific deities & I have some interest in tracking astronomical events more closely. In the end, I believe there is room for adaptations & possibly further additions, but I will wait & take my cues from my Family, Community, Spirits & the Land.


Lis said...

Wow. Your Wheel is lovely, full of meaning and so beautifully presented.

Moma Fauna said...

Thank you! I have more things to add, now that I have had time to think about it. Guess I'll have to draw it again -- this time in ink though, so it is easier to see.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...