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Author Topic: Wheel of the Year in warmer (or colder) climates  (Read 3250 times)

DJ_Bonneromics

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Wheel of the Year in warmer (or colder) climates
« on: May 10, 2012, 04:31:30 am »
The seasonal symbolism associated with the Wheel of the Year is based upon a particular climatic regime; namely, the cool-temperate climate of NW Europe.  It also works quite beautifully here in the Columbia River Gorge.  Winters are cold enough for at least some snow each year; the earliest spring flowers pop out either immediately before or during the Spring Equinox; the deciduous leaves are open and expanding at Beltane.  With the exception of cherries, the fruit harvest season seems to start right around Lughnasadh (as do the tomato and corn harvests!) and continues into October.  Autumn brings that perfect contrast between chilly mornings and warm afternoons, but the weather really goes downhill right around Samhain:  November is usually very wet and if it isn't wet, the valleys will likely see chilly fog rather than warm sun.

HOWEVER, most of the world's people live in a climate that is warmer or colder than the "traditional four season" climate.  For example in California, the deciduous leaves usually come out in March, and by Beltane it's already looking and feeling a bit like early summer.  By contrast, in the extreme upper Midwest or Canada there usually isn't much flower or leaf color even by Beltane, let alone Ostara.  

I'm curious how Pagans in the Frost Belt or Sun Belt adjust the Wheel of the Year symbolism in order to conform to their particular climate.

Rhyshadow

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Re: Wheel of the Year in warmer (or colder) climates
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2012, 04:44:44 am »
Quote from: DJ_Bonneromics;53823
The seasonal symbolism associated with the Wheel of the Year is based upon a particular climatic regime; namely, the cool-temperate climate of NW Europe.  It also works quite beautifully here in the Columbia River Gorge.  Winters are cold enough for at least some snow each year; the earliest spring flowers pop out either immediately before or during the Spring Equinox; the deciduous leaves are open and expanding at Beltane.  With the exception of cherries, the fruit harvest season seems to start right around Lughnasadh (as do the tomato and corn harvests!) and continues into October.  Autumn brings that perfect contrast between chilly mornings and warm afternoons, but the weather really goes downhill right around Samhain:  November is usually very wet and if it isn't wet, the valleys will likely see chilly fog rather than warm sun.

HOWEVER, most of the world's people live in a climate that is warmer or colder than the "traditional four season" climate.  For example in California, the deciduous leaves usually come out in March, and by Beltane it's already looking and feeling a bit like early summer.  By contrast, in the extreme upper Midwest or Canada there usually isn't much flower or leaf color even by Beltane, let alone Ostara.  

I'm curious how Pagans in the Frost Belt or Sun Belt adjust the Wheel of the Year symbolism in order to conform to their particular climate.

 
When I was involved in Wicca here in Minne-snow-ta, we didn't, not at all.

The symbolism of each sabbat was "locked in stone", so no changes to that were made.  That's what pretty much made it 'tradition'.

Sage

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Re: Wheel of the Year in warmer (or colder) climates
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2012, 08:09:00 am »
Quote from: DJ_Bonneromics;53823

I'm curious how Pagans in the Frost Belt or Sun Belt adjust the Wheel of the Year symbolism in order to conform to their particular climate.

 
In my experience, the symbolism is just that - symbolism. When I went to school in Bryn Mawr (right outside Philly), Imbolc was freezing cold and there sure as hell weren't any signs of spring starting to stir outside. But what it could be was a darkness-before-dawn sort of festival - that even though things are dark and cold now, we have hope and faith that they'll get better. The sun leaves us but she always comes back. We've built civilizations around this concept. The snow is bitter cold and the trees are bare, but there are seeds that need the cold and the dark to properly germinate. We'll see new life before too long. Imbolc has always been primarily about hope to me, and that's a fact no matter where I live.

On the flip side, when it feels like spring is actually on its way, I celebrate. Down in Appalachian Virginia (where I live now) that means before the spring equinox. Spring obviously doesn't arrive just on the date of Ostara - it's an entire process, taking up a month of winter melting and transforming into flowers, budding trees, the return of birds, and finally, the return of insects in such great abandon that if your mouth hangs open, you will surely get some extra protein in your diet. :D Welcome to spring in the South.
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Re: Wheel of the Year in warmer (or colder) climates
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2012, 08:32:03 am »
Quote from: DJ_Bonneromics;53823


Then there are climates like South Texas where the traditional Wheel of the Year makes no sense. There are three growing/harvest cycles per year, no winter to speak over most years and it is summer weather-wise for at least seven months of the year.
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Devo

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Re: Wheel of the Year in warmer (or colder) climates
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2012, 10:58:55 am »
Quote from: RandallS;53864
Then there are climates like South Texas where the traditional Wheel of the Year makes no sense. There are three growing/harvest cycles per year, no winter to speak over most years and it is summer weather-wise for at least seven months of the year.

 
Sounds like here!

That was part of why I moved away from Wicca and the Wheel of the Year. A lot of the symbolism that people used didn't work for me- because I lived in the middle of a desert. We didn't have trees like oak and maple. We didn't have holly in the winter. We had no winter to speak of.

At the time when I was working with that cycle, I did my best to make it happen. However, in time, I quit following the WofY. It just doesn't work for me. Luckily, the Egyptian calendar makes more sense for the desert that I live in, and to some degree- so does the Shinto based calendar. Now, I focus on what is going on around me, and celebrating that daily (though that gets hard when it's 100+ degrees outside) instead of focusing on holidays that someone else created.

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Re: Wheel of the Year in warmer (or colder) climates
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2012, 11:01:01 am »
Quote from: DJ_Bonneromics;53823

I'm curious how Pagans in the Frost Belt or Sun Belt adjust the Wheel of the Year symbolism in order to conform to their particular climate.

 
I never found the Wheel of the Year symbolism particularly appealing or relevant, even when I lived in an area with an appropriate climate.  I eventually wound up in religions with different calendar problems.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

fjfritz

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Re: Wheel of the Year in warmer (or colder) climates
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2012, 11:33:01 am »
Quote from: RandallS;53864
Then there are climates like South Texas where the traditional Wheel of the Year makes no sense. There are three growing/harvest cycles per year, no winter to speak over most years and it is summer weather-wise for at least seven months of the year.

 
Yep, that's what my coven found here in Virginia Beach as well. We also changed our cardinal points/elements to reflect our geographic location. It makes more sense to us and the energies raised are more reflective of where we are. (North = Air; East = Water; South = Fire; and West = Earth).

Of course we don't claim to be a "traditional coven" in the sense of lineage nor do we propose this is the way it should be for everyone. We just use what works for us.

Sage

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Re: Wheel of the Year in warmer (or colder) climates
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2012, 11:48:48 am »
Quote from: fjfritz;53892
Yep, that's what my coven found here in Virginia Beach as well. We also changed our cardinal points/elements to reflect our geographic location. It makes more sense to us and the energies raised are more reflective of where we are. (North = Air; East = Water; South = Fire; and West = Earth).

 
That makes sense! To another Virginia, it makes sense for Earth to be in the direction of the Appalachians. :) How do you find the energies of these new elemental directions?
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Rhyshadow

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Re: Wheel of the Year in warmer (or colder) climates
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2012, 12:08:51 pm »
Quote from: Sage;53898
That makes sense! To another Virginia, it makes sense for Earth to be in the direction of the Appalachians. :) How do you find the energies of these new elemental directions?

 
Sounds like someone read the article I wrote a dozen or so years ago for the local pagan quarterly about that very same thing.

Here in MN I'd put
Air N - fast-moving winter weather systems here are called Alberta Clippers - come out of the north.
Water E - Great Lakes are to our east - mostly - largest concentration of fresh water in the world.
Fire S - Sun never comes north of the Zenith
Earth W - Most of the corn and wheat grown in MN is done west of my position.

As far as the energies are concerned, once I got my mind re-trained around that, I never had a problem calling quarters using the new cardinal directions - course it was only a few years later that I "left the fold" of Wicca - but oh well.

monsnoleedra

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Re: Wheel of the Year in warmer (or colder) climates
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2012, 12:31:13 pm »
Quote from: DJ_Bonneromics;53823
The seasonal symbolism associated with the Wheel of the Year is based upon a particular climatic regime; namely, the cool-temperate climate of NW Europe.
 

I think part of the issue with the "Wheel of the Year" is that it almost always defaults to the Wiccan Wheel that is being discussed.  Even the examples you've used are from the traditional Wicca based wheel and its initial 4 sabbats then later additions.  What starts out as a means to connect to the agrocultural cycle of nature soon gets changed to be symbolic more than factual.  To remove one even further from the actual growing & death cycle and fertility / fecundity rotations.

Myself I do not follow nor really acknowledge the Wiccan Wheel of the Year nor its holidays.  I follow the seasonal wheel for where I live and how it ties into the Lunar Calendar and the rotation of the months of the year and movement of the celestial calendar.  Somewhat based upon the layout of the Medicine Wheel and its markings of the year, yet I also try to be aware of the natural wheel for the regions where the gods / goddesses I follow and honor hailed from.  Think of the typical rotating calendar of Egypt built upon three seasons ie Nile flood, growing season, harvest.

Katefox

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Re: Wheel of the Year in warmer (or colder) climates
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2012, 12:48:54 pm »
Quote from: DJ_Bonneromics;53823
The seasonal symbolism associated with the Wheel of the Year is based upon a particular climatic regime; namely, the cool-temperate climate of NW Europe.  It also works quite beautifully here in the Columbia River Gorge.  Winters are cold enough for at least some snow each year; the earliest spring flowers pop out either immediately before or during the Spring Equinox; the deciduous leaves are open and expanding at Beltane.  With the exception of cherries, the fruit harvest season seems to start right around Lughnasadh (as do the tomato and corn harvests!) and continues into October.  Autumn brings that perfect contrast between chilly mornings and warm afternoons, but the weather really goes downhill right around Samhain:  November is usually very wet and if it isn't wet, the valleys will likely see chilly fog rather than warm sun.

HOWEVER, most of the world's people live in a climate that is warmer or colder than the "traditional four season" climate.  For example in California, the deciduous leaves usually come out in March, and by Beltane it's already looking and feeling a bit like early summer.  By contrast, in the extreme upper Midwest or Canada there usually isn't much flower or leaf color even by Beltane, let alone Ostara.  

I'm curious how Pagans in the Frost Belt or Sun Belt adjust the Wheel of the Year symbolism in order to conform to their particular climate.

 
Not that I've really done anything with the idea yet (bad Pagan!), but I really like the idea of celebrating the seasons when seasonal things actually happen, rather than on arbitrary days.  For example, celebrating the first snowfall as the start of winter, or celebrate the start of spring when I notice the weather's getting warmer, or that plants are starting to get green.  This, of course, also encourages me to be more aware of the seasonal changes around me.

fjfritz

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Re: Wheel of the Year in warmer (or colder) climates
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2012, 01:02:55 pm »
Quote from: Sage;53898
That makes sense! To another Virginia, it makes sense for Earth to be in the direction of the Appalachians. :) How do you find the energies of these new elemental directions?

 
We actually found they worked better. For us, out of the North comes cold air, rain and snowstorms (the proverbial Nor'easter). East is the Atlantic Ocean (lots of water there), South brings the heat up from the Carolinas and to our West is about 3000 miles of earth. :)

When we started (so many years ago) using the more traditional ways, we got a lot of fog and mud. LOL

Jenett

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Re: Wheel of the Year in warmer (or colder) climates
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2012, 01:47:33 pm »
Quote from: DJ_Bonneromics;53823

I'm curious how Pagans in the Frost Belt or Sun Belt adjust the Wheel of the Year symbolism in order to conform to their particular climate.

 
Honestly, in Minnesota, the seasons are there, but just a little off. I don't know about others, but I've always found small signs of the seasonal change around the Sabbats (even though there might be a snow flurry on Beltane, the world is definitely getting greener.)

Maine's a bit easier: the depths of the winter aren't quite as deep, though some of the patterns in how the weather goes are noticeably different. (Despite the fact I'm living at just about the same latitude as I was in Minnesota)

My basic take on it, though, is:
1) The Sabbats are about seasonal change. It's not about "Beltane, this day, is the day when Everything Is Fertile. It's about moving into that cycle of the year." And clearly, between Beltane and Solstice, things *do* start blooming, even in the colder climates. Just like between Imbolc and Equinox, there's a noticeable lengthening of the days, snow starting to melt a bit, and so on.

(This bit doesn't work places that are working on totally different seasonal patterns, but it does work for places where the peaks of the seasons vary a bit - or vary year to year.)

2) My tradition also looks at the Wheel as a cycle of personal growth and change - so, growing an idea or goal through the spring and summer, harvesting it in the fall, and then reflecting and introspecting over the winter. That cycle can fit on top of a wide range of weather.

3) Part of the point of the Wheel is to be attuned to the natural world around us. I'd rather adjust the ritual to the weather (so I might talk about the coming spring, or the
imminent winter, even if we aren't quite there yet) and then also focus on seasonal foods, or getting out to enjoy whatever nature's doing.
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Rhyshadow

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Re: Wheel of the Year in warmer (or colder) climates
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2012, 01:53:10 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;53921
Honestly, in Minnesota, the seasons are there, but just a little off. I don't know about others, but I've always found small signs of the seasonal change around the Sabbats (even though there might be a snow flurry on Beltane, the world is definitely getting greener.)


Well, yes, especially this year with the wacky weather we had this semi-winter

Quote from: Jenett;53921
Maine's a bit easier: the depths of the winter aren't quite as deep, though some of the patterns in how the weather goes are noticeably different. (Despite the fact I'm living at just about the same latitude as I was in Minnesota)

 
It's the ocean - moderates everything

<- Born and Raised in New England, now living in Minnesota - is 40 years here enough to consider me a native yet?

monsnoleedra

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Re: Wheel of the Year in warmer (or colder) climates
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2012, 02:04:53 pm »
Quote from: Rhyshadow;53925
..

<- Born and Raised in New England, now living in Minnesota - is 40 years here enough to consider me a native yet?


Competely off topic but this reminds me of living in West Virginia.  Your never considered a native in the rural area's unless your family has been in the area since the 1700's to mid 1800's.  Even then it only counts if they were in the area your now living in.  The rest of the time your simply an outsider.

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