I hear often that a person is not a pagan, or a wiccan, or believe in my faith, but they do believe in being spiritual or keeping track of the seasons. It is interesting that the first thing a person does when they are being open minded is to take notice of nature. I won’t make a gross generalization and say that almost all Pagans are nature lovers, but in my experience, I have yet to run into a Pagan that does not have some connection or love for the outdoors. Campers, hikers, dog walkers have all found their way to appreciating nature in all it’s marvels. I know an author who takes some of the most amazing photographs from the oddest things. Of the grossest, and the most beautiful, are mushrooms on dog poop. Yup, they are pretty, and it is hard to see what it is they are growing out of, but there you have it. Old Ways facebook group has a daily beauty picture with an invitation for you to share your own picture of daily beauty. The author invites you to show gratitude for anything, and everyday supports you by asking you to share what you need a prayer for. Out of nature comes beauty, out of that comes gratitude, and from there a sharing of your burden. Science has proven that a chemical is activated within you to make you happy when you walk through the forest, and that you are exposed to germs that reduce your stress. Check out that fact here.Finland even has a word for the kind of walk you take to get the stress release that it induces. Like nature lovers, and those in tune with the season, pagans notice and appreciate the seasons of the year, and may feel a deeper connection, or read a deeper meaning behind each one.
As a girl I had a direct and distinct link to being with nature. I could climb any tree, hike any cliff, swim in any creek and feel free. As an adult I know understand the science behind why the nature walks has that kind of affect on me. I recently had to warn my friends in our coven before we went on a retreat, I change. I change in my personality, I become still, silent, independent, and introverted. I turn inward, and feel the beauty of nature and allow the wildness within me to roam free.
Can you imagine being a person that has constant contact with nature without the interference of modern day technology? Day by day you find your food, learn how to read the woods before a storm erupts, know the hidden secrets the animals have. When you happen upon them, you take the moment to watch their activities and learn a new food source. I find it very possible our ancestors were very engaged with the everyday stillness of the woods and nature.
Beginning in fall, nature makes an abrupt change in temperature and scene. The leaves change color, there is significantly more rain. Food is abundant, and the harvest and need to store the food before the cold sets in becomes a primary concern. Speculation as to how cold or severe the winter will be is made. Even now I hear my co-workers make the observation that the winter of 2015 will be severe, as the summer has been very mild, and the weather has unexpectedly skipped over the gradual shift to fall weather and into being cold all at once. We are all connected some way with nature, even though industrialization has brought us into well made buildings that insulate us from being constantly cold or hot. To my annoyance, it has also increase the amount of complaining one has to hear regarding how hot or cold the day is. In a way, being constantly comfortable in one temperature has removed our ability to appreciate and adapt to any climate. On one of my camping trips I took the family out to the woods during the last half of summer. None of us were accustomed to the heat, having had air conditioning for most of our summer, and the grumpiness set in. We were not used to being itchy from being a little sweaty. Our bodies were stressed and taxed from dealing with the heat. Add into that poor nights sleep, and viola, we had a semi difficult time due to our lack of practice being in the heat. I find that in the fall I pay attention more to the leaves that fall because I have the responsibility to rake and mulch the leaves into the flower beds. I fail to look up! Look up, enjoy the colors! See how day by day they make their way to being that brilliant red, orange, or yellow color before they all fall down!
Winter is the next season that affects pagans immensely. It is a time of introversion. We are all in some way ready for hot cocoa, warm blankets on the couch, tv, ipad, book, or music ready at our fingertips as the wind, rain, and cold howl outside our windows. I can see how this season can be viewed with a little triumph by pre-modern man. To be in a secure shelter that keeps the warmth in, and keeps your loved ones happy to be sharing your warmth can be viewed as the ultimate accomplishment. Throughout the whole winter you are mostly confined to a small space, and often with your own thoughts to listen to. You begin examining your life, and what your goals are. Connecting with those you have chosen to share your space with builds beautiful bonds that can be reminisced on in days to come. This is also a time of gift giving. I like to think of this gift giving as a time when members of the community came together to share goods with each other when one falls short. An abundance of apples to one, some extra meat from another, a little more clothing to them. It sounds Utopic, but it is a concept I have often pondered. I understand why that mom doesn’t really celebrate her birthday or Christmas, she already has all that she needs, but others do not, so that is where her effort and resources goes to.
Spring fever is no joke. After any kind of winter with limited activity can make anyone’s feet want to begin wandering out into the fields long before it’s time. A new energy is in the air, and all of those seeds with life energy is ready to be released out on to the world, and I love to go out and watch the miracle of seeds literally springing up from the ground! To be able to plan out your new garden, and watch with satisfaction the seeds popping out of the ground exactly as you planned it is very thrilling! I think this is also the busiest time of the year. For pre-modern man there is so much work to do, and stores are running thin, as nothing has had a chance to grow! Hunters likely had to range far and wide to find game for thin bellies, and gatherers had to take chances on plants they normally would not eat. I like to dig my hands into the ground and feel blessed for all the hard work that has gone into food preservation and study in best farming practices.
Summer time has it’s wonderful ups and downs. On the one hand you have plenty of daylight to get your work done, and plenty of heat to keep you lazy enough to avoid it! Cool swims in lazy creeks and rivers when you can splash your loved ones with icy water from the mountains is a wonderful excuse to avoid the mundane chores of home. Those with wandering feet take this time to traverse those lands to find far off beauty. I can picture nomads not being tied down to one place for long, and move from one picturesque location to another. For the settled family, evening time spent watching fireflies and contemplating the mysteries of life sooth the spirit. Drums beating in the distance speak to the wild at heart, and feasts with revelry occur as new friends and family connections are made. I always enjoy this time of year, as it screams opportunity to expand and push your limits, and be lazy all at the same time.
And we find ourselves back to fall.