The Turning of the Wheel
To a Pagan the change in the seasons is central to our worship. Our ancestors had a cyclical, rather than a linear vision of time. They saw the year as a wheel that turned round and round, from spring to summer and fall, and back to winter again each year. The march of the sun across the sky was a herald of the change in the weather. Days lengthening as the year progressed from the lambing to the planting and moving of the livestock out to summer pastures. Days shortening after harvest, as the herds were culled and preparations were made for the long, cold days of winter.
The welcoming sight of a fire in the hearth was a symbol of safety, warmth, and hospitality. Where there was a fire there would also be shelter and food, company and good cheer. But much like the animals that prepared to migrate or hibernate, people needed to do the job of getting ready for winter too. And for those who knew something of the Mysteries, there was also the responsibility for helping to turn that great Wheel.
The seasons have never failed to change completely, though the effect of human waste and negligence is felt in strange weather patterns and dangerous trends like the melting of the polar ice caps. It feels very much as though we have a lot of work left to do before we can warm our feet by the fire and enjoy that mug of mulled wine.
Perhaps Mother Earth needs more of a hand now in turning that Wheel. Perhaps one day in the not so distant future, the Wheel really will fail to turn towards the next season. A summer that reaches well into fall, or a fall that stretches well past the point where there should have been snow. The Gods forbid, maybe it will even be a winter that seems never to end – that fabled Ice Age we've been hearing about since we were knee-high to a grasshopper, and eager to believe such tales.
The warmth and light of the fire are inviting, and perhaps I will grab that blanket and get cozy on the hearth. But there is a part of me that is always thinking, always reaching out, wondering what more I can do to help bring another cycle to its completion.
So perhaps there will be a little extra meditation and a few extra prayers. Perhaps I will feed the legends of Yule a little more this year, or take a little more time to take in the pleasure of a stroll in the crisp evening air to look at the houses all lit up against the darkness of the approaching Solstice.
And if I do my job, and if others do theirs, the Wheel will keep turning while the world huddles by the fire to keep warm.
Image Credit » http://pixabay.com/en/fireplace-fire-screen-warm-heat-276359/