Re-membering the Wheel of the Year – Part 1

| August 21, 2009
Re-membering the Wheel of the Year - Part 1

By Eowyn OR

In recent times, ‘new physics’ has shown that the whole exists within the part just as much as the part exists within the whole. In quantum physics, this is known as holographic theory. Of course, our ancestors knew this principle well and Odinic mythology consistently shows this truth. Our multiverse is connected throughout by Yggdrasil, which, as Heimgest discussed in his recent series of articles, is not only the cosmic axis, but is also us. Here in Midgard, we experience the connections via our senses and the seasonal cycles and again, the cycles are an inherent part of our being. If we then consider that which healers and mystics have long known- that everything is actually a moving energy field- we can begin to understand that our own energy field (commonly known as the aura) is a vehicle through which we create our experience of reality, including what we perceive as bodily ‘health’ and ‘illness.’ This is because the body is a dynamic field of energy and not a static physical structure as classical science has falsely led us to believe. Thus, our spiritual and physical selves exist on a continuum of decreasing energy frequency: there is no separation. And it is a continuum which also radiates outwards into our environment; thus, not only are we affected by outside energies, but we also affect them through resonance- much as the waveforms from two stones thrown into a pond will radiate outwards and at certain points, interfere with each other. Hence, our thoughts, physicality and actions (all being energy frequencies) affect not only our immediate locality, but also the entire multiverse.

The modern cultural zeitgeist influences us to focus almost exclusively at the physical energy level. In doing so, we have become separated from our inherent awareness of our own cycles and the greater seasonal cycles instead, becoming slaves to a mechanistic clock that imposes a linear rhythm upon our lives. Because this is a very unnatural state of being, life for many becomes a constant treadmill of ceaseless activity that dulls the senses and exhausts the body and spirit: it metaphorically flattens our inherent cycles in a vain attempt to maintain constant productivity. In doing so, we become alienated from Nature because this mode of being works against natural law, which is inherently self-replenishing through the cycles of birth, growth, maturation, decay, ‘death,’ and rebirth; it also cuts us off from our sense of discernment and hence, life direction. The shortsighted attitude that sees the world in linear motionwhere decay and ‘death’ are perceived as ‘failure’ and rebirth isn’t even an issue- forgets to account for the ‘depth’ of the cycle: any one apparent aspect of the cycle is only the predominant one at that point in time; the other aspects are just hidden from our conscious awareness but are nevertheless, everpresent because the cycle is the whole. Sadly, this predominant ‘linear’ mindset has sickened not only our Mother Jorth with the pollutants arising from that mindset, but us also. Not only are we affected by the pollutants- chemically and through their harmful resonances- but our spirit has also sickened in response to the predominant annihilatory mindset because it has lost its vibrant connection with the seasonal cycles that keep it cleansed and vital.

The great wheel of the year mirrors both the inner cycles of our lives and the greater cycles of Mother Jorth and the multiverse. The four points (two solstices and two equinoxes) connect to the central hub and form intersections where seasonal, celestial, communal, creative and personal cycles meet; therefore, working with it is transformative. The solstices and equinoxes ‘fix’ the points on the wheel and are respectively the longest and shortest days (summer and winter solstices) and the days and nights of equal length (spring and autumn equinoxes). Between these points are the four great tides of the year: the ‘cleansing tide’ sweeps from Winter Solstice to the Spring equinox; the ‘growing tide,’ sweeps from the Spring equinox to the Summer Solstice; the ‘reaping tide,’ sweeps from the Summer Solstice to the Autumn Equinox and the ‘resting tide’ sweeps from the Autumn Equinox until the Winter Solstice. All are created by magnetic currents orbiting the earth, which neutralise at these times. Since each of the points holds its own unique perspective on the whole, working with them can help us attune more fully to Natural Law that is the matrix of the wheel itself.

Throughout the course of this next cycle, we shall be taking a ‘snapshot’ view from each locus, looking briefly at the predominant implications of the season and hence, at some of the practical actions we can take to attune to it. One possible way of understanding the main focus at any given point is to consider the events in the old Briton and Anglo-Saxon farming year before the advent of modern farming methods. For this, I shall use an old resource ‘Old England: a Pictorial Museum,’ which makes some interesting points about monthly activities through the medium of engravings from that period. This is not in any way intended to be an accurate historical account of activity; rather, it is more just an indication of each month’s essence. So, if anything is historically inaccurate, it is down to my resource! I will then make reference to our blot of the month and finally, we shall briefly consider measures we can take to improve our personal health and wellbeing; for I believe the level of health or illness within our bodyminds- to a large degree- reflects the extent to which we have ‘strayed’ from the natural order. Thus, ‘disease’ can be considered a ‘reset’ button to put ourselves ‘back on track’ and to ‘re-member’ ourselves as a unique, yet integral strand woven into the very fabric of life itself.

January

The engraving represents the ploughman at his labour. Thus, the opening of the year was when the ground was broken up and the seed sown. According to the resource, January was called Wolf-monat- Wolfmonth- because it was the coldest month in which folk were most likely to be attacked by wolves, themselves suffering lack due to the severe weather conditions. January was indicative of the opening of the year, rather than the first month as such. When the Anglo Saxons invaded Britain, they came into one of the western granaries of the Roman Empire and so the resident natives taught the science of agriculture to the invaders. The daily task of the ploughman indicated an advanced state of husbandry: the ‘ordure’ of oxen was spread upon the land and understood in as much intricacy as if he had studied a modern ‘Muck Manual;’ he knew the value of correct labour and approached it scientifically. Land was divided into fields of meadow, arable, pasture and wood with hedges, fixed boundaries, artificial dykes and ditches. There were selected spots for vineyards, gardens, orchards, connecting paths and roads, scattered villages, larger towns, appropriated names for spots and objects marking boundaries and courses.

Blot: The Charming of the Plough (The Festival of Labour) is the first celebration of our modern New Year and, as its name suggests, it recognises the importance of preparing the ground in which the seed will grow; for without this work, the land will not yield food. It also celebrates the importance of the range of skills required for a community to thrive and honours those possessed by the ancestors and without which we might not now be here, aswell as the community skills of today, which enable us to function. The Corn Mother- where once it was ploughed back into the ground- is presented to the youngest participant, reminding us that our folk’s future depends upon their discipline and the ‘harvest’ it will reap. It also symbolises the continuity of life and that whilst beginnings are important, it is continuity, which reaps the rewards. We ask the Gods to bless and protect our work in the coming year. Our gealdor is Kenaz, which at one level represents the physical spark required to build a fire. Fires were traditionally lit to clear the ground for new crops and symbolically represented the triumph of the sunlight over cold and darkness. And of course, fire gave warmth and protection. Kenaz is also the torch of enlightenment that illuminates the darkness and thus ‘clears’ our path ahead. It is the light of revelation, skills, knowledge, ideas and freedom: just as these things arise from a folk living according to Natural Law, so does each individual Odinist become a living torch for our religion.

Re-membering January

:

January sees us having left the great liminal season of Yuletide behind and crossing the threshold into the new cycle on the cleansing tide. Thus, it is a gateway- a time for new beginnings and clearing after the midwinter festivities- but with the element of continuity from the previous cycle. However, one of the major mistakes most people make in this month is to throw themselves full pelt into a major diet or exercise regime on the back of the so-called ‘new year’s resolutions,’ only to find they’ve ground to a halt by the middle of the month- if indeed, they actually managed to make a determined start in the first place! This is hardly surprising as in the natural world, it is a time for hibernating, energy conservation and bodybuilding. The weather tends to become colder during the first couple of months of the year and to try to shed ‘those extra pounds’ at this time will, at best, tend to weaken the body and encourage slowing of the metabolism- not exactly the desired outcome if trying to diet! It is also part of the ‘soulful’ season of the year and so, whilst we should ride the cleansing tide, we can see from our blot and the gealdor that the focus should really be upon the preparation from within for the coming cycle. Thus, meditative activities and contact with the godforce within should be sought to ‘throw light’ upon how best to conduct ourselves in the coming cycle for ourselves and our folk: what needs to be cleared from our lives? What is worth maintaining and what new beginnings need to be made? This process will help us craft our ‘new years resolutions’ more skilfully. Physically, we should be starting to move towards a more healthy approach to our eating habits; but this is not the time for any kind of diet or detox as again, the prevailing energies of the season will tend to counter any apparent progress. Hence, the focus should be upon solid, nourishing foods made with warming spices and herbs: this approach keeps the tastebuds ‘alive’ and begins to build more sensible eating habits into our lives.

Suggested Keyword: Illumination

February

The engraving shows a chilly man warming his hands by the blazing fire and the labourers employed in the woods and orchards, pruning fruit trees and lopping timber. February was called ‘Sprout-kele’ where kele referred to kelewort, which is now called cole-wortor the French name of ‘potage.’ A broth called kele was made and it was the chief winter form of sustenance for the husbandman, being the first herb of the month to yield healthy young sprouts. Shakespeare referred to this broth when he sings of the wintry time:

‘While greasy Joan doth kele the pot’

Blot: Vali (the festival of the family)

symbolises the return of the light after darkness; the days are noticeably longer and the festival heralds the approach of spring and ‘a new awakening.’ Vali is the lightbringer, who slays Balder’s murderer, Hother and so he is a god of the just vengeance, which brings balance and harmony. At one level, this is the return of the ‘light’ part of the year, which brings forth the new vegetation. At another, it is the restoration of hope and joy in our hearts as winter loses its grip and we can look forward to another fruitful year. Vali is also the defender of the family in whom the strength of our ancestry and the hope for the future lays. Thus, Vali is also a god of love and this may well be where the modern Valentine’s Day comes from. We ask Vali to always dwell in our homesteads and to once again restore the golden times. For the home is the central heart from which all else radiates outwards. Our gealdor is Wunjo, which is joy, happiness and delight. It is the energy that seeks harmony and integrity, the ever-present joy, which is whole in itself. It is the energy of happiness which can arise from any pursuit, whether spiritual contemplation or an everyday activity such as eating a good meal. Thus, Wunjo is the resultant harmony that arises as a consequence of finding happiness and fulfilment in any activity or experience in life. It dissolves chaos by virtue of the sense of wholeness that wells from within.

Re-membering February:

February is the month in which we begin to witness the return of vegetation to our lands. Despite the fact the weather may well be cold and dreary, buds and early flowers such as snowdrops attest to the continuity of life. The main thrust of the cleansing cycle is towards purification, and this is when the process is begun in earnest after the renewing energies of January. In our blot, we move from the ‘ploughing’ process that prepares the ground and helps us see what needs to be done for the new seeds to be accepted, to one in which we actually begin the process by purifying the energies of our intent and purpose which will nourish the crops- like the preparation of a good soil. We enter into this process by focusing upon the qualities of hope, trust and the inner knowing- that the new awakening at all levels is bound to lead us to the new golden age. This allows us to sweep aside any negativity and to recognise the sacred ‘good/god’ in every part of our lives- and especially those aspects such as family and folk that will nourish and protect us as we work towards our harvest. Hence, whilst the focus is upon self-renewal at the energetic level, just as the sap begins to rise in the trees, so we too begin to direct those renewed intentions outwards and to understand the importance of positive will in the life/death/rebirth process at all levels. Physically, we should still be maintaining the focus upon nourishing foods; but as at all times of the year, we should be trying to make use of ‘seasonal produce’ as much as possible and beginning to include more of the ‘spring greens’ that may be available to us. Food that is ‘in season’ naturally possesses more of the nutrients we need to sustain us at that time; and of course, it also helps in the process of attuning to the season.

Suggested Keyword: Purification

March

The engraving now distinctly shows the seed-time. The labourer’s tools were the spade and pickaxe. This month was called ‘Lenet-monat,’ ‘length-month, from the lengthening of the days and later, the christianisation of the folk meant that this season became known as the ‘fast of Lenet’ because of the adopted custom of fasting. Although they had oxen and sheep, the Anglo Saxons relied chiefly upon the swine for meat, especially during the winter season. Our word for ‘bacon’ comes from bucon- ‘of the beechen tree,’ the masts of which fatted the animals. Other than this, eel, which flourished in their ponds and ditches, were a major food source and even a source of revenue for rent and payment to monasteries. Otherwise herring, cockles, salmon, porpoises, sturgeons, oysters, skate, minnies, lampreys, flounders, oysters, crabs, muscles, plaice, lobsters and sometimes whale were eaten by those who could afford to pay fishermen. The fishermen obtained loaves and clothing from the folk who exchanged these for fish.

Blot: The Summer Finding (Festival of Ostara) is when we witness the ‘rebirth’ of nature: Spring has finally arrived and from here onwards, the days are longer than the nights. New life has arisen from the darkness and we see life and fertility all around us, symbolised by the Easter bunny and eggs. As the rebirth of summer, it is a time of joy and purification. We hail the gods and ask them to renew their powers and blessings in our lives; we hail the new awakening and the lifeforce we are blessed with. Our gealdor is Berkana, the birch and the female goddess energy. The birch is a pioneer tree- the first tree to root itself into the land exposed by receding ice sheets, thereby allowing forests to arise across the land. Berkana is thus a rune of fertility and natural organic growth, which promotes new life, growth and renewal. It is the rune of female sexuality, nature and the restoration of the lifeforce that enables an individual or folk to thrive.

Re-membering March:

March heralds the real return of energy and life after the reclusive months of winter and early spring. It is an expansive phase of dynamic boundless energy that shows itself in the profusion of greenery breaking forth from every nook and cranny. This is the time to ‘spring-clean’ our surroundings at the physical level; for cluttered surroundings can have as large an effect upon our functioning as a cluttered mind. To invite new things into our lives requires a thorough physical cleansing or clearing of that which may, at some level, be holding us back unnecessarily. We see from our blot that March is also the season of dynamic sexuality borne of the upward surging lifeforce within nature. Thus, it is about a return to bodily consciousness, through which we sense the delights of the world. However, after the ‘stodginess’ of the previous months, our senses may be somewhat dulled and therefore, we need to consider moving towards the cleansing of our bodies at the physical level. This must be done gradually and with sensitivity, so as to continue to work with the natural order of life. Hence, begin pursuing a proper healthy eating plan- if you haven’t already done so. Introduce some gentle exercise: walking is excellent for most folk and will also help boost the lymphatic system, which is so crucial for starting the cleansing process and helping eliminate winter cold toxins. Consider therapeutic treatments such as massage to reduce any aches and pains, tone up the circulatory and lymphatic systems and boost immunity. At another level, it will help you re-member your body after the long winter months coddled up under thick clothes, whilst simultaneously, re-honouring it as your sacred vehicle in Midgard. And don’t forget your own mother- who bore you through her own body- on Mother’s Day.

Suggested Keyword: Renewal

References

Knight, Charles ‘Old England: A Pictorial Museum’ (London: James Sangster and co, 1861) Volume 1.

‘The Book of Blotar’ (The Odinic Rite, 1993) Alexander, Jane ‘The Natural Year’ (Bantam, 1997)

The Trollwise Press ‘Old Norse Rune Mysteries and Rune Codes’

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Category: Lore & Ritual

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