A Heathen In Season
Today is a great day to be a heathen. Everyday is a great day to be a heathen honestly, but there are those days in which you take the time to connect, not with duty, not with the lore, not with ritual or ceremony, not with words, but with silence.
Many of the people at my work think me strange, because I feed off the changes in the world. In winter time, I go laughing to sea trial, where we dodge ice flows in the river out to the sea, and feel the lash of ice wind and sea spray in my beard. I crouch in the woods at night, with the cold light of the moon shining down through the bare trees claw like arms, and listen to the whisper of the night.
Spring is here, and I walk for hours. The scents of the trees, the flowers, the grass fill the air. The motion in the bushes as the little birds of winter give way to the larger birds of spring, and the bears rouse with lazy indolence to sit in the streams and contemplate fishing.
All around me I see people adjusting their light, their heat, their sunglasses; in every respect trying to insulate themselves from the changes in the world around them. Many of these same people have trouble sleeping, have trouble with their energy and mood, have trouble with their appetites (all of them). So many people work so hard to insulate themselves from the land, its rhythms, its song. I do not. I am Heathen, I listen.
In winter I let myself feel the cold. I protect myself from its hazards, but I let my body embrace the cold, and harden to it. I let my body adjust to the long dark, the bitter cold. I run warm, my body turns into a furnace, and I happily embrace a hearty appetite and know no sickness. My body embraces the cold, adapts. My body embraces the dark, my spirit acknowledges this is the dark time, and I take the time both to reach out to the dead, to look in those places in my own self where the darkness is deepest, where depression and the poisons of the darker thoughts may collect unnoticed. I take ownership o f them, and I take counsel with them. Some things are only clear in the dark, some truths you have hidden away await you, patiently. I acknowledge the power of the dark, and I strive to honour the teachings of my ancestors, and reach out to those who have turned inside from the dark which touches the spirit, no matter how many watts of artificial light we try to hide behind.
Spring is here, the land stirs. The dog, cats, rabbits, birds of the household frisk and frolic. Our flowers and trees risk much, choosing to ignore the occasional late snowfall with lofty distain, as they get on with the business of spring. We have held Disirblot, and said goodbye to those we lost this Yule. We have prepared the tools to break the ground, and turned our back to the winter. Still, its grim hold is in our soul.
Easter comes! It comes with bunnies and egg hunts, and bird song. It comes with the scraping and banging, the clashing of sticks as every cull de sac, and driveway grows hockey nets, as every child who is not riding something (skate board, scooter or bike) is playing road hockey or soccer. The animals and children frisk and frolic, in the paddocks grand old mares and tired old geldings frisk and cavort like colts. Drink deep! Easter comes. Her touch brings life where death held sway, her breath brings hope were grim resolution was the norm. April Fools comes and the most serious indulge in silliness, because, spring is here, and if you let it in, it will change you.
Each season in turn changes us, and each can either be endured or embraced. Those who seek to shield themselves from it by keeping their house cooler than winter during the hottest of summers, and house and car so warm they cannot even wear long sleeves in the house or car without sweating , they do not protect themselves from the changing seasons, they cut themselves off from the changes in themselves that allow their immune system, their metabolism, their emotions, their sleep cycle, to bring them into balance.
I am a Heathen in season. I embrace each when it comes. I take the time to walk in them, or sit in silence, and let the changes in sound, in sight, in smell reach deep inside me. I don’t know what it is that I listen for, only that some part of me, some animal part that knows itself a part of this world, and not apart from it, rewards me for embracing the changes of the season.
We have the power to shield our conscious mind from all signs of change in our environment. This does not protect us from those changes, it simply leaves our body confused and adrift, unable to protect itself from changes that are as inevitable as the tides. If you are mobile, go and walk in the woods, on the grasslands, on the shore, in the desert. If you are in the city, go and bring a cup of coffee to a park, or take a glass of wine on the street, and just watch the people, watch the children, watch the birds, and other urban wildlife. Be still. Just relax and let yourself drink in the season. While I cannot tell you what it is that thirsts, I can tell you that whatever season you are in, you will feel stronger and saner when you have embraced it.