Recently (in early January) we had a few days of rain, it totalled probably about 75mm where I live – from this weeds not usually present until April have started to come up – I’m not bothered, one of those is nettle I do like to harvest it, followed by weeks of truly mild weather. Further north from me there was a place that got 200mm of rain, a place where it normally doesn’t rain much, if ever. They had a river there that had remained empty for four years (I believe) and it had water running in it again, a goodly amount of it. It rained yesterday, today is going to be 41C, the day after less so but still near enough to. Summer has come, gone and come again in the space of a month yet the typical Pagan calendar suggests that I celebrate Litha on the 21st of December. Yet on the 21st of December, I wouldn’t say we hit the pinnacle of the summer weather. With a 10 day forecast of weather over 38C each and every day to come, I’m almost inclined to believe summer is only now hitting her stride (although I hope to all Gods and every nature spirit out there that it’s not), so one could argue the pinnacle is not yet here (but I’m hopeful its an aberration and the lovely weather we’ve been experiencing will come back and we’ll have a proper autumn with days not hot enough to scramble eggs – it’s a thing we’ve all done here, hot weather + hot car bonnet = cooked eggs).
I gave a little nod to Lammas because of the exceptionally mild weather we’ve had, the harvest of vegetables and some fruit was possible and will likely continue to be so. I actually feel as though the season of harvest has started, but within that is also the understanding that there is much growing still to come because Summer is still here (with any luck it’ll be over soon) so through the heat much will grow and there is every chance that we will lose some of our food-producing plants because it is simply how it is. I’m hopeful that everything we’ve planted will survive and thrive, especially my kale (I do love a good sautéed kale with butter and garlic), peas and tomatoes. Only time will tell.
So I suppose my point in all of this is that the Sabbats are guidelines, seasonal suggestions but I don’t think that one should take them as writ. If you’re hitting the 21st of June and weather isn’t freezing you to bits, you’re probably not feeling like winter is really here. Celebrate in the manner that best suits you and your feeling of the seasons, not the way that is dictated by literature or by tradition. If you live in a climate that doesn’t see winter (as mentioned at the start of the post that inspired this one) then don’t feel a pressing need to service the idea of Yule or the Winter Solstice if it’s not something that you can relate to in your area. Even something as basic as acknowledging and accepting that city pagans don’t celebrate or see the seasonal changes like country witches will go a long way to alleviating the need to constantly celebrate the seasons as they’re dictated to us in mainstream paganism instead of how we see them – it’s not arrogance or a sense of being better that leads me to say that, it simply is what it is. I live in a pastoral district so the agricultural year is right up in my face, I look out my front door and I see those seasons, I see the changes happening and I experience it quite fully but still very differently from some one who lives in Tasmania, Queensland or New South Wales.
There’s a way to go in Paganism I think as we all need to fully accept that Australia doesn’t have four recognisable and generic seasons in every place so the Northern Hemisphere seasons are completely irrelevant to us. To truly connect to the land and its spirit, we have to work with it instead of trying to make it fit us and I think at that point, we’ll find ourselves sharing a powerful bond with the land around us.