Localizing your heathenry.


So, back to the promised topic of localized heathenry.

At the heathen meetup barbeque Mr. TF and I went to several weeks ago, we were invited to go camping for a heathen moot in the middle of the month, and they will be celebrating Winter Finding at this moot.  We had to decline because we are already committed to a Samhain campout at the end of the month.  We in turn invited them to come – and they declined because it’s not a heathen holiday.  Eh?

This is exactly the reason I think heathenry should be local to your region.  Because I live in Arizona and let’s face it – even at my altitude mid October is nowhere near winter!  As a long time gardener I know my local climate conditions.  The first frost comes usually the last weekend of October or the first weekend of November.  The last frost comes usually Mother’s Day weekend.  So for me, Winter Finding is the weekend of the first hard frost – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers all die from that frost so as far as I’m concerned it’s the official end of the canning season as well as the official end of summer.  And that’s what Winter Finding is supposed to be all about.  The ending of summer, the beginning of the cold, the start of the Wild Hunt, retreat indoors to fires and stews and quiet contemplation.

Where I grew up, in N. Michigan, the first frost was usually the second week of September, and we usually had over a foot of snow on the ground by Halloween/Samhain.  So it would be ridiculous to celebrate Winter Finding mid October, there’s already snow on the ground.  It would be logical that they celebrate it at the time of the first frost, which for them happens to generally coincide with the fall equinox.  Which is on a very different schedule from my first frost!

And vice versa for Summer Finding.  We don’t have much of a spring here – our weather goes from a late snow in April (that doesn’t stick) to 90 degrees in about a two week time period.  I have never yet been able to grow spinach – it gets too hot and it bolts long before it’s big enough to eat because of this.  But it continues to frost on and off at night until the second weekend of May.  Realistically, our celebration of Beltaine on the last weekend of April/first weekend of May is too soon for our local climactic conditions but we’ve been celebrating with our friends/local tribe of Pagans but not heathens for the better part of 20 years so we will continue to do this.  It too is “not a heathen holiday” but it’s a part of the ancestral culture of my people (Irish).  Summer Finding for me is celebrated best by planting feverishly with dirt under my nails and imagining the harvest to come.  Which happens as it should after Mother’s Day weekend and my worries about frost are pretty much nil.  But if you look at the heathen calendar Summer finding is celebrated in March.  That might work somewhere else but it really doesn’t work here.  As far as I’m concerned if I can’t grow stuff it’s not summer yet.

Disablot and Yule are pretty much the same regardless – the 12 nights of Christmas are a direct reflection of the Christianization of the Mother Nights.  Same prohibitions even, like for instance no spinning during the the Yule month.

The Wheel of the Year makes more sense in a locality where there *are* four seasons.  In Scandinavia, as here in Arizona, where we basically have two seasons, it makes less sense. Our ancestors would have celebrated (or not) the holidays based on their local area climate and traditions.  We should too.

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One response

  1. Interesting to read about other gardeners’ climate. Your frost dates are not that different from the ones up here in the B.C. Southern Interior. While it is possible to get a freak early one in September, the last oh, at least ten years it has usually waited till someimes in October, even early November. Not that things grow much at that time, the days are too short. And we do get four distinct seasons, with a few months of snow on the ground. First snow that stays can be any time between Halloween and almost Yule. Snow free can be any time between early March and late April.

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