Its time for my monthly AODA-themed blog post. This month, I tackle the wheel of the year and consider ways and methods for building a more region-specific wheel. I offer both a general practice of a year of observation (the wheel challenge) as well as reflections on my own observation experience (wherein I discovered that we in Western PA have a 12-fold wheel and not an 8-fold wheel!)
Here are the instructions for the Wheel of the Year challenge if anyone wants to try it:
The Wheel Challenge: Your Ecosystem for Year
How you develop a holistic and realistic wheel of the year that makes sense for you and your situation? I would suggest rooting it in observation and interaction with the living earth–hence the “wheel challenge.” Here’s the basic practice:
–Spend time in nature or with nature as close to where you live as possible (e.g if you have a daily hiking trail in a local park, use that trail. If you have a backyard, use that backyard). The goal here is to get you as close to nature at your own home as possible.
–Try to observe nature at least twice a week for 10-20 minutes.
–Keep some kind of record of your observations: photographs, videos, sketches, journal entries.
–n observing, note anything that changes: bloom times, snow melting, fogs rolling in, etc. the goal is to document what is happening in your ecosystem so that you can identify any “seasonal shifts” that occur with regularity.
–Try to disavow yourself of the regular notions of “seasonality” e.g it is spring so these things happen and instead, simply observe
This approach doesn’t require much of a daily investment and can be built into existing spiritual practices (like spending regular time in nature, daily meditation, etc). But for me, this approach reaped extremely rich rewards.
I spent the last year doing this the above challenge. I took daily walks on my landscape, I documented bloom times, took photographs, and so forth. I also noted any time that I could really sense a “major shift” in my landscape (for me, this was first light frost and first freeze, budding of the trees, first snow, the first summer storm, etc). At the end of the year of observation (this past Samhain), I asked: Which observations or events led to major shifts in the landscape? What seasonal markers seemed present? What is their timing? This led to rich rewards :).