Thinking About – Winter

winterbarrowI make no secret that I’m not a great fan of the Winter. I know that as a Pagan it’s not cool to admit that but it’s true. Maybe it’s closer to the truth to say that I quickly tire of Winter, as right now I am relishing the early evenings, the darkness, the snugness, and hearty winter food, the approaching festive season. But come Imbolc I know I will have had enough, and be yearning for the feeling of the Sun’s warmth.

What I do like about this time of year is that it gives me time to reflect. To look back on the past 12 months and re-live the highs and lows, to re-centre. A blessing of our age because I think Winter was far more about survival for our ancestors. 

As I sit here typing away on my MacBook, onto a blog that exists on some internet cloud, my connection to those ancient ancestors can seem like a long way away. But then I consider my needs for survival. My real needs. Food, warmth, shelter, water, companionship. Like my ancestors who arrived here in Europe as nomadic hunter gatherers my primary needs are still the same. These things I still share with them, all the rest is just window dressing and convenience.

So I think my dislike of Winter isn’t so unusual. I am comfortable now, I have heating for my home, electric lighting, a cooker that lights with the flick of a switch, food in the fridge, home entertainment, friends, my Winter life is pretty comfortable. But what if I only had the food I had harvested? What if my heating and cooker was one central fire in a roundhouse? What if my larder was a hole in the ground? These modern conveniences have taken away the threat of Winter and allow me the comfort through what, to my ancestors, would have been a far harsher time.

I was watching TV the other night and the adverts started. I saw a child’s face, sad, desperate, then another. Then a child waking up at the side of a train track. Homeless children not only in some far-off land, but here in Britain. The advert asked me for £3.

It was followed by an advert for Mark and Spencer food. Party food for the holiday season. Beautiful, expensive, high-quality food. All costing far more than £3.

The two sides of Winter exposed within 4 minutes. Survival and indulgence. It doesn’t sit well with me. So as I started this blog suggesting my dislike of Winter made me a bad Pagan, maybe that’s not actually true. Maybe it’s the modern conveniences and the festive period that make Winter much more comfortable and allow us to enjoy it now. Maybe my dislike of Winter is part of my animal genetic makeup and, like our fear of spiders and snakes, is part of an inherited fear that makes much less sense in a country with no deadly spiders and snakes – a country where Winter survival is almost unknown to most of society.

But the survival aspect of Winter is still there for many on this island, and around the world right now.

Food for thought.

14 responses to “Thinking About – Winter”

  1. Interesting thoughts. I must admit, winter would be a lot less fun for me if I didn’t have heating and a kettle.

    The season I dislike is the summer. I burn easily and feel ill when the temperature hits 80 degrees, so I spend much of the summer in my bedroom with the curtains closed.

    • Helen, I am so glad you said it first! Yes, I live in Texas, and am asthmatic. This means I can’t breathe well once it hits about 85-90, and it is that hot or worse for 9 months of the year. I relish Winter as a respite, where I can leave the house without frying, breathe a little more deeply, and actually enjoy Nature. I cannot wait until school is through, so I may migrate North and actually spend some time outdoors.
      Love and Light )0(

    • Helen, I can sympathise: I have MS and that causes heat intolerance, plus due to another condition I am not supposed to be out in the sun for longer than a couple of minutes in the Summer sans a hat (a huge one!) and supposedly sunscreen (which I hate – so sticky!) Plus we have Lyme disease born by ticks now which is very dangerous for someone who already has MS, since Lyme causes neurological damage.

  2. Great Blog Damh!

    Definitely food for thought.

    As I sit through a day of 31C, and love it, I feel the power of the sun.

    The winter for me is an opportunity to have a bonfire and watch as the Phoenix and the Dragon plays together in beautiful reds and yellows which symbolise the Sun in all his glory. I tend to find it easier to cool down in the summer than to be able to warm up in winter. I don’t dislike the winter , just not my preferred season.

    Blessed Be
    Darryn }:-)

  3. You are fortunate that you still have the benefit of the seasons; I left Albion in ’72, returned for 3 years in ’78 – 80, that’s where I feel I went wrong, I returned to Australia, south of Perth, Western Australia. Once your children put their roots down and marry you are trapped, more so when there are grandchildren involved. The last time I saw snow was in 2005, I had to return home for my 60th. birthday; well I could not hold it anywhere else, not far from where you have played at least a couple of times, Stroud, Gloucestershire. I do return at least every 2 years for the village reunion, where I grew-up. I have tried to catch one of your shows, story of my life never in the right place at the right time. I did hope to get across to see you either in Melbourne or Sydney this year, it wasn’t to be. I will get to one of your shows at some stage, I plan to return home in 2014 (village reunion) but no date fixed as yet. Love your work, it helps with living here.

  4. Hmmm… I don’t think it makes you less of a pagan. I think many of us, though we at first enjoy the hearthside, and the warming stews and so forth tire of the cold by February. 🙂 Mind you, saying that, I’ll take cold over the heat of summer any time. 🙂 It is the inner reflection that I love about this time of year. And we are very lucky not to have it like our ancestors. Instead of worrying about whether the food we have stored will last the winter, or spending our time mending tools and making clothes and all the other winter chores we may have been doing all those years ago, we can really take some time to enjoy the season and its unique beauty. The snow certainly has its charms, even if the resulting ice slides don’t so much. 😉 Wishing you the merriest of Yules, and wishing those who are struggling some peace and some safety, a good meal and shelter from the cold. Hugs, Lex xxx

  5. I believe the best part of living in the northern hemisphere is the change of seasons. Just about the time I think I can’t stand another day of either extreme heat/cold, the seasons change just enough to make it bearable. And somehow the animals and humans have survived most of what nature has thrown at us. What we may not survive is what the worlds powers throws at us. I always feel that I am one step away from poverty and want.

  6. I say I’m a winter person but since I live in Western Australia, my idea of winter is very different to yours. 🙂 I must say I dread the approach of summer here. It sucks you dry. It’s the death time, and yet we humans still strive on in the heat just like the ants. I was born here and adore our dusty red land, but I think we miss the quiet time that comes with a dark, snowy winter. Yes survival might have been in question and what food you had probly got pretty darned boring, but there was also time to tell stories, to do wood carving and other crafts, and to rest. To build family and to grow culture. Here one year falls busily into another without that sense of having had a slower time to reflect or bond.

  7. Very good input, Mr. Bard…!

    I find that I appreciate all of the seasons for what they are and go about in them the best that I can, honoring them for what they are and what they provide.

    I do enjoy the warm seasons where I can comfortably (without bundling layers upon layers of clothing) go about any activity outdoors. The really cool thing, I think, is that all of the seasons are unique in their own way and provide experiences all their own. A lot to learn from each…!

    Lots of Love, Mirth, & Compassion to All…!

    Mariah Dawn

  8. I hear you about winter. For me, it’s the lack of light, I think. As soon as the clocks change I feel different and by December and January I feel like I’ve been drugged and I’m struggling to get through a normal day. Add cabin fever to that and by Imbolc I’m done with winter. And then the days get a little longer and the clocks change and like magic I feel like myself again.

    But last night, I spent a little while standing by a window looking out at the full moon shining on the bare trees, creating long shadows and infinite shades of blue on the snow. Looking up, the sky shone with stars and more shades of blue. Winter has its own beauty. That helps.

  9. Very astute observations, sir! I myself love Winter, but I often think (rather guiltily) that I shouldn’t do so, when I remember my homeless neighbours. It’s troubling to me that I can enjoy something that causes them pain (chillblains, frostbite, pneumonia, hypothermia and sometimes the possibility they may not make it through a night). Don’t know how to resolve that one (I can’t beat myself up for enjoying Winter! How pointless!) – I guess I just have to live with that tension – and find things to do that can help.

  10. I’m glad I came across this post. The last few weeks I’ve been thinking the same thing. I too, really like winter. That is only because of the modern conveniences though. Without them, I would revel deeply in the summer sun, and loathe the darker side of the year.

    It seems to be a common thing among modern pagans. We yearn for the old ways, but are so seeded in our modern ways, that we don’t truly understand what it is we’re yearning for.

    Excellent thought to throw out the universe, thank you.

  11. In mind of yearning for the old ways but being seeded in the modern, this is a troubling state of affairs in another way, in that the seemingly always available warmth (and other technological conveniences we have become accustomed to are had at the price of great damage to our environment, but will not be had forever: the availability of cheap fossil fuel will run out, and then the more we are addicted the harder it will be for us. There are technologies, however, that can be beneficial if we start to address the issue now. Homes can be built which are entirely off the grid yet can be kept warm in the Winter and cool in the Summer, entirely using natural physical principles. It’s possible to build a home with such a high R value that no heating source is even necessary! That kind of thing should be regarded as a greater technological gift than heat which comes at the price of environmental destruction.

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