I 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.