Winter Light

The place I live is made up of hills and valleys. The town of Stroud nestles (mostly) between the hills, with villages occupying other valleys. This place was carved out of the limestone by water working its way down to meet the Severn.

In winter, the sun doesn’t clear the hills much in some places. I have a friend whose home gets no direct sunlight at this time of year. For those on the hilltops there is still plenty of light, but also a lot of wind. Down in the valleys, where I live, it is a lot more sheltered, but also gloomier. 

I don’t experience the solstice as having any great impact. For me, the dark part of the year starts in early December and continues well into January. My sense of the light and the season has everything to do with how I experience light – and the absence of it – in my own home and that in turn has everything to do with where I live in relation to the hills.

I think it’s important to be specific and personal in our relationships with the natural world. Thinking about ‘nature’ as some sort of vague abstract won’t give you much. It’s easy to pay lip service to a vague idea, but a real relationship calls for specifics. 

How does the wheel of the year turn for you? What are your personal experiences of the seasons? What happens where you live?

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

10 responses to “Winter Light

  • bish

    I mark the year by the motion of the sunrise. From my study window I look out to the Cotswold escarpment, and on Summer Solstice the Sun rises directly in front of me. On the Winter Solstice I have to peer well to my right, where an overgrowth of Leylandii almost hides his emergence above the far horizon. The sun seems behind me in a similar drift across the hills out of the village. No valley here; it’s all about the sky…

  • jswhite

    Yes, I like the idea of the wheel of the year and it can be a great base form, but depending on where you are, where those festivities might fall is different, and sometimes nonexistent in some places.

    A more personalized wheel of the year might be a great help in deepening one’s pagan practice, whatever it might be, than holding to the standard.

    I would find it infinitely fascinating to see the many ways people might personalize their wheel of the year for their own areas and why they do what they do and when.

  • OrderInTheQuartz

    In my area, you can track the time of year by which dock the sun sets over. For Winter Solstice, it’s one of the town docks facing a narrow cove with trees on the other side. Summer Solstice is a direct view west over an open expanse of water with privately-owned piers off to the side. As someone who connects to a Sea God or two, I really enjoy being able to track the seasons this way. Dockhenge.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    I don’t follow the wheel of the year directly, as I no longer do ceremony. But I do notice what is happening my part of the world, Two days ago was the first time my water dishes for the animals froze.

    A month or so back the need for bird seed doubled because the cow birds are back in large flocks that eat as much as all the other birds together.

    The mesquite have nearly lost all their leaves so are just thickets of thorns, but they have much larger roots than the plant of top is, making them nearly impossible to destroy.

    I am surprised to see the thistle growing near my entrance, is going through a single third flowering this late in the yeat. I enjoy it enough to put a fair number of seeds in the thicket that formed over a former bad spot of my yards. The bees appreciate it still being available. The thicket is both a source of food and and hiding place for the rabbits from predators

    I am glad we did not let bulldozer flatten more land than needed for pads to build our buildings one, or our driveway, so that when I open and close the shop signs and chain gate, I still feel the up and down of the land. I have never understood the need of people to live on flattened

    The same goes for not flattening the native plants, who go through their cycles with no help by me. No need to fight to keep alive plants brought in from other ecology in the name of landscaping.

    It was the removal of what was need is on the reason that I put out my 18 pounds of seeds per day, and the water dishes with three or four gallon of water a day.

    The rabbits are still out, I usually meet one to three while closing down. They can’t make up their minds to freeze in place or to run. So I often get to see them close up, like three feet away or less. I greet them.I hope they find me as funny as I find them.

    I have at least three field mice that have set up house keeping in the middle of my seed feeding area. This along with may dozens of birds at once, several times a day.

  • Meredith

    I had the realisation very recently that the reason I have struggled with when I think Spring is starting for the last several years is because I no longer have a garden, specifically with a pond. For the majority of my life, without realising, I measured the start of Spring by when the frogs got noisy. I have yet to find another instinctive anything for that marker!

  • locksley2010

    I’m fortunate enough to live in a house that allows me to see the sunrise on one side and the sunset in the other (upstairs for both). I can also observe this on my walks either to and from work- weather permitting!

    The East Midlands is positioned in a sort of basin shape, but on my observations here in Nottingham, the real signifiers of the seasons are the trees. The more rural trees lose their leaves much earlier than their urban counterparts; for example it’s only been within the past three weeks where skeletal trees dominate the landscape and any yellow leaves are now brown.

    Presently, I’m ambivalent towards the Celtic festivals: they are of Irish and Scottish origin and not wanting to steal the customs of other people, I’ve been looking into what the English celebrations around those times are instead.

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