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Image by Rhea - Southern New South Wales, Australia

The Seasons as I see Them@#133;

by Colleen
(First published in Shadowplay #13)

As a pagan living in Australia, I find it difficult to impose the Northern Hemisphere seasonal rituals on this climate. For me, even reversing them is disastrous, because then you have summer as a fertile time (according to the myth), where I see it as the barren time in Australia, where the Sun in his virility burns the earth.

I see summer as being ruled by the crone aspect of the Goddess.

I find that the fertile times in Australia are from March through May (which is a false spring, our rainy time). June and July are the time of rest and quiet strength, where the earth has prepared itself for the blossoming of spring, but is now having a quiet contemplative time. From late July to August we have the blossoming forth of spring, where native plants flower and birds start gathering nesting material. Then we enter into the height of spring in September. October is the last flush of spring, which carries through to the middle of November. From there it is the burning time until February. These cycles are based on Australian native plants and trees; European imports lost their leaves in June/July and follow an abbreviated northern cycle.

Some people keep the Northern Hemisphere myth cycle and do not reverse the story of the Goddess and the God; in England winter is the killing time; in Australia it is also in December at midsummer. Thus the flavour of the myth is similar, but opposite. However, as we don@#146;t really have a winter and our barren time is so long, this doesn@#146;t really fit comfortably with the place. I also find that summer saps my energy. The thing I celebrate at summer solstice is the beginning of shorter days, where I can look forward to regaining energy at the end of February, early March. Thus I feel, personally, that the time of fertility is around May, with the next 2 months being a time of consolidation and contentment. I cannot reconcile this personal feeling with the myth of the year we bring with us from our cultural heritage in the north.

Perhaps the Mediterranean mythic cycles of return may be more at home here in Australia, where they too had three seasons and a similar climate. Maybe we could look at the myths and see how they may be adapted personally.

Because I tend to work with Earth forces, I have to fit in with what is happening in the earth itself. However, other people work with the dance of sun and moon. For them, the sun is born in winter and reaches its zenith at summer solstice and that seems to work fine; however, if you work with earth forces the myth cycle doesn@#146;t match up. In this case, the myth cycle can be seen as a personal and psychological allegory, but not one that is tied to real seasonal changes or what the earth is doing.

In talking to another pagan, it was suggested that Australian pagans write down some kind of myth that fits in with what@#146;s happening in our country with the seasons and the earth forces and what is happening in the sky. I, myself feel that for the God to be born in winter, then he must only be in the womb of the mother for two to three months because I cannot see anything fertile in the mother in summer and even looking at statistics of deaths, there are more deaths in summer. This is even discounting murders and road toll and accidents. The statistical increase just takes into account heart attacks, old people dying (also a thing of the crone), more childbirth deaths and young people with heat exhaustion and heart attacks, which reaffirms the role of the crone in this season.

It would be interesting to hear other people@#146;s ideas on mythic cycles and the seasonal changes in your area. As we have only been in this country for 200 years, we have yet to make our own mythic connection with the place and if this is begun now, with new respect for the land, we will have something valuable to pass on to the future. Maybe in another 200 years there will be a workable reconnection with the spirit of this place.

Of the Old Gods of Europe, I feel the only God who really made the passage is Pan. I cannot identify the mother as being cognate with any particular European entity, however some people have said she is a dark goddess here. I don@#146;t believe that. She is a very creative Goddess. Here flowers here are among the most delicate and beautiful in the world. She is beautiful and delicate and faerie wild but she is also arid and terrible and burns very brightly.

Australia is a land of extremes and therefore any Gods who chose to reside here were volatile crises gods/goddesses. It is a land of drought and flood. When she cies, she doesn@#146;t know whwn to stop and when she is the crone she withdraws completely into aridity and it is a sudden change. When he burns, he burns for a very long time and she hides her face from him.

Her bones shine through the earth in bright ribbons of colour and he glimmers in the light on the waters.

Another mythic alternative here is the sun woman/ moon man image of Koori spirituality. Here she is the bright terrible lady and he is the healer. He is the ribbon of lakes and streams and waterways which support life and she is the bright terrible goddess of the deep earth, volcanoes and sudden natural cataclysm.

It is a place of extremes, of living on the edge of change and both Goddess and God dance the fierce cycle of life, death and rebirth. It is not a benevolent or fertile country and not one where a gentle earth mother cherishes us. Here, we must not leave out the crisis gods who stand at the pivotal point of sudden, often initiatory, change.

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