Tuesday, May 1, 2012

PBP 11: Creating a Personal Calendar (Or what to do when you DON'T do the wheel of the year)

(Picture from momsawitch.blogspot.com)

You may have noticed from the waterfall of tweets and FB statuses today is Beltane. And happy Mayday to all my friends, by the way.

Also, I don't celebrate it, and maybe some of you guys don't, either. Let me explain.

I've elaborated on this a little before, but I'm one of those people who started with the wheel of the year, and tried to follow it, really really really hard, and still felt like something wasn't right there.

I usually put aside time on Samhain, because the spirit-connectedness bit is pretty awesome, but I never subscribed to the Wiccan/Celtic inspired narrative of what that holiday was supposed to be. I haven't celebrated much of anything in the past couple years (Yule, sometimes, because I love that energy, and sometimes Imbolc because it's my birthday) but to be honest it hasn't made me that happy.

I'm pretty simple. I actually love holidays and the energy and excitement they bring. I like getting together with friends and celebrating some awesome stuff and rejoicing and all that jazz. The problem is: I don't resonate with the traditional wheel of the year, (being of the Shamanic persuasion probably does not help) but I also don't resonate with a particular tradition's holidays. What to do? I'm obviously not a recon of some older tradition and their gods. I lean towards Chaos, if anything. Though I have read about various Tribal holidays, I don't feel absolutely okay appropriating them, and I really don't connect with them either. The situation is basically very frustrating.

I also don't particularly feel drawn to celebrate full moons and whatnot, probably because my goddess-as-full-moon narrative is not there. I think it's fucking cool, like any other person, but I don't really feel the need to do anything in particular for it.

I think this also ties back into "respect" vs "worship". I don't usually get called to do offerings or particularly worship anything, so holidays revolving around such things obviously don't resonate with me. Makes sense. The only real deity I DO "worship" is Sedna, the Inuit sea goddess, and She doesn't seem to have a particular day. More like a season. And even then, the connection is fluid and not always there. I don't get called to do things every day.

So here's my dilemma. I love holidays, but I don't resonate with many on earth, from any culture. So where do I go from here?

I've been thinking about this a long time, and I wonder how much personal narrative has to do with holidays. If I create a mock calendar with dates and things that are relevant to me, inclusive of my own narrative of how things are, is that less valid than an existing one? I would say no, it's not. The problem is holidays usually have strength in numbers. Greek recon friends can reasonably share the same holidays, for instance. But if I create a personal calender, how is that relevant to others? That's my problem with this solution. If you celebrate alone, is it really a "holiday"?

Believe it or not, as angry and apparently politically polarized as I am, I do like celebrating around the big ole' kitchen table sometimes. And frankly it gets lonely being a solitary Shamanic person (which already puts me on a different level than most Pagans, in terms of narrative) who doesn't resonate with anything.

If you were expecting an answer, I'm sorry to say I don't have one. I'm trying to figure out the things I do hold valuable and the things I DO celebrate, and then go from there. Maybe my solution is not in a calender. Maybe the solution is too fluid to fit on a numeric graph.

I DO celebrate the first snow-fall. I do celebrate the days when the flowers bloom for the first time. I celebrate the thunderstorms and long days of rain after a drought and when the leaves begin to turn. Maybe my solution is to completely remove the narrative alltogether, and celebrate the seasons themselves. Maybe I celebrate the animals and the plants and the trees whenever and wherever I feel is right, and I scrap the calendar altogether. That seems to feel righter to me.

And maybe, if more people like me exist, maybe we create on own Calendar together. What do you say?


  1. The only holidays I celebrate are death anniversaries (crane) and initiation anniversaries (if this initiations happen to be lucky enough to last more than three months. for ex: soon I'll be celebrating mimzy's 1 year as a house spirit).

    You and I have already discuss this. I think really you just have to celebrate when you feel like it. The calendar is stupid anyway because we follow the roman one which is just standardized and doesn't follow the pattern of the universe much better than attaching an arbitrary number to a day (which then changes depending on which side of the world your on.) So screw it. The date means nothing.

    Also hell yes samhain.

  2. I think that the holidays we (pagans) place on certain days of the year were probably not originally relagated to those certain days. I mean, I would bet that the ancient peoples who practiced the spiritualities we base modern paganism on, probably celebrated the seasons in the way you described. For example, I bet Imbolc was celebrated as the first ewes began to show signs of milk, not on February 2nd.

    In the euro-pagan community (pagans who base their beliefs on European ancestry/traditions), we talk a lot about how Christianity usurped our holidays. Yet, for our 'wheel of the year,' we use specific dates on the Julian calendar, which is Roman and was arguably propagated by the Christian church way back when. Granted, this is like comparing a genocidal massacre to a single natural death, but the point is that we are in fact trying to base a natural rhythm on an unnatural time table. And, we probably have simply not yet moved back to a time when we can collectively celebrate a season without setting a specific date.

    This touches on your point about holidays being greater with numbers. With the globalization of human culture, we often would like to celebrate things simultaneously with our loved ones, who might very well be on the other side of the planet, and thus not experiencing the same seasonal changes that we are (hello, Beltane and Samhain on the same day). But we want to celebrate together, so we pick a day that's close. Thus we have the wheel of the year, with specific dates.

    Personally, I think the connection between following a Shamanic path and wanted to avoid an unnatural correlation between the actual seasons and a synthetic calendar is both obvious and, in practice, healthy.

  3. I always think well what about all the other hundres of holy days all peoples have and would love to celebrate some of all religions some times I never was wiccan , tried for 2 yrs but it just is not me . I find I need celebrate what is true to who I am and always have been seasonal times go with nature , what is really given . I love hallows eve or all souls day etc. because it always was a day of spirits for me . it is/was my gramma's bday and my connection to MX and the monarch that is what makes it my holy day . I think when we truly follow spirit , creator mother nature is where true & real celebration comes for me . I like how summer solstice is Aboriginal day , but I like to celebrate seasonal things as they come . May day I like to celebrate planting time and remember my gramma too as the farm girl she was .
    It is so awesome for me being an old lady to see you so strong Kristin , to be so wise , I'm not trying to boost you up lol ;-) just that it takes alot for young people to be thier own sometimes .
    I love reading about Your shamanic journey ☺

  4. Specified dates don't mean much to me when it comes to seasons, especially celebrating them. Even though the Wheel of Year has the Northern and Southern Hemisphere thing going on, it's not like the seasons themselves always happen on the day that they are "supposed to". A good example of this would be today. Right now as I type this, it is pouring down rain, the ditches in the front yard are flooded, the yard is full of quarter-size hail, and my Catholic mother is still praying the rosary in the other room (probably giving thanks that the storm seems to be nearly over?). Today is Mayday, yes, but it sure as hell doesn't look like it. If I were to celebrate Beltane, how would I keep a fire or dance around a pole? Lol. What I am trying to say is that the Wheel of the Year doesn't work for me either.
    Not just for the above example, but also because it, too, did not feel right. In fact, rituals in general and circle-casting just feels a bit silly because of an equinox/solstice/moon cycle. But, of course, that's just me at the moment. On a full moon, I might set some crystals up in a bowl of salt, but that's probably it.
    Appreciating and honoring Nature doesn't always have to be in a certain way (which you know), but I think the best way to do these both is to experience it and share it with someone important to you (which doesn't necessarily mean in-person, it could mean by yourself and taking pictures or writing about it, then sharing that to people, for their entertainment/inspiration).
    Also, thanks for posting this. It's comforting to know other people think alike. ^_^

  5. It sounds to me like you already have your own spiritual holiday calendar. Its far more fluid than the rigid Roman throw back that society in general uses, but I think that's the beauty of it. I'm the same way, I just can't get into the wheel of the year. Try as I might, it just doesn't work for me. Take Beltane recently. I spent all of April thinking it was right around the corner, that I needed to plan something for it, recognize it in some fashion. But did I? Nope. I know that it has passed and I know the significance of it, but I can't seem to get into the actual celebration of it all. Samhain is probably the only real Sabbatt that I do recognize fully. Sometimes Yule, but only subtly. All the others I try to recognize as they come, but its more in that I notice the changes in nature and in my surroundings. I rarely change my altar, if ever. I'll meditate but that's about as ritualistic as I get. And I have been contemplating discarding the Wheel as well. Loved this post!


  6. I actually mulled this idea over a little in my blog recently. I have a really hard time celebrating holidays that were created thousands of years ago based on the seasonal cycles of a different continent. I tend to resonate best with what's going on with the land and sea around me. I resonate with the return of spring migrants, with beach season, with the changing of the tides, etc.

  7. Your experiences sort of match with my recent feelings. Ever since I moved to the United States everything was out of balance. My blog is about the seasons, living with them, different holidays, but my motivation was gone. There was nothing in the nature out there, that still spoke to me. It was supposed to be Imbolc (I'm also a late February born btw) but the Cherry trees were in bloom already. Something went terribly wrong.
    I think you really don't have to follow a certain calendar. In my blog I have one, collecting all the holidays I stumble across, from christian, to pagan, jewish ect. or even weird ones like national pecan day. So whenever I feel like celebrating, I look though the list and pick the one that attracts me the most at that time.
    However, I hope that things are going to change again, once I am back in central Europe in a few weeks, where the seasons are the way they're "supposed" to be.
    lovely place you've created here :D