Out of the Broomcloset
Hi everyone; no politics this time around, it’s barely possible to emerge from under covers, when looking out of the windows and seeing the bleakness of the season. Most of us are just on autopilot, waiting for spring. For many sorts of Pagans, we think of this as still inhabiting the dark half of the year. I’d just like to remain in the burrow and let others restock the pantry from time to time, but I’m not quite that self-indulgent.
One thing that many sorts of Pagans are waiting for is to assist, in our various ways, with the turning of the Wheel of the Year. Yes, it’s a thing. If you take the view that time is cyclical rather than linear, you see a circle instead of a line, which is, in this case, divided into eight roughly equal divisions of the year, they being spokes of the wheel marking off significant festival days. Trust me on this, there’s a Wikipedia page.
Mid-winter and the onset of spring, which is where we are now, are marked, respectively, as Candlemas/Imbolc on February 1, and the Vernal Equinox on March 20. These mark, among other things the first glimmer of hope engendered by winter’s end, and the tipping point of day outlasting night (and hopefully warmer times). For those of us who celebrate these, we lend our aid in advancing their passage.
Which might seem peculiar to some, but there it is. We are not just acknowledging, passively, what is about to happen, but are actively, at some level, assisting this passage. This is not to imply that, if we don’t participate, we think that it won’t happen; rather, that we have some bit to contribute that might be of assistance in moving things along. We did our part. If you think about it, it’s rather like elections; they’re going to come off whether you participate or not; you might as well lend a hand. Some of you might feel that there’s no real contribution we can make in affecting an impersonal universe, that this is play-acting from some discarded past.
The intellectual potential of our species has not materially altered since it emerged, though the sum total of knowledge certainly has increased over time. The ability to reason has not. When it comes to an individual, it’s a crapshoot; look at the number of people who insist the earth is flat. ”Primitive” man may have believed, at some point, that the waning of the sunlight might indicate that the Sun would completely go away if they didn’t do something about it, but I don’t believe that it’s being anachronistic to say that they didn’t. Even with a much shorter life expectancy than today, it doesn’t take much brainpower to notice the shifting cycle of the day and the night over time goes so far, and no farther. If your very survival depends on constant notice of changes in your environment, you’ll be aware of these global oscillations.
It’s more likely one of our favorite modern concerns, anxiety, anticipating what the future might hold. It might not be that the Sun is going away forever; you know it will come back eventually. What you don’t know is, whether the exact timing of such a thing, whether the course of events will be beneficial. So, you come up with activities and strategies that optimize the situation to your (and others) benefit.
And so, it all comes back to magic. Complex things happen, and being a part of the world, we (or some of us) strive to lend some aid or to contribute to effect a change, positive in its impact. This is called hope and this is the time that hope is reborn. If it takes a little magic to inspire one to take a little credit for getting things done, so be it. Oops, I guess this was a slightly political column.
Leon Calafiore can be reached via his blog at bigbookofmagic-outofthebroomcloset.blogspot.com.