As usual when we approach one of the Celtic festivals I consult my collection of books that focus on the seasons. In fact this October I am getting to start a book that I received as a present last Christmas, The Turning of the Year by Eithne Massey which covers the lore and legends of the Irish seasons. I have been following the book through the year, but the first festival that is celebrated in the "real" new year is Imbolc in February, which is actually the second chapter in the book. It starts with Samhain, the Celtic new year which is celebrated at the start of November. The quote on the title page comes from Rainer Maria Rilke:
Let us welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.
I like the opportunity to get a new year celebration in before the new calendar year. It's all too easy to get bogged down in the darkness, the long nights and the cold as November starts. A newsletter I received this week from Rooted Wings, a fellow nature connection organisation, mentioned a book that suggests seeing October as the last month of the year because this is when everything stops growing. They point out that actually there is a lot going on underground during the winter, we just don't see it. I was reminded of this in a conversation I was having earlier today with a neighbour. Every morning when she opens the blinds there are new mushrooms in the garden, and it's beginning to freak her out. I was about to make a smart remark about the huge mycelium network that she can't see, but then thought that probably wasn't going to help the situation. And to be honest, if I really think about it, it does make me do a little shiver. Apparently mycelium can be hundreds or even thousands of miles long; according to one website I found it is estimated that every kilogram of soil can contain up to 200km of mycelium. I've been keeping an eye out for fungi on all of my walks recently, particularly those in wooded areas, but my favourite ones so far were actually the ones we found at the bottom of our garden. Called earth stars, for obvious reasons, they're unprepossessing things when the first appear, small brown mushrooms, which then crack open to form petals with the fruiting body sitting atop the star. The spores sit in the globe in the middle and are released when raindrops hit them. For some great pictures and more information check out The Woodland Trust website.
Being able to observe such wonders in our world, gives rise to those feelings of awe that can help lower stress and improve our wellbeing - even if does make you shiver sometimes. The more we experience awe in nature, the more we are likely to want to protect our world. This leads me nicely onto a piece of work being done as a partnership between Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire (VASLan), Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire (VANL) and the Scottish Communities Climate Action Network, which is kicking off on Thursday 10th November at 10.00am on zoom. This will be an exploratory meeting to discuss the formation of a pan-Lanarkshire Community Climate Action Network - collecting community views on the scope and remit of the proposed network and talking about how we can work together to support residents, community and voluntary organisations across Lanarkshire in the area of climate action and community resilience. You can find out more and sign up online over on eventbrite. We'd love to see you there.
In the meantime, take a moment to reflect on the passing of summer and the arrival of winter and start getting yourself into that positive winter mindset ready to appreciate the opportunities it brings.