06 February 2021

the wheel



. . . in the pagan year, there is a ceremony or a ritual or something being marked, every six weeks, across the year, and that that gives hope for anybody who is currently suffering, because you are never far away from the next moment when you can get together and when you can celebrate. But also, it gives you a sense of time passing, which is really helpful when you’re struggling, because time can begin to drag, and you can get mired in hopelessness. But actually, you get a kind of marker of your progress, so the next time that something comes up in the calendar, you can feel how far away you actually are from the last time you celebrated, and that that helps you to move through, and you can start to look towards the next one, and a pleasure in the next one, perhaps, as a way of dividing up those long months.


Katherine May (speaking in "on being" -  a lovely podcast episode)

Time flies, Imbolc is past us. The German feast day on the 2nd of February is called Maria Lichtmess (Mary's candlemass), the day Mary blows out the candle that was lit by St. Martin in November - yet another pagan ritual customized by the churches. Godlovethem. 

My Franconian grandmother would declare, an Lichtmess ich mein Brot bei Licht ess' (on the day of candlemass I can eat dinner by daylight). It is also my sister's birthday and we managed a polite phone call. Even laughter.

My year is usually split into quarter sections dictated by my health insurance. Every three months, I have to show my face and my insurance card to my GP to prove my existence and to collect prescriptions and referrals. And there's the one brief immunologist appointment every three  months.

When I was first diagnosed with my shitty disease, I was in despair about this, waiting from one of these appointments to the next, the gap seemed enormous and so much could happen, what if I go deaf or blind or the kidneys pack it in or what if I die, until I finally accepted that checking on a chronic condition every three months or so is the way it's done. In between, nobody is holding your hand, you just have to make the best of it. (And you are supposed to keep a record of symptoms.)

So, you get quite blasé about it all after a while, you forget about the record soon enough, nothing life threatening happens, and by now you barely register the clumps of blood on your tissue every morning after your sinuses start to clear. Because even if it's a fair bit and has been going on for what, weeks, months (?), it's not a nose bleed, just lumpy stuff, and you know, it's crusts that count. Crusts, you have been told, mean vascular tissue damage, lumpy clumpy stuff is just plain boring bleeding sinus membranes.

Also, the digestive system can be far more variable than you were told to believe. Two weeks of painful bloating nausea is considered acceptable under the circumstances unless it's accompanied by constant constipation and, here we go again, blood. Don't bother to get alarmed.

And anyway, the date for the annual full colonoscopy/endoscopy is set (for June).

Fatigue? Brain fog? Rest is a good thing and don't expect too much at your age. After all, this is a chronic illness.

You scrape by, from day to day, to week to week, quarter to quarter. From Imbolc to Ostara to Beltaine to midsummer. On and on.


  1. So many ways we mark the passing of time. So many different ways for all of us.

  2. I love celebrating Imbolc. It is the time when the sun is high enough here where we can actually get Vitamin D just by letting it shine on our bodies. This is good until Samhain.
    I wish I had words of wisdom to share with you about a chronic illness. I only have my small hands that would like to reach across 10,000 miles to hold yours.

  3. So sorry to hear of your ongoing chronic problems, and the way they're treated. I've sometime counted the chronic illnesses I have, for which I'll have to take meds the rest of my life, or have treatments or tests on a regular basis. It's the pits. But when I saw my pulmonologist yesterday, I wasn't having symptoms, and asked would I continue to have some spells that knocked me out? Yes, he said, and I'm not to return for 6 months. Unless I need to have antibiotics for one of the spells. I will definitely be pagan who celebrates a ritual every 6 weeks! Life is the focus, and following how the sun affects our lives. I like that!

  4. A friend of mine recently posted about Imbolc. I like the idea of more frequent acknowledgments/celebrations of the passing of time. I think I have some reading to do about that wheel.

    I have finally gotten to just twice a year with my oncologist, and would sure love it to be less than that.

  5. and this is how christianity spread across Europe. and how Judaism spread across the Middle East. the ancient pagan /goddess celebrations co-opted and rededicated by the Jews, the ancient pagan/goddess and Jewish celebrations co-opted and rededicated by the Christians. they knew the people would not give up their pagan celebrations. I celebrate nothing. just plod along day by day watching the seasons change. our modern culture is nothing but celebration day after day. when everything special is available every day, how meaningful are celebrations. anyway. I wish I could make you better. I have no chronic illness but the body seems determined to disintegrate anyway. fingers on my right hand want to go numb and a pain behind my left knee if I sit too long.

  6. I want to say "I don't know how you do it" but of course it's not like you have a choice. You just do.

    It seems there is so much suffering in life and I don't think my parents explained that to me, nor did I explain that to my children. We want happy and sunny every single day. Life is not just not fair.

    I can't do anything about your vasculitis but I can send you virtual hugs. Take care Sabine.

  7. You keep on keeping on, with so much grace. I learn from you.

  8. I think celebrating something every six weeks or so sounds like a terrific idea. Especially now when so many of us just feel suspended. Dave also marks time with his medical treatments -- I suppose it makes sense!

  9. A beautifully written and fully realized post. I salute you.

  10. This is so interesting. I have a pagan friend and she often reminds me what celebration season we are in. The christians stole (appropriated) so much from the people, not to mention the witch trials. You mark the year with insurance... and medical appointments. Instead of time for planting crops, harvesting, welcoming the moon and the passage of the sun.

    When my mother died, all she left behind was a small folder box with her will and records of her savings. And that was all. Felt compassionate.

  11. "Godlovethem' made me laugh! Heard it so often growing up, usually preceded by "Ah shure..." The American equivalent is "Blesstheirhearts!" Nothing humorous about your illness though. You have guts to handle it with so much grace. When we lived in Germany I loved how the year's passing was marked by so many holidays and celebrations. Covid has brought along a side serving of monotony, but also a chance to value simpler pleasures. I hope this year will be marked for you by happier occasions than your doctor visits.

  12. I like the idea of transitioning from one celebration to another with the Imbolc. I pretty much counted on the four seasons to carry me through though I recall winter seemed interminable. The challenge always was to be warm enough.

    You cope well considering your med issues. My family member recently has learned her immune issues may not be what they once thought, or as serious, when they suddenly disrupted her undergraduate studies and life several years ago. Time will tell if symptoms continue to be in the past and meds aren't needed for this young person now pursuing graduate pharmacological training with intent to specialize in area of genetics. I do wish you relief from your symptoms and sunshine soon.