An Australian Wheel of the Year
Hello from the Southern Hemisphere
I thought for my turn here on the Treasure Trove I would share what I’ve learnt about the wheel of the year as I experience it here in Oz, specifically the Western Sydney area. As I have found that the traditional Northern Hemisphere wheel didn’t really fit the landscape that I experience here all that much, the whole part about snow and the earth being bare and the fact that the harvest is in one particular season is something I’ve never experienced. And yes that means snow is a foreign object for me!
So the Northern Hemisphere wheel was very useful in that it got me to notice and pay attention to the land around me and which led me to see how it did and didn’t fit.
As a result of this my wheel has three parts:
The astronomical solar cycle of the Summer/Winter Solstices and the Spring/Autumn Equinoxes.
The cycle of the native plants and animals and peoples of the area that I live in.
And the agricultural cycle of the European settlers as it has been adapted here.The Solar Cycle
The solar cycle of the equinoxes and solstices happens here just on the opposite end of the calendar as experienced by people in the northern hemisphere (which is where the majority of written information on the topic comes from) and some of the imagery associated with these festivals is absent or not quite rightWinter Solstice : June 22nd
The longest night of the year is now but the sun also starts its journey back to strength this day. A time to gather with loved ones to share warmth and comfort in the cold of the year. Also a good time to celebrate new beginnings.Spring Equinox : September 23rd
The light and dark are now in balance for a short time and the weather is starting to warm up and the days lengthen. A good time to reflect on the balance within our own selves and to acknowledge growth and change in our lives.Summer Solstice : December 22nd
The longest day of the year and the time when then sun shines longest, usually marks the start of the hot and dry months when the suns heat becomes searing and burning. Marks the start of a time of purification, cleansing and rest.Autumn Equinox : March 21st
A time of balance between the light and dark times. The weather is cooler and more pleasant. A good time to reflect on what you learned in the fire time and to give thanks for the lessons you received. It is also a good time to start planning and acting on new projects and endeavours. The Native Cycle
I was really inspired into looking at how the native year unfolds especially locally after seeing some of fellow OBOD member Julie’s work on the native wheel near her home on the coast. I live about 30km inland from the coast and have noticed that there are differences even in that small amount of distance in weather patterns and seasonal cycles.
This is a table from her blog http://druidsdownunder.blogspot.com/200 ... chart.html
that compares observations of the seasons from various sources from around the country including many native aboriginal weather calendars
I’d like to talk a bit about what happens during the 6 seasons of Western Sydney based on the original cycle of the D’harawal people. Below is a combination of personal observation and research on the native yearly cycle.Cool getting warmer : Sep-Oct
The whole bush is a blaze of colour and scent now. There are birds everywhere squawking, screeching and chattering away as they gorge themselves on the flower nectar and the bees are pretty busy now too. A time of purposeful busyness and activity, a time to enjoy the world in the warming dry weather too.Warm and wet : Nov-Dec
The weather starts to heat up now but is offset by the rains and storms that help refresh and nourish the land and people after the mass flowering times, Many native trees also start to shed their bark, branches and seed pods at this time of cleansing. Also the time that many insects start to emerge and become more visible.Hot and dry : Jan-Feb
This is the time of heat, fire and reptiles. A time of purification, endurance and stillness as temperatures soar into the high 30’s and into the 40’s with very little rain to bring relief and fires are not uncommon across the landscape clearing away the old and discarded matter in the bush.
Any remaining seedpods are made and shed at this time and many seed eating birds and animals are more easily seen. Lizards and snakes symbols of transformation are easily seen basking in the fiery heat of the sun at this time too. Wet becoming colder : Mar-Apr-May
The rains make a return and bring with them cooler and much more pleasant temperatures and life giving nourishing healing water to the land. Many plants have another short flowering and fruiting tress feed the many flying foxes that squeak and screech at night . The air starts to become clear and crisp again as the humidity of summer dissipates and dew can be seen and felt making the grass damp and encouraging the fungi to sprout and decorate the bush floor along with native orchids. A powerful time as spirit can be strongly felt in the land.Cold and frosty : Jun-Jul
It’s cold and there is not too much rain at this time of year so it can be very still and crisp and clear, but it is a time of new beginnings and fruitfulness as the wattle trees start to come into bloom with their fluffy yellow flowers and fill the air with a sweet scent and the honey eaters start to make their appearance to feast on the wattle and the other flowers soon to come. Also the Humpback whales can be seen migrating north along the coastline towards their breeding grounds in the tropics where they will give birth. Which all coincide around the time of the winter solstice.Cold and windy : Aug
It’s still cold but the air is not still any more but is now full of movement and energy in the form of wind that can get pretty strong. This I feel is sign for us to get up, get moving, be creative and let thoughts, ideas and projects flow and start to bloom, Just like the rest of the bush does at this time of year.
European Agricultural Cycle
The most important thing to know here is that you can always have something harvesting and growing all through the year outside in the yard, though something’s may need help to survive especially in the hot and dry times when rain is scarce.
Generally though I feel you can group the plantings and harvesting into two major cycles, which I call the light and dark harvests. So named as they fall in the times of the solar cycles between the equinoxes when either light or dark is dominant in the sky.
So the Dark Harvest covers the period of planting and harvesting from around the Autumn equinox through to the Spring equinox when the time the sun spends in the sky is at it’s lowest and would typically include plants such as the following:
Apples, kiwifruit, limes, nuts, pears, papaya, persimmons, olives, pomegranates, capsicums, Carrots, pumpkin, spinach, zucchini, bananas, plums, lemons, berries, beans, cabbage, mushrooms, squash, quinces, mandarins, Swedes, turnips, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, rhubarb, ginger, avocados, kale, sweet potato, grapefruit.
And the Light Harvest covers the period of planting and harvesting in the period between the Spring Equinox and the Autumn Equinox when the time the sun spends in the sky is at it’s greatest, and would include plants such as:
Strawberries, asparagus, green onions, sweet corn, pineapple, artichokes, blueberries, cherries, mangoes, mulberries, carrots, leeks, tomatoes, peas, lychees, peaches, beans, raspberries, cucumber, eggplant, garlic, passionfruit, apricots, bananas, blackberries, currants, gooseberries, melons, Asian greens, red onions, salad greens, tomatoes, celery, okra, figs, grapes, guava, oranges.
This is kind of general as there are points at each end of the harvest cycles where there will be plants whose growing period starts in one cycle and finishes in the next and some plants have different varieties that will come to maturity at different times too. Overall though a great majority of plants will fit into the light/dark harvest pattern.
So I hope you found this interesting and inspiring.
Blessings Aurora References:
Solstice dates by http://www.archaeoastronomy.com/2011.html
Frances Bodkin: D’harawal Seasons and Climate Cycles, © 2008
Jocelyn Howell & Doug Benson: Sydney’s bushland: more than meets the eye,
Julie Mills: http://druidsdownunder.blogspot.com/
Australian gardening calendar, Penguin books © 2005
The farmers market companion : finding and using seasonal produce in Australia, Penguin books © 2006.
And many observations and conversations with fellow people over the years.
© S.Wilson 2011