MARCH 2023: WINTER PUSHES BACK
Where I live, March has so far been a contest between the coming of spring and a winter that won’t let go. The city of Gloucester has been relatively insulated, but we have still had sub zero nights and low day time temperatures. There has been snow that didn’t settle, cold hard rain and occasional high winds. There have also been frequent periods of sunshine – still cold, still rainy, yet a joy to be out in. Underneath this changeability, the period of daylight grows longer.
A canal side walk shows a more subdued world than last year, and a sense of latency, as though life is waiting to see what will happen next. The wheel of the year turns as ever. What to expect on the ground has become less certain. The climate crisis is visibly in process, with the consequence of vast changes in the arctic now making themselves felt here. We could say that the Cailleach is angry and mobilising. But what this means for our day-to-day weather isn’t always clear.
As I experience these shifts (not so dramatic in themselves in the here and now) I can’t help thinking about culture as well as nature. Climate has moved down the formal political agenda – again. Outright denialism and repression of information about relevant topics still aren’t over. Sir David Attenborough, who has been making nature programmes since the beginning of broadcast TV, will not be having his most recent one (6th and last of a new series) shown live by the BBC. It will be available only on iPlayer.
Supported by groups like WWF (World Wildlife Federation) and RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), this programme highlights the destruction of nature in Britain and looks at rewilding as part of the solution. There are allegations that the restricted availability of this content stems from a fear of offending Conservative politicians and the right wing press. The BBC has issued denials but I have not seen any other plausible reason put forward. Yet this is about conservation: in older meanings of ‘conservative’, the protection of nature and the exploration of rewilding could readily have become a conservative cause. They have been, in the past – think about Theodore Roosevelt and the National Parks movement in the USA.
From a Druid and Earth spirituality perspective, the desacralisation of nature, and the emergence of a wasteland culture, lie at the heart of this problem. This is not new. It has being going on for a long time, for many reasons – religious, economic and political – driven by people with widely different projects and motivations. I know that there is much creative work going on to develop better understandings and positive projects. But it still saddens me that the balance of power and resources, especially in a renewed time of wars and the threat of wars, remains so troubling.
In my personal life I am happy and optimistic. I can feel sad about what is going on around me without being defined or disabled by my grief. Moments of fear and sparks of anger, too. They need not be driven away. They too have an honoured place at the table. They are part of the larger whole, and, lived with emotional intelligence, a way of bearing witness and a spur to action in the world.