ADF follows the standard Neo-Pagan wheel of the year – 8 festivals tied to the solstices, equinoxes, and cross-quarter days that are seen throughout most of the Neo-Pagan religious groups. These are ostensibly based on the agricultural cycle and are a combination of (mostly) Celtic and Norse traditional celebrations.
I love the wheel of the year. It flows, and it’s a holiday every 6 weeks (more or less), and there’s a lot of beauty in it.
Unfortunately I’m also a gardener in southeast Texas.
The agricultural cycle here is not even remotely like that of the Norse and Celts who (presumably) originated these festivals, or even much like those of the Brits and Northern Americans who first celebrated their Neo-Pagan counterparts.
I grow things pretty much year round here, with a few exceptions. In general, the months of June, July, and August are a time of “wait and see”. Which is to say “Wait and see what’s going to shrivel up and die from the sheer heat and lack of rain.” Okra does pretty well if it’s well established (but it too will shrivel up and die if you plant it too late), and hot peppers do pretty well too, but again with the “well established” clause. Tomatoes quit producing fruit by June because it’s just so damn hot – our lows are usually around 80-84 degrees by then – and the plants just throw in the towel by the beginning of July unless you can get them some shade.
Then in late August and September, you plant the garden again (usually with things that fruit relatively quickly) and whabam, you’re harvesting cucumbers, corn, and tomatoes in November.
When the wheel turns to the “dark” half of the year and everything is dead, awaiting the rebirth of the sun.
In October, you plant broccoli and cauliflower and onions and leeks and root veggies, and those are harvested mostly through the winter until you plant your spring garden the first weekend in March. Then come the first of May, you’re getting your first taste of vine ripened tomatoes… just as we’re celebrating the festival of “thank the Gods it’s not cold anymore, let’s have sex.”
In short? It just doesn’t line up. I’m harvesting for the fertility festivals and planting for the harvest festivals and… it’s just a mess!
This makes for some interesting mental gymnastics, and puts the impetus of the wheel on things OTHER than the actual cycle of agriculture in my backyard. I can certainly celebrate the fertility of mind and creativity and ideas, but it’s hard to distance that from what I know is really going on in this little piece of swamp I live on.
I don’t have an answer for fixing it though. I love turning the wheel. And I’m generally drawn to the Celtic hearth culture, way more than I am the Greeks or Romans. Maybe I ought to look into the Vedic cultures, if I want my celebrations to line up with my garden outside.
Either that, or I just have a party more often than every 6 weeks.
The Feast of the First Tomato Salad is worth celebrating, even if it’s not an official holiday.