could hunt and what you could gather. Later on, what animals you could raise and
what plants you could grow and harvest. And in most places, a combination of
To be frank, I don't think many of the common people in my own experience
concerned themselves much with the solstice and equinox times. They did depend
on the moon and its phases, and the winds, and the weather and seasons, for
hunting and planting.
Most of us today don't farm or hunt for a living. We work for wages, often live
in cities, and are more distanced from the land in our day to day lives. We have
to try and remember they were people who made their living from the land.
Anything magical and mystical was not just an intellectual exercise, it
supported their daily needs, to keep cows in milk, defend against crop-damaging
storms, keep the invisible world in check. For many of the common people, the
gods were less important than good relations with the spirits in the land or the
spirits of the animals they hunted. And defense from those people or spirits who were malicious.
Some folks look to the European wheel of the year, the solstices and equinoxes, Beltane, Imbolc,
Lammas and Samhain. But the European-based wheel, except for solstice/equinox,
doesn't match either our weather patterns or our resources, so I don't follow it.
Those European traditions came from their land anyways.
One should look to the one's own land and its rhythms first.
For foods, one can learn from the original Indian tribes from your area, which,
here in Montana, depended mostly on meat year round. Of course the buffalo aren't
running around anymore, and there were way less than 400,000 Indians depending
on the game back then too. Up here in Montana, we are going through a population
crash of deer and elk and unless you have access to private land
(ranches, etc.) or have expensive off-road vehicles, hunting just isn't worth it
right now. The old days when I was a kid of driving out in the hills, walking
and stalking, and getting your game, are over. All the old guys I know aren't
even getting their licenses this year.
The Indians did gather some plants in season, like greens early in the spring
(too bitter now) and berries especially this time of year (currants,
chokecherry, serviceberries) and pounded the berries with dried meat to store as
pemmican. Tribes up this way didn't fish much, they really only wanted red meat.
So the next thing is learning what the oldtimer Euroamerican settlers planted
and depended on, which in this area, weren't so much grains (winter wheat here),
but spuds (potato), beets, cabbages, squash, peas, and onions. Those were the
staples. Stored in a root cellar and/or canned, along with whatever tomatoes or
garden produce the grasshoppers didn't get. And of course they depended a great
deal on imported flour, dried beans, sides of bacon, etc. People have to
remember, there weren't the varied foods and fancy cooking back then as there is
Yes, they planted apple and crabapple trees, but it took a while to get them
going, and deer eat them. But other fruit and nut trees don't grow very well in
most of Montana, although the Flathead Lake area is a microclimate where
cherries do very well. Another plant they imported from Europe that mark many old homesteads
where the houses are long gone is the lilac bush.