The Wheel of the Year
In Celtic and Gaelic pagan, wiccan and earth-based communities we celebrate them slightly differently.
The Lesser Sabbats of Ostara (Spring), Litha (Summer), Mabon (Autumn), and Yule (Winter) are solar celebrations, honoring the sun’s positions in the sky.
The Greater Sabbats Lughnasadh, Samhain, Imbolc, and Beltane celebrate the natural cycles of life, death and rebirth.
Today, some follow more traditional methods while others are use less structure and are more in free-flow.
The Wheel of the Year is an annual cycle which our ancestors lived the flow of seasons and celebrated the gifts of each with gratitude.
The Wheel of the Year
Celebrating the seasons, and the holidays, with festivals and rituals is as old as time.
The seasonal changes, plantings and harvests, and celestial movements throughout the year, are recognized in one way or another by, well, everyone. With traditions being passed down through the generations.
Here’s how the wheel is divided:
October 31- November 1: Marks the beginning of the New Year of the Celtic calendar.
On this most important Sabbat, we reap the final harvest of the year, and it’s when the veil between the living and the dead is at it’s thinnest.
It’s a time to remember our ancestors, honor and appreciate all that has been provided us and a time to look at our intention for the coming year, when the Wheel turns again.
Yule (Winter Solstice) December 19-23: The darkest and shortest of days, and longest of nights gives us hope for the return of the light and warmth of the sun.
We decorate trees and burn yule logs to bring good luck, and like the earth at this time, take time to rest and reflect and learn.
February 1-2: Here we recognize the growing sunlight of our days, and give thoughts and thanks to the quiet work of roots awakening beneath the soil.
There’s hope for an abundant spring and this is time to celebrate winter’s passing.
It’s also Brigid’s day - the Celtic Goddess of fire, creation, fertility and healing.
This is a wonderful time to begin the transition of our focus from inward to outward. It’s time to create and take your first steps towards action. That may include preparing the planting of new seeds (intention? garden?) for the coming year - and to provide the ripe and fertile soil in which they will grow.
March 19-23: Equinox is defined as a time or date when the sun crosses the celestial equator - and day and night are of approximate equal length.
Ostara sits opposite of Mabon on the Wheel.
This is a time to restore balance and harmony in your life. The sun is growing stronger, warming the earth and the seeds of growth in her fertile soil. The trees and flowers are budding, grass is greening, and flowers are blooming.
It’s a time of rebirth and refreshed energy. This is a perfect time to release that which does not serve your moving forward.
April 30-May 1: Beltane sits opposite Samhain on the wheel.
Where Samhain is a celebration of death, Beltane is a celebration of life.
The turn of the wheel at this time means spring is at its peak. We are turning to summer, and this is embodied in the element of fire.
This is a time of masculine and feminine energy combining in harmony and is the season for celebrating sexuality and sensuality. It’s a time of fertility!
June 19-23: This is Nature at her peak.
This is the longest day and shortest night of the year.
It’s a time to celebrate the abundance of flowers, herbs, and the growing crops of food and grain.
Because we know the days will begin to grow shorter and the nights longer, we celebrate the energy and strength of the sun, represented in bonfires, music and dancing.
It’s a time to recognize the hard work of readying the earth, planting the seeds, and seeing the earth provide, acknowledging the hard work of harvest in the months ahead.
This is a time to embrace the light and enjoy your achievements. This is not a time to mindlessly move on to the next task - it’s a time to say “I worked hard, it’s time to celebrate!”
Aug 1-2: This mid-point between summer and fall is typically the time of the first harvest.
We give thanks by baking breads from the grains of this first harvest - it’s gratitude at it’s best!
We give thanks for what is, and reflect on what we have learned and take pride in the hard work of harvesting.
It’s a good time to ask yourself “what have I experienced and achieved this year?”
September 20-24: The turning of the Wheel to Mabon celebrates the second harvest festival, where we are harvesting the last crops of fruits and vegetables.
It’s also the second equinox, when we experience a balance between light and dark, day and night.
There is again a harmony and a balance - imagine Libra and her balanced scales!
Not only is this our second harvest, but a bountiful harvest we can share with our family, friends and community.
We celebrate our gratitude and abundance by sharing, but also begin the work of turning our focus inwards from outwards.
It’s a time to start finishing outside projects, begin slowing down, and make time for rest and self-care.
The cold of winter is ushered in on cool winds and we prepare for the final harvest of Samhain and celebrate the coming of darkest season.
As you mark your calendar remember that celebrating is personal and there is no right way or wrong way to celebrate and honor each season…follow your heart.