The Wheel of the Year
Samhain is one of the major Sabbats and for many Pagans the most important festival of the year.
The harvest is complete and it signals the end of the cycle of birth and growth, it is the point of death.
The Sun King is sacrificed back to the land with the seed until the Winter Solstice, and the Goddess, now as the Crone, mourns Him until His rebirth at Yule.
He travels the Underworld learning its wisdom. This is the time of the descent into darkness, of pre-conception, out of which new life, new ideas, will eventually emerge.
Traditionally the veils between the worlds are at their thinnest now. Boundaries dissolve and all is laid bare. It is time to honour and offer hospitality to, our ancestors. .
At the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, darkness has reached its peak.
But at Yule a wonderful thing happens, the Sun stops its decline and for a few days it rises in about the same place. This is the crucial time, the cusp between events. The Sun stands still, and everyone waits for the turning.
With the end of the longest night the dark is defeated by the return of the Sun, the return of light, of hope and promise.
The Goddess gives birth to the Sun God and the Sun begins to wax and the days grow longer. All that is hidden will begin to emerge.
Imbolc also known as Candlemas, it signals the beginning of Spring and the stirrings of new life. It is Feile Brighde, the 'quickening of the year' all is pregnant and expectant- barely visible like the gentle curve of a 'just-showing' pregnancy. It is the promise of renewal, of hidden potential, of earth awakening and life-force stirring.
Here is hope. We welcome the growth of the returning light and witness life's insatiable appetite for rebirth. It is time to let go of the past and to look to the future, clearing out the old, making both outer and inner space for new beginnings.
This can be done in numerous ways, from spring cleaning your home to clearing the mind and heart to allow inspiration to enter for the new cycle. .
This is the Spring Equinox, the first point of perfect balance on the journey through the Wheel of the Year.
Ostara takes its name after the Germanic goddess, Eostre who was traditionally honoured by celebrating fertility, renewal and re-birth. It was from Eostre that the Christian celebration of Easter evolved.
During Ostara, night and day are of equal length and in perfect equilibrium - dark and light, masculine and feminine, inner and outer, in balance. The year is now waxing and at this moment light defeats the dark.
The natural world is coming alive, the Sun is gaining in strength and the days are becoming longer and warmer. The energy is expansive and exuberant. It is the first day of Spring!
Beltane honours life, it represents the peak of Spring and the beginning of Summer.
Earth energies are at their strongest and most active. On May Eve the sexuality of life and the earth is at its peak, full of abundant fertility.
The Maiden goddess has reached her fullness. She is the manifestation of growth and renewal. The Green Man falls in love with her and wins her hand, their union is consummated, and the May Queen becomes pregnant. Together they are symbols of the union of Earth & Sky.
Beltane night is about sexuality and sensuality, passion, vitality and joy. A brilliant moment in the Wheel of the Year to bring ideas, hopes and dreams into action.
On the Summer Solstice we arrive at the longest day and the shortest night of the year. The Goddess is now full and pregnant with child and the Sun God is at the height of his virility.
Midsummer is the peak of the Solar year and the Sun is at the height of its life-giving power. The Earth is awash with fertility and fulfilment and this is a time of joy and celebration, of expansiveness and the celebration of achievements.
Yet within this climax is the whisper and promise of a return to the Dark. As the Light reaches its peak, this is also the moment when the power of the Sun begins to wane. From now on the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer, and we are drawn back into the Dark to complete the Wheel of the Year.
Also know as Lammas, now is the time to celebrate high summer and the union of Sun and Earth, of the God and Goddess, that has produced the first Harvest.
It is a time for gathering in and giving thanks for abundance. It is the festival of Lugh, the great Celtic Sun King and God of Light.
August is his sacred month and is celebrated with feasting, market fairs, games and bonfires. Traditional circle dancing, that reflects the movement of the sun in sympathetic magic is strongest at this time.
The Autumn Equinox is the second yearly point of perfect balance on the journey through the Wheel of the Year, its counterpart being the Spring Equinox. Night and day are again of equal length and in perfect equilibrium - dark and light, masculine and feminine, inner and outer, in balance.
But we are again on the cusp of transition and from now the year now begins to wane and from this moment darkness begins to defeat the light. The cycle of the natural world is moving towards completion, the Sun's power is waning and from now on the nights grow longer and the days are shorter and cooler.
The sap of trees returns back to their roots deep in the earth, changing the green of summer to the fire of autumn, to the flaming reds, oranges and golds. We are returning to the dark from where we came.