Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year is all the Pagan holidays or High Days and Cross quarter days  celebrated in a year. There are four High Days and 4 Cross quarter days making a total of eight celebrations. This is a new pagan tradition started in the 20th century.

Not all ancient cultures celebrated all eight festivals. There was certain ones that were important to them. Remember that the growing season was their life and their survival depended on it. The sun and the length of days held importance. Celebrating the coming back of the sun was a joyous time when the colder months meant the lack of it.

Each turn of the wheel of the sun holds meaning; and marks certain traditions and customs to be performed in that particular time frame. There is a season and a time for everything and certain preparations need to be done so that everything gets done. This prepares your mind and body and internal clock to be set for the growing season. Which is your life.

Think of the ‘wheel” as a wagon wheel with eight spokes. Each spoke represents a festival and as the wheel turns each spoke or festival gets it’s turn. A High Day is the Equinox’s and the Solstice’s. A Cross Quarter Day is the festival celebrated in between the High Day’s.

The High Days and Cross Quarter days are as follows:

Winter Solstice / Yule (High Day)

Imbolc (Cross Quarter Day)

Spring Equinox / Ostara (High Day)

Beltaine (Cross Quarter Day)

Summer Solstice / Midsummer (High Day)

Lughnassadh (Cross Quarter Day)

Autumn Equinox (High Day)

Samhain (Cross Quarter Day)

Each festival has it’s meaning and customs and helps prepare you physically and mentally for each season. Getting your body and mind in sync with the earth will help with all kinds of ailments that we modern people suffer with.

 

 

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Spring Equinox Festival

The festival for the Spring Equinox is held on or about March 21st. This is where the length of day and night are equal. The sun and the length of days were very important to ancient cultures, for their lives depended on the growing season. Thus, it was only natural to hold some sort of ritual to show appreciation through acknowledgement and offerings.

Although, the calendar may say it’s Spring, many regions still have a long way to go before they can get out and prepare for the warmer months. This makes celebrating all the festivals of the modern “Wheel of the Year” very important. It helps you turn your attention ever so slowly through the lengthening of the light of the sun. There is a time and a place and customs for every turn.

The Celts did not celebrate the Spring Equinox as far as a festival goes. But many surrounding cultures did have traditions for welcoming the Spring.

The color green is a given for the greening of the fields. The eggs associated with Easter are another Spring tradition of many cultures. Eggs symbolized fertility. At this time, blessing the land for fertility is important to assure a good growing season. Also, the nature spirits are known for birthing new life in the Spring. Fertility and rabbits abound, and the promise of colorful flowers.

It’s only natural to incorporate these symbols in your life around this time and use them in your rituals. These symbolize the meaning of Spring and acknowledging the Gods and Goddesses and making offerings to them for a good growing season is appropriate.

And after your ritual, whether personal or in the community, feast on the good bounty of food shared by all. Don’t forget to have fun. Enjoy!

https://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/ostara/index.html

https://www.thoughtco.com/all-about-ostara-the-spring-equinox-2562471

 

 

 

Imbolc Festival

Imbolc is an Irish/Gaelic quarter day festival celebrated between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox around February 2 to honor the first hints of spring.

The name Imbolc is a bit of a mystery. Some scholars say that it means “in the belly” which referred to the pregnancy of ewes. Since this was the time of the birthing for the ewes, this makes sense. And others say it means to wash or cleanse such as a ritual cleansing.

The Goddess Brigid was the deity of honor for this celebration. Brigid represented the Spring season which includes fertility. She is also known for her healing attributes.

The customs around this celebration revolve around fertility, healing, and springtime. A custom that has carried over to modern times is Spring Cleaning. After the long, cold, closed up house with the smell of smoke from the fireplace, the house is in need of a good cleaning and airing out. The same is true today. And what better motivation to clean then to do it for the goddess Brigid before she visits your house.

Other customs include making Brigid dolls. This was done by the menfolk and symbolized fertility. Brigid crosses were popular also. It was used for not only decoration but symbolized Brigid’s protection of hearth and home and healing blessings. Divination was also done for the purpose of knowing the future health of the family, livestock, and crops for the coming growing season. There are many other traditions and I encourage you to investigate them for yourself.

And of course, what is a festival without a feast and socialization. This holiday was eventually taken over and the customs and stories replaced by Christian concepts and is now known as St. Brigid’s Day or Candlemass. Many cultures still celebrate the original meaning today.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imbolc

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigid

https://www.adf.org/rituals/celtic/imbolc/imbolc-traditions.html