The Wheel of the Year


This is the expression used by neo-Pagans and in neo-Pagan Witchcraft designating the changing seasons of the year. It also symbolizes the belief in the birth, death, and rebirth cycle. In design, the Wheel of the Year has eight spokes designating the eight sabbats that are generally celebrated in neo-Paganism. The eight-spoke wheel is thought by many to be a Celtic symbol; however, it appeared in Greek symbolism as early as 600 BC, over two hundred years prior to Aegean/Mediterranean contact with the Celts. The rotation of the wheel symbolizes the year passing through its seasons or cycles.

The Wheel of the Year for modern Wiccans and Witches represents the four "greater" and "lesser" sabbats. In the most northern European traditions the Cross Quarters are the greater sabbats: Imbolc/Candlemas (February Eve), Beltane/Roodmas (May Eve), Lughnasadh/Lammas (August Eve), and Samhain/Halloween (November Eve). In most of the southern European traditions the agricultural traditions are the greater sabbats: Autumn Equinox, Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, and Summer Solstice.

Yule (Winter Solstice)-December 20-23
Celebrated annually on the first day of winter, this is the longest night of the year. It is a solar festival celebrating the sun's rebirth and is a time of honor for the Horned God. On Winter Solstice, the Goddess becomes the Great Mother and once again gives birth to the baby Sun-God and sets the wheel in motion again.

Candlemas (Imbolc, Brigit's Day ) -February 2
Celebrated annually on February 2, this day symbolizes new beginnings and spiritual growth. The sweeping out of the old (the past) is represented by the sweeping of the circle with a besom or Witch's broom. In some traditions, the candles used for the rituals of the coming year, are made on this day. It is a day to celebrate the returning of Light and the coming spring.

Spring Equinox (Oestre, Ostara, Vernal Equinox)- March 20-23

Celebrated annually on the first day of spring, this a fertility rite celebrating the birth of Spring and the reawakening of life from the cold sleep of winter. The Spring Equinox is a time of new beginnings, of positive action, of planting seeds for the future.

Beltane (May Eve, May Day, Rudemas)- May 1st
Celebrated annually on May 1st, Beltane is derived from an ancient Druid Fire Festival celebrating the union of the Goddess and the God, and so is also a fertility festival. Beltane celebrates the returning Sun God(or sun).

Summer Solstice ( Midsummer, Litha, Saint John's Day) - June 20-23

Celebrated annually on the first day of summer, this is the longest day of the year, when the sun reaches its zenith. This day symbolizes the power of the sun and marks an important turning point on the Wheel of the Year. It is the ideal time for divinations, Healing rituals, and the cutting of divining rods, dowsing rods, and wands.

Lamas (Lughnasadh, August Eve, First Festival of Harvest) - August 1
Celebrated annually on August 1, this is the first Festival of Harvest. On this day we give thanks to the gods for the harvest and do honor to the fertility aspect of the sacred union of the Goddess and God. An old custom which is carried on today by modern witches as part of the Lammas celebration is the making of corn dollies; small figures fashioned from braided straw. The dollies are placed on the altar and represent the Mother Goddess who presides over the harvest. A new corn dolly is customarily made each Lammas, and the old one from the previous year is burned for good luck.

Fall Equinox (Fall Sabbat , Second Festival of Harvest) - September 20-23

Celebrated annually on the first day of autumn, this is a time to celebrate the completion of the harvest which began at Lamas. It is also time of thanksgiving, meditation and looking inward.

Samhain (Halloween, Hallowmas, All Hallows' Eve, All Saints' Eve, Festival of the Dead, Third Festival of Harvest) - October 31
Samhain is celebrated annually on October 31. This the most important of all of the Sabbats. This day celebrates the end of the Goddess-ruled summer and marks the arrival of the God-rule winter. Samhain is also the Celtic new year, the beginning of the solemn rite and festival of the dead.
And so the cycle of the Wheel turns.


Seasonal Days of Celebration


In common with most Neo-Pagan faiths, their main holy days are:

Summer Finding, at the spring equinox, typically March 21. This is dedicated to Ostara.

Winter Finding, at the fall equinox, typically September 21

Midsummer, at the summer solstice, typically June 21

Yule, which starts on the winter solstice (typically December 21) on the Mother Night of Yule.
It lasts for 12 days or more. This is the most important day of the year.

Many Norse symbols have been adsorbed by the Christian celebration of Christmas: evergreen trees, Yule logs, holly, etc.
Many also celebrate days between the solstices and equinoxes.

Various traditions within Asatru observe them on different dates:

The Charming of the Plow on February 1st weekend, a celebration of Freya and the Disir

Merry-Moon
on May 1st weekend, celebration of spring dedicated to Njord and Nerthus.

Harvest or Freyfaxi
on August 1st weekend, the first harvest and celebration of Frey and his horse

Fogmoon on November
1st weekend, a celebration of war-dead and Ragnarok Dedicated to Odin and Freyja.

 
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Asatruars in North America observe Einherjar, held annually on November 11. This coincides with Armistice or Veterans Day. It honors those who have been killed in battle and have joined Odon's warriors in Valhalla.
Some groups hold a feast on the 9th of each month to honor Norse heroes. Other groups hold rituals at full moons. Additional days are celebrated at other times during the year by different traditions.

(some material from: the MYSTICA ; 1997-2005 Alan G. Hefner.-or- "Ancient Ways : Reclaiming Pagan Traditions" ~ Pauline Campanelli, Dan Campanelli [1991] -or- "Wheel of the Year : Living the Magical Life"
~ Pauline Campanelli, Dan Campanelli
[1989] -or-http://www.religioustolerance.org/
asatru.htm)


image from "Wheel of the Year : Living the Magical Life" ~ Pauline Campanelli, Dan Campanelli [1989]

Esbats

Besides the Sabbats, there are 13 Full Moon celebrations, called  Esbats. The Moon is a symbol of Nature's cycle of birth, life, and rebirth. Here is a listing of the names of the monthly full moons, and a magickal purpose for each. The Full Moon is also a traditional time for divinations of all kinds.
 
January ~ Wolf Moon: Protection for your home and loved ones. Start a moon journal to record your lunar tides and write down your spring dreams.

February ~ Storm Moon: Help in planning your future. Begin your spring cleaning, burn white candles and purifying incense, sweep out the cobwebs and prepare for the new growth of spring.

March
~ Chaste Moon: Help in making wishes come true.Prepare the earth for planting. Prepare yourself for change. Bless your garden in the moonlight.

April
~ Seed Moon: Plant your seeds of desire in the Earth, whether it be in a garden, in a pot by the
window. Surround yourself with light and flowers, decorate colorful eggs to bring fertility and joy, plant herbs. Sing in the rain, enjoy life.

May
~ Hare Moon: Focus on your goals. Free your wild nature, renew and affirm your sensuality, kindle the fire
of romance, dance and make love by the light of a the full moon.

June
~ Dyad Moon: Balance your spiritual and physical needs and desires. Honor the beauty of nature, look at the new growth around you. Celebrate living!

July
~ Mead Moon:  Enjoy the warmth of summer, decide what you will do once your goals have been met, take a long walk in the moonlight, relax.

Augus
t ~ Wort Moon, Corn Moon: Collect and store fresh herbs for  winter, bake special breads to honor the God and Goddess of grain and all growing things, share them with your family and friends, offer some to the Earth. .

September
~ Barley Moon: Give thanks for all you have been given, brew a little mead. Celebrate the vine with a bottle of good wine and good friends. Catch the Moon's reflection in your cup and raise it up to salute her, drink in her essence and feel the presence of the God and Goddess.

October
~ Blood Moon: Honor those who have gone before us, and make an offering to them, carve pumpkins and place candles within to light their way.

November
~ Snow Moon: Cleanse yourself of negative thoughts and vibrations, this a time for inner growth. Learn a new craft,develop your psychic talents.

December
~ Oak Moon: Aid in remaining steadfast in your convictions. This is the time to make wreaths of Holly, Pine, Oak, Cedar or Ivy. At the full Moon burn them as an offering to the Sun and Moon.
Make ornaments to hang on the boughs of your yule tree. .

Blue Moon
-------occurs when there are two full moons in one month, do something strange, something you have never done before, enjoy being YOU.