The Wheel of the Year

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The Wheel of the Year

We are all familiar with the way the year turns; the process by which winter gives way to spring, which in turn gives way to summer, autumn, winter and then spring once more. Cultures throughout the world have for many centuries marked the turning of the year with certain festivals, marking the high and low points of each season with celebrations and rituals to ensure the continued prosperity of their lands.

Many modern pagans view the year as a wheel with eight spokes; the four main festivals (the equinoxes and solstices) forming four of the spokes, with significant days in between, termed cross-quarter days, forming the remainder.

eight spoked visualisation

Ostara – The Vernal Equinox

Occurring around the 20th or 21st of March each year (in the Northern hemisphere), this is the vernal or spring equinox; the balancing point at which both day and night are of equal length, and we may look forward to longer days as we stretch on towards summer. Ostara is a time of rebirth and fertility – it is thus an excellent time to start new projects. It falls first on this list as it also marks the beginning of the zodiacal calendar.

Easter eggs on wooden background with space

Beltane – The First of May

May Day has been the cause of celebrations in many European cultures for centuries; a point at which we begin to feel the warmth and excitement of summer. Traditions such as the crowning of a May Queen and dancing around the may pole hearken back to ancient fertility rites. The lighting of Beltane fires is still common in many parts, and perhaps this connection with fires and passion has contributed to the modern perception of May Day as an opportune time for political protest.

Bonfire

Litha – The Summer Solstice

The longest day of the year is certainly one to celebrate – although perhaps with a note of some sadness, as the days will shorten thereafter. It is most notably celebrated at Stonehenge, where the stones are aligned to the sunrise on that day. For many, this is a day to celebrate love, and it is a very popular day for pagan weddings or handfastings.

Stonehenge

Lammas – The First Harvest

Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh, is the first of the year’s harvest festivals, a time to give thanks for the bounty of the earth, to celebrate the remaining power of the sun as it wanes, and to make the first preparations for the colder seasons to come. Bread is often baked on this day, using the first harvested grains, and was traditionally used in protective charms to look after the remaining harvest.

Healthy Whole Grain Bread with Carrot and Seeds

Mabon – The Autumnal Equinox

Once again, the days and nights fall at an equal length, only this time the sun is waning and it is the nights which grow longer. This is the second harvest festival, a time when most of the crops have been brought in; the Autumn Equinox is therefore often represented by the cornucopia, or horn of plenty. It is a time of quiet preparation, a time to begin projects to take you through the winter and to gather in your resources.

Fall cornucopia on a White back ground

Samhain – Hallowe’en

Hallowe’en may be a popular night for fancy dress to many, but it is regarded as one of the most important festivals in the pagan calendar. Marking the very end of the harvest, this is a time to celebrate your achievements and to honour your ancestors. For some, it is also considered to be the Pagan New Year.

Bobbing for apples

Yule – The Winter Solstice

Midwinter; the longest night. In the coldest, darkest time of the year, we come together with our friends and families to celebrate the pending return of the sun. In ancient times, this was the last great feast before the hardest months, and such celebrations offered a beacon of hope for the coming year.

Christmas display iStock_000044849366_Small

Imbolc – The Beginning of Spring

Celebrated on the first of February, this festival was attested in ancient Gaelic texts, and is strongly associated with St Brigid. It is a festival of hearth and home, marking the beginning of spring and the first lambs, and is often celebrated with the lighting of candles and visits to holy wells.

Candles

All of these festivals are regarded as significant days; ideal points at which to reassess your path in life and to take on guidance for the season to come. However, if you don’t wish to wait for the next festival, you can call me and my team for clairvoyant readings at any time of the year.

To call a member of my team, the number for UK callers is 0800 999 8831. Australia 1800 018 367, Canada 1866 76 9422, USA 1855 864 9383, Ireland 015 060 693, Rest of the world +44 207 111 6115.

Tony Hyland
tony@tonyhyland.com