The Wheel of the Year
The Wheel of the Year marks eight auspicious events, four solar festivals which mark a seasonal change, and four cross quarter days, also known as fire festivals, which celebrate significant agricultural events.
The four solar festivals consist of two solstices (Yule, Winter Solstice and Litha, Summer Solstice) and two equinoxes (Ostara and Mabon).
A solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice each year when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the North or South Pole. The day of the solstice is either the “longest day of the year” (in summer) or the “shortest day of the year” (in winter) for any place on Earth, because the length of time between sunrise and sunset on that day is the yearly maximum or minimum for that place.
An equinox occurs twice a year (Ostara and Mabon), when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth’s equator, giving night and day an approximate equal length.
To remember these important days and pass them on for generations, ancient pagans created a story about the God and Goddess and their journey through life and death (which was only one year and repeated itself, ad infinitum). This you would have learned in the Introduction to Wicca Course.
These are the festivals and their dates. Throughout your Wiccan journey, you will learn more about the festivals through practice and you will also find unique ways to mark the occasions personally.
There is no wrong or right way to celebrate the festivals, as long as you abide by the rule, Harm None.
YULE • circa Dec. 21
IMBOLC • February 2
OSTARA • circa March 21
BELTANE • May 1
LITHA • circa June 21
LUGHNASSADH • August 1
MABON • circa Sept. 21
SAMHAIN • Oct. 31 / Nov. 1
While some traditions adhere to a practice of celebrating the Sabbats without making magic, my tradition performs the magical “Great Work”: awakening yourself to your innate divinity by living and working in harmony with Nature. The Sabbats help you to find your dreams, nourish them, and turn them into goals – dreams with a deadline – that you accomplish.
Attuning yourself to the energies of Earth and Sun will empower you to make this journey of discovery and fulfillment. It’s up to you whether you choose to make magic at a Sabbat or not, but these holy days are certainly charged with divine energy, and participating in them will change you in many extraordinary ways. This is just part of the blessing of the Wheel of the Year.
Basic to Advanced Practice: Working With the Wheel
In this practice you are going to work with a full cycle of the Wheel of the Year in order to set and reach a goal.
- Begin at Samhain by finding a dream to fulfill – reflect on what would be a meaningful project or goal to work on, and start working on it during winter solstice, nurturing it through the changing seasons of spring and summer as you rejoice in your creativity and progress.
- Harvest your efforts at the Autumn Equinox, giving thanks for the blessings of a magical life, and letting go of those things you have outgrown during the last year.
- Begin seeking a new dream at Samhain.
Be sure to record your process in your magical journal.