One of the most popular questions from beginner or novice Witches concerns the Wheel of the Year. Since ancient times, our ancestors celebrated the annual solar cycle of the four seasons and their midpoints.
These eight festivals are rich with symbolic meanings and many were appropriated by Christians as a way to expedite the conversion of pagan people. For example, the spring equinox celebration of Oestre or Ostara is now Easter; Samhain, on October 31st, is now Halloween, which evolved from the Christian All Hallow’s Eve on the same date.
Different candles, oils, philtres, flowers and stones, as well as food and drink, correspond or best relate to each festival on the Wheel of the Year. By using these time-proven correspondences we are able to generate the most powerful and effective magick.
THE WHEEL OF THE YEAR
Samhain – October 31
Samhain (pronounced sow-in) is the Witches’ New Year. Here, we remember our past, including departed loved ones and friends. We also plan for the future with new hopes, dreams and ambitions.
Yule/Winter Solstice – December 21
Yule or Winter Solstice brings the longest night of the year. From now until the Summer Solstice (June 21) daylight hours will increase. The Oak King, who brings with him the return of longer days, now vanquishes the ancient Holly King, who represents the longer nights. It’s a good time to tap into your personal alchemy.
Imbolc/Candlemas – February 1
Imbolc or Candlemas is the feast of the waxing light as we now become more aware of the lengthening of the days. It’s a traditional time for Wiccan initiation.
Spring Equinox/Ostara – March 21
The festival of Ostara or Spring Equinox, takes place on the day when the hours of light and dark are of equal length. Ostara was the Goddess of Spring, signifying all that was new and fresh. In the past, old fires were extinguished and the grates were cleaned and this is the origin of the tradition of spring cleaning. Balance and energy breaking out are Wiccan themes for Ostara.
Beltane/May Eve – April 30
The feast of Beltane or May Eve is the traditional Witches’ celebration of fertility and creative energy. On May Day, bonfires were lit, garlands were worn and carols sung. Suitable Wiccan spells for Beltane include love and creativity.
Midsummer/Summer Solstice- June 21
Midsummer or the summer solstice marks the longest day of the year. Now, the Holly King vanquishes the Oak King and we begin our long descent toward the darkness of winter. It’s a time to plan and to take stock of the year so far. Spells for confidence and decision-making are appropriate.
Lammas – August 1
At Lammas, we can see that summer is fading as we prepare to gather the first harvest. It’s a time for Wiccan spell work around riches, appreciation and contemplation.
Autumn Equinox – September 21
This is the time for rest after labour and planning for the future as we head towards Samhain and complete the Wheel of the Year. Balance, flow and self-discipline are also hallmarks of this festival.
For spells, rituals and recipes to celebrate each festival, you may download my Wheel of the Year guide Simple Wiccan Magick Spells & Ritual Ceremony.
© 2014, Holly Zurich. All rights reserved.