The Wheel of the Year
The Four Seasons are known as Solar Festivals, in that they mark a seasonal change caused by the Sun. The cross quarter days are marked by Fire Festivals and are usually celebrated as significant agricultural festivals. Together the Solar Festivals and the Fire Festivals make up the Wheel Of The Year. The Wheel Of The Year, is often broken into eight festivals, and the observance of Solar energies at the solstices and equinoxes and the Fire energies on the cross quarter days, is a common theme throughout the world.
The Festivals of the Wheel Of The Year also represent the active and dormant states of nature, man and agriculture. Each of the festival days was ruled by a governing deity, whether a God or Goddess, with each region having its own associated deity. From planting to reaping to winter to summer… the seasons were of great importance to our ancestors, for their very existence depended upon good harvests, mild winters, enough rainfall.
Join us at Rainbow Lodge on each of these dates below to offer gratitude to the turning of the wheel each season. Bring your drums, rattles, bells and voices to build the energy withing the Sacred drum circle. Please arrive by 19:00 hrs for 2 hour community celebration of life.
Imbolc – February 2nd
Imbolc, in the Celtic seasonal calendar marks the beginning of the lambing season and signals the beginning of Spring and the stirrings of new life. All is pregnant and expectant – and only just visible if at all. It is the promise of renewal, of hidden potential, of earth awakening and life-force stirring. Here is hope. We welcome the growth of the returning light and witness Life’s insatiable appetite for rebirth.
It is time to let go of the past and to look to the future, clearing out the old, making both outer and inner space for new beginnings.
Spring Equinox – March 21st
A point of perfect balance, night and day are of equal length and in perfect equilibrium – dark and light, masculine and feminine, inner and outer. The natural world is coming alive, the Sun is gaining in strength and the days are becoming longer and warmer. The promise of Imbolc is fulfilled in the evident and abundant fertility of the Earth. It is time for the hopes of Imbolc to become action. The energy is expansive and exuberant. It is the first day of Spring.
Beltane – May 1st
Beltane represents the peak of Spring and the beginning of Summer. Earth energies are at their strongest and most active. All of life is bursting with potent fertility and at this point in the Wheel of the Year, the potential becomes conception. On May Eve the sexuality of life and the earth is at its peak. Abundant fertility, on all levels, is the central theme. It is about sexuality and sensuality, passion, vitality and joy. And about conception. A brilliant moment in the Wheel of the Year to bring ideas, hopes and dreams into action.
Summer Solstice – June 21st
The longest day and the shortest night of the year. This is the peak of the Solar year and the Sun is at the height of its life-giving power.The Earth is awash with fertility and fulfilment and this is a time of joy and celebration, of expansiveness and the celebration of achievements.
As the Light reaches its peak so this is also the moment when the power of the Sun begins to wane. From now on the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer and we are drawn back into the Dark to complete the Wheel of the Year.
Lammas – August 1st
High summer and the union of Sun and Earth has produced the First Harvest. Lammas is the celebration of this first, Grain Harvest, a time for gathering in and giving thanks for abundance. We work with the cycle that the Autumn Equinox is the Second Harvest of Fruit, and Samhain is the third and Final Harvest of Nuts and Berries.
The word ‘Lammas’ is derived from ‘loaf mass’ and is indicative of how central and honoured is the first grain and the first loaf of the harvesting cycle.
Autumn Equinox – Sept 21st
Another point of perfect balance on the journey through the Wheel of the Year. Night and day are again of equal length and in perfect equilibrium – dark and light, masculine and feminine, inner and outer, in balance. But we are again on the cusp of transition and from now the year now begins to wane and from this moment darkness begins to defeat the light. The cycle of the natural world is moving towards completion, the Sun’s power is waning and from now on the nights grow longer and the days are are shorter and cooler. The sap of trees returns back to their roots deep in the earth, changing the green of summer to the fire of autumn, to the flaming reds, oranges and golds. We are returning to the dark from whence we came.
Samhain – October 31
One of the major festivals of the Wheel of the Year, for many Pagans the most important festival of all. It is the third and final harvest festival of nuts and berries and a fire festival. All the harvest is in, all is complete, it is the end of the cycle of birth and growth, it is the point of death. The seeds of the harvest have fallen deep into the dark earth, they are unseen, dormant, and thus apparently lifeless.
This is the time of the descent into darkness, of pre-conception, out of which new life, new ideas, will eventually emerge. Traditionally the veils between the worlds are at their thinnest now. Boundaries dissolve and all is laid bare. It is time to honour and offer hospitality to, our ancestors.
At Samhain the dark half of the year commences. It is a truly magical time. Death is always followed by rebirth and while this is the end of the old year, it is the beginning of the new year. With the beginning of this dark phase comes the opportunity to rest and reflect on the past and to dream of new beginnings. The seed now hidden in the earth will germinate in its season. Look for the seeds in yourself.
Winter Solstice – December 21st
At the Winter Solstice we reach the depth of that darkness with the longest night of the year. Darkness has reached its peak. We know the light will return. But in the darkness of Winter do our hearts believe what our heads tell us? We all have moments of darkness, when we don’t know how much deeper we will go before the light starts to return.
“The Sun does start north again and the light comes back. In the world, in our lives, the light comes back. This is indeed something worth celebrating, and it has been celebrated throughout the Northern Hemisphere in remarkably similar ways.” (quote from The Pagan Family by Ceisiwr Serith)