What is the Wheel of the Year?
The Wheel of the Year marks the Sun’s journey across the sky, the solstices, equinoxes and the Earth’s changing seasons. Each spoke of the wheel marks an important moment of progression and change in the Earth and in accord with that progression a celebratory festival is aligned.
Origins of the Festivals
The four Greater Sabbats are Imbolc, Beltaine, Lughnasadh and Samhain. These cross-quarter festivals were more relevant to herding people and were all marked by FIRE festivals; usually very large and held of sacred importance to encourage and renew the continuance of the Sun, and, therefore, their survival. The equinoxes and solstices or the Lesser Sabbats are more closely attuned to the growing of crops and the cycle of planting and harvesting.
The dying and rebirthing aspect of the crops became associated with the persona of the God (and thus, Solar energies) as the sun was very much needed to perpetuate all of this. The Goddess became the representation of that which was necessary to contain, grow within , harvest and replant the very essence of survival and life… namely food. Just as food nourishes, heals, sustains and aids in giving life, so did the Goddess move through the wheel in the form of Maiden (promise of new life), Mother ( sustainer and nurturer of life) and Crone ( wisdom and death, with the promise of rebirth).
A Turn of the Wheel
The symbology of a wheel is one that is used to represent the belief that all of life moves in accord with a natural cycle of change.
Additionally, if we think of the function of a wheel, its purpose is that of movement; of stirring up momentum to propel or carry whatever it is attached to from a place of being stationary and stagnant. If all of life were simply to pause and cease to move, their would be no growth.
If the was not the revolution of the sun’s light in the course of a day, there would be perpetual darkness where it’s rays did not reach. At a deeper level of understanding, the Wheel of the Year and the celebrations and cycles that each “turn”, or movement towards the next Sabbat brings, offers the potential for greater understanding of our place within this planet we call home and the tides and changes that occur within its natural domain.
The Wheel of the Year holds several purposes, both theological and practical.
Theologically, the story of the Wheel often varies depending on the Tradition. The Wheel gives the accounts of the mythological events that repeat throughout the year as well as a vague “history” of the Gods and Goddesses involved within the pantheon.
For the newbies, by “Tradition” we mean “denomination”; for example Wiccan, Celtic, Druid, Native American, etc. On the more practical side, the Wheel trains us to be able to deal with death and the inevitability of re-birth that follows.
Paganism teaches that death, a natural function of the universe, is a part of life; a dramatic change that is the beginning of a new experience, and something to be celebrated at the proper time not feared (not condoning Suicide!)
Through the ideas of Heaven and Hell, Christianity teaches a deep fear of death, and this spurs our society’s horror of death. We are always trying to find new and improved ways to beat death, but we will never succeed. It is sad our society portrays death as such a terrifying experience; we would certainly have less emotional pain and suffering in the world if death could be seen as what it is: a transformation, nothing more.
In this section you will find a rendition of the upcoming quarter of the Wheel of the Year. Included will be the mythological lore and some traditional practices for the celebration, along with some ideas for activities and decorations :
- Sabbath and Witches' Sabbath
- Wheel of the Year – Lughnasadh
- Wheel of the Year – Mabon
- Wheel of the Year – Ostara
- Wheel of the Year – Samhain
Last updated: March 3, 2015 at 12:04 pm
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