The Wheel of the Year in Australia
by Seán Knight
of All Worlds, Australia
Associations of the Seasons and Elements and their uses in Casting
One of the things that I find most important to consider in anything to
do with elemental associations and any celebrations of the Seasons is the
sense of 'place'. I feel it is important to think about where one is and
what is around one, and create rituals accordingly.
I live on the Eastern seaboard of Australia. The seasons here are quite
moderate; so much so that some people have suggested that we do not really
have four definite seasons, as is the case in Europe, and have instead suggested
that the year should be broken down into not eight magical celebrations
but six. I have only read that article once and cannot currently find the
reference so I am unable to go further into the theory.
However, since I practice an eclectic form of 'Anglo-Celtic' magick, with
some Wiccan influences, I have customarily done the main celebrations of
the year as follows:
For Casting the Circle
In Australia, deosil< means anticlockwise and widdershins
means clockwise. This is the way the Sun traverses the
Water in the East; since the Pacific Ocean is to the East, and since
I grew up living right on the coast, this has always been associated thus
for me. I commence the Circle Casting in the East at Imbolc and Ostara.
Fire in the North; for us, the Sun is usually in the North as we
are south of the Equator. I commence Circle Casting in the North for Beltane
Air in the West; the weather pattern in Australia is notable for
the fact that the weather in Perth will arrive in Sydney three or four days
later, since the winds blow across the Indian Ocean, over the Australian
continent, and eventually to the Pacific Ocean. I commence Circle Casting
in the West for Lughnassad (Lammas) and Mabon.
Earth in the South; cool and dark, the Earth is associated with our
cooler times when we feel the Antarctic close by and of course it is the
traditional opposite of fire in the circle. I commence Circle Casting in
the South for Samhain and Yule.
I do not necessarily use a specific date for celebration of the season;
rather I choose a moon phase, either full moon or dark of the moon, which
occurs near that time.
The Wheel of the Year
I start the year at Imbolc (Oimelc); halfway between the Midwinter
and the Spring Equinox. I feel this to be the turning point between the
dying year and the new life of the new year. This is my own personal idea;
others commence the year at Yule, and still others at Ostara. For us in
Australia, Imbolc occurs in about the first week of August.
Ostara, the Spring Equinox, is celebrated in Australia around 22nd
September. It is truly Spring by then; the mundane world here commences
Spring at 1 September.
Beltane occurs for us in late October or early November. By that
time our crops have all been planted and it is time to quicken their growth
with the appropriate rituals.
Litha we celebrate at around 22 December, when everyone else around
us is doing 'Christmas things' as though it were the middle of winter...
such is the power of the commercial dollar and the imprint of the Christian
culture of England.
Lughnassad we celebrate in late January or early February. In the
of All Worlds, one of the main rituals of our Pagan Summer Gathering
each year, held on the Australia Day long weekend (26 January is Australia
Day), is a Lughnassad celebration, where we give thanks for the summer and
pray for a good harvest.
Mabon is celebrated at about 22 March, at which time we give thanks
for the harvest, meaning not only the physical harvest but the harvest of
knowledge and wisdom and learning that each one of us has received over
Samhain we celebrate at about May Day. There are still some groups
here of a more traditional Gardnerian and Alexadrian nature that celebrate
Samhain and Beltane at their Northern dates, saying that the gates between
this world and the next should open the same way all over the world at the
same time; personally I have no trouble with the Northern gates allowing
the new souls to enter the world as the Southern gates allow those who have
died during the year to pass on. Most people here have more recently come
to celebrate as I do, however.
Yule is held here in the middle of winter, at about 22 June. This
happens to be my birthday, so I assume I was conceived at Beltane - and
therefore feel to be a changeling of sorts (I was adopted).
At Yule we celebrate a traditional Northern way, with decorated trees, the
Yule Log, gifts etc. Most of our mundane friends find this quite amusing,
but they sort of understand since at least we are not trying to eat a huge
feast of roast meat and heavy puddings in the middle of Summer!
All of the above is really my own personal experience and belief. Many others
concur with the timings and dates as described; some people use Water for
West and Air for East, even on the East Coast, which I would feel more appropriate
for people living on the West Coast. But then, what about people living
on the northern or southern coasts? Or in the middle of Australia, in our
dry and dusty outback? I do not know any magickal people personally from
those places so I cannot say what they do. Those with whom I correspond
seem to follow the same ideas that I use.
I trust this information will be of use and help to those wishing to know
about magickal practice in Australia.