The Wheel of the Year
9th February, 1999
One important aspect of Paganism is the acceptance and acknowledgement of the cyclical rhythms of nature. This is demonstrated by the way in which the calendar of religious holidays is referred to as the Wheel of the Year. This Wheel follows the cycle from winter, to spring, to summer to autumn and then to winter.
Each holiday is connected with a seasonal event that has not only natural significance, but also important symbolic meaning. This symbolism is tied to the creation myth of the birth, life, death and rebirth cycle of the God and Goddess.
Yule (Midwinter c. Dec 21st/June 22nd) - the darkest/shortest day of the year. In the Creation myth, it is the time when the Goddess gives birth to the God. As the God represents the Sun, it marks its rebirth as well.
Imbolc (c.Feb 2nd/Aug 1st) - marks the time when the Goddess is recovering from giving birth to theGod, who is now a young boy, whose power is felt and represented by the longer days that warm the Goddess. It is the earliest part of spring, when seeds begin to germinate.
Ostara (c.Mar 21st/Sept 23rd) - is the Spring Equinox and represents the true beginning of Spring. The Goddess is fertile and spreads that to the earth. The slowness of winter is finally thrown off as the God grows to maturity.
Beltane (April 30th/Oct 31st) - sees the emergence of the God into manhood. He desires the Goddess, they fall in love and unite. The Goddess becomes pregnant. This holiday is particularly representative of the Goddess' fertility.
Litha (Midsummer c.June 21st/Dec 22nd) - is the peak of natures power, the Earth is awash with the fertility of the God and Goddess.
Lughnasadh (Aug 1st/ Feb 2nd) - is the time of the first harvest as the plants of spring wither and drop their fruit. Also as this time, the power of the God weakens as the days grow shorter. The God is dying, yet lives on inside the Goddess in their child.
Mabon (c.Sept 21st/March 21st) - the Autumn Equinnox, is the completion of the Harvest. Once again day and night are of equal length. The God begins to leave his physical body.
Sahmain - (Oct 31st/April 30th) - The death of the God, for this cycle. It is a time when animals were slaughtered to ensure enough food for the coming winter. The God dies, like the animals, to ensure our continued existance. This is also the Celtic New Year.
Following this cycle of holidays, is a great way for modern Pagans, who are often cut off from nature, living in large cities, to reconnect to the rhythm of the seasons and nature. It is also allows people to understand that both the highs and lows of life are a natural part of life.
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