Journeying Through the Seasons with the Wheel of the Year
The Wheel of the Year refers to an ancient Celtic calendar, that observes the seasonal changes throughout the year through eight festivals celebrating our connection to nature.
While the names for each of the eight festival vary today among diverse pagan traditions, the true purpose of the calendar is to connect with nature’s cycles. By observing and celebrating the seasonal shifts within the Earth, we are able to honor our ancestors, reconnect with Mother Earth, and empower a deeper sense of rhythm, meaning and harmony in each of our own lives. .
The Spirit of Mother Earth is an extraordinarily wise being of immeasurable beauty and power. The Earth lives and breathes just as we each do… But even more, her soul is incredibly wise and extremely advanced spiritually.
In addition to literally sustaining human life, Gaia’s wisdom, compassion, and spiritual power make her an incredibly powerful ally to co-create and connect with.
One of the ways we can deepen our connection with the Earth is to become in tune with her seasons and cycles… Honoring and appreciating her throughout the seasons.
There are many layers for why and how this is so powerful. Gaia’s entire journey through the seasons holds incredible symbolic significance. This journey is very symbolic of our human journeys through life as souls.
We can honor this journey through gratitude, observation, presence and seasonal celebrations which bring us back into sync with nature, and into rhythm and harmony with the cycles of life.
The map for this journey?
Introducing The Wheel of the Year
The Wheel of the Year is an 8-Spoke Map which guides us through the changing of the seasons.
You don’t have to be affiliated with any specific religious beliefs to observe The Wheel of the Year and honor the wisdom of the Earth’s changing seasons in your own life.
Each of the eight segments, sabbats, or common celebrations which compose the Wheel of the Year have very ancient ties.
The 8 Phases of the Wheel of the Year come from a combination of the harvest, fire, and solar festivals from ancient Romans, Greeks, Celts, and Germanic cultures of northern Europe.
Our ancestors spent a great deal more time outdoors than we do in our modern lives. They were deeply connected to the cycles and rhythms of nature, the changes in light, and the Earth’s shifts and cycles throughout the growing season. They honored these changes through festivals and celebrations.
These seasonal celebrations both mark the changing of the seasons, track the passage of time, honor the changes of the Sun, and they symbolize the effect of this change on farming, the creation process, spirituality, and everyday life.
There is so much wisdom we too can learn from the Earth by honoring and paying more attention to her seasons and cycles now.
Wisdom from The Wheel of the Year
The Wheel of the Year as a whole brings the reminder that like nature, your life is cyclical, and that is immense beauty can be found amidst the cycles of change.
Not only can honoring the seasons help you to feel more connected and in-tune with nature, and the cycles of life…
But it can help you to more deeply understand and connect with your true self too.
“Through celebrations in their seasons are the deeper powers of human nature realized.”
Wheel of the Year 2023 Dates
Here’s a look at the 8 points that make up The Wheel of the Year. These Sabbats or seasonal festivals honor the changing of the seasons, and celebrate our innate connection with Mother Earth. When we honor the Earth, we create an opening for her profound wisdom to reach us.
These are the approximate Wheel of the Year Dates for the Northern Hemisphere. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, the Wheel of the Year will be reversed for you so the next celebration will be the Spring Equinox instead of Autumn.
The Wheel of the Year is about honoring the season, so for each festival in the Northern Hemisphere, the opposite festival will be celebrated in the Southern Hemisphere. For example, Samhain in the Northern Hemisphere is commonly celebrated on October 31st, but in the Southern Hemisphere this is when Beltane will be observed.
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Samhain – Commonly Celebrated October 31th
Samhain is a harvest festival celebrated approximately half way between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice. “Samhain” pronounced “sow-in” is an Irish Gaelic word said to mean “summers end”, and is a celebration marking the entrance into winter and the darker half of the year.
In Celtic traditions, it was believed that the light always follows the dark, and so this entrance into decline and darkness within the Earth was seen as the entrance into the new and the start of a New Year…
Horning this time of year is honoring the cycle of death and rebirth. This is also a time when the veils are thin, and we can more easily access and communicate with our ancestors in Spirit
Samhain is a powerful time to remember those who have passed on, celebrate the Summers end and prepare for Winter months ahead.
Learn more about Samhain and its connection with Halloween here!
Winter Solstice – Yule – December 21st
The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year and the longest night and while this is the peak of Winter’s cold and dark days, the cycles of life continue to turn and the Wheel of the Year now begins to shift towards Spring.
The Winter Solstice is a celebration of light, as this is a key turning point where the days once again begin to grow longer, and we start moving towards the lighter half of the year.
The Winter Solstice and the time around it has long been celebrated by cultures around the world, as a time of rebirth, and renewal… As right now Mother Earth is being reborn and renewed … And so can you!
While it’s still cold outside, it’s a perfect opportunity to rest, meditate, reflect and let go of all that is no longer serving you, because soon again the season of growth and new life will return… Using the Winter Solstice for reflection, release, and honoring the light within you means you too will be ready to grow and thrive come Spring.
Learn more about the Spiritual Significance of the Solstice here.
Cross-Quarter Festival- Imbolc – Commonly Celebrated February 1st
Imbolc is a time of celebrating the first stirrings of Spring within the Earth, celebrated halfway between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox.
The etymology of name Imbolc is a bit unclear… Coming from either the Old Irish word I mbolc meaning “in the belly” and referring to the pregnancy of ewes, or from the Old Irish word imb-fholc meaning “to wash or cleanse”.
Both meanings make perfect sense as two of the main themes for celebrating Imbolc are fertility and purification.
The Celtic celebrations of Imbolc involved a whole host of rituals and customs to say goodbye to winter, welcome spring, protect against evil and promote wellness, health and wellbeing.
Right around this same time there is the Christian holiday Candlemas, and the Old Irish, St Brigit's day… The perfect opportunity to reconnect with nature by looking for the very first signs of spring! And in your own life to start thinking about what you would like to grow and create in your life experience, as we prepare to move into the most productive period of the year for planting seeds and growing new life, which is of course Spring.
Spring Equinox- Ostara – March 20th
The Spring Equinox is Gaia’s celebration of rebirth and honoring the turning of the Wheel of the Year from Winter into Spring!
The Spring Equinox brings an almost a perfect balance between night and day… But this time, the light of day is growing longer… And all of nature is waking up and being reborn into new life.
Ancient tales speak of the Spring Equinox as being a time of balanced light and dark, where there is a resurrection of the light. Fitting that the Chrisian Holiday Easter is also celebrated right around this time and integrating many of the same ancient pagan traditions and symbols of Ostara like painted eggs and bunny rabbits (symbols of fertility).
Spring is a time of rebirth, fertility and renewal… Look for the many signs of growth, fertility and rebirth in nature now, as well as the signs of new growth and fertility in your own life.
This is also a good time to cleanse your space, release the past, and free yourself from anything standing in the way of creating your highest intentions. On that note, its also a great time to get clear about where you’re headed and what you want to grow, create and manifest this Spring.
Cross Quarter Festival – Beltane – May 1st
May Day (also called Beltane) is sacred Celtic celebration and fertility festival taking place right at the beginning of May. This date marks the half-way point between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice…
It's a time where Spring has reached its peak, the Earth is fertile and the veils between the physical and spiritual realms are thin as we now quickly move towards summer.
Beltane is a celebration of fertility, passion, and life. Grow with Gaia and birth your dreams and goals in life through action.
… It's a time of growth, celebrating life, honoring the Divine Feminine, and stepping into your most vibrant life. The timing and energy are perfectly aligned for focusing in on what you are creating and manifesting.
Take some time today to honor the Earth and to really love and honor yourself… Remember that it is love that positively realigns you with the highest possibilities for your future.
Learn more about Beltane here >>
Summer Solstice – Litha – June 21
The Sun has long been a symbol of the Divine and of Spiritual Light. This time on and around Summer Solstice, when the Sun is at its peak represents your full reunion with light and with Divinity. The Earth is alive and bursting forth with life. Every plant, tree, rock, flower, and animal seems to radiate vitality.
The waves of light energy streaming onto the planet now offer you the opportunity to jump into the flow and connect with your full spiritual light and power. An incredible wave of light, love, OM, and peace energies are about to peak, just before the Sun begins its retreat.
Observing the solstice provides a powerful reminder of just how precious every day is. We celebrate the power of the light now, the abundant and fertile Earth and at the same time, we acknowledge its passing because, after the 20th, the days begin to get shorter again.
Cross Quarter Festival– Lughnasadh – August 1
Lughnasadh, pronounced LOO-nah-sah marks the heart of summer, and celebrates the harvest season.
This is a celebration of the Earth in her abundance as she begins her transition from Summer towards Fall.
While Summer is now in her peak, the Wheel of the Year is turning and this cross-quarter date lays between The Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox, so now we begin to notice the descent of the Sun and the subtle shortening of day’s as we move towards Fall and towards the cold and dark of Winter.
Autumn Equinox – Mabon – September 22
The Autumnal Equinox marks the Earth’s transition from late Summer into Fall. This is a time of harvesting the fruits of summer and preparing for the cold days of Winter soon to come.
All of nature is now in preparation for Winter… And we too have an immense benefit in noticing the diminishing light of day and synching with the changes of the Earth by now nurturing our inner light, and preparing for Winter, the time of going within.
The time around the Autumn Equinox brings a very close if not precise balance between light and day, but we know now that soon the days will grow even shorter, and so now we can choose to listen to Nature’s wisdom and prepare by entering inward to find light and illumination within.
The balance of light and day around this time also serves you in bringing a greater sense of ease and balance into your own life.
This is a good time to honor and appreciate the balance within nature and reflect on how you can cultivate greater balance and harmony in your personal life.
Learn a simple Autumn Equinox ritual here!
How to Celebrate The Wheel of the Year
There are so many ways to celebrate the Wheel of the Year and honor the light and Spirit of Gaia by observing, celebrating and marveling in her beauty and change throughout the seasons.
The more present and connected you become with the rhythm of nature and the spirit of the seasons, the easier it becomes to intuitively celebrate the changes inherently present throughout life on earth! For example, in Lughnasadh, the berries are ripe and stone fruits are abundant on the trees… So celebrate by picking fruit (go to a you-pick orchard) or buy berries from the store and eat them in a park, while you practice being fully present in the moment, aware of your innate connection with the Earth.
I’ll be writing more about celebrating each of the points of the Wheel of the Year and honoring Nature as we transition through them in the Northern Hemisphere…
But do know this:
With awareness and a sincere intention to more deeply connect with the rhythm of nature, you can’t go wrong when you listen to your intention!
But here are a few general ideas for how to tune in, honor the Earth and celebrate the Wheel of the Year and the changing of the seasons:
- Create a seasonal altar or decorate your sacred space.
- Walk in nature with presence, reverence, and awe.
- Decorate your home with scents and décor relevant to the season.
- Enjoy fresh seasonal fruits and veggies.
- Cook special seasonal foods, bake bread or prepare a feast.
- Meditate on the changing of the seasons, and tune into the unique light and downloads available to you in the now.
- Create artwork or crafts that are seasonally specific and honor the present season.
- Journal about the changes in nature and in your own life.
- Set intentions, reflect, contemplate, and take time for you!
- Practice self-love and care.
- Sit outside and marvel at the beauty of nature, and just observe the present moment amidst the continued changing of seasons.
Listen to your intuition, tune into gratitude for the Earth, become fully present, observe, relax, and enjoy!
With love and bright blessings,
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