What Is The Pagan Wheel Of The Year
The pagan wheel of the year is a calendar comprised of eight occult holidays. The holidays are (Yule dec 20-23, Imbolc feb 2, Ostara mar 19-22, Beltane may 1, Litha jun 19-23, Lughnasadh aug 1, Mabon sep 21-24, Samhain oct 31-nov 1). Because the wheel is circular it is unable to define where the new year actually begins. With some thinking, Samhain also referred to as witches new year, and others believing Yule is the new cycle as it is more closely related to contemporary calendars.
Wiccan’s refer to these holidays as Sabbats. The name Sabbat is derived from the Hebrew word Sabbath “meaning to gather for ritual and rites.” These holidays and those who celebrate them are part of earth-based religions like Wicca. The pagan wheel of the year shows the beginning of every season as well as median points between them. They are also separated uniformly over the course of the year. The pagan name association with the wheel of the year comes from its German and Celtic heritage. Pagan holidays are comprised of many remarkable traditions including crafts, food, parties, and more. Now let us get into each holiday and what it represents on the pagan wheel of the year.
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The Pagan Wheel Of The Year Calander
*Keep in mind dates can vary when it comes to the solstices and equinoxes because it fluctuates from year to year, however, they usually fall within a 3–5-day range.*
Yule aka Winter Solstice (Dec 20 – 23)
Yule is the season during the winter solstice. This is the time of year when the days are shorter and people are working hard to prep for the cold months that lie ahead. The winter solstice holds a record for one of the world’s oldest winter traditions, which is holding their solstice on the shortest day of the year.
During this period it is commonplace to acknowledge the heat coming from the sun as well as giving thanks for the energy bestowed on our planet. The sun nourishes our plant life and acts as a life source to all. Even in the cold seasons, we are still given the sustenance we need to thrive. Thus representing never-ending expansion. Some common Christmas practices we follow are derived from ancient Yule traditions. A few of the most reference-able are hanging mistletoe and using a yule log. Yule log was traditionally used to ward off negative entities who would try and invade the home and to bring good luck.
Imbolc aka The Promise Of Springs Return (Feb 2)
To translate Imbolc’s Gaelic meaning is “in the belly.” This is in reference to when the first sheep started to produce milk which signified they had fallen pregnant. This became a jubilant celebration marking the promise of returning spring as well as a halfway point between the present winter solstice and the upcoming spring equinox. During Imbolc, produce and animals are exulted. This is done to secure a bountiful year ahead full of vitality and fertility. The first signs of spring are also starting to show up. Goddess Brigid who is associated with fertility is honored during Imbolc. As ancient Ireland became Christian, Brigid became Saint Brigid as a way for followers to still honor their goddess as well as cover their pagan beliefs in Christian Ireland.
Ostara aka Spring Equinox (March 19 – 22)
Spring is finally here! This begins the season of longer and warmer days! Fresh growth is encompassed all around you! Abundance from this season is symbolized by the hare and eggs. This is also where the origins of the Christian holiday Easter originate from. Both the names for the Pagan holiday Ostara and Christian holiday Easter are actually derived from the Germanic goddess Eostre.
Beltane aka Festival of Fire aka Mayday (May 1)
Beltane is the holiday marking halfway between the spring equinox and the upcoming summer solstice. Mayday is a very important holiday as it marks the time to begin developing the coming harvest. This is also one of the most stimulating times because spring is now in full effect. The days are even longer and hotter and summer is right around the corner.
Beltane is derived from God Bel who was Celtic as well as from a Gaelic word “teine” meaning fire. During Beltane, you give thanks for the abundance of spring. Celebrations start at the start of May 1st or Mayday. Beltane aka the festival of fire is celebrated that way, with huge bonfires lit to personify life. Women also wear homemade flower crowns and dance the maypole. Beltane is also considered special and extra magical because it is one of only two times a year the other being Samhain when the veil is at its thinnest between our world and the spirit realm.
Litha aka Summer Solstice aka Midsummer (June 19 – 23)
Litha marks the jubilee of both the longest day and shortest night of the year. The summer solstice is also time to both work hard but also enjoy it as it is summer and feels great outdoors. During Litha, invocations are made for a year full of plentiful crops and abundance. Ways to celebrate summer solstice include more bonfires, rituals for strong solar energy, and flame-lit successions.
Lughnasadh aka Fire Harvest (August 1)
Lughnasadh is derived from Lugh, the Celtic god of light. Fire Harvest marks the midway mark between summer and upcoming autumn/fall. It is also the first festival of fall and this jubilee represents the first crops harvested. During this time you give thanks and honor the upcoming crop of fruit and bread. Fire harvest is traditionally also the time of year when couples would marry.
Mabon aka Autumn/Fall Equinox (September 21 – 24)
Mabon marks the influx of spring and the awaited harvest. A time to celebrate the plentiful bounty of crops as all the hard work put in over the year is now coming to fruition. Fall Equinox also represents a time to prepare for the upcoming winter.
Samhain aka Witches New Year aka Halloween (October 31 – Nov 1)
Samhain is the time of the year that encompasses the highest priority of pagan holiday celebrations. Like Beltane, Samhain is considered extra magnetic because the veil between realms is at its thinnest. During this time it is traditional to honor loved ones you have lost. Jack O’ lanterns used to be lit as a way for those who have passed on to find their path to the light. If you want to purify or cleanse something of negativity or seek spiritual console Witches new year is extra powerful and the time of year to do so.
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For more information on The Pagan Wheel Of The Year & Wheel Of The Year To Buy are linked below:
Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life By Llewellyn Publications
AzureGreen EPPAG Pagan Year Poster By Sage Cauldron