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Wheel of the Year
The Sabbaths are the eight points of the Wheel of the Year. The Wiccan wheel follows the Celtic tradition of the seasons. Though our lives have changed the natural rhythm that all life dances to is the same. By recognizing and celebrating this cycle we can reclaim our lives and the moments that go by.
Recall a time when nature's fury or bounty determined life or death. When the wind would bite at you during the cold, long winter and the light of the fire was your only guide and warmth. When the tie to nature and the seasons was strong and survival was difficult. These are the meanings behind our celebrations. These are the roots of their creation.
SAMHAIN October 31-November 1
It is the first festival of winter and the last of fall. The festival was set by the ancients to coincide with the appearance of the constellation of the Pleiades on the eastern horizon at nightfall. The Crone rules here where the gates of life and death stand open and the curtain between worlds is the thinnest. All things are possible as we stand on the threshold of reality and listen to the words of those who came before. We take this time to honor our ancestors. It is a time or reflection. The god is in the womb once again. Osirus as grain and Dionysis as fruit.
In Old Europe the warmth of the Summer is gone from the land and the first frosts will be seen by the end of the month. It is the time of slaughter. There is enough hay in the barns for the breeding stock, but the rest of the live stock must be killed to provide food for the hard winter. This is the great sacrifice. The giving of life so that life may continue. The Oak King died to let the Holly King Rule.
YULE - WINTER SOLSTICE December 21-22
The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year and represents the farthest excursion south of the sun. After this day the sun will begin to appear farther North each day, and the days will begin to grow longer. We are half way through the weight of winter and celebrate the transition from death to life, as it is the moment of the Sun King's Birth, which reflects in our world as the beginning of the growth of light. The Crone gives her crown to the Maiden, and new replaces old. It is the turning point of the winter. Our metabolism has slowed down and the crafts we've worked on during our the gifts that we give to others. We feast as we have not feasted in months. It is a celebration to give us a break from our bleak hard winter and to remind us of the spring that is ahead.
IMBOLC February 1-2
Named after Bridgid, the goddess of crafts, poetry, hearth, home, love and passion, this is the transition time from winter to spring. It is time for cleaning, both house and soul. We nurture the life born in Yule, as the Sun King grows strong. It is the first festival of the spring. The God and Goddess have gown into adolescence and will be "initiated" at this time. This marks the decent of Persephone into the underworld. Animals start breeding and birthing. This is the celebration before the hard work of spring begins. It is the fertile time of year.
OSTARA March 21-22
Life has burst forth with the true emergence of spring. All the animals have been born and spring has taken hold. Our sexuality is linked to nature's sexuality. We are no longer confined to our houses, our metabolism has awakened, and the world around us is bubbling with sexuality. It is a feast for the senses. The God and Goddess are introduced to one another and will inevitably fall in love. But we must be careful to not have children born during the harvest time. The world, draped in green, is ready to be plowed and seeded. In the time of the Maiden we celebrate life and bring all elements into a harmonious balance. An older clan member will introduce the maiden to the pleasures of the flesh. She will be educated in her body and in sexuality.
BELTAINE May 1-2
The celebration of fertility of all things. The Maiden begins to give way to the mother and the Sun King begins his courtship of the Goddess. The Goddess and the God are fully adult and this will be the first time that they will make love. Now is when the Goddess will get pregnant. The women usually choose their mates. It was important to marry one who was fertile in order to assure pregnancy and life. Light the bell fires and bless the newborns from. Wake the earth to its highest potential with our own sexuality. Joyous celebration of something natural. The goal was for every adult female to get pregnant.
LITHA June 21-22
Summer Solstice is the turning point where the sun begins its retreat to the south. This is the longest day of the year. The year's bounty is at hand. The Sun King embraces the Queen of summer, ensuring the circle's continuation. The Goddess, fully pregnant, has become the Mother and the God has reached full manhood. The celebration of weddings and unions that were chosen and consummated during Beltain. The focus turns to the God for the harvest is fast approaching as summer begins to wane towards winter. In Celtic Old Europe it is a season of war and cattle raiding. Focusing not only on battle but also on skills, strength, agility, and acrobatics. The fields will soon ripen with the crops that will assure the survival of the people during the winter months.
LUGHASADH/LAMMAS August 1st-2nd
The harvest approaches and ceaseless toil begins. It is the turning of the year from summer to autumn. This is the first of the harvest festivals and the time of the first fruits, nuts, and wine/mead. Now was the time to gather in the bounty of the Sun King who sacrifices himself to give bounty to the earth as seen in the harvest. Men, women and children would gather golden sheaves of grain by cutting their stems with practiced strokes of scythes. Some of the grain would be cooked and brewed as beer, while some of the honey and fruit would be brewed into Mead and cider. It is the time of the Mother, the waiting, and the changing.
MABON September 21-22
Throughout Europe, the task of gathering, drying, and preserving the season's harvest continues in earnest through the month of September. Farm hands toiled hard and long in the fields and the barns slowly filled.
This is the time to prepare for the oncoming winter. All life is balanced as the days and nights are equal. The Sun will cross the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere and autumn will begin. Winter's touch can be felt as each morning's chill lingers. The winds blew colder, carrying the hint of the snows to come, driving summer warmth to the South. The Sun King sails west into shadow and Mother's love turns into the Crone's passion.
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