What does Living the Wheel of the Year mean? It's fairly simple actually. It means living within the cycle of the Seasons and cycle of the Moon.
For centuries, people have celebrated and worked with these cycles, from both necessity and desire. In an agricultural lifestyle, the seasonal holidays marked important times in people’s lives, and were often a matter of life and death. Today, we’re often hard pressed to notice some of these holidays, such as Imbolc or Lughnasa. What do we know of sheep being born, or second harvest? And if we don’t look outside our windows, how often do we see the moon? Yet, we are not that different from our ancestors, and these cycles contain energies which we can use in our daily lives. With a small amount of acknowledging and focus, we can use these energies to help envision possibility and keep us on track with our various goals and tasks; planning events, projects at home, projects at work etc.
To live the wheel of the year is to use the energies of the seasonal cycle in your daily life. We already do this to some degree. Many of us start planning for spring cleaning and planting in early March. We plan in ways for the coming of winter with a check on rock salt and snow shovels for example. But these things are more in the category of 'chores'. What we want to do is to add in lifes goals, and projects.
To live the wheel of the year, we take the eight traditional Celtic/British Sabbats to divide the year into seasonal stages. Of course Yule is only the beginning of winter; but at the same time the days are now getting longer. The next Sabbat, Imbolc, on February 2 is already half way to spring! This acknowledgement can inspire you to start thinking that the darkness of winter will indeed end and it may be time to start thinking about some spring time goals. This can be a comforting practice as it tends to make the transition feel more real.
One thing we do that we believe is unique is call attention to the transitional energies between celebrations and help you move from one to another with grace and mindfulness. It is too easy to just pull things out of a seasonal box and cram the previous holiday's items in another, either at a random time or too late, and in a rush. We believe that our tools and our time need to be respected and treated gently, and that honoring transitions makes them easier and more meaningful. This will be explained in our first post about transitions.
The Sabbats are the important holidays of the Wheel of the Year, as celebrated in the Celtic/British tradition. Each of these Sabbats represents particular energies or natural phenomena. Where we are, in New England, the timing and nature of these are appropriate due to the similar latitude. If you are in a different location, say in the other hemisphere or closer to the equator the timing and nature of these celebrations will be different. It is our hope that we can help you tailor the Wheel of the Year to your own location and personal cycles. More information on the Wheel of the Year can be found in our January 2017 introductory posts.
Here are some guidelines to the Sabbats:
Samhain: October 31
Half way to Winter!. This is a time when we begin to acknowledge the coming winter and what that entails. It is a time to celebrate our year and now ready ourselves for another winter of celebration then introspection. It is very similar to the dusk of a day; night is not here yet but it is coming soon.
Yule: December 21/22
Winter starts! The light begins to return. Celebrate with lights, food, and gifts!
Imbolc: February 2
Now it is half way to spring! So cold, but there is hope. It is time to start planning some of those winter ideas.
Ostara: March 21
Spring finally! Now its time to implement the first projects that were planned over the winter.
Beltane: May 1
Ok, half way to Summer! Check current projects, start planning the summer projects.
Litha: June 21/22
Summer time! Time to relax? Also, implement plans made earlier.
Lughnasadh: August 1
The first harvest! Half way to Autumn. Some goals may have been reached, make the plan not to finish others.
Mabon: September 21
Its Autumn! The second harvest; finish up your projects and now begin to plan for the coming winter.