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A Brief Overview of the Wheel of the Year

journal Jan 31, 2024

 Just a few months ago I had no idea what the wheel of the year was. I kept on getting it mixed up with the book series and Netflix show Wheel of Time. I pretty much thought it was the same thing. When Pipaluk said that we would have a section on the wheel of the year in Book of Magic, I realized it was time for me to figure out what it is all about. 

Here is what I’ve learned so far:

The wheel of the year celebrates the main solar and lunar events of the year and is a great way for us to align with nature and its cycles. A lot of the knowledge about it comes from Celtic traditions. In Scandinavian languages, the wheel of the year is also called the sun wheel. I love this because it is all about Earth doing one full rotation around the sun, which is what we humans have determined to be one year.

There are eight solar/lunar celebrations dividing our year into eighth. The first event is the Winter Solstice. It is considered Earth’s new year as it is the rebirth of the sun. The darkest nights have come to their end and days start to get longer again. Usually, this day falls between December 20th - 25th and is also known as Yule. 

Next, we have Imbolc on February 1st or 2nd. It is the halfway point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Light and warmth slowly return and the first buds can be spotted. The beginning of the season of light is celebrated. It is a perfect time to get started on spring cleaning.

Spring Equinox or Ostara takes place around March 20th - 23rd. Day and night are exactly equal in length. All new life is celebrated as well as fertility in general. It is the time of new beginnings and renewal.

The halfway point between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice is Beltane from April 30th to May 1st. In Bavaria, we have big festivals, where the youth/ the unmarried, dance around a decorated Maypole. It is a time for letting loose. All of nature is awake now.  

The longest day of the year takes place on the Summer Solstice around June 20th - 22nd. It is a time of joy and prosperity, of light and the sun. However, it is also a turning point. After this day, nights slowly begin to get longer again. 

On August 1st is Lughnasadh or the first harvest festival. It is the halfway point between summer solstice and autumn equinox. It is a time to enjoy what has been planted and grown throughout the year and to revel in its beauty. 

At Mabon or Autumn Equinox around September 20th - 23rd we have another day of equal light and dark. It is the time when we reap what we have sown throughout the year and the beginning of preparations for the upcoming winter. 

October 31st marks the beginning of darkness. The time between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice is also called Samhain. It is believed that the veil between the worlds is particularly thin at this time, which is why in many cultures the ancestors are celebrated.

 

There is so much more to learn and many more details that I could go into. I cannot wait to celebrate each of nature's holidays, as the Danes would call them. If you have any wisdom and thoughts you would like to share, please leave us a comment.

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