The Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

December 20, 2023

“The Wheel of the Year” was brought back in the time of Wicca’s beginning with Gerald Gardiner. I stumbled on this a few years ago, before I knew it was associated with Wicca or pagan rituals.

The Wheel of the Year is a cyclical and seasonal calendar. It marks the changing of seasons and incorporates festivals, or Sabbats, celebrating various aspects of nature, life, and spirituality. The Wheel of the Year is often divided into eight significant points, corresponding to the solstices, equinoxes, and the points between them. 

What is a Sabbat?

A Sabbat is a Day of Power, Marker of Time, or Holiday

Occurring during a significant moment of the solar year: solstices and equinoxes and cross-quarter days. They are markers of time evenly spaced throughout the year. They happen every 6 weeks. They serve as a great time to maximize your magic potential.

Origin: Old English, from Latin sabbatum, via Greek from Hebrew šabbāṯ, from šāḇaṯ ‘to rest’.

A little bit about my drawing. 

I created this image to symbolize the Wheel of the Year. I flipped it 180 degrees to align with the traditional way the Zodiac is presented, with Aries on the left. I also added some images to indicate typical holidays that happen in Western Culture in the New Year, which is indicated by a starred space. I also added simple Glyphs for Hannukah, Christmas, etc. Just naming a few other holidays that happen around Yule.

A few notes on “New Years”… 

  • 10/31 or 11/1 – Samhain is the New Year for the Wheel of the Year
  • 1/1 – is the New Year for the Gregorian calendar, our culturally traditional new year
  • 3/21 – the beginning of the Aries Sun Season is the astrological New Year

So, our wheel is marked by 8 Sabbats that are split between Solar Festivals and Fires Festivals. Occurring during a significant moment of the solar year: solstices and equinoxes and cross-quarter days. They are markers of time evenly spaced throughout the year. They happen every 6 weeks. They serve as a great time to maximize your magic potential.

Solar Festivals

These festivals celebrate the height of each season (read middle). The dates vary from year to year as they are determined by where the sun is in relation to the Earth. For this chart, we will use the 21st of the corresponding month. 

  • 3/21 – Ostara (March 20-23), Spring Equinox, usually around Easter, Marks the vernal equinox, symbolizing balance and the return of longer days.
  • 6/21 – Litha/Midsummer (June 20-23), Summer Solstice, Celebrates the summer solstice, honoring the sun’s energy and the season’s abundance.
  • 9/21 – Mabon (September 20-23), Autumnal Equinox, Celebrates the autumn equinox, symbolizing balance, reflection, and the approaching winter.
  • 12/21 – Yule, Winter Solstice (December 20-23), around Christmas and other religious holy days, Celebrates the winter solstice, the longest night, and the sun’s rebirth.

Fire Festivals

In ancient Celtic traditions, Fire Festivals mark the gateway into each season, read the beginning of the season. Known as cross-quarter days, these are the halfway points between the solstices and equinoxes.

  • 4/30 – Beltaine, May Day, the start of summer or the Time of Light (April 30 – May 1): A fire festival celebrating fertility, passion, and the peak of spring.
  • 7/31 – Lammas/Lughnasadh, the start of autumn, or the Time of Harvest (August 1-2): Named after the Irish god Lugh, this Festival marks the beginning of the harvest season, focusing on gratitude for the first fruits.
  • 10/31 – Samhain, Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, All Saint’s Day, the Day of the Dead, the start of winter, or Shadow Time (October 31 – November 1): A time to honor the ancestors, celebrate the harvest, and acknowledge the thinning veil between the living and the spirit world.
  • 2/2 – Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day, Candlemas, Groundhog’s Day, the start of spring, or Dawning (February 1-2): Celebrates the earth’s awakening and the first signs of spring.

Resources

  • Alden, Temperance. Year of the Witch: Connecting with Nature’s Seasons through Intuitive Magick. Newburyport, MA: Weiser Books, 2020.
  • Boland, Yasmin. Moonology: Working with the Magic of Lunar Cycles. Hay House, 2016.
  • Casey, Caroline W. Making the Gods Work for You. First Paperback. New York, New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998.
  • George, Demetra. Mysteries of the Dark Moon: The Healing Power of the Dark Goddess. New York, New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1992.
  • Lister, Lisa. Witch: Unleashed. Untamed. Unapologetic. London, UK: Hay House, 2017.

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