The Darkest Points of the Wheel of the Year

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We have previously discussed (((the Wheel of the Year))) and have given a brief overview of what each of the dates mean in Wicca. Now, we will pay special attention to four of these points in the wheel. We have chosen points associated with the coming of cold weather: Lughnasadh or Lammas, Mabon, Samhain, and, finally, Yule. Though Yule is the coldest and darkest of the four, it is also where light is actually found in the most auspicious manner.

We will discuss them in detail, looking at relevant energies that acquire significance around the time they take place. However, remember that you can celebrate Yule or Lammas whenever you feel it is Yule or Lammas, or whenever you feel their energies match what you need in your personal life. After all, time is not linear, and you have access to the energy of all sabbats at any time.

Remember that each point in the wheel of the year brings with it invaluable insight. This insight can be turned into a gift that can get you through the most challenging times of your life.

Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas, is a celebration of the last days of summer. It usually takes place on August 1st, but it is celebrated by many the night before, on July 31st. This day is not just about celebrating the fruits of our labor. The idea of mortality appears, as well. The myth surrounding this day is that the God Lugh (according to some Wiccans, one of the faces of the Horned God) sacrificed himself. He did this to save humanity. Lammas has a component of reflecting on the sacrifices others made for our sake.

Something that will resonate with many people in contemporary life is thinking about your ancestors. Most of us have at least one person in our bloodline who was an immigrant. This person left everything they knew and everyone they loved to start all over in a new country. This new country, at least in their time, offered more opportunities for economic growth and a more stable political climate. It is because of them that we are where we are now. Thinking about them around this date is a great day.

On Lammas, we reap what we sow. However, we may start to think about our own mortality as well. The days are starting to get shorter, and so are our lives. There was a component of this in the early farming days when the farmers would look at their accounts. They also froze or otherwise preserved some of the seeds and the doughs for later.

Lughnasadh gives way to Mabon. Mabon takes place on September 21st. Its counterpart is Ostara. Both are days of celebration, as the fruit is plentiful. They are times of abundance. However, during Mabon, the green colors of summer give way to the fire hues of autumn – orange, brown, gold, fiery red. This sabbat receives its name from a Welsh God. However, there are no records of this celebration being celebrated in the times of the Celts.

During this time, we return to the darkness. Wiccans don’t see darkness as something evil. It is a part of the whole, and, as the whole is present in all of us, it is present in all of us. From darkness we come and to darkness we must return. It isn’t winter yet, but we can almost feel it coming. Winter, according to Wicca, is a time of introspection. It is a time for thinking about what may be possible. A time for dreaming and planning, but not for manifestation necessarily.

During Mabon, we reflect on the hopes and expectations we had last Imbolc and how they manifested into our lives. Some may have come exactly as you imagined. Some of your desires may have taken quite an unexpected shape or turn. This is a time to enjoy the fruits of your labor (and the consequences of your mistakes). We are asked to complete what we started.

After Mabon comes Samhain. Now we are in the dark, we may need some guidance to traverse through it. During Samhain, it is believed that the boundaries between the physical world and the Otherworld start to get blurry. We may hold dance or music festivals to commune with spirits from the Otherworld and our ancestors. We ask for guidance when it comes to this time of deep introspection.

In the Western World, a lot of the ancient traditions from the Celtic world are present in Halloween celebrations. The Celts also dressed up in costumes during this date. The Celts called it “mumming.” Once they were dressed up, they would go from door to door singing songs for the dead in each household. They would receive cake as payment. Sounds familiar?

The ancient Celts would also play pranks during Samhain. However, in this ancient time, they blamed their wrongdoing on the Fae (and the Fae would, for sure, be involved in a few naughty tricks of their own).

So far, we have gone from storing away the seed for later, to a time of great abundance, to a time where we seek guidance among the darkness. What comes next? Yule, of course.

Yule takes place on December the 21st. It marks the Winter Solstice. Despite the usual cold weather that comes around this date, it is a day of hope and resurrection. The Sun God is rising. It is no coincidence that Christians celebrate Christmas a few short days after it. Christ would be the Sun starting to appear again.

We have gone through the dark night of the soul, and now there’s a spark of hope. The Sacred Fire of the Celts, however weak, starts to be present again. But first, we must undergo a metaphorical death once again. We must go through the longest night of the year before the days start to get shorter once more.

The symbol of the wheel is particularly important for this sabbat. After all, Yule comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “jõl,” which means “wheel.” Yule is one of the climactic points of the wheel of the year. This is a great date to reflect on the cyclical nature of time. This is counterintuitive to the Western idea that time is linear. However, the more spiritually aligned and intuitive among you probably know that very few things are actually linear. Like the Moon and the seasons of the year, everything is cyclical. Processes finish and restart all the time. Old matters may resurface when we least expect them, if we can benefit from looking at them from a brand new perspective. And, even in the deepest despair, we can see flashes and sparks from the future. This is hope. The spirit of Yule is all about the cyclical.

In short, we have observed how Lammas prepares us for the winter ahead by encouraging us to not only celebrate but think about the darker times ahead. One of the most valuable things you can do around Lughnasadh is think about ways in which you can make your future self’s life easier right now. Then, Mabon is a last celebration of abundance before we enter the darkness of autumn and winter. During the Samhain, the veil between our world and the Otherworld becomes thinner. This is an opportunity to ask for the guidance of our ancestors during this dark time. Finally, in Yule we go through the longest night of the year to see the resurrection of the Sun at the end.

How do you celebrate these dates, if at all? Let us know in the comments!

References:

https://www.goddessandgreenman.co.uk/mabon/

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/samhain

http://www.thewhitegoddess.co.uk/the_wheel_of_the_year/yule_-_winter_solstice.asp

 

 

 

Some Rituals for Beltane

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beltane

Beltane is an ancient Celtic ritual that dates back from the Iron Age. The word Beltane roughly translates as bright fire. It’s also known as Cétshamain, which can be translated from Gaelic as first of summer. It takes place the night before May 1st and it celebrates the first signs of summer. Fire is very important on this day, and many of the rituals of Beltane involve fire. Fire is believed to purify, heal, and protect, and people would jump around, walk around and dance a ceremonial fire lit for Beltane to benefit from its properties.

The time of Beltane is around the time that cattle were first taken out for pasture. Cattle were among the first beings to walk around the ritual fires of Beltane so they would be protected for the season. Beltane celebrates the return of fertility for the land. Fertility and creativity are rekindled and celebrated and courtship rituals took place around this time as well. It was historically celebrated in modern-day Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. In fact, a lot of mythological events in Ireland are tied to Beltane.

Some rituals you can do on this date is lighting a bonfire outside to encourage the creative endeavors of your community. This is a great day to donate to causes that fund creative pursuits for children and other members of marginalized communities. You can speak to the fire and ask for it to burn away anything that may be ailing you – either physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.

Yellow and white May flowers are often used to decorate doors and windows during Beltane. This is a way to invite the energy of the element of Fire to your home. Passion, energy, vitality, and creativity will enter your abode and help you in your daily duties. During Beltane, some people also make a May Bush, which is a thorn bush or branch decorated with flowers, ribbon, shells, and fairy lights. This is a great activity to do with children and celebrate the joyful spirit of Beltane. Beltane dew is thought to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness, so you may also go on a walk during the early morning to benefit from this.

Because of its links to creativity and fertility, Beltane is a great day to work on your Sacral Chakra by doing yoga or meditations that aim to open it up and harmonize it. You may also meditate with Carnelian placed four fingers under your belly button (where the Sacral Chakra is) so the chakra is harmonized.

Have you ever celebrated Beltane? Which of the rituals are you the most excited to try? Tell us all about it in the comments!

Some Blessings to Expect on Ostara

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spring equinox

Ostara is the celebration of the Spring Equinox. In the Northern Hemisphere, this takes place around March the 21st. Christianity has adapted this Pagan holiday and calls it Easter, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and even going as far as adapting certain symbols of Ostara, such as the egg and the rabbit. Ostara or Eostre is also a West Germanic spring Goddess, and this festival celebrates her.

Ostara marks a point of perfect balance between the day and night, which are now of equal length. The year is now waxing and light is starting to defeat dark. Ostara is seen as a day of perfect balance in which light and dark and the masculine and the feminine are in equilibrium. The energy feels expansive and exuberant, and the promises of Imbolc start to be fulfilled. This day was often celebrated by planting seeds. In Ostara, the agricultural cycle begins and farmers begin to plant seeds. The seed and the egg are two of the symbols linked to Ostara because of their promise of new life. The rabbit and the hare are also symbols of this holiday, as March is their mating season and they are seen everywhere. Ostara is a day for fertility, rebirth, and renewal, so it makes sense that a fertile animal like the hare is one of the symbols of this holiday.

Ostara’s colors are green, pink, white, and yellow. You may light candles in her honor in any or all of these colors asking for her blessing in any new undertaking you may have – from a work of art to a business you want to start. Whatever Ostara blesses will grow immensely. If you want to be pregnant or if your partner has this desire, gaining Ostara’s blessing is key. Ostara is a great time to conceive indeed.

Other activities include the typical Easter activity of painting eggs, as well as cooking with one of Ostara’s sacred ingredients, such as honey. You may leave a jar of honey outside early in the morning of Ostara for the Goddess to bless. A simple meditation while sitting on the ground of your garden or a nearby park is also a wonderful way to celebrate Ostara. Let nature speak to you and communicate how it feels and how it’s growing.

Have you ever celebrated Ostara? Which of the ideas on this post are you the most excited to try? Tell us in the comments!

Some Blessings to Manifest on Imbolc

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spring

Imbolc celebrates the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. More, specifically, the first stirrings of spring are celebrated. After a long winter, we start to observe little patches of life and a small amount of plants and flowers coming into bloom. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s celebrated between January the 31st and February the 1st. It originated in Neolithic Ireland and Scotland, and it’s no surprise it’s intimately linked to a Celtic Deity, Brigid.

Rebirth is celebrated during this time. This makes it a great time to manifest or rebuild yourself after a hard time. The color of Imbolc is red and fire is a very important part of the celebration. You’re encouraged to light candles and enjoy fire in other ways, such as lighting a fire in your hearth, if you’ve got one in your home. Use this time to ask for guidance and help during a transformation process.

Red is one of Brigid’s sacred colors. Some people leave a piece of red ribbon outside of their homes overnight on Imbolc and then look at the state of it once the night has passed. If it looks lush and may even look longer, you’ve been blessed by Brigid and can expect a fruitful springtime. If, on the contrary, it looks dull and it looks shorter than it was the night before, you may expect hardship this coming spring. The ribbon that you dedicated to Brigid during Imbolc can be used later as a healing tool. Tie it around your head when you have a headache, your stomach if you need to settle it, and so on. You may reuse the same piece of red ribbon every Imbolc to make it stronger.

Apples and dairy products are also sacred to Brigid, though, if you’re vegan or allergic to dairy, you may replace dairy with vegan milk. Almonds are a very abundant dry fruit and oats have cleansing and protective qualities, for example. A great activity to do during Imbolc is to bake an apple pie, as it combines many products that are sacred to Brigid. Given the fact that apples have ties to longevity, you can set an intention of manifesting stability and solid relationships and job opportunities while you bake the apple pie.

You may also light a red candle in honor of Brigid. As Brigid is the Goddess of Poets and Imbolc is her holiday, you may use this opportunity to manifest the end of a creative’s block or eloquence. Crystals like Orange Calcite are great for putting an end to creative’s block, whereas Blue Aventurine is a better choice for eloquence. Brigid may also restore the passion in a relationship that seems to have lost it along the way. Remember, Imbolc is all about rebirth.

Have you ever celebrated Imbolc before? What’s your favorite part of Imbolc? Tell us in the comments!