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Posts Tagged ‘Wheel Of The Year’

     How will you celebrate your May Day bank holiday weekend?  You could always get married, jump over a broomstick or get naked and paint yourself red like these folks.

     You can discover the origins and traditions of the Beltane festival by clicking the link below for Lily Wight’s Beginner’s Guide To The Wheel Of The Year.

Beltane Fire Festival

https://lilywight.com/2013/05/01/beltane-the-beginners-guide-to-the-wheel-of-the-year/

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Lily Wight

     Samhain – pronounced “sow – inn” and known presently as Halloween – is celebrated from sunset to sunset on 31st October to 1st November.  It is the most important Fire Festival or Sabbat on the ancient Wheel of The Year calendar.

     “Samhain” has been variously translated as “first frost” or “Summer’s end”:  opposing suggestions with the same meaning.  It is the name for November in ancient and modern Gaelic.

     Samhain lies between The Autumn Equinox and The Winter Solstice.  It marks the death of the year and the end of the annual agricultural cycle.  Many ancient cultures throughout The Western Hemisphere regarded Samhain as their New Year’s Eve.

     Samhain is the third and final harvest on The Wheel of The Year calendar.  After Lughnasadh (grain and cereals) and Modron (fruit and vegetables) herding communities drove livestock back from…

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Lily Wight

     Updated 24/06/2014

     The ancient seasonal calendar – known as The Wheel Of The Year – has reached Litha (meaning “wheel”) also known as The Longest Day, Midsummer and The Summer Solstice.

     Litha marks the height of the sun’s powers at the middle of the year before the inevitable shortening of daylight hours.

     Midsummer has been observed since Neolithic times.  It held special significance to the Scandinavian, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon people and is still celebrated throughout The Northern Hemisphere today.

     Litha was a time to urge the growth of crops in the hope of a plentiful harvest.  A wheel would be set on fire and rolled downhill to “warm” the fields, a practice first recorded two thousand years ago.

     Golden-flowered  Midsummer plants, such as Calendula and St. John’s…

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Lily Wight

     Updated 29/04/2014

     Beltane (meaning “bright fire”) or May Day is one of eight festival days marked upon the ancient seasonal calendar known as The Wheel Of The Year.

     Beltane heralds the beginning of Summer as it lies halfway between The Spring Equinox (Ostara) and The Summer Solstice (Litha).  It is a time when daylight hours are long, trees blossom and herding animals are turned out to pasture.

     Beltane was originally observed by the Gaelic people of Ireland, Scotland and The Isle Of Man who performed protective rituals for their crops and livestock whilst The Celtic Tribes of Western Europe and Britain also celebrated mating rituals and male potency.

     Beltane is named for the Celtic Sun God, Bel (Belenos/Belenus) who is associated with West Cornwall, formerly Belerion.  The Romans dubbed him the “British Apollo” and…

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Lily Wight

     Updated 15/03/2014

     Ostara (Old High German) or Ēostre (Old English) falls upon 20th March.  It is one of eight ancient Wheel Of The Year festivals denoting seasonal shifts.

     Ostara marks The Vernal (meaning “youthful”) Equinox: the height of Spring.

     Daylight and darkness are balanced at The Equinox, prior to the lengthening of days: a period sometimes referred to as Lent.  It is a time to celebrate fecundity and growth.

     Ostara is named for an ancient Germanic goddess and the month that bears her name; Ôstarmânoth, now April.

     Ostara is a dawn goddess associated to the Greek Eos and the Roman Aurora.  She represents the resurrection of light following the death of Winter.

     Ostara’s totem animal is the hare: a symbol of fertility dating…

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Lily Wight

     Updated for 2015

     Imbolc (pronounced i-MOLK meaning “in the belly”) is one of eight seasonal festivals marked on the ancient calendar known as The Wheel Of The Year.  Imbolc is observed on 1st February each year.

     Imbolc heralds the first stirrings of  Spring as it lies halfway between The Winter Solstice (Yule) and The Spring Equinox (Ostara).  It is a time when days lengthen, new buds and shoots appear and the first lambs are born.

     Imbolc was originally observed by the Gaelic (Irish, Scottish and Manx) people as a vital indicator of a new agricultural year.

     The festival was deemed sacred to the Gaelic goddess Brighid (pronounced breed) the midwife of the year and protector of women, children and newborns. 

     Hearthfire celebrations involved the baking of bannocks; the origin…

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     Updated 23/10/2014

     Samhain – pronounced “sow – inn” and known presently as Halloween – is celebrated from sunset to sunset on 31st October to 1st November.  It is the most important Fire Festival or Sabbat on the ancient Wheel of The Year calendar.

     “Samhain” has been variously translated as “first frost” or “Summer’s end”:  opposing suggestions with the same meaning.  It is the name for November in ancient and modern Gaelic.

     Samhain lies between The Autumn Equinox and The Winter Solstice.  It marks the death of the year and the end of the annual agricultural cycle.  Many ancient cultures throughout The Western Hemisphere regarded Samhain as their New Year’s Eve.

     Samhain is the third and final harvest on The Wheel of The Year calendar.  After Lughnasadh (grain and cereals) and Modron (fruit and vegetables) herding communities drove livestock back from Summer pasture to be housed or slaughtered for winter, furthering the festival’s associations with death.  The eighth century scholar, Bede refers to November as the “blood month”.

     According to ancient beliefs the mythic courtship of a god and goddess symbolised the eternal rotation of seasons.  At Samhain the Goddess, in her crone or hag aspect, midwifes the waning or sacrificed God into the Underworld where he will journey until his rebirth at Yule with the promise of Spring. 

     Crone Goddesses, such as Celtic Ceridwen and Greek Hecate, ease transitions and guard borders and crossroads.  They are keepers of arcane wisdom and herbal lore who are associated with broomsticks (for cleansing thresholds) and cauldrons (for brewing natural medicines).  Halloween “witches” are a modern remnant of this frequently misunderstood ancient archetype.

     Sexy Halloween witches owe their style to The Morrígan, the Gaelic Dark Mother or Raven Goddess  who presides over death and battle – akin to the Scandinavian Valkyries.  At Samhain The Morrígan mates with The Dagda (the Gaelic All-Father) to bring creation from chaos.

     Samhain is considered a liminal time; when the veil between the mortal and the preternatural realms – the living and the dead – is at its thinnest.  Ancestors are remembered and honoured with a variety of worldwide customs that continue to this day, such as the Mexican Dia de Los Meurtos or Day of The Dead.

     Costuming for Halloween is an ancient tradition with many possible origins and purposes.  Celebrants may have daubed themselves with ash from ritual bonfires or disguised themselves to confuse, deter or even consort with mischievous otherworldly creatures before parading from house to house to collect donations for the Samhain feast: the likely origin of trick or treating.

     It wouldn’t be Samhain without a pumpkin lantern.  The gourd was the first domesticated plant species and has been used for carving for thousands of years.  Pumpkin lamps were carved with fearsome faces as festival decorations; to light parades and repel unwelcome spirits.  Jack o’ Lantern was another name for will-o’-the-wisp; strange but naturally occurring flares of marsh gas.  Jack o’ Lantern evolved into a folkloric hero who tricks The Devil in a variety of tales.  Barred from the afterlife he roams the world forever, carrying a single ember from the fires of Hell in his pumpkin lamp.

 

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     Updated 23/09/2014

     The Wheel Of The Year calendar comprises four Celtic fire festivals interspersed with two solstice and two equinox celebrations.  September’s Equinox denotes the height of the Autumn season.

     The Autumn Equinox is named variably as Modron (Mother Goddess) or Mabon (Divine Son) – deities from Welsh Mythology who can be found in The Legends Of King Arthur.

     Modron is a harvest and fertility goddess who shares characteristics with the Roman Ceres.  On the agricultural calendar Lughnasadh (August) is The First Harvest (grains and cereals) and The Autumn Equinox (September) is The Second Harvest (fruits and vegetables).

     At the Equinox the year wanes, yet the harvest is plentiful.   The ancient tribal people of The Western Hemisphere believed their Mother Goddess entered the third trimester of her pregnancy whilst her divine consort prepares his descent to the wintry underworld.

     According to Arthurian Legend the fallen King Arthur is transported to Avalon, the “Isle Of Apples” to await his rebirth – an echo of the story of the dying god.  The Autumn Equinox is the best time for apple-picking and the fruit has come to have many sacred and mystical associations.

     Apples are used for a variety of regional folk customs, games and recipes at this time of year.  Slicing an apple across the middle reveals a pentacle or star – the symbol of man in harmony with the elements.

     Why not celebrate your Harvest Festival with some apple bobbing or by indulging in some candy apples?

 

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     Updated 24/06/2014

     The ancient seasonal calendar – known as The Wheel Of The Year – has reached Litha (meaning “wheel”) also known as The Longest Day, Midsummer and The Summer Solstice.

     Litha marks the height of the sun’s powers at the middle of the year before the inevitable shortening of daylight hours.

     Midsummer has been observed since Neolithic times.  It held special significance to the Scandinavian, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon people and is still celebrated throughout The Northern Hemisphere today.

     Litha was a time to urge the growth of crops in the hope of a plentiful harvest.  A wheel would be set on fire and rolled downhill to “warm” the fields, a practice first recorded two thousand years ago.

     Golden-flowered  Midsummer plants, such as Calendula and St. John’s Wort were collected for their healing powers.

     According to ancient polytheist traditions The Antlered God – and his localised variant, The Green Man – reaches the height of his powers at the midpoint of the year whilst his Goddess consort carries the promise of renewal conceived during May’s Beltane celebrations.  This seasonal courtship was adapted by William Shakespeare in his play A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

     At Midsummer those living in the far Northern Hemisphere experience White Nights or The Midnight Sun as there is little if any darkness.  Families celebrate by heading out into the countryside; staying awake, lighting bonfires, feasting, drinking and enjoying saunas.

     Many stone circles throughout The United Kingdom are aligned to dawn at Midsummer and considered sacred to solar deities such as the Celtic Bel.  Celebrants gather at Stonehenge each year to drum the sun down at dusk and then up at dawn on The Longest Day.

Related Articles

Imbolc ~ The Beginner’s Guide To The Wheel Of The Year

Ostara, The Spring Equinox ~ The Beginner’s Guide To The Wheel Of The Year

Beltane ~ The Beginner’s Guide To The Wheel Of The Year

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     Updated 29/04/2014

     Beltane (meaning “bright fire”) or May Day is one of eight festival days marked upon the ancient seasonal calendar known as The Wheel Of The Year.

     Beltane heralds the beginning of Summer as it lies halfway between The Spring Equinox (Ostara) and The Summer Solstice (Litha).  It is a time when daylight hours are long, trees blossom and herding animals are turned out to pasture.

     Beltane was originally observed by the Gaelic people of Ireland, Scotland and The Isle Of Man who performed protective rituals for their crops and livestock whilst The Celtic Tribes of Western Europe and Britain also celebrated mating rituals and male potency.

     Beltane is named for the Celtic Sun God, Bel (Belenos/Belenus) who is associated with West Cornwall, formerly Belerion.  The Romans dubbed him the “British Apollo” and – like many solar deities – he pulls the sun with his chariot and is associated with inspirational light and healing waters.

     Beltane also celebrates The Spirit Of The Greenwood in the guise of The Green Man; known variously as The Celtic Antlered-God Cernunnos, Herne The Hunter, Jack-In-The-Green and even Robin Hood.  Cernunnos consorts with The Mother Goddess at Beltane to assure the birth of the following Spring from the dead of Winter.

     Collecting May blossoms or “bringing in the May” is a euphemism for this time of sexual licence.  Beltane remains a popular time for marriage ceremonies and traditional handfastings.

     Jumping over a broomstick on May Day symbolises crossing the threshold from Spring to Summer and combines the masculine (handle) with the feminine (brush)… no sniggering at the back please 😉

     Dancing around Maypoles at Beltane is still practiced today throughout Europe, Scandinavia and The British Isles.  The origins of this tradition are lost but Folklorists believe the pole represents the ancient reverence for sacred trees or a phallic symbol!

     Pre-Roman tribes danced and walked themselves and their herds around or between protective Beltane fires.  These bonfire celebrations are enjoying a modern revival attracting fire-eaters and coal-walking.

The Beginner’s Guide To The Wheel Of The Year

Imbolc (birth of Spring)

Ostara (Spring Equinox)

Related articles

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     It is always beneficial to keep a visual and written record of your Tarot spreads as a means to spot shifting phases and emerging patterns.

     The following readings were taken at Yule (December 2012 – left) and Imbolc (February 2013 – right).  They cover general trends for The Enquirer

up to Ostara (20th March 2013).

     The photographs are posted throughout for reference and again in a larger size at the end of the reading.

Imbolc 2013Yule 2012

1.   The Enquirer/The Present – The Seven Of Swords (Yule) > The Eight Of Swords inverted (Imbolc)

The numerical progression is obvious and the images show that The Enquirer has inadvertently escaped from an untenable position.  The Acrobat (Yule) has become inactive and endangered by the stresses and anxieties of multi-tasking but the realisation that we can be “our own worst enemy”  engenders the strength to let go of unhealthy situations.

By trusting to destiny and “going with the flow” The Enquirer has submitted to a fortuitous fall: an escape from a self-imposed prison (The Eight Of Swords).  It’s still dangerous out there, one might land safely or fall on a sword, but this is freedom and an end to frustration.  The Enquirer is at last free to act.

2.   Past Influences – The Four Of Wands (Yule) > JUDGEMENT (Imbolc)

The Four Of Wands denotes that the hope of domestic harmony, especiallyYule 2012 within a romantic partnership, is a primary influence that has contributed to The Enquirer feeling over-extended, especially in the run-up to the Christmas period.

JUDGEMENT’S appearance in early Spring suggests a major transformation; positive new influences instigating a new lifestyle and renewed purpose.  The Enquirer has done their duty well, their conscience is clear and a new beginning – following that fall from the tower (The Eight Of Swords) –  is assured.

3.   Subconscious Influences – The Three Of Wands inverted (Yule) > THE HANGED MAN inverted (Imbolc)

Inspiration hibernates for Winter!  The Enquirer feels lacking in resources; low and tired; an inevitable consequence of trying to balance all those swords!  (Position 1.  The Seven of Swords (Yule))

The sense of waiting and inaction continues into the Spring with THE HANGED MAN.  The figure depicted has been tethered by self-punishment and/or the emotional manipulation of others but has realised the need to end stagnation.  Letting go of the past, looking at the world in a new way and allowing events to run their course will free THE HANGED MAN for that fall/escape from the tower (Position 1.  The Eight Of Swords, Imbolc).

4.   Secret Wishes & Desires – THE TOWER (Yule) > THE EMPEROR (Imbolc)

The Enquirer is wishing for an apocalyptic “light-bulb moment”: a sudden destructive act that will sweep away old ideas and habits.  This is a wish destined to come true because, by Imbolc, the dramatic fall pictured in THE TOWER has evolved into a free-fall from entrapment (Position 1.  The Eight Of Swords).

Imbolc 2013Major Arcana cards in Position 4 suggest The Enquirer is strongly motivated by desire.  Come Spring there is a wish to rely on a strong, practical and authoritative man or else to adopt an ambitious and confident aspect.  The desire is for improved status and success.

5.   Hidden Forces – The King Of Swords (Yule) > THE HIGH PRIESTESS inverted (Imbolc)

Court cards are likely to represent specific individuals.  At Christmastime The Enquirer has a mature, pro-active man in their corner whose serene detachment and dogged determination is an inspiration: possibly a lawmaker.

As a new year begins The Enquirer is unwittingly burdened and repressed by the secrets of others.  There is a sense of isolation and frustration following emotional wounding and too much time spent caring for others.  It would be best to adopt a few characteristics from THE EMPEROR (Position 4).

6.   Events To Come – The Six Of Cups inverted (Yule) >The Knight Of Cups inverted (Imbolc)

Here comes a negative nostalgia trip but it’s time to take off those rose-tinted glasses and let go of something or someone disappointing.  It is time to grow up move on.

The Knight heralds closure on a relationship with a faithless and immoral man who has become an emotional drain.  This “letting go” will be eventful, painful but beneficial and set to come to a head before the end of March.

7.   The Surrounding Environment – The Ten Of Cups inverted (Yule) > THE HIEROPHANT inverted (Imbolc)Yule 2012

The inverted Ten suggests imbalance and family strife – hardly surprising over Christmas and New Year!  The Enquirer has suffered a loss (Position 6.) and is encouraged to prioritise their relationship with themselves and then embrace the unorthodox environment they inhabit (THE HIEROPHANT).

The Enquirer needs to develop their willpower, embrace their individuality and reject negative influences.  The inverted HIEROPHANT rules an environment where truth will not be compromised and the head rules the heart.

So far THE HIEROPHANT, THE HIGH PRIESTESS and THE EMPEROR have appeared.  THE EMPRESS is missing.  This is the “self” The Enquirer needs to find.

8.   The Influence Of Others – The Ten Of Wands inverted (Yule) >The Four Of Swords (Imbolc)

Cards 6 – 8 (Yule) recommend a reflective period of peace and solitude.  The figure (The Ten Of Wands) has become stagnant and unstable carrying other people’s burdens.  End this cycle and drop those wands!

Spring brings a more positive influence; a peaceful interlude, a chance to re-energise and some space to nurture an idea.  Problems can finally be identified but good health relies on ignoring any negative remarks or comments.

9.   Spiritual Forces – The King Of Pentacles (Yule) > The Nine Of Wands inverted (Imbolc)

Imbolc 2013The Enquirer has another King, a strong, mature and dependable man on their side.  This one is a stubborn realist with a practical approach to removing obstacles: exactly what is required.

Nines are ruled by THE HERMIT so The Enquirer has stalled on the edge of a new phase imagining the world is against them.  Get up, get going and trust the support of The King Of Pentacles!

10.  Final Outcome – The Nine Of Swords inverted (Yule) > THE DEVIL (Imbolc)

The picture on The Nine says it all.  This is the card of stress, anxiety, needless self-punishment and the realisation that we are all, essentially, alone.  Drawing the card upside-down suggests this temporary, even illusory state will soon be over.

Overall, the Yule spread suggests an almost self-destructive desire to escape from pain caused by the burdens of others.  The Enquirer has support from two significant men and has identified the need to let go and recuperate.  This is something easier to say than to do.

By Imbolc identifying a specific problem has led to freedom; with mighty JUDGEMENT suggesting a dramatic positive change has occurred simply by allowing things to run their course.  THE DEVIL encourages The Enquirer to enjoy their rest for this new-found independence will soon be tested.

Spring is not a good time to make major decisions and life changes but a time to maintain balance.  The Enquirer’s personal demons – obsessive behaviour, chasing the wrong dream, focusing on the negative and tending to self-punishment – must be kept in check.  Major lifestyle overhauls must be fought for and THE DEVIL reminds us not to be complacent.

     Click here for more Tarot readings with Lily Wight 🙂

Yule 2012

Imbolc 2013

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     Updated 19/03/2015

     Ostara (Old High German) or Ēostre (Old English) falls upon 20th March.  It is one of eight ancient Wheel Of The Year festivals denoting seasonal shifts.

     Ostara marks The Vernal (meaning “youthful”) Equinox: the height of Spring.

     Daylight and darkness are balanced at The Equinox, prior to the lengthening of days: a period sometimes referred to as Lent.  It is a time to celebrate fecundity and growth.

     Ostara is named for an ancient Germanic goddess and the month that bears her name; Ôstarmânoth, now April.

     Ostara is a dawn goddess associated to the Greek Eos and the Roman Aurora.  She represents the resurrection of light following the death of Winter.

     Ostara’s totem animal is the hare: a symbol of fertility dating back to prehistoric times.  The hare was admired for its enthusiastic mating rituals and it’s associations to moon goddesses and the female reproductive cycle.

     Eggs are an ancient symbol of renewal, fertility and life-force.  They can be decorated to represent the wishes we hope will manifest in the coming summer.

     Eggs were used to play a number of festival games such as treasure hunts, races and relays (our modern egg and spoon race).

     Ostara is a solar festival so bonfires, hearth fires and candles can also be lit.

     The daffodil or “harbinger of Spring” is the traditional flower of the Ostara festival.

 

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