For today’s post, I have decided to take a look at the Witch’s Wheel of the Year. This is the wheel of the eight most important celebrations for Witches and Pagans. I will go through each holiday in its own section below!
~The first celebration of the year takes place on the night of October 31st into November 1st. In the modern world, we call this celebration Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve. The term Samhain is from ancient Irish and is the most commonly used name for this day amongst witches today. I call this the first celebration because it is the Witch’s New Year. This is the end of Harvest as the world enters the cold dark of Winter!
~This holy day is also called Midwinter and the Winter Solstice. It is the longest night of the year and as such is a time of deep reflection and going within. It is celebrated on December 21st, or thereabouts. Many of the Christmas traditions that are used by Christians came from different Pagan celebrations of Yule. This is especially true when we study how this holiday was celebrated in the Norse world!
~This holiday is a cross-quarter day also referred to as Imbolg and St.Brigid’s Day. Cross-quarter refers to the fact that it takes place between a solstice and an equinox. It is celebrated on February 1st or 2nd. The connection to Brigid makes this a holiday associated with fire and the reawakening warmth as the Winter season is nearing an end and the light half of the year is beginning to come into vision on the horizon! Brigid is an Irish Goddess who was retitled a Saint by the Catholic Church when they could not prevent her worship!
~Also known as the Vernal Equinox or the Spring Equinox, this is the first equinox of the year. An equinox is, as the name suggests, a time when the balance of light hours and dark hours are exactly equal. This day is celebrated on March 21st, or thereabouts. It is a time of celebrating the turn to the light half of the year and the re-emerging of flowers and trees from hibernation! As the name Ostara sounds, it is often equated with Christian Easter.
~This is one of the most fun holidays of the Witchy Year! Alongside Samhain, it is the most powerful day magically speaking. Beltane is a fire festival that celebrates the fertility of the land, as well as of the witches and pagans celebrating it! The holy day is celebrated on May 1st, which is why the common name for the day is May Day. Common forms of celebration include bonfires, dancing, and sexual rites! Handfastings or year and a day marriages are also common on this day!
~Also known as the Summer Solstice or Litha this is celebrated as the longest day of the year. The balance of light is at its highest on this day, which is celebrated on June 21st, or thereabouts. The day is associated with the Faery Folk, as they are known to be very active on this day. This is also true of Beltane and Samhain, but Midsummer continues to be most linked with the Fae thanks to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
~The first of the harvest holidays is this cross-quarter day celebrated on August 1st. It is also known as Lammas, which is a more Christianized name given to the day. The name I prefer, Lughnasadh, is a reference to the Irish God Lugh. The day is associated with the sun and the last days of remaining warmth before Autumn sets in!
~The eighth and final holiday of the year is the next one we will be celebrating after this is posted. Mabon is also known as the Autumnal Equinox and is celebrated on September 21st, or thereabouts. It is the second time that the balance of dark and light hours is exactly balanced. The Autumn Equinox is a time to reap what the harvest has wrought so far, as well as to enjoy the beauty of the change of the seasons. We celebrate the darkening of the year as the leaves change colors!
~I hope you have enjoyed learning a bit about the Wheel of the Year in this overview. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is the Wheel of the Year. I found the image on https://wiccanow.com/the-wiccan-wheel-of-the-year-living-the-magical-life/.
- Llewellyn Sabbat Essentials Collection (This is a series of eight books produced by Llewellyn, one for each of these holidays. If you search the term above you will find the whole series, which can now be purchased as a set.)