THE SEASONS OF THE WITCH


What is The Wheel of the Year? Throughout time humans have aligned their lives with the cycles of Earth, the Solar System, and the Universe. These spiritual and cultural practices are based on the observance of natural rhythms. For example, stellar, planetary, solar, and lunar movements, as well as natural rhythms on Earth like migration patterns, the Seasons, and meteorological events.

Follow these links to head to the individual Sabbats, or keep reading to learn more about the Wheel.

Moreover, we find traces and remnants of these observations in myths, religions, traditions, and megalithic sites around the world. Much of this information has been stored in the holy days and sacred celebrations observed by cultures around the planet.

Pagans (et al) are no exception to this. In fact many Pagan celebrations hold elements that echo traditions that are thousands of years old.

In short, The Wheel of the Year is a modern interpretation of ancient practices. This body of information and tradition coalesced over the last century through the work of faithful Witches, Magicians, and Scholars.

It centers in 8 Sabbats or Holy Days, observed throughout the year. It is (in part) an attempt to honor the past, find practices relevant to the present, and lay the groundwork for deeper spiritual and cultural connection in the future.

Working the Wheel is a sacred practice for many Pagans, Heathens, Animists and other magickal people around the globe. Many Pagans and Animists conceptualize time from a holistic perspective. When we work the Wheel, we break out of linear space/time, seeing the past, present, and future existing simultaneously. For some, working the Wheel is an opportunity to connect with Ancestors and Wisdom Keepers from the past and future. For others, the Wheel is a means of living in communion with the rhythms of the planet, Her inhabitants, and the Seasons. And still others find the Wheel and the holidays observed within as a way to celebrate history and stay connected to community.

By learning how to mark these eight cyclical celebrations along the rotation of the ever-spinning Wheel, we also mark our own life cycles as well as gain an empathetic view for each other.

And of course, it’s also a great excuse to light a big bonfire and party!

There is no beginning nor end to The Wheel of the Year — it spins eternally. Students should feel free to jump in anytime.


The Wheel of the Year is…

Imbolc/Candlemas

Imbolc The Quickening Symbol Wheel of the Year

THE QUICKENING
The Wheel of the Year opens with Imbolc, also known as Candlemas in some traditions. This Greater Sabbat represents a light in the darkness of Winter. The lessons we can learn about perseverance and hope at this dark time can serve us throughout the year. While we are still in the frozen grip of Winter, we are dreaming of what we could sprout in Spring. Explore the deep Winter hope of this festival and season marked by ceremonies and magical work dedicated to light & fire, timekeeping, purification and fortitude. Learn how to make the most of your Winter hibernation, clearing the way for the growth of Spring!

Imbolc is the halfway mark between Winter and Spring. At this Sabbat, many Witches will rededicate themselves to their path, or dedicate themselves to a new skill, rekindling their passion for life after walking through the stillness of Winter. Purification, honoring the dead, and tending to natural resources are all sacred acts. Head here to learn more.

Ostara/Spring Equinox

Ostara Spring Equinox Symbol Wheel of the Year

INTO THE LIGHT
The next Sabbat is Ostara. Uncover the deep history of this grand Quarter-Day resurrection festival honoring the returning life of the Awakening Earth and the Increasing Sun, witnessed in religions and cultures all over the world. For Pagans, this marks the return of The Maiden – a playful and curious side of The Goddess. The Spring Equinox has been used to mark the great eras of time, and marks the halfway point to Summer Solstice, the apex of the Sun’s powers.

And the growing light matches our increasing enthusiasm! Learn how to gently wake up from Winter’s Sleep. Time to prepare yourself for the experimentation and transformation this season will require from us. Discover how best to harmonize with this work for yourself and your community!

Many Pagans align rites of passage to this holiday season, honoring those who have hit a certain age or responsibility level, reached puberty, reached menopause, or other forms of maturation. Head here to learn more.

Beltane/May Day

Beltane May Day Symbol Wheel of the Year Beltaine

WITCH’S NIGHT
The Wheel of the Year continues with Beltane, also known as May Day or Walpurgisnacht in some traditions.

This Cross-Quarter Day is a popular Fire Festival ushering in the deep heart of Spring, and for some places, Summer. Beltane falls on April 30th/May 1st each year. The date of Beltane marks the halfway point of the Spring season in the Northern Hemisphere. Lusty, mischievous, and playful, the spirit of Beltane is light-hearted but serious about fun.

For many Pagans, Beltane is marked by massive bonfires, maypoles, and “greenwood marriages” that only lasted a year and a day (or one long lovely night!)

Beltane welcomes the return of The Godform known as The Green Man, and is a holiday focused on celebrating the fecundity and power in the exchange of energy and passion between humans. Head here to learn more.

June – Litha/Summer Solstice

Litha Symbol Wheel of the Year

MIDSUMMER
After Beltane comes Litha. Immerse yourself in the ancient global rituals of this Solar festival acknowledging the high point of the Sun’s Arc across the sky and discover how you can evoke this power in your own life and world.

Currently falling somewhere between June 18th and June 22nd each year, this Quarter Day marks the official end of Spring and start of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

Litha opens the gates to the fiery season of Summer. For Pagans, it marks the death of The Oak King and the rise of The Holly King, as well, forms of the Goddess known as The Mother step forward now. We experience a deep shift in the forms of energy we are working with. We move away from the experimental forms of Spring and become more aligned with the determination and drive of Summer. Head here to learn more.

Lughnasadh/Lammas

Lughnasadh Lammas Symbol Wheel of the Year

THE FIRST HARVEST
The Wheel of the Year continues to turn with the great Cross-Quarter Sabbat Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas.

This holiday marks the 1/2 way point between Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox. Named for the Irish God Lugh, a brash Storm and Sun God with skills like crafting, fighting, musical artistry, and sorcery. He even wins the gift of agriculture for the Tuatha Dé Danann in battle!

So it’s interesting that this holiday is also known as Lammas, which means loaf. Lammas Season comes to us at the hottest part of the year. It marks the beginning of the harvest season for many peoples in the Northern Hemisphere.

For modern Witches and Pagans, this is a time to step into our power and begin harvesting and sharing the gold in our lives (hint: it starts with knowing how to identify it!) Head here to learn more.

Mabon/Fall Equinox

Mabon Fall Equinox Symbol Wheel of the Year

WITCH’S THANKSGIVING
The high point of the Sun’s arc over The Wheel is done. With that completion, we see the fullness of The Harvest come to fruition at Mabon.

We have reached Fall Equinox, the Quarter-Day festival marking the half way point between Summer and Winter Solstice. Also known as Second Harvest and Witch’s Thanksgiving, at Mabon we continue to explore harvest season through the cornucopia of symbols and festivals found at this time of year.

The work of Mabon season focuses on shifting from the drive and ambition of Summer into the fulfillment and resolution of Autumn. Many Pagans see a form of the Goddess known as The Mother giving birth to the massive harvests being pulled in all around the northern hemisphere. Learn ways to help yourself and your community prepare for the Underworld journey of Winter. Head here to learn more.

Samhain/Hallowe’en

Samhain Halloween Symbol Wheel of the Year

WITCH’S NEW YEAR
The dark is here. The shift in the Sun’s path is undeniable as the days shorten and the weather grows darker and colder.

The Cross-Quarter holiday Samhain (pronounced “sow-wain”) is possibly the most well-known of the Sabbats. Americans celebrate it as Hallowe’en.

We take a look at the superstitions and traditions surrounding Samhain. And we consider how people have used revelry, shape shifting, and pranks to deal with the oncoming chaos and breakdown of Winter – or to help bring it about.

To sum it up, Samhain is the true tipping point into The Underworld Journey of Winter. Learn how to incorporate archetypes and symbols that can sometimes be dark and spooky into your life. These are healthy and balanced forms of working with The Shadow. This can help you make the final shift away from the labor and celebrations of Autumn into the stillness and and rebirth of the coming Winter season. Head here to learn more.

Yule/Winter Solstice

Yule Winter Solstice Symbol Wheel of the Year

THE LONG NIGHT
The Quarter-Day festival season known to Pagans, Heathens, and Witches as Yule. Winter Solstice is recognized by nearly every belief system, philosophy and spiritual practice in the Northern Hemisphere.

Hundreds of deities celebrate holy days at this time of year. Much of the symbolism we work with centers around the death and resurrection of The Sun.

In addition, for Many Pagans, this day marks the death of The Holly King and the birth of The Oak King. As well, the rise of a form of The Goddess known as The Crone.

Yule is the deep heart of the wintertime Underworld Journey. Learn how to connect to the Archetypes and Spirits of Winter. Make the most of our collective hibernation. Utilize Winter’s season of stillness as an opportunity to stop, reset ourselves, and start again. Head here to learn more.


Your Guide through The Wheel of the Year…

Starting in 2015 educator, ordained minister, and self-taught eclectic Pagan Meagan Angus (that’s me) provides tools and guidance toward reconnecting with these natural rhythms and reclaiming our relationship to ourselves via the Pagan sabbats.

Extra and exclusive materials and support are provided for folks who subscribe to Patreon. In turn, their support makes it possible for to offer some of this work for free to the public. This is my offer during this profound time of upheaval and transformation.

During lively two-hour talks (available on youtube) students come away with a better understanding of the sabbats observed by Pagans, Witches, and Heathens.

We study the cosmic interplay that occurs during astrological, astronomical, and meteorological shifts. And, the effects these events have on us, and the common threads in traditional observances around the world, both modern and ancient.

But the work isn’t done after one night!

Take a look at what to can expect for the coming 6-7 weeks of each season. Learn how you can observe this time of change for yourself or with your community, and get ready to Do The Work.


Original artwork by Jessica Henry.