THE WICCAN CALENDAR is referred to as the Wheel of the Year.
The wheel represents a full cycle of the seasons.
Each season is marked by a series of holy days called sabbats to honor the particular qualities of each time of the year, life’s lessons as revealed through Nature, and our relationship with the Goddess and God.
As the wheel of the year turns, many Pagans celebrate 8 Sabbats. These holidays are based on agriculture and astronomical markers. Depending on the earths rotation, some tend to change while others stay the same.
There are 2 points which divide the Pagan Calender in half, they make up the winter and summer solstice.
During the winter solstice daylight hours are at their shortest and darkness at it’s maximum. The opposite is the summer solstice, being the longest day and shortest night. As shown on the wheel of the year above, you’ll notice these 2 points fall exactly in between the equinoxes.
The Pagan calender is divided into 4 lesser and 4 greater Sabbats. The 4 lesser sabbats mark the transition from one season to the next, while the 4 greater sabbats ( based on Pre-Christian Fire Festivals) are when each season is at it’s peak and mark days of power.
|Samhain (Oct. 31)||Yule (Dec. 20-23)|
|Imbolc (Feb. 2)||Ostara (March 20-23)|
|Beltane (May 1)||Litha (June 20-23)|
|Lughnasadh (Aug. 1)||Mabon Sept. (20-23)|
In Wicca, the narrative of the Wheel of the Year traditionally centers on the sacred marriage of the God and the Goddess and the god/goddess duality.
In this cycle, the God is perpetually born from the Goddess at Yule, grows in power at the vernal equinox (as does the Goddess, now in her maiden aspect), courts and impregnates the Goddess at Beltane, reaches his peak at the summer solstice, wanes in power at Lammas, passes into the underworld at Samhain (taking with him the fertility of the Goddess/Earth, who is now in her crone aspect) until he is once again born from Her mother/crone aspect at Yule. The Goddess, in turn, ages and rejuvenates endlessly with the seasons, being courted by and giving birth to the Horned God.
The holiday of Yule was celebrated long before Christians adopted the date. Many of the Christmas traditions we see today stem from old Pagan customs, the Christmas tree is Just one of them, it’s original name was a Yule Tree. As the solstice, it is the longest night of the year. From this day forward, light begins to return and we celebrate the rebirth of the Sun God.
Traditions: lighting the Yule log, wreath making, gift giving
Correspondences: pine, holly, myrrh, cinnamon
Imbolg, Brigid’s Day
Imbolc is a day to celebrate the first glimpses of Spring, and it is alsdedicated to the Celtic Goddess Brigid. Non-Pagans celebrate today as Groundhog Day. Make new starts in life, as you give your home a thorough cleaning.
Traditions: Burning fires and candles, cleaning, making a bed for Brigid
Correspondences: carnation, rosemary, chamomile, milk
This is another holiday that has been overlaid with Christian meanings (Easter). Eggs and bunnies are typical symbols, representing new birth and new life. Plant the seeds of long-term goals.
Traditions: Colouring eggs, decorating with flowers
Correspondences: jasmine, daffodil, lotus, new spring flowers
The God born at Yule is now a man, and the sacred marriage between God and Goddess is consumated. Beltane is a celebration of fertility, growth, love and passion. However you celebrate Beltane, do it with joy and happiness.
Traditions: Dancing around the May Pole, lighting bonfires
Correspondences: Rose, lilac, vanilla
Litha, Summer Solstice
Midsummer is the longest day of the year, and the strength of the Sun God begins to wane. The Goddess has left her Maiden form of Imbolc and is now in her Mother aspect. Refill your herb collection for the coming year.
Traditions: Fairy magick, collecting herbs
Correspondences: Orange, lemon, honeysuckle, vervain
As the first of the three harvest festivals, much of the symbolism for Lammas revolves around grains and bread. Sacrifices were common, though mostly symbolic, in order to ensure the continued success of the harvest.
Traditions: Bread baking, making corn dollies
Correspondences: corn, sandalwood, heather
Day and night are equal again, and the weather grows colder as winter approaches. This is the second harvest festival. Rituals of thanks at this time have brought about the modern holidays of Thanksgiving. Take some time to think about what you are thankful for.
Traditions: Making and drinking of wine, share with the less fortunate
Correspondences: grapes, blackberries, cedar, patchouli
Hallowe’en, All Hallows
Samhain (SOW-en) is the one Sabbat that is also widely celebrated amongst non-Pagans. The God has died, and the Goddess mourns him until his rebirth at Yule. It’s the last harvest festival, and the end of the Wiccan year, or in other words The Pagan/Wiccan
Traditions: Divination, honouring the dead, carving Jack o’ Lanterns
Correspondences: pumpkins, apples, sage, mugwort