White magical practitioners celebrate eight annual festivals, which make up the Wheel of the Year. They are as old as Mother Earth herself – truly ancient, yet not historical, as they were not created to commemorate human events. The difference between the eight festivals of the Wheel of the Year and any other holiday is that they are natural. It is significant that these festivals are unlike other holidays. Instead they are an essential part of how this beautiful planet actually works. Although the names of these ancient festivals have changed over time, the energies they celebrate have been with us since the very beginning of the planet, and imprinted in her consciousness and expressed by her every year.
The celebrations and rituals begin on the eve of the actual day, and go from sundown to sundown of the following day. Often our ancestors would stay up all night to honour the seasonal change and the transformation of the God and the Goddess. This sounds easy at Litha (pronounced Lee-tha), when the sun is high and long and rises early, and even at Beltane (pronounced Bel-tayne), when they would stay out all night celebrating in fields dotted with bonfires. But they would also stay up at Yule, the longest night of the year, and keep vigil throughout the cold and snowy darkness to witness the return of the sun and the new spark of life. The people were as linked to and in tune with these important days as the Earth herself.
While the dates are prescribed, they can vary by a day or two each year depending on the turning of the earth, its position in comparison to the sun and the cycles of the moon. Variations can be found in magazines and on the net, but if in doubt celebrate the festival as close to the set day as is practical for you.
Why we celebrate the celestial and the terrestrial (or As Above, So Below)
Four of the festivals are astronomical – the summer and winter solstices, when we are in the process of imminent change, and the autumn and spring equinoxes, when we are in balance.
The other four festivals, the cross-quarter days (because they are the midpoints of the solstices and equinoxes) are agricultural, and celebrate the turning of the seasons and the natural cycles of the earth, the flowing in and the flowing out of natural energy – the sowing of crops, the growing, the harvesting and the renewing to start all over again.
Just as the planet has these energetic shifts, balances and changes, so do we as individuals. We begin a project, we manifest it, we contemplate the results, then we go within to renew in order to create again. By celebrating each sacred festival of the Wheel of the Year, you will reconnect with your own internal magical seasons – your true source of power and creativity. You’ll become imbued with love and respect for yourself, and your healing, psychic and spellworking abilities will be magnified because you are in tune with the creative energy of the planet itself.
Why celebrate the Wheel of the Year today?
While some festivals are based on traditional pagan Celtic celebrations of seasonal changes, like Samhain and Beltane, others are based on the pagan Nordic traditions, for example, Yule and Ostara. They may in fact bear little resemblance to the flow of the seasons where you live; however, by observing these festivals wherever you are, you will be charged with white light and magical power, able to naturally and greatly enhance your innate ability to manifest. Becoming in tune with the planet and yourself means you are more likely to speak your truths clearly, powerfully and with ease. You will be less inclined to get your fix from addictive relationships, food, alcohol and nicotine. These natural energies rebalance you gently, thus helping you to detach from any addictive behaviours and thoughts. Likewise you will begin to attract new, kindred spirits into your life.
These festivals are both outside of you – in the warmth of the sun, the flowering plants, the tides of the ocean – and within you. They help you to celebrate the miracle of nature that you are – the miracle that you were born to be.
Think of these festivals of the Wheel of the Year as portals into other realms, portals to other dimensions. They are days that are out of time, which all have the unique quality of acting as a powerful doorway between the worlds. Although you can also access these realms on other days, the festivals are the most simple, the most effective and the most powerful times to be a walker between the worlds, to draw back the veil and to part the mists.
May you enjoy every turn of the Wheel of Life, and may your own magical powers be discovered within you.