The Earth is a moving planet. It revolves around the Sun creating the year, or one full rotation, and as it revolves it also
spins so that the light of the sun falls upon different parts of the planet at different times creating night and day.
Because the axis of the planet is at a tilt, the energy of the Sun strikes the Earth more intensely at times than others.
To someone upon the planet, this resulting effect is felt as seasonal change. So not only do we get the year, and night
and day, we get summer and winter or for the ancients, the season of bounty and the season of want.
The earth moves and we experience this movement as time. We witness it each day as the sun rises to travel across the
sky before it descends casting the world into darkness. We feel it in the seasons as the earth both circles the sun and
turns upon its axis. One full rotation and another year has gone. The earth moves and time is created. The ancients
noted this motion and how twice a year there were two days in which the hours of light and the hours of darkness where
equal. They calculated that these days occurred every six months, first around March 21 then again around September
22. They named these days equinoxes or 'equal night'. Between these equinoxes they observed the hours of daylight
grew and then diminished so that between each equinox was the longest, and then the shortest day. These events are
the solstices. The equinoxes and solstices divide the natural year into fourths.
To the ancients time was circular rather than linear. They saw the year, marked with its seasonal change, as a great
tuning wheel that shifted the world from light to darkness, spring to summer, fall, then winter, the world from bounty to
want. They created calendars set by the waxing and waning of the moon, divided into quarters by the solstices and
equinoxes. The Wheel of the Year is one such calendar. It divides the year into four sections, each beginning with a
quarter day (spring equinox, summer solstice, fall equinox, winter solstice). Each of these sections is further divided,
creating four cross-quarter days or the midpoint between a solstice and equinox (Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, and
Samhain) to reflect the natural procession of the seasons and the changing tides of the cosmos, or the tides of the year
that shift at the Solstices and Equinoxes.
The Growing Tide from the Vernal Equinox to Midsummer
(March - June)
The Harvesting Tide from Midsummer to the Autumn Equinox
(June - September)
The Resting Tide from the Autumn Equinox to Yule,
(September - Yule)
The Cleansing Tide between Midwinter and the Vernal Equinox
(December - March)
The Wheel of the Year
December 20 to 21 Yule or The Winter solstice Quarter day, Solar festival, Male
This solstice marks the birth of the Sun child as on this darkest night of winter, light returns to the world. It was
customary to rise just before dawn and light candles to welcome the return of light to the world for on this morning after
the year's longest night, the cold relinquishes its reign, as from this day forward, the hours of daylight increase. Yuletide
is a time for new beginnings. It is a time to gather together, to feast and renew relationships, to strengthen the bonds
of friendship and family ties. This is also the time to forgive, a time to abandon the things that did not serve, to make
peace with the troubles of the past and to look ahead with hope, each of us aspiring to be better, as we pay homage to
the cycle of life. It is important that we each join the celebration, taking time to gather with family and friends and to
feast for it is at this time that relationships are renewed, that memories are made, that the bonds of friendship and
family ties are strengthened and we find that joining the celebration holds a magic for us all.
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February 2 Imbolc or 'in the belly' also known as Candlemas - Cross-quarter day, Earth festival, Female, Fire festival
This is the first of the fire festivals. Not only are the daylight hours noticeably growing longer but now nature is waking
as many of the animals are pregnant and their udder are filling with milk marking the return of nature's bounty and the
end of a long dark winter.
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March 20 or 21 Ostara or the Spring Equinox or Vernal - Quarter day, Solar festival, Male
The equinox is when the hours of daylight and darkness are equal. This is the second spring festival, celebrating the
return of fertility to the land as natures begins to wake. In the past this was a spring planting festival. Its symbol is an
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May 1 Beltane or 'Beautiful Flame' also known as May Day - Cross-quarter day, Earth festival, Female, 2nd Fire
Beltane honors life, birth, and fruitfulness and in the past was a great fire festival celebrating the fertility of nature. This
festival is about intense life energy, vitality, and creation.
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June 20 to 22 Litha or The Summer Solstice - Quarter day, Solar festival, Male, Fire Festival
longest daylight and shortest nights, but it also marks when this starts to reverse and daylight decreases. This solstice
celebrates the height of summer.
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Aug 1 Lughnasadh 'Loafmass' or Lammas - Cross-quarter day, Earth festival, Female, Fire festival
The first of the three autumn harvest festivals in the season of ripening. It is a time to take note of the abundance and
give thanks for all that we have in our lives. In the past when village life revolved around the growing of the grain, this
was the day the first sheaves of grain were brought in from the field and baked into the first loafs from the new grain
crop. These loaves were blessed, broken into quarters, and left to guard the grain that had been gathered. Lammas is a
time of gratitude, a time of transformation, of rebirth, and new beginnings.
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Sept 21–22 Mabon or the Fall Equinox - Quarter day, Solar festival, Male
On this day, when the hours of light and the hour of darkness are equal, we give thanks for the fruits of the earth during
this second harvest festival.
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Oct 31 Samhain or "Summer's End" also known as Halloween - Cross-quarter day, Earth, Female, Fire festival and
final harvest festival
This marks the final harvest and the beginning of the darker half of the year. Samhain was both the end and the
beginning of the Celtic Year. It was a fire festival known for misrule, much like Saturnalia and associated with death, for
this was not only the death of the year but the time when the surplus livestock were butchered for winter’s meat.
Samhain is known as a time when both faerie and spirit activity increases as on this night the veil between the worlds
grows thin so that the dead may return to warm themselves at the hearths of the living, and some of the living slip
through doorways to visit the sidhe in the Otherworld. On this night we honor those who died in the year before. It is a
time to venerate our ancestors and purge ourselves of things we are better off without. Samhain is a time of purification
as we give up things we do not need, replacing bad habits with good ones.
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"Celebrating the Earth's Cycles awakens memories deep within us
that help us to regain our commitment to Love, respect and
honour the Earth. Through following our own unique spiritual path
we learn to find inner stillness, so that we can listen to the land
and our hearts once again." - Glennie Kindred, Earth Wisdom