The Wheel of the Year

"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

The Earth 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 at 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 passed. 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 the equinoxes or days of ‘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 days they called Solstices. Solstices are when the Sun reaches its farthest northern, and then southern declinations. This declination creates the shortest and longest period of daylight. The Summer Solstice falls in mid-June marking the first day of summer with the longest period of sunlight. The winter Solstice falls mid-December and marks the first day of winter with the longest period of darkness, or night. The calendar is further divided into ‘cross-quarter’ days marking the midpoint between the solstice and equinox. These are the festival days held to honor and observe the cycle of the season

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 to winter, as bounty turned 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.

While modern man may live today in complete disconnect with the natural world, for most of his existence, man’s survival was dependent on understanding and living in harmony with the fluxes and tides. He watched the sky and created a calendar marking the passing of time in solstices and equinoxes, dividing the year by light and darkness, or the time of bounty and the time of want. A practitioner of Natural Magick works with the energies of the changing tides of the cosmos, or the tides of the year, that shift at the Solstices and Equinoxes.