The Wheel of the Year marks the cycle of the Sun and the changing seasons.
It honours the growing of the light – from mid-Winter to Summer, and then the surrender into the darkness, from mid-Summer back to Winter again.
Honouring this cycle reminds us that all stages of growth are essential to life.
The seasonal celebrations below are often called Sabbats, Earth celebrations, or Quarter and Cross-Quarter Festivals.
Northern Hemisphere: 1st/2nd of February.
Southern Hemisphere: 1st/2nd August
Imbolc, also known as Candlemas, is a festival that celebrates the beginning of Spring, and the coming new life – in the fields this is a time for lambing.
It’s still cold but the days are getting noticeably longer. The buds are starting to come through on the trees, and bulbs are peeking through the earth.
Imbolc represents rebirth and hope.
As the Sun’s energy continues to grow stronger, Winter gives way to the growing energy of Spring.
It’s a time of planting ideas and allowing them to germinate. The life-force is stirring and brings with it fresh renewal, hidden potential and an awakening energy. Everything begins to appear possible.
Imbolc reminds us to reclaim what has been forgotten and is lying dormant. It’s a time to work with the potency of the rising energy.
As we move towards the active solar part of the year, we have the opportunity to unite with our dynamic inner power to create a new beginning.
Northern Hemisphere: 20th – 22nd of March
Southern Hemisphere: 20th – 22nd September
Spring Equinox, also known as Ostara, is a festival that celebrates the first day of Spring.
The days are getting longer and warmer, and the nights shorter.
This is a time of balance:
The Earth energy is rising and increasing, and there’s the feeling of moving forward and possibility.
Nature is coming alive, and the Sun is gaining in strength.
Trees are blossoming and the Spring flowers are bursting forth with their colour and vibrancy.
Animals are having their young.
We are surrounded by life’s ability to regenerate.
We move from the darkness and stillness of Winter to an outward expression of life’s growth cycle.
It’s a fresh start, and a time to express and move towards that which you want.
Northern Hemisphere: 1st May
Southern Hemisphere: 1st November
Beltane is a festival that celebrates love and life.
It represents the peak of Spring and the beginning of Summer.
It is the final waxing phase of the Sun’s cycle.
The Earth energy is at its strongest as the world around us is bursting with fertility, sexuality and desire.
It’s a time for experiencing the full power of your potential.
Abundance, fertility and union are the key themes of Beltane.
Flowers are everywhere, the trees are full with blossom, the air is filled with birds singing and the animals are having their young.
It’s about sunshine and rain – sap rising and fresh growth.
The energy of the Maiden has reached her peak fertility, and she’s joined in union with her partner, where she will become pregnant.
This is where the tradition of dancing around the Maypole comes from: the weaving together of the female and male energies.
Beltane celebrates the union of opposites.
This is the perfect time in the year to bring your own hopes and dreams into action, with the energy of joy and fun.
The energy of potential is at its peak, and anything is possible.
Northern Hemisphere: 21st/22nd June
Southern Hemisphere: 21st/22nd December
Summer Solstice is a festival that celebrates the longest day of the year. It honours the Sun (and the Divine Masculine), but also recognises the importance of the transformation that the darkness is about to bring.
It represents the peak of the Sun’s energy, and celebrates light, power and love.
The solstice is a moment of stillness as the cosmic wheel stops and starts again.
From the day of the solstice on, the days will become shorter.
The outer energy begins to wane, and your inner energy begins to expand.
This is a dual celebration:
The Sun and its element of Fire are at their peak.
The element of Fire is associated with transformation, as it can create, burn, consume, cook, light or purify.
This is a time of peak manifestation.
The growth around us has reached its peak, and nature is in its full abundance and glory.
Trees, flowers, herbs and vegetables are flourishing and abundant. Fruit and grain are beginning to appear.
The Summer Solstice also represents the peak of your expressive self.
This is a time to celebrate everything that you’ve achieved and created. It’s a time to charge your intentions, and add the peak power and strength of the Sun to manifest your desires.
This is also a period of transformation and alchemy, as you prepare for the inner journey in which the darkness takes you back to yourself.
As the power of the external world begins to wane, your inner world becomes more prominent.
Northern Hemisphere: 1st August
Southern Hemisphere: 1st February
Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh, is the first of the three harvest festivals. It celebrates the wheat and grain. Autumn Equinox celebrates the harvest of the fruit, and Samhain is the harvest of the nuts and berries.
The name Lammas is said to come from the Anglo-Saxon ‘hlaf-mas’, which translates as ‘loaf-mass’. And Lughnasadh is Irish Gaelic for ‘Commemoration of Lugh’, with Lugh being the Celtic Sun King and God of Light.
Lammas represents transformation.
As the Sun’s energy begins to wane, the active growth of Summer begins to slow down. The receptive, regenerative energy of the darker days of Winter begins to draw closer.
It’s a time of gathering-in, assessment and preparation for what’s to come.
As the grain is harvested, it is stored in order to feed the community throughout Winter. And the seeds are collected, ready for the rebirth, regeneration and harvest of the following year.
As the energy moves from active to receptive, it’s a time to assess what’s been working for you and what hasn’t. During this time of assessment, you release what no longer serves you, so that you can use that energy for regeneration and healing throughout the introspective, darker months.
Northern Hemisphere: 20th – 22nd September
Southern Hemisphere: 20th – 22nd March
Autumn Equinox, also known more recently as Mabon, celebrates the second of the three harvest festivals and honours the harvest of the fruit. (Lammas celebrated the harvest of the wheat and grain, and Samhain will celebrate the harvest of the nuts and berries.)
The name of Mabon comes from the Welsh God Mabon. He is the Child of Light, and the son of the Earth Mother Goddess, Modron.
The Autumn Equinox represents balance.
Day and night are in perfect balance all over the world. The harvest is winding down. The fields are nearly empty, as the crops have been harvested and stored for the coming Winter.
Up until this point, the hours of daylight have been greater than the hours from dusk to dawn. But from now on, the hours of dusk to dawn will become longer, and Winter has begun.
As the days become shorter and colder, they remind us that change is coming.
The Autumn Equinox is a time of giving thanks, and of sharing what you have accumulated and learnt with others.
It’s a time to celebrate the Earth and all of her gifts, as well as your family, friendships, creations and achievements, and your own personal harvest.
It’s a time for balance. A time to reconcile opposites and see them as part of the whole.
Everything co-exists, and we need to be able to see both sides in order to be balanced and whole. That means seeing light and dark, masculine and feminine, creation and destruction, death and rebirth.
As we celebrate all aspects of ourselves and of life, we prepare for the transition into the darker days. This reconnects us to our inner wisdom and reminds us that we are part of the whole, not separate from it.
Northern Hemisphere: 31st October / 1st November
Southern Hemisphere: 1st May
Samhain (pronounced sowen, soween, saw-win, saw-vane or sahven, not sam-hayne), celebrates the third of the three harvest festivals. It honours the harvest of the nuts. (Lammas celebrated the harvest of the wheat and grain, and Autumn Equinox celebrated the harvest of the fruit.)
Samhain represents endings and beginnings.
Summer is far behind us, Autumn has ended, and Winter officially begins.
This is the dark time of the year. It’s a time of mystery and transformation.
The darkness draws in. It’s an essential part of the cycle, as it brings with it a period of rest and regeneration before the rebirth that will come.
The seeds of your ideas, your future plans and the direction you are ready to take your life in are incubated within the darkness. The darkness prepares them, ready to be re-birthed in the Spring.
The ‘death’ of the old makes way for the new. This endless cycle of change allows you to get to know yourself and your ideas on a much deeper level.
Often, we have been taught to fear the darkness or those things that we cannot rationally explain. We dismiss our intuition, and have lost connection with our own sacred wisdom and the great Mysteries of life.
We often live our lives based on unconscious thoughts, patterns, beliefs and learnt behaviours, seldom stopping to question if these are still valid ways to live our lives.
The darkness holds the energy to explore these inner realms within yourself, to face what remains buried deep within. Only then can you awaken and remember your inherent wisdom and power.
Northern Hemisphere: 20th / 21st December
Southern Hemisphere: 20th / 21st June
The Winter Solstice is also known as Yule.
From the Winter Solstice (the shortest day and the longest night), the Sun’s influence is waxing. It reaches its peak at the Summer Solstice, which is the longest day and shortest night.
The Winter Solstice offers you a time to reflect and look back on all you have achieved. It also provides the opportunity to look forward and see where you are heading for the next half of the cycle.
From the Winter Solstice, the light begins to increase. This brings with it the opportunity to focus on your own outward expression too. How do you shine your own light out into the world through your own expression of your identity?
This is a festival of rebirth, a time to celebrate the return of the Sun.
Up until this point, the Earth’s energies – as well as our own – have been focused inwards. There’ve been very few outward signs of growth. Everything has slowed down.
It’s been a time to experience ourselves, and a time to nurture and restore ourselves as we assimilated all of our experiences.
As with the Earth, the seeds within us – our hopes and dreams – have been nurtured and protected.
The Winter Solstice turns the wheel, and the Sun’s active cycle begins once more. With the return of the Sun’s energy, the seeds within the Earth and within ourselves begin to grow and expand once more.
You can bring the assimilation of your experiences, the lessons learnt and the wisdom of your inner journey forward with you as you begin to consciously create your life.