Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wheel of the Year

The "Wheel of the Year" is a Pagan term for the cycle of seasons throughout the year. The Sabbats, or Holidays if you prefer, themseves are a mix of Gaelic (otherwise known as Celtic) and Germanic pre-Christian feasts and festivals. The two cultures have been blended nicely, and is important to many people both ancient and modern.

The cycle itself is seen as an echo of life itself. Birth is the spring, life is the summer, decline is the fall, and death is the winter. Sometimes the seasons are even referred to in this way. With Wiccans, they also see the progression of the God and Goddess through the year.

There are eight Sabbats on this calendar. Four fall on the solstices and equinoxes, and are loosely based on or named after Germanic festivals. The other four fall roughly halfway between them, and are inspired in the same way on Gaelic festivals. Different groups put emphasis on different Sabbats, and celebrate them in different ways. Sometimes the festivals are very different from historic accounts of the festivals in pre-Christian Europe.

 Unless the religion you are a member of demands you celebrate every one, each Sabbat is optional. Personally, I celebrate five of them.

I will go into greater detail with each Sabbat as they occur throughout the year.

  1. Samhain is also called All Hallow's Eve, Last Harvest, Blood Harvest, Ancestor Night, Feast of the Dead, Nos Galan Gaeaf, and Halloween.

  2. Yule is also called Midwinter, Cuidle, Alban Arthan, Winter Rite, Mother's Night, and Gŵyl Galan Gaeaf.

  3. Imbolc is also called Candlemas, Oimelc, Brigit, Brigid's Day, Bride's Day, Brigantia, and Gŵyl y Canhwyllau.

  4. Ostara is also called Vernal Equinox, Lady Day, Earrach, Alban Eilir, Festival of Trees, and Gŵyl Canol y Gwanwyn.

  5. Beltane is also called Beltaine, May Day and Gŵyl Galan Mai.

  6. Litha is also known as Midsummer, Samrad, Alban Hefin, Aerra Litha, and Gŵyl Ganol yr Haf.

  7. Lammas is also known as Lughnasadh, First Harvest, Bread Harvest, Festival of First Fruits, and Gŵyl Galan Awst

  8. Mabon is also known as Autumnal Equinox, Foghar, Alban Elfed, Harvest Home, Second Harvest, Fruit Harvest, Wine Harvest, and Gŵyl Ganol yr Hydref

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