PBP: The Wheel of the Year – Part 2
“When celebrating the Wheel of the Year, you can interpret it many ways. You can see it as symbolic, agricultural, astrological, etc. You could even do a combination. How do you find significance of each holiday in the modern world we live in? For example, during the fall season, the holidays relate strongly to the harvest. In this day and age, most of us don’t live on a farm harvesting grain and ensuring the following year’s crops. How do you stay in touch with the roots of the holy days we observe when some times we are so far placed from them?
How do you interpret the Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year and make it fit the modern world around us?”
In Part I
of this prompt
, I discussed making connections to the Sabbats for the first part of the calendar year. In this part, I will continue with my thoughts on the Sabbats during the latter half of the year.
Lughnasadh is all about the God for me. I mean, yes, the Festival of First Fruits is in there, too, but the Celebration of Lugh is one reason why I cannot call this Sabbat ‘Lammas’, even though that is a perfectly valid name. Cernunnos, Herne, Pan, Dionysus, Bacchus – all of the Earth Gods and fertility gods are highlighted on this Sabbat for me. The legend of Lugh
as a ‘jack of all trades’ is one I like very much. As The Equinox Project says, “Lugh was a traveler, a master of all crafts, hand skills, sorcery, divinations, magic, healing, miracles, music and trade. as “lawfather” he set the rules that governed family life and Celtic society in both Ireland and on the Continent.” As such, Lughnasadh is a time to examine our family. As my children grow into young warriors and hunters, this is a time to honor their growth from the past year, and make plans for the coming year. Lughnasadh is also the time when last year’s plans and planting have come to fruition. For spellwork, I make plans and cast in the fall (Mabon or Samhain) or in the beginning of spring (Imbolc or Ostara) for
fulfillment by Lammas. The Goddess is the Grain Mother, full and ripe with the seeds of the new year. She fully embodies the Mother aspect, and as such is a position I relate to, being a mother myself.
Mabon is another easy connection for me. When I first heard the legend of Blodeuwedd the Owl
, it struck a chord for me. She’s gotten kind of a bad rap over the years, but when the culture and circumstances of her life are discovered, her role and actions in the larger tapestry are revealed. The Triple Goddess is another important part of my path, and at Mabon, She is represented fully to me. Of the three Harvest Festivals (Lughnasadh, Mabon, Samhain), Mabon is the one that is ‘Thanksgiving’. It’s the main harvest, and as such a time for reflection and giving thanks. It is Spring, fulfilled, and celebration for the completion of what was planted earlier in the year (be it seeds or a garden, spellwork, or plans). For my family, Mabon is a season of pouring back into the community and into the people who touch our lives. Though we are involved in community service work throughout the year on a regular basis, Mabon is a time for recognizing the blessings we have received and showing thankfulness through generosity. Mabon is also a time to celebrate the Dark Mother. As the earth is dying just a little, preparing for Winter. Persephone/Proserpina and Demeter/Ceres are also honoured at this time, as the earth descends to darkness and the Crone aspect of the Goddess is beginning.
Samhain is my favorite Sabbat, as it is for many Pagans the world over. It is the third and final Harvest Festival, and a Cross-Quarter Day. The Crone aspect is at it’s fullest, and the Veil that separates the world of the living form the world beyond is at its thinnest. Samhain is the time for Divination, and communing with the Ancestors. I tend to do a lot of meditation around this Sabbat – it’s easier to fall into meditative states and trances when the Veil is thin (Beltane & Samhain). I borrow from other traditions, and keep an Ancestors Altar, and our Circle group always has an Ancestors Altar set up in addition to the main altar as well. Many Pagans consider Samhain the end of the old year/beginning of the new year at Samhain as well. I haven’t made a decision one way or the other, personally. It doesn’t ‘feel’ like an end to me, so I lean more towards celebrating the new year at Yule. At Samhain, I honor Cerridwen
, for her wisdom and inspiration; Cailleach Beara (Brigid’s crone aspect), who is reborn this night; Hades and Osiris for protection and divination; and light candles for my Ancestors.
The Yule season is another of my favorites. I love re-reading the Legend of the Holly King and the Oak King
, and observing the ever-turning cycle of the Wheel. I have always had a hard time with ‘transitions’, from one phase to another, and Yule helps remind me that all things must flow into thier next phase, whether we’re quite ready for it to or not. This is the beginning of the ‘new year’ for me. Along with Yule, I also observe Modraniht, or Mother’s Night, on December 24th, as a time not only to honor the Goddess, but also to honor my own matrilineal line. I can trace my maternal lineage back to the 1600’s, with each passing year adding a century or two as more information is processed and put online. I love the connection to both deity and my ancestors in this way.
Yule is the Winter Solstice as well; traditionally a time of rest – settling in with kith and kin by the fire, counting blessings and weathering out the last of winter. Though I’m in the Southern United States, and our temperatures reach to 80’s (F) sometimes, the sentiments are the same – gathering close to freinds and family, and counting ourselves fortunate.
Another observation that I feel is important to do is ‘Walking the Boundaries’. Every year, on the Quarter Days (Yule, Ostara, Litha & Mabon), I walk the boundaries of our property and leave Thanks and Offerings to the boundary spirits for continued good-will and protection. We share the land with Those Who Came Before, so we try to honor them with a little something.
One thing that I absolutely love about the Sabbats is the both the variety, diversity and continuity of the legends surrounding the Wheel of the Year. I find it easy to connect with the many myths and legends surrounding the Gods and Goddesses, and the continuity of the overall great arc of the Wheel. Each year, I tend to focus on a specific legend and tale, which gives each Sabbat a unique ‘flavor’ that makes it more meaningful and individual. The Sabbats are never boring for me. Being eclectic gives me the freedom to re-invent each Sabbat, or to find meaning in ancient ways or celebrate in grand style or a simple affair.
If you’re so inclined, feel free to use the same promt and write your own blog post. Be sure to link back!