It is very important to become fully acquainted with the Magical Year or the Wheel of the Year. Just as the ocean has tides, so does the energy around us. We are all made of energy and everything in the Invisible World and the World of Form is made of energy. Energy travels in waves so doing an increase spell during times of decrease is like trying to swim against a very strong current with an undertow.
The Wheel of the Year is divided into eight events that mark the progress of birth, death and rebirth of our world. These eight divisions are called Sabbats: Yule (winter solstice), Imbolc, Ostara (vernal equinox), Beltaine, Midsummer or Litha (summer solstice), Lughnasadh, Mabon (autumnal equinox), and Samhain. These Sabbats mark changes in the invisible tide of energy.
The Magical Year really ends and begins with Samhain but for our purposes here, we will begin with Yule. This is also known as winter solstice. On this day, we have the shortest amount of daylight. It also marks the time when the daylight begins to increase; thus, marking the time of waxing energy. Our energy levels continue to increase until Midsummer or Litha when we have the longest day of the year. After summer solstice, the wave of energy begins to wane or decrease.
As we are all taught in school, vernal equinox and autumnal equinox are the two times of the year when day and night are balanced. This time is marked by a very harmonious energy.
The quarter celebrations of Imbolc and Beltaine happen during the light half of the year and Lughnasadh and Samhain are in the dark half of the year. During these celebrations there is a natural rise in the energetic field. Here is a listing of the Sabbats, their dates and descriptions:
The hidden Wheel of the Year
Yule: December 21st – winter solstice and the rebirth of the sun
Imbolc: February 1st or 2nd – changing of the Goddess energies from Crone to Maiden
Ostara: around March 20th, – vernal equinox and equilibrium; youthful Goddess and God frolicking
Beltaine: May 1st or 5th , – celebration of union between God and Goddess
Midsummer or Litha: around June 20th – summer solstice; handing off from the Oak King to the Holly King
Lughnasadh: August 1st or 2nd – a switch from growth to harvest; a time of gathering for family and friends
Mabon: around September 23rd – autumnal equinox; self-accounting of your harvest
Samhain: November 1st – honor and remember ancestors; rededicate oneself to the old ways
The Wheel of the Year brings change on three different levels:
The Invisible World – From winter solstice to summer solstice our light increases. This is when the ebb and flow of energy is conducive to increase spells. On the down side of the wheel from summer solstice to winter solstice, our light decreases. This is a time when the energy tides are leaning toward decrease and release.
The World of Form – The Wheel of the Year marks the important signals for our weather which in turn decide our planting schedules and the success of offspring in the animal world. The winter is when everything is resting; the spring brings forth the shoots and buds; the summer offers plenty of sunlight to grow things big and strong; the fall brings in the harvest.
Our Inner Being – The Wheel of the Year also directs the ebb and flow of our inner energies. Beginning with Yule, we quietly meditate on the direction we wish to take during the next turn of The Wheel. With Imbolg and Ostara, we start out on our chosen path and revel in the light. As Midsummer arrives, we stand tall in our present accomplishments and as Lughnasadh arrives, we begin to harvest our talents that we have cultivated all year. Mabon brings a time of accounting. We begin to weigh out our accomplishments of the year and our defeats. We sort out those energies that no longer serve us and look towards cultivating the good energies in the next year. And finally, Samhain is much like our New Year’s celebration. We take time to honor those who have passed and we rededicate our paths in The Craft.