The Pagan Basics series is for those looking to find out more about the basic concepts, symbols and values of paganism. A series of short articles which give explanations to some of paganism’s most fundamental concepts, images and shared understandings.
The Wheel of the Year is the pagan term for the annual cycle of the seasons, from Spring through Summer and Autumn and into Winter to round to Spring again.
There are many illustrations of the Wheel, but most look similar to this:
The wheel has eight spokes, or points, which represent the eight major festivals of modern paganism. The majority of modern pagans celebrate these in one form or another. At the top of the wheel above the first festival is Samhain, followed by Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Belatine, Litha, Lughnasagh, Mabon and back round to Samhain. These eight festivals are known as Sabbats*. By looking at the dates, you’ll see that the year starts at the top of the wheel in October, traditionally the Celtic New Year celebrations. You may find that wheels have Imbolc, the February festival, or even Yule, the festival at the end of December at the top instead, to represent the Gregorian calender currently in use.
The Wheel of the Year is also representative of the pagan concept of cyclical time. In short everything has it’s proper place and time to occur: a time for planting, growing, harvest and rest mirrors a time for human birth, life, decline and death.
* Sabbats are explained further in next months Pagan Basics post.