The Wheel of the Year refers to the annual cycle of seasonal festivals on the Pagan calendar. To Pagans, the year is broke up into either 4 or 8 distinct periods or seasons. Those periods are festivals of course. One thing is clear and that is all Pagans observe one or both types of the Wheel of the Year. Indeed, it is one of the very basics in the life of a Pagan, especially so for Wiccans.
The Wheel of the Year doesn’t belong to the religion of Wicca alone. Most Pagans celebrate some or all seasons of the wheel. After all, this is part of the circle of life. However, in Wicca, the Goddess or God, The Divine pair, are responsible for all natural creations.
The Goddess represents the Moon and the Earth while the God represents the Sun. Since Wiccans celebrate death and rebirth, this cycle becomes more apparent depending upon the time of year.
While the Sun (God) dies off in the Winter period, the Earth (Goddess) remains waiting for the rebirth.
Wheel of the Year
Both the solstices and the equinoxes collectively have the name of ‘quarter days’ because they cut the Wheel of the Year into four. They are also the ‘Earth Days’. While the other four points cut through the wheel have the name, ‘cross quarter days’. These are the ‘Solar Days’. Of course all segments are roughly equal.
While most people know about the existence of solstices and equinoxes, most don’t exactly know what them mean. To begin with, there are 2 solstices and 2 equinoxes. Firstly, the two solstices are when the sun is either at its most northerly or southerly in the sky. Therefore, the Summer solstice is when the Sun is most northerly and the Winter solstice is when the Sun is at its most southerly point. The usual date for the Summer solstice is, 21st June and for the Winter solstice, 21st December.
The equinox refers to a time when the sun is directly over the equator. At this point of time the amount of daylight is equal to the same amount of time it remains dark. This also happens twice per year. Those dates are usually, 20th March and the 23rd September. At this time, we refer to those dates in the northern hemisphere as the Spring equinox and the Autumn equinox respectfully.
Since Wiccans celebrate the cycle of life, festivals take place for the seasons that occur on the Wheel of the Year. Therefore, think of it as celebrating death and rebirth. Indeed, these play a major part of community activities for Wiccans. Those 8 important seasons on the Wheel of the Year have the name of Sabbats. Of course, Wiccans can use these periods for a ritual or an informal get-together.
For Witches, those who are not in a coven can still perform Sabbat rituals knowing that their energy join together with all other Wiccans and Pagans worldwide. Just to point out that the 4 main ‘quarter days’ usually have the name of ‘Greater Sabbats’ while the ‘cross quarter days can have the name ‘Lesser Sabbats’. This is because the ‘Earth Days’ are times of greater energy. In effect, neither is unimportant, all of them have important meanings.
Celebrations and rituals across the Wicca faith can vary of course. However, the Goddess and God relationship play a big part in the ritual process. So, there may be more focus on life, death, fertility, harvest or abundance etc. Again, this depends on what is more appropriate for the season.
Finally, the Sabbats are a great time for celebration rituals. They are also a time for joy and can be uplifting for those taking part. So, here is a list of the eight Sabbats, click on each one to learn more.