What is the Wheel of the Year?
Many places around the world have different ways of tracking the days as they pass - calendars vary from culture to culture. The way that a society measures the passing of time can be dependent on many factors, but one thing that is consistent is that we as humans note the passing of the seasons. Though the hemisphere and area of the world you reside in will affect how those seasons may present themselves, it is an intrinsic part of how we view the concept of time.
Throughout history the seasons have inspired artists’ creative visions, determined agriculture & commerce, and have drawn people to develop traditions lasting generations. This is no accident - it is a fundamental part of our experience on this Earth. So, what is the Wheel of the Year? Essentially, it is a calendar reflecting the changing seasons by the cycle of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun.
At its core, the Wheel of the Year denotes the two Equinoxes - the points at which Day & Night are of equal length, the two Solstices - the points at which we experience the longest day & longest night, and the “cross-quarter” dates that all make up the eight “spokes” on the wheel. The hemisphere you live in will determine what kind of weather you will experience on these dates, but regardless of the weather, these moments are cosmic and shared by all who live on planet Earth.
For people who have reverence for nature, these dates are beautiful opportunities to recognize the ways in which we are all connected - not only to each other, but to all life on the Earth. To many people, taking the time to pause and reflect on these cycles is a way to honor our ancestors and our future descendants.
The Wheel of the Year, though exact in the solar calendar dates, can vary widely when it comes to the celebration of the holidays and their names. Many of the names of the quarter and cross-quarter days have been adopted from Euro-centric religious traditions, and others have basis in various pagan celebrations throughout history.
Regardless of your religion, the Wheel of the Year has a valuable framework for becoming more connected to the Earth. With our world rapidly plunging into climate change and overcrowding, it can leave us feeling separate from the people around us and from the planet we walk on. The Wheel of the Year is a lense through which we can recognize the ways we are all connected and give us a sense of perspective on the seasons of our lives.
For more in-depth information & discussion about the symbolic impact of each of the seasonal celebrations, consider joining The Mana Sphere! Every month you will receive an in-depth description of the importance of the Wheel of the Year holidays and their significance in our lives. You will also receive tarot spreads & rituals to help you connect with these occasions in a meaningful way.