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The Wheel Of The Year


Presented at PSU\'s second meeting, this presentation briefly identifies and describes the major Pagan holidays and their relation to the seasons.

Presented at PSU\'s second meeting, this presentation briefly identifies and describes the major Pagan holidays and their relation to the seasons.

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  • 1. Pagan Holidays & Their Relation
    to the Seasons
    The Wheel ofthe Year
  • 2. Pagan holy days are known as Sabbats – from the same root as “Sabbath.”
    There are four major sabbats, often classified as fire festivals: Samhain, Imbolc, Beltaine, and Lughnasadh
    Between each of these rest four Lesser Sabbats called quarters: Yule, the winter solstice; Ostara, the spring equinox; Midsummer or Litha, the summer solstice; and Mabon, the fall equinox.
  • 3. (Sabbats con’t)
    In addition to following the natural changes of the seasons, the sabbats also reflect the mythological cycle of the Goddess and God, two traditionally celebrated deities in Paganism.
  • 4. Wheel of the Year
  • 5. Pronounced “sow-en,” this sabbat begins the year. At this point, the god is dead and the goddess mourns her partner – however, in her belly grows the god’s child.
    Traditionally, the final harvest was made at Samhain; no fruit or grain harvested after was thought to be fit to eat.
  • 6. This is the time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest and the spirits of the dead can cross over into our reality:
    Honoring ancestors
    Contacting the dead
    “Dumb supper”
    Samhain Traditions
  • 7. Colors: Black & Orange
    Nocturnal animals: cat, owl, bat
    Jack-O-Lantern: light inside represents white, pure energy through which fairies are seen, guiding the spirits to believers
    Broom or Besom
    Samhain Associations
  • 8. Celebrated on the winter solstice
    Longest night, shortest day of the year
    The god is reborn as the days
    get progressively longer from
    The goddess falls into a deep
    slumber as she approaches her
    old age
  • 9. Another story tells the battle between the Holly King and the Oak King; at Yule, the Oak King wins and rules til Midsummer.
    Re-enacting the battle is another traditional way to honor the gods
    Another Yule Myth
  • 10. Christmas has many Pagan roots:
    Decorating wintergreen trees to look forward to the fruits of spring
    Burning the Yule log to give strength to the sun
    Hanging wreaths as a symbol of the Wheel
    Yule Traditions
  • 11. Colors: Red, Green, Silver (color of the goddess,) Gold (color of the god)
    What are some other obvious symbols?
    Yule Associations
  • 12. Imbolc is a Festival of Lights, also known as Candlemas
    The goddess has recovered from childbirth and returns to her maiden state, awakening from her slumber as the earth wakens with her
    The god is a young, growing boy
    “Imbolc” translates as “in the belly,” because Spring is in the earth’s womb
    It is traditional to burn candles in every window from sunup til sundown to welcome the sun
  • 13. Corn dollies representing the maiden goddess preparing to wed; protects crops & fertility
    Candle making & blessing
    Imbolc Traditions
  • 14. Colors: White - innocence & purity; goddess as maiden; snow, as snow is often still on the ground
    Warm foods
    Brighid – Brighid’s cross & bonfires
    God’s role is small
    Imbolc Associations
  • 15. Spring Equinox, official beginning of spring
    Night & Day are of equal length – Mabon’s opposite
    Goddess is still maiden with no ties to any man or child
    The god still grows as the Laughing Lord of the Greenwood. Young & carefree, he maintains the wild spirit of youth & nature
  • 16. Many Easter traditions are adopted from Ostara:
    Decorating & hunting eggs
    Rabbits are a traditional symbol (fertility and dern’ cuteness of Spring)
    Colors: Pastels – Blue, Yellow, Pink, Green
    Lighting fires
    Planting seeds
    Lighthearted, carefree stuff!
    Ostara Traditions/Associations
    Lustiest holiday of the year
    The god is a man and his courtship of the goddess has begun; the goddess conceives
    All forms of creativity & fertility are renewed
    Honors interconnectedness of life
    Balance of Samhain
  • 18. Dancing the Maypole, a phallic symbol topped with a flowered wreath to represent the goddess’ womb
    Flower crowns & baskets
    Colors: Red & White
    Leaping over small fire to stimulate
    health & fertility
    Good ol’ fashioned love-making!
    Beltaine Traditions/Associations
  • 19. The Summer Solstice, longest day / shortest night of the year (first day of summer)
    God has reached the peak of his power
    Second battle between the Holly & Oak Kings: Holly King wins! Go team! (Until Yule, anyhow.)
    Fire Festival honoring the sun’s great power
  • 20. MEAD-DRINKIN’!
    Colors: Yellows, Reds, Oranges, Golds
    Burning the wickerman, a symbol
    of the god, with wishes stuffed
    inside of it as a form of prayer
    More fire leaping & handfasting
    Contacting the fae
    Midsummer Traditions/Associations
  • 21. “LOO-nah-sah”
    First harvest, or Grain harvest
    Time to honor the abundance of the earth
    Waking of the god who died at Midsummer or Samhain, in some traditions; also, the god’s power begins to wane
  • 22. Fire festivals featuring contests, races, and feasts
    “Trial marriages”
    Colors: Browns, Reds, Oranges
    Grains such as barley & wheat; baked goods
    Lughnasadh Traditions/Associations
  • 23. Autumn Equinox: day & night of equal length. Ostara’s opposite
    Harvest season is drawing to a close
    The god prepares for his death
    In Greek mythology, Persephone must return to the underworld. Her mother, Demeter, brings winter to the world until her daughter’s return at Ostara
    Named after Mabon, born on the equinox & kidnapped from his mother Modron at 3 days old
  • 24. “Harvest Home”
    Honoring fruit and gathering with friends & family for a feast of thanksgiving
    Color: Brown
    Yarrow, wheat, apples, acorns, amber, pomegranates
    Animals: owl & stag
    Mabon Traditions/Associations
  • 25. This has been
    The Wheel of the Year