The Wheel of the Year is the Wiccan model of the annual calendar, which Wiccans view as a circle. There are eight major observances that are important to Wiccans.
Every season has specific meaning and symbolic value, and within each season there are other celebrations that mark the Wheel of Time’s ever-forward motion.
Halloween as a Wiccan Celebration
Halloween is the holiday celebrated in mainstream culture and it’s an event that’s eagerly anticipated by children and adults alike.
For Witches, however, Halloween is a time for spiritual observance. Halloween originated from the Celtic New Year and in Wiccan culture is known as Samhain. Pronounced “sew-in,” Samhain is taken from the Gaelic term for “summer’s end” and it marks the end of summer and the last harvest in the Celtic calendar.
According to Celtic lore, this is the time when the veil between worlds grows thin and both spirits and fairies are able to visit the earth more freely. Pumpkins or turnips are traditionally carved at Halloween to fool or frighten mischievous or baleful spirits. Witches pick this time of the year to honor their ancestors and work magic for protection and improved psychic insights.
The Wiccan Holiday of Yule
The next ritual in the annual wheel is Yule (commonly known as Christmas) in late December. This is the end of the solar year, when the sun reaches its lowest point in the sky, the point right before the sun begins to make its return.
The symbolism of a reborn sun wasn’t lost on early theologians, so they adopted this holiday as Christ’s birthday. For the Witch, Yule is a time to honor nature spirits, celebrate the sun’s return, and commemorate ties to family and tribe. As is the case around the world, they too exchange gifts and gather with those they love.
Candlemass Celebration in Wicca
For Wiccans, the celebration of Candlemass arrives on February 2, at the outset of the year. Also known as the Feast of Brigid, this day is the time to work magic for the land, the welfare of young animals, the return of the sun to the world, health, transformation, and divine providence. It is also the time for meditations designed to help the seed of a Witch’s spirit grow toward maturity.
Celebrating the Spring Equinox
The spring equinox comes in late March. Spring is an upbeat, hopeful season when the earth returns to beauty.
In keeping with this energy, the rites of spring focus on fertility rites and abundance. It’s also the time for Witches to cast spells focused on new projects so they begin the new season on the right foot.
Wiccan Celebration of Beltane
The next spoke of the wheel is Beltane, celebrated on May 1. Beltane is one of the most festive of all rituals, complete with a plethora of flowers, dancing and pure fun. Beltane is a fire festival and one of the festivities involves tossing wishes into the balefire. Wiccans may also jump the fires to ensure conception.
The Maypole is the centerpiece of the frolic, the pole itself representing the masculine aspect, the ribbons representing the feminine and the weaving of fate’s threads for the coming year. This is a favorite holiday for lovers of fairy lore, who will leave the fairy folk a little offering of sweet bread and cream.
Summer Solstice Wiccan Celebration
The summer solstice in celebrated in late June. This marks the halfway point in the Wiccan year. Although the earth is filled with bounty, winter is just around the corner, so prudence is wise.
This is traditionally the time of year when witches harvest magical herbs for greatest potency. The ritual’s focus includes inventiveness, luck, health, and power.
Wiccans Celebrate Lammas
The date of August 1 brings Lammas, which means “loaf mass.” As one might expect, bread is featured prominently in this celebration, which includes baking loaves from the first harvest of wheat.
Lammas celebrates the grain spirit, a great provider. Lammas originated from the ancient festival for the god Lugh, said to preside over craftspeople. For Wiccans, the Lammas may have one of two main reasons for celebration: it is the time to celebrate their craft and inspire their art further, and it is also the time to symbolically harvest the magic that has been nurtured up to this point in the year.
Celebrating the Autumn Equinox
Autumn equinox is celebrated in late September. Days begin to grow shorter, and the harvest is gathered in abundance. However, the gathered food must last a long time, so at least one of the themes for this celebration is frugality. The autumn equinox is also a good time for witches to give thanks to the earth and spirit for all their blessings.
These seasonal rituals mark the Wiccan Wheel of Time, the annual progression of the moon cycles, seasons, equinoxes and solstices. In this manner, the energy raised during a ritual such as Halloween holds the potential of touching the needs and thoughts that sit at the heart of each individual and the world as a whole.