The Old English Wheel of the Year divides the year into eight different celebrations linked to seasonal change. The festivals that I follow encompass rituals roughly dating from Anglo-Saxon times, right through the Middle Ages to countryside customs which were still acknowledged in the late Victorian era. Modern Wiccans and neo-pagans follow a similar wheel that was designed in the 1950s. The ancient names listed below intuitively feel correct to me, according to my own past life memories. Each segment of the wheel has its own traditions, recipes, auspicious days, seasonal details, astrology and rituals. These inform my spirituality, teachings and writing.
The eight festivals are…
Candlemas (February 2) – Return of the light, candle blessings, weather predictions, St Brigid, dairy and eggs, Pancake Day, the Feast of Lovers.
Ostara (March 9-22) – Spring Equinox, fertility, rebirth, baby animals, painted eggs, daffodils, hot cross buns, cowslip wine, blossoms, Damson Day, cuckoos, St George.
May Day (May 1) – Maypoles, morris dancers, hobby horses, love, the return of the Green Man in the flowering woods, balefires, May Queen, Whitsuntide, May Wine.
Midsummer (June 19-23) – Summer Solstice, Oak King, fairies, magic, roses, Robin Hood, longest day and shortest night, St Swithin’s Day, bonfires, well dressing.
Lammas (August 1) – ‘loaf mass’, baking bread, corn/wheat/grain harvest, corn dolls, harvest king, John Barleycorn.
Harvest (September 21-24) – Autumn Equinox, cornucopia, Michaelmas, vegetables, nuts, berries, apples, Holy Rood Day, wine-making, hunting, scarecrows, thanksgiving, St Luke’s Little Summer.
Hallowtide (October 31) – The Witches’ New Year, falling leaves, return of the dead, Dumb Supper, bonfires, goblins, demons, apple magic, jack-o-lanterns, St Cecilia, Martinmas, soul cakes, Stir-Up Sunday.
Yule (20-23 December) – Winter Solstice, Holly King, Yule Fire, mulled wine, evergreens, feasting, Twelfth Night, wassail, St Agnes Eve, posset, shortest day and longest night.
Please note: here in the Southern Hemisphere, we must transpose the calendar so that these observances match the correct seasons. i.e. Yule is celebrated in Australia on June 21.