Throughout the course of the year, Wiccans will celebrate holidays to mark the passage of time and the cycle of the seasons. In most traditions, this Wheel of the Year, as it is called, will begin on Samhain or October 31. Here is a summary of what happens at each of these holidays and what magic might be worked during these times.
On this day, Halloween, the souls of the dead are closer to the living than they are at any other point of the year. This is a time when people might be able to contact those who have passed away since it’s said the veil is thinner between the worlds. During rituals at that time, there might be time to sit with the dead and to celebrate their lives, as well as to find moments to contemplate one’s own death and the wisdom of the ancestors.
Also known as Winter Solstice, Yule is the time when the world is quiet and still and so very dark. On the longest night of the year, these rituals might sing songs to welcome back the sun, to celebrate making it through the dark time of the year. Rituals might include lighting candles to welcome the dawn and some Wiccans will stay up all night to sing up the sun.
Imbolc is the time that is right around February 1, right when the world is beginning to wake up from its winter slumber. The first offspring of animals are starting to be born and it’s time to start thinking about planting for the next year. This is also a time that is special to Brigit, a Celtic fire goddess. She is the one of the forge and the well, the one who helps women in childbirth, and who also helps with growth and renewal.
Known often as Spring Equinox, Ostara is a time when the spring is beginning to warm the lands and the light is even more quickly filling the skies and the nights. This is a time for looking at the seeds and seeing what can be done to create the most growth in the coming year. This is also a time to consider balance of light and dark and how you can tip yourself into the light.
Around May 1, Beltane is celebrated as a time of fertility and lust. Rituals often include dancing around a Maypole as a symbol of regeneration and coming together as a community. This is also a time of bale fires, and in modern times, ritual participants might jump over a fire together with someone else, making a promise to each other for the following year.
On Summer Solstice, the longest day is celebrated and it’s a time of joy mixed with sadness. While the light has returned, and has been making the living things grow, this is also the day when the light will begin to fade and diminish. This is a time when being out in the hot of the sun is the blessing and the reminder that all things change.
Also known as Lammas, Ludhnasadh is a day for Lugh, a sun god who liked to play games. This is a day when the ritual might include everyone playing games and having a feast together, as the first harvest has emerged and it’s time to celebrate successes.
On Fall Equinox, there are celebrations of the second harvest, as well as realizations that you may not have planted enough for the winter. This is a time to gather together with those you love to begin to settle into the dark and cold times.