The Wheel of the Year

Feb 9, 2009 by

By Lisa Campion

This morning I had about twenty robins in my yard.  They were so fat and fluffy, eating the rose hips off the rose bushes and squabbling on the garden fence. It was lovely to see them and lifted my heart.

I could feel the heart of the robins, with their red heart chakras, all puffed up and they looked so beautiful sitting in the snow. There is a story about how the robin got his red breast. It is said that when Jesus was suffering on the cross, a robin flew in and tried to pluck off his crown of thorns. The thorns tore the robin’s breast and the robin’s blood mingled with Christ’s blood and since then robin has worn his red waistcoat to remember that event and robin’s energy is linked to Christ and the Passion that is about to come.

The robins helped me remember that even though it’s really freaking cold out there still, spring is waiting just under the surface.  I can feel the shift in energy from winter into spring, even though the weather hasn’t changed yet. We passed one of the big power days in the pagan Wheel of the Year this week. It is hiding in the form of lowly little Groundhog Day.

A Momentary Rant

Can I just pause for a moment and debunk the word PAGAN. It’s really a harmless little word that represents a very harmless philosophy. It means a religion that celebrates the earth as it’s central deity and it’s really, really old.

It’s based on the fact that way before Christ, our people (all people) got by in the world because we were agriculturally based. We grew our own food, raised our own livestock and generally lived in harmony with the earth. In fact we depended on Mother Nature to provide us with all the things we needed to live and thrive.  And she did!

So the word Pagan simply means that, a way of life that is reverent towards earth and is agriculturally based.

Nowadays, the neo-pagan religions like Wicca and Druidry are reclaiming and reinventing the Old Ways.  Pagans plant gardens and recycle.  We like nature and sometimes we get together to celebrate the beauty of the earth and each other.

It has nothing to do with Satan worshiping or sacrificing children or anything evil.  It’s just about celebrating the earth. Pagan became a word that was synonymous with anyone who was not a Christian and therefore The DEVIL. Well.  I could go on a rant here about WHICH of these religions has created more evil in the world, but I will spare you the rant, as entertaining as it might be. (Crusades, Inquisition, Fundamentalists, Holy Wars, Genocide….you get the drift of the rant now, right?)

What I am really trying to say is, please don’t freak out over the word pagan.  I promise I won’t come over to your house and eat your children. I may, however come with gifts from my own garden and hug a tree. Or maybe plant one.  I had a bumper sticker once that said TREE HUGGING DIRT WORSHIPPER. It was right next to one that said COMPOST HAPPENS.  Hehe. Compost humor cracks me up.

The Wheel of the Year

Anyways, the followers of the Craft of the Wise marked the year into eight sections based on the seasons and called it the Wheel of the Year. They had some pretty fun holidays at these changing points of the year that revolved  around what needed to be done on the farm. Plant stuff,  harvest stuff, help the animals thrive.

Most of the celebrations are about how psyched they were to have lived another season. Yippee!  Now that calls for a part-ay!

We know these holidays and we celebrate them still, even though most of us don’t know why. They are hard wired into our brains, into our cells and DNA. And the Old Ways die hard, thank The Lady.

Four of these days are the official turning of the seasons, the two solstices and equinoxes, these are called the Quarter Days, because  they break the year into quarters and they are the lesser celebrations.

But the most powerful are the Cross Quarter days and we just passed one them. You got it. Groundhog Day!

They are:

February 2nd -Ground Hog Day/Imbolc/Candlemas

May 1st- May Day/Beltane/Lady’s Day

August 2nd Lammas/Second Harvest

November 1st Halloween/Samhain/All Hallow’s Eve.

Party Like a Pagan

These are the fun ones! I am partial to the fertility celebrations of the spring cycle. Some people say that May Day was the most fun since it was when young couples were allowed to go courting and have a lot of sex. (Ok, I am sneaking a little sex in here for all you folks who requested more sex in the blogs!)

The May Pole Celebration allowed these youngsters to hook up with each other and try out sex and each other back before the Catholic Killjoys told us that sex for fun was Not Allowed and is a Sin. (boo, hiss!)

So on May Day, courting couples wandered off into the fields and had a whole lot of sex. In the fields. Which sounds a little unhygienic or at least, a little dirt filled. But it was believed that having all that fertility energy in the fields would make the fields more fertile. Sure. Why not?

So it’s no great shock that after all this May Merriment, it became very popular and/or necessary to schedule weddings in June. If you do the math, you can figure out why! Lot’s of the May couples would need to get married in June. Isn’t funny, that we still want to get married in June!

The funniest thing about this story, is that older, married couples got to get into the action too. I have no idea if this is true story or not, but I have heard that the May Day celebration was one time when married couples could put aside their marriage and monogamy vows for a day and get a “get out of jail free” card. They could kick over the traces and have a day where they hooked up with someone other then their spouse for a “what the heck, let’s scratch that itch” May Day Bonanza. And it was fine.

Like I said, I don’t know if that is true, but it tickles my fancy to think so. I wonder if that made marriage more do-able, or was just an ode to human nature.  Overall, I just think it is very cool that those wacky pagans where hip about sex and it was no big deal.

Ok, that completes my sex tangent- now back to Groundhog Day!

Groundhog Day-Imbolc

Such an awe inspiring name for a holiday, don’t you think?  If you have never seen the movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray, run right out and get it. Funny and poignant look at how to really live and that, ironically is what Imbolc is all about.

In Europe, where Winter is reasonable, spring is already coming. I was amazed that for the years I lived in Germany, winter really was November, December and January. Brrrr. But by February 1st, the crocuses were out and the snow was melting.  By March 1st, spring is in full swing and all that makes me wonder why the heck we migrated over the pond anyways. Stupid New England winters!  Bah. Hum. Bug.

Imbolc means “Sheep’s milk” and that is important because the sheep and goats have their babies now and that is a good thing. Life is coming back into the world and the harshness of winter is leaving. The birth of the lambs is also good news since sheep and goats milk was very nice to have as a food source after a long, cold and hungry winter.

It is essentially a time of birth and fertility and it’s a celebration where water plays a huge role. Brigit (Or Bride, or Breed, as she is called) is the patron Goddess of Imbolc and she is the Goddess of wells, springs and water. She is a child or maiden Goddess. At Yule, the last holiday, the Goddess was in the form of the Crone, the old wise woman. She goes through a deep transformation in the dead of winter and is reborn as the child/maiden Bride.

I had a big realization this year about this process. I always feel depressed and angsty in the weeks from Yule (Christmas and winter solstice)  to Imbolc. Maybe it’s because I hate winter. Maybe I need more sun and vitamin D,  maybe I was cranky cuz I didn’t get a vacation this year. But I think it’s really because  that change from Crone to Maiden must be like a kind of death. The Goddess changes, in a death-like transformation between Yule and Imbolc and I feel that too.

When she is reborn as Bride, the child, it is through water. I am so aware of the snow melting, water running the snow, and mud forming. Under the snow, things are moving, melting. Soon the tree sap will begin to run up the trees again and the tree farmers will be sugaring.

All of this is important to know because when we understand the currents of power that flow through the year, we can surf and ride the energy that is naturally present. Trying to plant new seeds in the fall is hard, that is the energy of harvest.  I  like to know what currents of power are  flowing naturally through the world so I can hook up that that energy and not try and paddle upstream. Also it helps me not take it so personally. If I am in hibernation mode, it because that is the energy that is “up” right now.  It’s a huge relief to feel how those currents of energy flow through me and not fight them, but embrace them and ride with them.

This is MANIFESTING time. They say that if you do a manifesting ritual now, near Imbolc, the seeds you plant will be ready to harvest at midsummer. So think about what you want to create in your life six months from now. Where do you want to be? What do you want to be doing this summer?   The water of Bride is the amniotic fluid of birth, as it is in water that all things are born. What would you like to birth?  What has winter’s hibernation and gestation created in you?

Some Imbolc Activities

-    Throw a penny in a well or  fountain to honor Bride and make a wish. (That’s where that tradition came from!)

-    Place lavender or white candles around the house in honor of this time.

-    Clean your windows for clarity, both spiritually and physically.

-    Get in some water. Take a ritual bath, go swimming, or maybe run naked through the snow. (hehe….)

-    Have a Spring Clean! Clean out your room or your house. Throw out all the junk and stuff that you don’t need anymore.

-    Do a manifesting ritual (see below)

A Simple but Powerful Candle Spell

You need:  A white taper candle and a piece of paper

1. Make your “shopping” list.  Write down what it is you wish to manifest. This works with anything, a new job, house, car,  relationship, money, health.  Make it as detailed as possible. Write everything in the positive.  (Don’t write “stress free.”  Say is positive, like “relaxing.”)  Be as detailed as possible. Give yourself a couple of days in case you want to add anything.  Include a time frame (within six months, for example).

Try to use words that describe the qualities of what you want to attract and not a specific thing you think will give you that feeling.  “I want a relationship where there is a mutual attraction.”  Not “He has to look like Johnny Depp.” Or you might cut out all the guys who might rock your world but aren’t Johnny.

If you aren’t good with words you can make a collage from pictures instead. Or you can do both!

Add your disclaimer “With harm to none.” Or “for the good of all.”

WARNING- Be careful what you wish for!  This stuff really works.  But it might not work if you try to manipulate someone else’s free will.  That is called Black Magick….  So if you really try to get the actual Johnny Depp, you are in dark territory.  Black Magick is very hard on your karma so I strongly urge you to make sure you are not interfering in someone’s else’s journey. (“I want THAT person’s job …” “Or I want THAT person in particular.”- Big no-no….)

2. Mark your candle into seven sections with a knife. (Make six marks) Don’t cut all the way through the candle, just notch it.

3. Place the candle and list on your altar (or somewhere you can be undisturbed and let the candle burn for a while).

4. Light the candle and think about what you desire. Read your list out loud. Really FEEL how much you want it.  Feel your desire or your need. Imagine how happy you will be when you have this.  Imagine you are telling all  your friends how happy you are now that you have this. Let the feelings build up as strong as you can for as long as you can. Let the candle burn down to the first notch, then blow it out. Fold up the list and put it under the candle holder.

5. Do this every night for seven nights.  And then let it go.

6. Release your expectation of how this will come to you. Don’t get stuck on the form this will take since Spirit as broader vision than you do and will often choose better then we do, if we can let go of what we THINK it ought to be like.

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