The wheel of the year marks the eight main equidistant festivals, holy days in Celtic spirituality, folklore and many traditions. Danu Forest takes us through the seasons with growing insight and energetic resonance year on year.
Connection with the wheel of the seasons is key to any earth based spiritual practice, no matter where we live. Feeling related to the earth around us, to natures rhythms and cycles supports our health but also our spiritual awareness by reflecting our own inner rhythms as well as encouraging us to see beyond our own lives into something greater. There are endless ways to become more aware of the beauty of nature from taking in a wide expansive view or sitting beneath an ancient oak tree, to noticing the dandelions breaking through the pavement, each encounter inviting us to pause, and breathe and become present to the other forms of life around us.
Across the British Isles this connection to nature and its symbiotic relationship with our own inner lives is exemplified in the agricultural patterns of reaping and sowing, as well as in the numerous seasonal festivals and sacred days that have bound our communities together for thousands of years. Although there are a great many holy days on the traditional British year, eight main equidistant festivals now known as ‘the wheel of the year’ form an holistic system that takes us through the seasons with growing insight and energetic resonance year on year. During the long dark evenings of December and January winter gives us a chance to reflect on our lives and re-envision them, as our psyches long to dream and sleep finding stillness like the trees and hibernating animals.
Marking the winter solstice sees us pay conscious attention to the return of the sun after natures darkest, longest night. Honouring the first green shoots breaking through the snow at Imbolc in early February, to the sensual revels of May Day or Beltane, and the fiery exuberance of the Summer Solstice we can see reflected our own times of growing confidence building to frenetic action as we bring our plans and winter dreams into manifestation. Late summer harvests and autumn winds cool our fervour and invite us to hearken to the call within once more, filling our hearts with gratitude as we recognise our many blessings. Samhain or Halloween invites us to honour all that has passed, and take stock of what we have achieved and felt through this time, acknowledging our grief at what will not come again, and leaving us emotionally clear and calmed, reaching that still point within once more, as winter returns and leads us on to another cycle.
Our ancestors honoured these sacred times in a myriad of ways, some recorded in archaeology and history, much more recorded in our folk traditions and old tales, but each strand of our ancient lore can be woven together as a continuous whole, each giving clues to the themes and currents of the season. Some of these ancient celebrations have continued to this day, evolving in form over the centuries, such as our modern May Day celebrations, still known in some places as Beltane, or Samhain now known as All Hallows Eve or Halloween, which honours the spirit realm, but each of the seasons and sacred days that mark them are host to a great treasury of knowledge, customs, charms, spells and ceremonies each encouraging us to reflect on our own spiritual seasons and grow in wisdom as well as develop a closer bond with nature and the world around us.
By walking in harmony with nature, and seeing the very earth as sacred, we live a life of ever wilder, ever richer spiritual resource, and make our lives a pilgrimage towards ever closer reunion with the spirit of life itself. We learn to see the magic in the every day- in the voice of the wind, in the patter of rain on fresh green leaves and the sway of golden fields at harvest. We find rest and restoration in a winter woodland, and regeneration with the rising sun. We live the Magical Year, and are invited to return and deepen our ecstatic connection with every turn of natures sacred wheel.
The Magical Year
£9.99, available from Watkins Publishing
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