Category Celebrating the SUN

Celebrating the SUN

In the days beyond remembering, and certainly before the advent of electric lights and artificial time, our ancestors marked the turning of the seasons through their observation of the natural world. They built megalithic structures, like Stonehenge or Chaco Canyon, that marked the solstices and equinoxes. They created artwork like the Great Goddess of Laussel that expressed their understanding of the connection between the lunar round and a woman’s menstrual cycle. Both the solar and the lunar cycles taught them that all of life moves in a circle.

We can imagine that the solar year was first divided by the earliest peoples into two main sections, winter and summer, which resonates with the qualities of dark and light, cold and hot, rest and work. Then it was divided into quarters, or the four seasons so familiar to everyone today. Across from each other on the circle are Winter Solstice (longest night, shortest day) and Summer Solstice (shortest night, longest day).* On the other sides of the circle are the equinoxes, Spring and Fall, when days and nights are of equal length.

Celtic ancestors went a step further, dividing each quarter in two, so that we have an eight-fold Wheel of the Year. The four holy-days (holidays) in between the main four are known as the cross-quarter days. They are: February 1st, Imbolc or Candlemas; May 1st, Beltane or May Day; August 1st, Lughnasa or Lammas; and November 1st, Samhain or Halloween.

Wheel of the Year Mandala by Cari Ferraro

Each of the eight holy-days ushers in a new “tide,” which marks changes in the natural world. Each holy-day and tide has certain myths, traditions and ceremonies associated with it.

The holy-days are:

Winter Solstice

We celebrate the Return of the Sun on the shortest day, longest night of the year.

  • Also called:Yule, Jul, Saturnalia, Christmas, solar/secular New Year
  • dates:around December 20-22
  •  colors: red, green, white
  • tools:mistletoe, evergreen wreath, lights, gifts, holly, Yule log, Yule tree
  • energy:regeneration & renewal
  • goddesses:Great Mother, Isis, Mary, Tonazin, Lucina, Bona Dea
  • gods:Sun Child, Horus, Jesus, Mithras, Santa/Odin, Saturn, Holly King
  • rituals:personal renewal, world peace, honoring family & friends
  • customs: wreaths, lights, gift-giving, singing, feasting, resolutions

Imbolc

We mark the lengthening of days as Winter turns to Spring. Early shoots and blossoms appear, new lambs are born. A time of dedication and initiation.

  • Also called:Candlemas, Oimelc, Brigid’s Day; merged with Lupercalia/Valentines Day
  • dates:February 2, early February
  • colors: white, red
  • tools:candles, seeds, Brigid wheel, milk
  • energy: conception, initiation, inspiration
  • goddesses:Brigid, Maiden
  • gods:Groundhog, other creatures emerging from hibernation; young Sun
  • rituals:creative inspiration, purification, initiation, candle work, house & temple blessings
  • customs: lighting candles, seeking omens of Spring, cleaning house, welcoming Brigid

 

Spring Equinox

Days and nights are of equal length, with the days growing longer. We celebrate fertility and the resurrection of the earth.

  • Also called:Ostara, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter
  • dates: around March 20-22
  • colors:green, yellow
  • tools:eggs, basket, green clothes
  • energy:birthing, sprouting, greening
  • goddesses:Ostara, Kore, Maiden
  • gods:Hare, Green Man
  • rituals:breakthrough, new growth, new projects, seed blessings
  • customs: wearing green, egg games, new clothes, egg baskets

Beltane

  • Also called: May Eve, May Day, Walspurgis Night
  • dates:April 30, early May
  • colors:rainbow spectrum, blue, green, pastels, all colors
  • tools:Maypole & ribbons, flower crowns, fires, bowers, fields
  • energy: youthful play, exhuberance, sensuality, pleasure
  • goddesses:May Queen, Flora
  • gods:May King, Jack in the Green
  • rituals: love, romance, fertility, crop blessings, creativity endeavors
  • customs: dancing Maypole, jumping fire, mating, flower baskets

We celebrate sacred sexuality as Spring turns to Summer, with Maypoles and garlands of flowers and greenery.

Summer Solstice

We celebrate the power and peak of the Sun on the longest day, shortest night of the year.

  • Also called:Midsummer, Litha, St. John’s Day
  • dates:around June 21
  • colors:yellow, gold, rainbow colors
  • tools:bonfires, Sun wheel, Earth circles of stone energy: partnership
  • goddesses:Mother Earth, Mother Nature
  • gods:Father Sun/Sky, Oak King
  • rituals:community, career, relationships, Nature Spirit communion, planetary wellness
  • customs: bonfires, processions, all night vigil, singing, feasting, celebrating with others

Lammas (Lughnasa, Loafmass), August 1-2
We offer the first fruits of the harvest as Summer turns to Autumn. A time of sacrifice.

  • Also called:Lughnassad
  • dates: August 2, early August
  • colors:orange, yellow, brown, green
  • tools:sacred loaf of bread, harvested herbs, bonfires
  • energy:fruitfulness, reaping prosperity
  • goddesses: Demeter, Ceres, Corn Mother
  • gods:Grain God, Lugh, John Barleycorn
  • rituals:prosperity, generosity, continued success
  • customs: offering of first fruits/grains, games, country fairs

Autumn Equinox

Days and nights are of equal length, with the nights growing longer. We gather in the harvest and prepare for winter.

  • Also called:Mabon, Michaelmas
  • dates:around September 20-22
  • colors:orange, red, brown, purple, blue
  • tools:cornucopia, corn, harvested crops
  • energy:appreciation & harvest
  • goddesses:Bona Dea, Land Mother
  • gods:Mabon, Sky Father
  • rituals: thanksgiving, harvest, introspection
  • customs: offerings to land, preparing for cold weather, bringing in harvest

Samhain (Halloween, All Soul’s),

We honor our Beloved Dead as Autumn turns to Winter, at the end of the harvest.

  • Also called:Halloween, All Hallows Eve, All Saints & All Souls, Day of the Dead
  • dates:October 31, early November
  • colors:black, orange, indigo
  • tools:votive candles, magic mirror, cauldron, pumpkins, divination tools
  • energy:death & transformation; Wiccan new year
  • goddesses:Crone, Hecate
  • gods:Horned Hunter, Cernnunos, Anubis
  • rituals:honoring ancestors, releasing old, foreseeing future, understanding death and rebirth
  • customs: jack o’lanterns, spirit plate, ancestor altar, divination, costumes

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