Most Goddesses know that life revolves around the seasons or the eight wheel year.
Traditionally the year is divided into four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. The Celts and other ancient cultures marked the change of the seasons with festivals typically lasting for three days or longer. These times were marked by the sun and moon, but in modern times the dates can vary slightly.
In nature there is always a returning cycle that begins, grows and ends; then returns again. There are no sharp dividing lines between where a season begins and becomes another. However, the year can be divided into four in two different ways, using quarter days and then dividing again into cross quarter days.
The Quarter Days
The quarter days are the solstices — the longest and shortest nights — and the Equinoxes — the days where the length of the day and night is equal. Winter and summer mark the solstices; spring and fall mark the equinoxes.
The Cross Quarter Days
When we include the cross quarter days, this comprises the eight season system. This is the most comprehensive way to celebrate the year cycle. The eight spoked or double solar wheel is an ancient symbol and appears in many cultures. Its meaning as an image represents the ever-cycling year and is consistent across the world. The cross quarter days fall between the solstices and equinoxes.
Depending on which season you are honoring, there are many qualities to contemplate and consider. Normally, the eight wheel year begins at Samhain (Sow-wen), but because we are now in the new year, our next holiday is Imbolc.
The following dates are for the Northern Hemisphere. For those in the Southern Hemisphere the winter solstice would be in June and the summer solstice in December, and so on.
(Note: Some cultures may depict different elements and directions from what is shown here.)
Imbolc — St. Brigid (January 31 – February 2) Also groundhog day
First signs of new life and the start of the farming season
Saint Brigid was the goddess of poets, healers and midwives
New growth and gestation before birth
To find our authentic truth and give birth to our independent spirit
Eostre — Spring Equinox (March 19 – 21)
New growth and plans for the coming year
Direction is south
Element is earth
Sound is the drum
Storytelling, balance between giving and receiving, acknowledgment, gratitude
Paying attention to what has heart and meaning, love
Exploring our potential through planning, research and study
Season of the healer
*Addictions, drama, the need to know, perfectionism
Beltane — May Day (April 30 – May 1)
Fertility and celebration of earthly joys and pleasures. Romance and new coupling.
Fertility and celebration of creativity
Community and sharing with loved ones
Investment in growth
Nurture our ideas and relationships
Sharing our gifts with loved ones and greater community
Litha — Summer Solstice (June 20 – 23)
Abundance & growth. The beginning of harvest and the lazy days of summer. Preparation for the coming harvest rush.
Direction is east
Element is fire
Sound is the bell, singing and chanting
Telling the truth without blame or judgment
Authenticity and our life dream
Intuition, perception, insight and vision
Season of the visionary
*Blind spots, projection, self-abandonment- need for approval, acceptance or keeping the peace, indulging in the false self-system
Lughnasadah — Lammas (July 31 – August 2)
The beginning of harvest and a start of a busy time preparing for any future needs for winter. Generosity and sharing of bounty, crafts and ideas
Festival of harvest and gratitude for abundance
Celebrate with a mature attitude
Cooperative effort and sharing of surplus
Generosity to others in service, enjoy the good life
Accepting responsibility and being accountable
Mabon — Autumn Equinox (September 20 – 23)
End of harvest. Take stock of all that has been accomplished. Reassess and let go of anything no longer needed or useful. Rest, restock and prepare for winter.
Direction is west
Element is water
Sound is sticks and bones
Open to outcome but not attached
Wisdom, clarity and discernment
Silence, trust, comfort with uncertainty
Loss, ancestor spirits and ritual
Release what no longer serves our growth, grieve endings, and reflect
Season of the teacher
*Patterns of judgment and control, confusion, attachments, stubbornness
Samhain — Halloween and Day of the Dead (October 30 – November 1)
Boundaries between worlds are believed to be at their thinnest. Honoring our ancestors and loved ones who have passed on. Dressing up in costume. Carving pumpkins.
Acknowledge our destructive side and nature
Last chance to release anything or anyone that is not honoring our growth
Relinquish any idea of control over others
Honoring of our ancestors and communication between the worlds
Yule — Winter Solstice (December 20 – 23)
Direction is north
Celebration of the return of the light & germinating seeds and ideas to come.
Element is air
Sound is the rattle
Taking a stand, right use of power, showing up
Ego death, express grief and let go of the past and our attachments
Respect of limits and boundaries
Judicious communication, being consistent with words and actions
Responsibility and discipline
Season of the warrior
*Authority issues, patterns of invisibility, stubborn, fixed position
Taking time to reflect on each of these specific seasons and to appreciate their meaning, symbology and the qualities they represent can be a fun and enriching way to plan our life activities and intentions.
We already celebrate some of the seasons such as Easter, Christmas and Halloween, but these eight wheel days are deeply rooted in our history and more than just a holiday day off. Regardless of one’s religious affiliation, these quarter and cross quarter days can enrich one’s spiritual life and bring a new awareness into being.
Staying grounded in our connection to Mother Earth is a benefit and an experience we can all use a little more of. The Goddess would approve of this Gorgeously Healthy way of honoring ourselves and the seasons.
*See The Four-Fold Way by Angeles Arrien
Also Book of Celtic Symbols by Joules Taylor and Goddess Wisdom Made Easy by Tanishka