The Wheel of the Year: A Path of Spiritual Awakening


Published:

The women's spirituality movement has reclaimed an ancient Earth-based spirituality that was eradicated from the more traditional religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This Earth-based spirituality not only shows us how the physical life of our planet evolves but it also outlines a path of psychological and spiritual growth that unites us with the life of our Mother Earth. In this time of tremendous Earth changes, working with these energies of life and death can help us create a new paradigm for living in unity with Earth. 

Gaia-centered spirituality revolves around our life here on Earth rather than an afterlife paradise. It acknowledges and builds on the cyclical processes of life created by the Earth, Sun and Moon. Women have always been connected through our menses to the lunar cycle, and consciously reconnecting to the lunar cycles by celebrating the new and full moons takes us deeper into our own feminine process. The larger cycle of the year is celebrated through the eight-fold path of the Wheel of the Year, which encompasses the interweaving of masculine and feminine energies. 

While our modern religions look to a god of rules that decides if we are worthy of everlasting life, Earth spirituality puts each of us in the center of our own salvation — our own evolution in consciousness. While all spiritual disciplines connect us to a larger sense of self, the Wheel of the Year connects us not only to that greater self, but also invites us to find our own rules of life within the larger context of the cosmic laws of life. The only rule is: And it harm none, do as thou wilt. This puts the responsibility squarely on our own shoulders to create and sustain a conscious way of living.  

Cycles of the Cosmic Year

Winter, spring, summer, autumn — the cycle and circle of nature's year. In an age where most of us have lost touch with the life and rhythms of our Mother Earth, the cycle of the year is a sure way back into the center of life. As we reclaim the lost heritage of our natural life rhythms through the gateways of the Wheel of the Year, we come to understand and accept the cycle of conception, gestation, birth, flowering, fulfillment, harvest, decline, and finally death, which returns to a new birth once more. When we reclaim our connection to Mother Earth in this way, we get back in touch with the essential things in life.

We name these gateways according to our experience of the absence or presence of the light of the Sun. As we become more conscious of our connection to Earth, we learn to accept both the light within us as well as our inner darkness, since our inner states are so often reflected in our outer lives. Darkness is not inherently evil, as we’ve been taught by religions that divide the divine light from the divine darkness. Darkness also symbolizes the unknown or the potential of life. Our ancestors knew this and celebrated the seasons to forge a strong bond with all the cosmic laws of life.

This cycle of the Wheel of the Year contains the archetypal bones of the processes of life. When we participate in this larger Earth story, we can utilize the cosmic energy available at each season to deepen our awareness of life. This cycle allows for times to plant and times to sow, times to play and times to rest. It can take us out of our culture's insistence on an endless summer of blossoming and progress, with no rest or rejuvenation in sight. By honoring these seasonal gateways we can consciously integrate their energies, learning to age gracefully as we are renewed and supported by Earth and the cosmos.

Winter Solstice

While Pagans celebrate their New Year on October 31st, I begin the new cycle on Winter Solstice, December 20-22 (speaking from the perspective of the Northern Hemisphere; in the South, seasons are reversed). At Winter Solstice we celebrate the rebirth of the light in the time of greatest darkness. We experience the shortest time of daylight and the longest night, and feeling the weight of the darkness, long for the return of longer, lighter days. This is when we welcome the divine child of light once again into the world. 

A time to go within, we give birth to the light within our inner darkness during this season. Our soul calls to us and we discover that something new wants to get born this coming year, although we haven't a clue what it is yet. This is the time when a new seed is planted, but we have to wait to see if it takes.

Imbolc (Candlemas)

Six weeks later we celebrate the second gateway, the Celtic festival of Imbolc, Candlemas, or St. Brigid's Day. It is the festival of quickening, the time when seeds split open, the light grows stronger and creativity stirs in our depths. Celebrated on February 2nd, Ground Hog’s Day, we look to predict the return of spring through the strength of the returning sunlight. And we look within for visions of that new life and new creativity for the coming year.

Spring Equinox

The third gateway is Ostara, the Spring Equinox (March 20-22), when life bursts out from the seemingly barren earth, and the chains of darkness and winter are broken for another year. There is a balance of light and darkness, and we breathe in the knowledge that the light is growing and the days are getting longer and warmer. At Spring Equinox, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ as well as the Jewish holiday of Passover. The symbolism of death and resurrection is played out at this balance of light and dark, life and death. Now we begin to assert our creativity more dynamically and bring our creative talents to bear on new projects.

At this time, the fertility of the Easter bunny, named for the great fertility goddess of northern Europe, Oester, captures our imaginations. There is a story about Oester that exemplifies this balance of feminine being and masculine doing. A bird came to her one day, and told her that she had fallen in love with a land animal, a rabbit, and wanted to be changed into a rabbit to be with her beloved. So Oester blessed her and changed the bird into a rabbit, and in gratitude, the rabbit laid eggs for the goddess for the rest of her life.

The ancients knew that the great goddess of life grants our wishes for life and love and happiness in spring, and that the correct response is to offer our respect back to her through our actions. At Spring Equinox, we move out of our winter hibernation into action.

Beltane

On May 1st we celebrate the fourth gateway, the Feast of Beltane, when “sweet desire weds wild delight” (Starhawk) as the colors return to nature and flowery perfumes intoxicate our senses. This is when we experience, each time as if for the first time, how awesome is Earth’s beauty, seeing and feeling the gift of life that we have been blessed with. It is a time to know joy and hope and desire and passion, for these are the gifts of life that we remember as the round of the year circles on. Beltane marks a time when we celebrate the gift of life's possibilities. We have come from birth into youth and flowering. On Beltane, we dance around the maypole, joining the masculine and feminine energies to create the passion that sparks new inventions, new creativity and new life in partnership with each other.

Summer Solstice

Now the Wheel of the Year turns to its second half and the cycle of maturity and fulfillment open up, followed by the slow decay and death of autumn and winter.  The fifth gateway is Litha, Summer Solstice (June 20-22), the time of the longest day and the shortest night, the marriage feast of Heaven and Earth when we feel the fullest potentials of life. At this time, the four planes of life — the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual — are aligned to promote greater spiritual awareness and growth. This is a time of spiritual opening when we can blend the feminine and masculine energies within, as well as without. Nature is open to us, assisting in this new integration.

This is the time when we know what our purpose is and are fully engaged in it. The sun bathes us in light and life. This is the moment when we celebrate the power of light, for the sun is at its most powerful and Earth is most fertile. This light brings new consciousness, new illumination, new beauty and vision as we consummate our life. But in the very moment of this longest day of light we know that the cycle is turning, and imperceptibly the darkness begins to grow and the light lessen.

Lughnasadh (Lammas)

The sixth gateway is August 1st, the festival of Lammas, or Lughnasadh, which marks the beginning of the end of summer and the coming of autumn. Now we begin to notice that the days are shorter, giving way to cooler days and longer nights. This festival highlights the fading power of the sun as well as celebrates the first fruits of the year’s harvest. It is the time of year when the abundance of the harvest is apparent and we begin to see the first fulfillment of our creativity and hard work. It is a time to give thanks for our lives and the good things in it. This is the time to dedicate the first fruits of the harvest to Mother Earth, an offering that reminds us that all things come from this divine source.  

Fall Equinox

The seventh gateway is Mabon, the Fall Equinox (September 20-22), when once again we hang in the balance between the energies of the light and the darkness, but a very different balance than we experience in spring, for we are moving out of the light and into the darkness. As we accept the decline of the light, we also accept the gifts of the harvest. These gifts often entail healing, balance and greater strength of body, soul and spirit. 

This harvest is not only of the foods that sustain our bodies, but the harvest of another creative year of our lives. Hopefully, we have grown and matured through the year and have something new in our lives to show for it. This time of harvest is a time of celebration, but also of purification and preparation. We have to look at our values and determine which ones center us in our lives, considering how our harvest went and what new goals we might want to pursue in the coming year. 

We are preparing for the death of the year, for without death there can be no new life. This time of year teaches us how to let go of what no longer serves our life. Now life demands that we recognize that we are growing older and that we must learn how to accept the inevitable death of our youth, of our middle age and ultimately of our lives.

Samhain

This death is celebrated at the eighth gateway on Samhain, our Halloween night, on October 31-November 1. It is not a time of evil forces, but rather the night when the veils between the worlds are thin and the spirits of the dead may once more walk among the living, so that we remember and honor what has gone before us.

This night celebrates the opening of the gate between life and death. In accepting the fact of death, we allow ourselves to open to the birth that will come once again on Winter Solstice. This is the time to let go of our fears, our failures and our unfulfilled goals so that they can go back into the darkness for rebirth at Winter Solstice. As we experience the withdrawal of life force into the depths of Earth for renewal, we learn that we too can let go of those parts of ourselves which no longer serve us, because as Earth’s children, we are assured of new life to come.

So the Wheel of Life continues its round. In celebrating these sacred times, women and men are once again acknowledging the ancient wisdom which Earth offers to her children: first, that human beings live in cyclical time, as well as linear time; second, that our human lives are regulated by the cycles of birth, growth, decay and death that Earth herself is subject to; and third, that we have an opportunity at these times to direct and influence how we use and store this energy of life for our spiritual growth.

The Wheel of the Year creates the big story that bonds us with Mother Earth, our solar system and with each other. We all live on one planet and are all subject to her laws. As the light waxes and wanes throughout the year, inner and outer become one, and life's dramas manifest through us. We each create our own story.  

Psychologist, astrologer, author, ritualist, coach and teacher Cathy Pagano has worked with the gifts of the imagination for over 30 years. Cathy is an initiated priestess of the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, and she creates rituals and classes throughout the year based on the Wheel of the Year. Visit www.wisdom-of-astrology.com.

See also:
Embracing Life Change
We're All Just Walking Each Other Home

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

February 21, 2020

An early morning trine between Mars and Uranus arouses enterprising spirits. Some may find themselves on the path to personal liberation. Others assume the role of social reformer or adventurer. Scientific and technological advancements help bridge the…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

February 2020

Come shine with us! Join us in harmony and in our goal to bring the light of Spiritualism forward to all those who are searching.

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rt 3A
Billerica, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiritualist Fellowship Church Of New England
Website »

More information

January 19th, February 16th, March 8th by appointment only. Kinetic Chain Release (KCR) to balance body, resolve leg length discrepancies, reduce back, shoulder, knee, hip pain and reduce stress...

Cost: $65 to $145

Where:
Leapin' Lizards
449 Forest Ave
Portland, ME  04101
View map »


Sponsor: Leapin' Lizards
Telephone: 207-221-2363
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

With Anna DeWitte Mondays—starts 1/27 Our next new class! Join Anna (one of our recent grads) for her mild heat class! The temperature will hover around 80 degrees which helps to loosen...

Cost: $17

Where:
State of Grace Yoga & Wellness Center
104 East Hartford Ave.
Uxbridge, MA  01569
View map »


Sponsor: State of Grace Yoga and Wellness Center
Telephone: 508-278-2818
Website »

More information

Discover Beauty. Discover Goodness. Discover Yourself. Your soul’s gifts are waiting. Breathe. Find stillness. The spark you need to ignite your life is here, within. Max Meditation...

Cost: $15

Where:
Modern Mystery School Boston
132 Charles St
3rd Floor
Auburndale, MA  02466
View map »


Sponsor: Modern Mystery School Boston
Telephone: 617-694-0994
Contact Name: Jordan Bain
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Automatic & Channel Writing — Class 1 of 3 Discussion of channel writing and then spending the rest of the class practicing writing. Getting comfortable writing either with paper and...

Cost: At door $20; online reg. $15

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers — Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd, Unit A
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In celebration of Pediatric Dentistry Month and recognizing children’s oral health as a foundation for life-long health, join us for a free, fun and informational evening about how holistic...

Cost: Free

Where:
The BioMed Center New England
111 Chestnut Street
Ste 1
Providence, RI  02903
View map »


Sponsor: The BioMed Center New England
Telephone: 833-8BIOMED
Contact Name: Admin Desk
Website »

More information

Free Workshop: What happens to the marital home in divorce? Join us for this timely seminar led by Attorney Beth Aarons, Realtor Sky Minckler, and Mortgage Consultant Craig Tashjian as they...

Cost: Free

Where:
Skylark Law & Mediation, PC
9 Main Street
Southborough, MA  01772
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Are you considering, going through or recovering from divorce? Join us at our FREE Daytime Divorce Boot Camp, and we’ll help you get into shape! In response to requests from people who...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation
180 Wells Avenue
Suite 300
Newton, MA  02459
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

"Master your breath, let the self be in bliss, contemplate on the sublime within you.” —Krishnamacharya Join us for an evening of deep exploration and transformation using the...

Cost: $40

Where:
Friends Meeting House
5 Longfellow Park
Cambridge, MA  02138
View map »


Sponsor: Allen Howell, M.Ed. LMHC
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

February 22nd & 23rd Deepen your knowledge and practice of Reiki. Facilitated by Lou Orsan, Reiki Shihan (Master-Teacher) This two-day Level II Training enhances...

Cost: $250

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

Get a personal teaching for Brother Granite's new Visionary Shamanism Tarot. This class includes the new Visionary Shamanism Tarot deck as well a 90 minute one on one class with Brother Granite...

Cost: $80

Where:
407 Deans Plaza
407 Rte 44
The Enchanted Forest Taunton
Raynham, MA  02767
View map »


Sponsor: Brother Granite
Telephone: 774-208-6195
Contact Name: Granite
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags