The Wheel of the Year
From "The Witches of Oz", by Julia Phillips and Matthew Sandow,
New South Wales.
The Wheel of the year is of great significance to Wiccans, and
is one of the principle keys to understanding the religion. As we
said earlier, Wicca sees a profound relationship between humanity
and the environment. For a Wiccan, all of nature is a manifesta-
tion of the divine and so we celebrate the turning seasons as the
changing faces of our Gods.
The Wheel of the Year is a continuing cycle of life, death and
rebirth. Thus the Wheel reflects both the natural passage of life
in the world around us, as well as revealing our own connection
with the greater world. To a Wiccan, all of creation is divine,
and by realizing how we are connected to the turning if the seasons
and to the natural world, we come to a deeper understanding to the
ways in which we are connected to the God and Goddess. o when we
celebrate our seasonal rites, we draw the symbolism that we use
from the natural world and from our own lives, thus attempting to
unite the essential identity that underlies all things.
Undoubtedly the significance of the Festivals has changed over
the centuries, and it is very difficult for us today to imagine the
joy and relief that must have accompanied the successful grain
harvest. What with factory-farming, fast freezing and world wide
distribution, our lives no longer depend upon such things and as a
consequence, our respect for the land has diminished in proportion
to our personal contact with it.
Wiccans believe that we can re-affirm this contact by our
observance of the passage of the seasons, in which we see reflected
our own lives, and the lives of our gods. Whether we choose to
contact those forces through silent and solitary meditation, or
experience the time of year in a wild place, or gather with friends
in a suburban living room, we are all performing our own ritual to
the Old Ones, reaching out once more towards the hidden forces
which surround us all.
What is of the utmost importance with the Wheel of the Year is
that we understand what we hope to achieve through our festival
celebrations, and avoid the trap of going through empty motions,
repeating words from a book which may sound dramatic, but have no
relevance in our everyday lives. That simply leads to the creation
of a dogma, and not a living breathing religion. It is not enough
to stand in a circle on a specific day, and "invoke' forces of
nature, those forces are currents which flow continuously through-
out our lives, not just eight times a year, and if we choose not to
acknowledge them in our everyday lives, there is no point in
calling upon them for one day.
By following the Wiccan religion you are affirming your belief
in the sanctity of the Earth, and acknowledging that you depend
upon the Earth for your very life. Although modern lifestyles do
not encourage awareness of our personal relationship with the
turning seasons, or the patterns of life, growth, death and decay,
that does not mean that they no longer exist. The ebb and flow
of the Earth's energies may be hidden beneath a physical shell of
tarmac and concrete, and a psychic one of human indifference, but
they are nevertheless there for those who wish to acknowledge them
We do this by observing the changes of the seasons, and
feeling the changes reflected in our innermost selves, and in our
everyday lives. In our rituals we focus upon different aspects of
the God and Goddess, and participate in the celebration of their
mysteries; thus we re-affirm our connections on the most profound
The Wiccan Wheel has two great inspirations; it is both a
wheel of celebration, and a wheel of initiation. As a wheel of
initiation it hopes to guide those who tread its pathway towards an
understanding of the mysteries of life and the universe, expressed
through the teachings of the Old Ones made manifest in the turning
of the seasons. For a Wiccan, the gods and nature are one. In
exploring the mysteries of the seasons we are seeking to penetrate
more deeply the mysteries of the God and Goddess.
As a wheel of celebration, Wiccans accord to the words of the
Charge of the Goddess, where She says, "Let my worship be within
the heart that rejoiceth, for behold, all acts of Love and Pleasure
are my rituals"; and that, "Ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music
and love, all in my praise". Anyone can celebrate the turning of
the seasons, in their own way, and in their own time. Wiccan
covens will commonly gather together, and make the Festivals times
of joyful merrymaking, but you can just as easily make the
celebration a solitary one, or with just one or two friends. The
principles do not alter; just the way in which you acknowledge
Wiccans generally celebrate eight Festivals, roughly six weeks
apart, which are pivotal points in the solar (seasonal) cycle.
Four of the Festivals are called the Lesser Sabbats: these are the
Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, and the Winter and Summer Solstices.
The other four Festivals are called the Greater Sabbats, and relate
to particular seasons when in bygone days, certain activities would
have been undertaken, usually followed by a party of some kind.
There are variations upon the names by which these Greater Sabbats
are known, but the simple ones are Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas and
Samhain. Candlemas is also known as Imbolg, Oimelc, or Brigid;
Lammas is sometimes called Lughnassadh.
It is important to understand that the Festivals are celebrat-
ing a time of year: a season, not a date. Most books written about
Wicca have been written by an author living and working in the
northern hemisphere, who may quite rightly say that "Beltane is
celebrated on May Eve." Northern hemisphere readers will automati-
cally interpret this as, "Beltane is at the end of spring, just
before summer gets underway." IN the Wiccan Book of Shadows, the
poem by Kipling is used at this Festival which says, "O do not tell
the Priests of our art, for they would call it sin; but we've been
out in the woods all night, a'conjurin' summer in.... ."
Of course, "May eve" in the southern hemisphere is autumn
heading into winter, entirely the wrong time of year to celebrate
the portent of summer. In much the same way, Christmas and Easter
are celebrated at the wrong time of year here. In the Christian
calendar, Christmas coincides with the Winter Solstice - and the
growing popularity of the June Yule Fest in the Blue Mountains in
NSW each year suggests an awareness of this, even if it is, in this
case, expressed in a commercial sense. The date of Easter changes
each year, because it is the first Sunday after the first Full Moon
after the Spring Equinox, (And they try to tell us that Easter
wasn't originally a Pagan Festival!) So in the southern hemi-
sphere, according to the rules by which the date of Easter is
determined, it should fall sometime in late September or early
October each year. However, Christianity is not a religion which
sees a particular connection between humanity and the environment,
and therefore has no problem in celebrating Easter in autumn, and
Christmas at the Summer Solstice. Wicca is different, and it IS
important to us to attune ourselves to the passage of the seasons,
hence we follow the natural cycle wherever we live. In the
southern hemisphere this means celebrating Beltane at the start of
summer, i.e., the beginning of November, not the beginning of May.
The Wiccan year starts and ends with Samhain, which is also
known as Hallowe'en, or All Saints Eve. It is the celebration
which falls just before the dark nights of winter take hold. The
Winter Solstice comes next, where Wiccans celebrate the rebirth of
the Sun; at Candlemas about six weeks later, we celebrate the first
signs of the growing light (longer days,) and of spring beginning
to show itself. The Spring Equinox (around 21 September - it
varies from year to year) is the time when day and night are equal
in length, and the Sun is on its increase. Next is Beltane, the
Festival where Wiccans celebrate the union of the young man and
woman, and everyone dances around a tree, crowned with a garland of
flowers, and decked with red and white ribbons.
About six weeks after Beltane we come to the Summer Solstice,
when the Sun reaches its greatest height. It is the longest
day/shortest night, and in the southern hemisphere, falls around 21
December. Then the Sun begins its way back down towards winter,
but we are still in summer. Six weeks after the Solstice is
Lammas, when in agricultural societies, the harvest is reaped, and
we receive the benefits from our hard work. The Sun at Lammas
still has great strength, for it is the ripening time, rather than
the growing time which ceases around the Summer Solstice. The
Autumn Equinox follows this, usually around 21 March (again, it
varies from year to year), which is often celebrated as a Harvest
Festival. The next Festival, some six weeks after the Equinox, is
Samhain, which is the time just before the winter really sets in,
and when food is stored, and we remember those who have passed
away. In many countries this is the time when the Lord of the Wild
Hunt rides, which is mirrored in the way that the winds are often
wild at this time of year, and the clouds ragged and wind-torn.
In parts of Australia you will find that some of these
seasonal aspects are a little different, but generally speaking,
you should be able to feel the change from winter to spring; spring
to summer; summer to autumn and then autumn to winter. The
specifics will change, but the general trend is very similar - one
season leading to another. You have only to become aware of the
natural changes in your own environment to realize that the
concepts of the Wheel of the Year are valid wherever you may be.
As a Wheel of initiation, the Wheel of the Year is the path
which leads us through the experiences of our gods towards that
point which Jungian psychologists call individuation, and which
Wiccans call knowledge of the Old Ones. As with all mystical
experiences, these mysteries are not communicated in an academic or
intellectual manner; they are direct experiences which each
individual shares with the Old Gods. Different traditions have
developed different ways of travelling the Wheel, but all ways have
a common purpose, and all are equally valid, provided the basic
principles are sound.
We gave a very brief description of the cycle of the Wheel of
the Year above. Now we can have a look at this in more detail,
using for our framework a mythology which is used by our own Coven.
It is based upon the Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions in which
we were initiated, but has evolved over several years, and has been
greatly modified to reflect our own understanding of the turning
wheel of the seasons. We should say at this point that we use the
terms "King" and "Queen" to refer to the principle characters in
the mythology. It is important to understand that we are not
referring to a modern monarchy, but to the ancient pagan principles
those titles infer. The King is the priest/king of the forest:
his tale is told in many forms in many lands. He is the essential
male that lies within all men, and is the animus (in it Jungian
sense) of all women. The Queen is Sovereignty: she is the
mysterious soul of nature; the essential woman that lies within all
women, and is the anima of all men.
So to begin our journey: how do we set out to explore the
mysteries of existence? Well, the journey begins with a question -
we have first to be aware that there is a mystery to explore! And
that most basic of questions is: "where did life come from? how
did it all begin?" For a Wiccan there is an underlying spiritual
intuition that the answer to that question is quite simply that the
universe was created by deity. So we celebrate the beginning of
the Wheel of the Year as a being the creation of all life by the
God and the Goddess; we begin with a creation myth.
The Wheel of the Year starts with Samhain; at this time we
celebrate the Great Rite - the joyful union of the God and Goddess
in the Otherworld. This touches the very depths of the mystery.
We celebrate at this time the conception that will lead to the
birth of all creation.
Wiccans celebrate all life as a manifestation of the mystery
of the gods, but do not pretend to understand how such life came
into being. Nor do we claim to fully understand our gods; to the
Wicca they are a mystery, and when describing our vision of deity
we use symbols to express as best we can the vision we have seen.
We do not know how the universe was created and this remains
essentially mysterious. However, by choosing to take the path of
initiation - that is, by following the Wheel of the Year - we can
learn to commune more deeply with the gods, and experience visions
which can reveal a little of the mystery.
The vision that we have of Samhain is of the creation. In the
Wicca the inexpressible mystery of the deity is symbolized in the
form of the God and Goddess. Thus at Samhain we celebrate their
love as the root of all creation. Samhain is the time of creation:
the moment when life is conceived in the womb of the Great Mother.
As we proceed to the next of the festivals - Yule - it should
not be surprising to find that following the moment of conception
we should seek to understand the moment of birth. The conception,
the moment of creation deep within the mystery, took place at
Samhain. The seed planted at this time gestates in the womb of the
Goddess until the child of the gods - in essence, the whole of
creation - emerges from the womb of the Great Mother. This is
celebrated at Yule, which is symbolized by the birth of the Sun.
In pre-Christian times, this time was called "Giuli," and followed
"Modra Necht" - the Night of the Mothers.
Yule is celebrated at the time of the Midwinter Solstice.
This is the time of the longest night, and of the shortest day.
The Sun is seen to be symbolically born anew, as the Great Mother
gives birth at the time of the darkest night. The Sun is a vitally
important symbol to us, for it has been long known that all life on
Earth is dependant upon the Sun. The Wheel of the Year itself is
based upon the solar cycle, and the Sun is seen as symbolic of the
life force which we worship as the God and the Goddess. The Sun is
the dominant force in all our lives. Without its light and heat,
life as we understand it is impossible. The passage of the Sun
through the heavens regulates the passage of the seasons we
experience upon the Earth, and is therefore the foundation of the
Wiccan Wheel of the Year.
At the Midwinter Solstice we celebrate the rebirth of the Sun.
Many Wiccan covens follow the old pagan tradition of enacting this
as the Goddess giving birth to the Child of Promise. It was at the
Midwinter Solstice in the northern hemisphere that the birth of
Mithras was celebrated. For the same reason it was decided in 273
A.D. to appoint this date to celebrate the birth of Christ; the
"son" of God.
In the world of nature, Yule signifies the moment of the
rebirth of the Sun. In our own lives we can take it to represent
the moment of physical birth. Thus in our ritual cycle, we enact
the rebirth of the Sun by the lighting of candles, and especially
the lighting of a flame within the cauldron to represent the
emergence of new life from the darkness of the womb of the Goddess.
We ritually invoke the Great Mother and All-Father, and we
symbolically enact the Goddess giving birth to the new year. In
human terms the child represents all the potential for life, as yet
unaware that all the mysteries of the universe lies hidden deep
within. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the child is born
in innocence, created in the image of the gods.
We have taken the second step upon our journey. From now on
the days continue to lengthen as the Sun climbs toward its height
at the Summer Solstice. In response to the greater heat of the
Sun, the land begins to awaken as we start the journey from winter
towards spring. The next festival is Candlemas. As we might guess
from the name (given to it by the Christians), it is a festival of
lights which celebrates the growth of the Sun. By Candlemas, the
days are appreciably longer. Our understanding of this festival
has been guided by ancient pagan tradition and our own inspiration.
We see this as a time of purification and most especially a time of
initiation into the female mysteries. At Candlemas we observe in
nature the awakening potential for the fullness of summer. In
human terms we represent this by the first female menstruation.
This is the virgin aspect of the Goddess, marking the awakening of
her potential to become the mother.
We celebrate this ritual by arming the young virgin with the
powers of the elements. We celebrate her initiation into the
mysteries of her sex. To reflect this essential female mystery, we
enact the young girl being instructed by her mother and grandmother
into the mysteries of being a woman. Thus we reveal that the
mystery of the virgin is also found within the mother crone as
It is at Candlemas in many parts of Britain that the women of
the house dress a sheaf of oats in woman's clothing, and lay it in
a basket called "Brighid's bed." They also place a small phallic
club in the bed and then call out three times, "Brighid is come,
Brighid is welcome!", and leave candles burning all night beside
the bed. Behind all this we catch glimpses of deeper mysteries
that can only be grasped by passing beyond a mere intellectual
appreciation of the symbolism.
To continue our journey we now come to the Spring Equinox. It
might seem that celebrating Candlemas as a female mystery is rather
unbalanced in a religion which is based upon polarity of male and
female; but no; for reasons of tradition, and because woman reach
puberty before men, it is not until the Spring Equinox that the
initiatory male rite is enacted. In this we arm the young god with
the knowledge of his own creative power; he is initiated into the
mysteries of sex, just as the young girl was armed with the powers
of her potential. This ritual expresses the mystery that he
contains within his young life; the potential to become a father
and wise old man.
This continues to reflect the turning tide of the seasons. We
are now in the spring. New life is awakening on all sides. The
sap is rising in the trees, and both the young man and young girl
have awakened to the mysteries of their sexuality. The Spring
Equinox is a vital moment in the passage of the solar cycle. Day
and night now stand equal, and from this point onwards the light
will dominate the darkness. The long dark nights of winter have at
last been overthrown.
Between the Spring Equinox and Beltane the young man and woman
pursue one another, each becoming more aware of the other sex.
Thus the man understands that there is more to the mystery of life
than pure masculinity, and the woman sees that there is more to
life than her femininity. Having found this vision, they express
it in their desire to be joined as one.
We arrive now at Beltane. This is the time of the sacred
marriage when the young man and woman are joined together as
husband and wife. With their wish to be married, they have
glimpsed that the mysteries of love may lead to a deeper union
still - in essence, to a union with the gods. By going beyond
their sense of individual self to embrace one another, they have
taken a profound step toward the God and Goddess. They have
discovered that deep within themselves they are both male and
female, and the experience of this brings a new sense of joy and
Beltane is a time of joy and celebration; the dark of winter
is forgotten, and summer is coming. It is a time of fertility and
fire. We dance the ancient mystery of the Maypole, celebrating our
understanding our understanding of the mystery of the love of a man
for a woman. The pole is crowned with a garland of flowers to
symbolize their joining; the ribbons are red and white, reminding
us of blood and sperm. The dance is the sexual fire, as we dance
about the pole winding the ribbons in the pattern of the spiral,
which reveals the mystery of the serpent; that ancient awakener who
slumbers until warmed by the rising Sun.
This is the time of the sacred marriage. It is a moment when
human consciousness has grasped the powers of nature, joined with
those powers and shared in the mystery of life. The land and our
lives are married as one. For those that are able to see it, there
is a vision of the creation of all life by the God and the Goddess.
For the mystery is now revealed for all to see - the woman
conceives of her husband. She is pregnant and will bear a child.
Through their union they discover their deeper selves, which
we symbolize as the King and Queen of the land. The man and woman
now take up their new roles, and rule the kingdom of their new
found lives. At Candlemas and the Spring Equinox a man and a woman
were instructed in the powers of nature. Now at Beltane that
knowledge is transformed into understanding. For in joining
together they have understood that their lives and the land are
The land continues to bring forth life in an ever greater
profusion. The woman who is now the Queen begins to show the first
signs of the Beltane seed planted in her womb by her husband, the
King. She is pregnant; the mirror image of the maturing crops.
Now we come to Midsummer, the height of the solar Wheel. This
is the time of the longest day and shortest night, and a time of
maturity, both in the agricultural cycle and the lives of the man
and woman. They rule now as King and Queen; just as the Sun is at
its height, so too they are at the height of their creative powers.
The woman's mature power is reflected in her approaching mother-
hood. The man's power is reflected in his kingship, and in his
mastery of nature and rule of the kingdom. Together the King and
Queen preside over the kingdom of their lives, celebrating the
vision of creative light.
But the light does not continue to rise. The vision of light
must once more give way to a growing darkness. As things grow, so
too they must wither and die. From Midsummer, the Sun must fall,
until reborn once more at the Winter Solstice. Thus Midsummer is
a celebration of the King and Queen's power, but must also reflect
the returning current of darkness. We symbolize this by the
appearance of a challenger who confronts the couple. Until now the
King and Queen have ruled supreme; they have imposed their will
upon the kingdom without challenge, but now a single dark figure
must appear. This is the beginning of the ancient pagan theme of
the battle between the brothers; the light and dark kings now begin
The challenger seeks to abduct the Queen; the child she bears
represents the kingdom. The King must now defend the land. They
fight, light against dark, but as yet the sun is still supreme, and
the King drives the challenger back. But, the challenger is armed
with the power of fate; we know that the Sun must fall. With a
single stroke the challenger wounds the King, laying open his
thigh; but still the light is the greater power, and the King
defeats the challenger. The light still rules supreme, but a
shadow has fallen over the kingdom.
Thus Midsummer comes to a close. The King and Queen remain at
the height of their power, yet a new force - darkness - is
awakening in the world. As the seasons continue to turn, the gods
begin to reveal a further mystery: not only are they light, they
are also dark as well. Thus the King and Queen have awakened to a
deeper mystery; they have seen that not only are they male and
female, but they are also light and dark as well.
As we look at the natural world, we see that the Sun is now
waning. The days grow shorter, and we sense profound changes in
the world around us. After Midsummer, the next festival we come to
is Lammas. The crops have matured, and in the way of nature, aged
and turned to seed. The days are still longer than the nights; the
light still rules in the land, but the powers of darkness are now
visibly growing. Summer is coming to an end and we are approaching
autumn. To symbolize the theme of the waning light and growing
power of darkness, we celebrate Lammas as a Harvest Festival. In
cutting the corn (wheat), we celebrate the end of the vision of
light. We cut the corn with joy; as we have sown, so now we reap,
but in cutting the corn we signal the end of the cycle of growth.
As we gather in the harvest we watch as the power of the Sun
wanes. The cutting of the corn is an ancient symbol of death and
transformation, and reflects the seasonal changes at work in the
land around us. As we look to the King and Queen, who were married
to the land at Beltane, we see in their lives a reflection of these
themes. Just as the harvest is reaped, so the Queen now births her
The mystery of Lammas is that by fulfilling the vision of
light in bringing to fruition the seed sown in the spring, we must
face the vision of death. For the King bears the wound he received
at Midsummer, it is a wasting wound and will not heal. He slowly
weakens, his creative power spent. He is still King, but his
powers are waning, a reflection of the falling light. But Lammas
is also a time of hope, for in the cutting of the corn the seed is
gathered in, which is the hope for life to come. As the King looks
to his first born son he looks to the heir of the kingdom. We
celebrate Lammas as a time of fulfillment; it is a time of joy,
when we reap all we have sown.
Both King and Queen have been transformed. The King had to
accept the glimpse of the vision of death in his killing of the
challenger and taking of a mortal wound; so now the Queen dies to
herself, for in giving birth she has given the child a part of her
life, passing her power to her son. As the Wheel of the Seasons
turns, it reveals that the gods embrace both life and death. Just
as the man and woman were born, so too they must die. Lammas
brings the vision of mortality, but reveals the hope of the
immortal spirit hidden in the new cut grain, made manifest in the
new born child, who symbolizes the awakening darkness; he is the
power of the waning Sun. He emerges from the womb as the growing
darkness appears in the natural world.
We must now move on. Time will stand still for no-one. The
wheel must turn, and we must turn with it. This is our fate, as
our lives reflect the turning cycle of the seasons. We must now
make our way to the Autumn Equinox, where once again the powers of
light and darkness stand as equals - but now it is the darkness
that is in the ascendant.
It is the nature of human beings to resist the darkness.
Humanity fears death above all things. It is the root of all our
fears; death is the final initiation. Only through an acceptance
and understanding of death can we hope to understand the goods.
Only in accepting death can we truly accept life. Life and death
are two sides of the same coin; we cannot have one without the
By the time we reach the Autumn Equinox, it becomes harder to
describe the mysteries that we celebrate. The mystery that can be
taught or explained is not, after all, a mystery. At the Autumn
Equinox we must face life's greatest mystery: death. This is the
hardest trial of all. In the ancient mystery schools, and in
shamanic practices, the most important of initiations was - and is
- the near death experience.
The child born at Lammas is now a young man. He is the
reflection of the growing powers of darkness. The old King of
Light bears his mortal wound and is now advancing in years, his
powers waning as the days grow shorter, and the Sun falls lower and
lower in the sky. The Queen also is no longer young; the flower of
her youth is past. The King and Queen are aging with the land, for
they and the land are one.
But as is natural in human affairs we none of us want to admit
the darkness. We fight against the coming of the night. So the
King and Queen each in their own way try to hold onto the kingdom
they have been at such pains to build. The King's powers are
waning; his son is in the first flush of youth and vigor, and has
been initiated into the mysteries of his power. The King grows
weak, and must rely upon his son to defend the kingdom. But, the
King now fears his son as a potential challenge to the throne. The
Queen likewise does not want to relinquish her power. She sees
that her husband grows weak and infirm, and is no match for a
challenger. To maintain her position in the kingdom she relies on
the power of her son.
Finally, in the dead of the night, the old pagan tale replays
itself. The battle begun at the Midsummer Solstice between the
light and darkness must now be resumed; the King and his son fight
as the Equinox comes upon us. Sword against spear the battle
rages; the experience of the King against the naked strength of his
son's youth. The Queen watches as they fight, torn by hope and
fear. But as they fight, there is a great mystery at work. Both
the King and Queen now face their fear of death, and as they look
death in the eye there is a moment of understanding. The King, the
Queen, and the land are one. Thus they are both the light and
darkness. In the moment of vision the King looks upon his son, and
at last realizes that he is only fighting himself, for all things
are one. The King and his son understand the mystery, and they
join in love as one. They give up the conflict of light and dark
to pass beyond this world, and they become the Lord of the
Otherworld. The Queen too has seen both life and death, and knows
that they are one. With this realization she becomes the crone,
and understands the ancient mystery. The Equinox marks her last
menstrual cycle; she can no longer bear children.
So now we must take our last step upon the Wheel; we come at
last to Samhain, from where it all began. As we saw at the
beginning this is the Wiccan New Year. The Queen has become the
crone - the hag, the Witch. She lives alone, for the King is now
dead. The Sun is waning toward the Solstice; winter is upon us,
and the night is now longer than the day.
If we look to the land, the cycle of growth has come to an
end. The kingdom of the old year has symbolically passed away,
transformed by the turning of the seasons. The Queen is now a
Witch; the ancient hag crone who knows the mysteries of life and
death. In making her journey she has discovered the ancient power
which lies behind the Wheel of the Year. She has seen the spring,
the summer, autumn and winter, and she knows that an ancient
mystery lies hidden within it all.
Standing alone, for she is feared by those who have yet to
walk the Wheel, she kindles the ancient Samhain fire. As she
raises her arms in invocation to the Lord of the Otherworld, a
great storm gathers. The veil is opened between the worlds. The
storm breaks, and the Wild Hunt is upon us as the spirits of the
dead are led from the Otherworld by the ancient Horned God; the
Ancient Lord of the Samhain fire. To complete the final turn of
the Wheel, the Crone must now join with his mystery, and go with
him back into the Otherworld. She and the Horned Lord travel
together back into the depths of the mystery. There they join in
love as one; the supreme moment of the true Great Rite in which all
the mysteries of the male and female, all the mysteries of the
light and dark are married together as one as the seed is planted
deep within the womb of the Great Mother.
For now in the natural cycle the seeds of nature fall to the
ground, the seed of life to come. The seed harvested at Lammas is
now planted in the earth, fulfilling the mystery of the return.
For a while the land sleeps, and lies fallow. The darkness seems
to complete, but of course we know that we will eventually return
to the Winter Solstice, and the cycle will continue.
Let us now approach the Wiccan Wheel of the Year as it is
meant to be: as a mystery. Forget the intellect, and allow your
intuition and emotions to be your guide. What follows is a guided
visualization, which you can read onto a tape, or have one person
read aloud, as you follow the journey it describes. Allow the
images to form naturally in your imagination, and you will find
yourself making a magical journey through the mysteries of the
For those who are not used to following a guided visualiza-
tion, there are a few simple rules to observe. Before starting any
meditation work (which includes the kind of altered state that
guided visualization encourages), seat yourself comfortably in a
quiet room, free from distractions. Take the phone off the hook,
and tell anyone who lives with you not to disturb you. You can of
course do this out of doors, but if you do, make sure you are well
off the beaten track, with no danger of bush walkers stumbling over
you, or any other kinds of disturbance. Have a pen and pad handy,
and if it helps you to relax and focus, use some incense.
Next: Wheel Visualization (Julia Phillips and Rufus Harrington)