For many years I have celebrated the Celtic wheel of the year, which celebrates the seasons or the suns path through the year. They are four fire festivals. The dates are Samhain – 31st Oct, Imbolc – 1st Feb, Beltane – 1st May & Lughnasadh on 1st Aug. It gave me a sense of connection with the cycles of life around me, be in tune with nature and to learn about my own transitions through life and have a sense of my own culture. As a child I celebrated Samhain in the form of halloween with apple bobbing and games. The others I learnt as I discovered ancient customs and cultures of our land.
These festivals are spaced roughly evenly through the year and are interspaced by the solstices and equinoxes and are Winter Solstice on 20th to 23rd Dec, Spring Equinox 20th to 23rd March, Summer Solstice 20th to 23rd June and Autumn Equinox on 20th to 23rd September.
The dates for the Celtic festivals have in most sources been fixed which does help for planning and in the early days before social networks & the internet I celebrated these on my own, with knowledge gained from books. I set up my alter and learnt about the signs of nature around me, from my garden and surrounding areas to get a sense of the natural energies. With social networks and meeting like minded people I have learnt that the dates can be moved, there is a timing to them and it is about the cosmos. I think in the past it would have been the smell, warmth, natures signs that would have signified the timings too. The link to the stars and sky would have been more significant than today as they would have been more visible. Therefore I work with others information and get inspiration from these timings. However a couple of festivals never seemed to change date, Samhain and Imbolc. Samhain seemed to stay comfortable on the 31st Oct. Was this commercialisation? Was it convenience in a busy life to keep things ordered in the diary? How does that explain Imbolc?
A friend posted a judgmental post about people not celebrating Samhain on the correct date, however what is the correct date and does it move with the cosmos? How can I work it out each year? What is the zenith point of each festival? Rather than being negative about the nudge I was curious? From the point of few of community I will celebrate Samhain on the 31st Oct as a way to teach my child the ancient cultures of Britain and to belong to a community and to have some fun. Folk lore, festivities, stories and tales need to be passed on. In conjunction with this I will also celebrate the power date of that festival. How do I find out the power date? After some questions and queries and reading I have lent towards astrology. I am no expert but put simply it is said the festivals should be a certain degree in a particular astrological sign. I always start with Samhain as this the Celtic New Year and over the years I have learnt the significance of this, of going into the earth to rest before the activity of the following year.
Samhain – 15′ Scorpio
Yule – 1′ Capricorn
Imbolc – 15′ Aquarius
Verbal Equinox – 1′ Aries
Beltane – 15′ Taurus
Summer Solstice – 1′ Cancer
Lughnasadh – 15′ Leo
Autumn Equinox – 1′ Libra.
Therefore the dates for 2018 are going to be Imbolc on the 4th Feb, Vernal Equinox on the 22nd March, Beltane on the 6th May, Summer Solstice on 23rd June, Lughnasasdh on the 8th August, Autumn Equinox on the 24th September, Samhain on 8th Nov and finally Winter Solstice on 23rd Dec to take us fully back round the wheel. Wow I thought that does shift the dates a bit, especially for the Celtic fire festivals. Interesting and slightly uncomfortable.
However another way to look at these festivals is the ebb and flow of energy. Moving towards a festival the energies build and then wane, like around the moon cycle. Festivals would have been over a few days and can be today. The only restrictions are our lifestyles. The full moon closest to Imbolc is on the 31st January so those energies are going to feed into the energies of Imbolc so in reality I will be honouring, connecting and celebrating over a period of days.
In conclusion the dates are a guide whether we follow a prescriptive form, an astrological one or another type I would suggest go with you inner wheel. How does this cycle feel? How do the energies feel on the days before and after those dates? What are the signs in your local area as the south of Britain is totally different to the North and that is the same in all places across the world. Also each year can be different. A couple of years ago there was a full moon on Samhain which happened to be Diwali too and as I live in Leicester there were two cultures celebrating fire festivals on the same day. Wicked energies that year.
For this year I am going to create a crystal mandala and meditate and learn about the astrological connection to Wheel of the Year. I will share my thoughts and inspirations on this blog.
Festivals are also about sharing and celebrating so if you can celebrate and share go for it and go out in nature. Enjoy.