Tag Archives: Wheel of the Year

Wheeling – uhm, winging it

19 Feb

Every year after Yule, before the new year really starts, I take some time to calculate the sabbaths. And this year, based on correlation between solar and lunar year, Imbolc does not arrive until rather late, namely on 02 March. I checked all my calculations twice. It still looked weird. But so far, the weather has proven solar and lunar calendar right, for winter is sticking around and I am oh-so-glad that I bought these cozy thermo leggings.

(They may not be pretty, but they keep me warm, so suck it!)

Anyway, simultaneously I have been reading “Oryx and Crake” by Margaret Atwood. Part of the future she describes in her novel – go and read it, I’ll wait (it’s that amazing) – is a kind of climate change scientists have been warning us about for only the past, I don’t know, twenty years? (And there are still people who don’t believe in man-made climate change.)

So, while winter is still hanging on with all its might, sending snow and ice as gifts, we also have surprisingly warm days, the first early bloomers are poking their heads out and our car is covered in pollen. Hazel? Birch? It’s yellow.

Which brings me to a new question – imagine yourself twenty or thirty, maybe even thirty-five years down the road. Still going Pagan. How are we going to celebrate the wheel of the year, this supposedly ancient system to measure the progress of time, when climate changes as it has been said it would do? There’s a good chance we will be facing draughts, or excess rain, winters have all but disappeared, and weird plants and animals will be springing up to conquer new ecological niches.

Now, for a confession: I doubt that the Wheel of the Year(TM) is very old. In my opinion, someone (possibly Gardner) took some random information on the solar anchors of the year and some lore and folk traditions he knew about and mushed them up into a calendar-like system, for we as humans like calendars and systems. This would make the wheel of the year more like a fairytale. Not necessarily less real, for so many of us use it, just not ancient, pre-Christian wisdom.

So, what are we going to do? I like celebrations as much as the next girl, and I would hate to miss out just because climate does not agree with some Pagan books. So here are a few things I have been mulling over recently:

I would totally keep the solstices and equinoxes. These are pretty fix, for the time being, universally observable from what I understand, and are celebrated in one way or another in most cultures.

And for the other four … do we need them? We could just stick with the full moons and choose themes relevant at the time of the full moon (either in our lives or in nature). Or we could try to list our observations over the next decades and come up with a new system. It’s not that unlikely that climate will stick to rules – just not the ones we are familiar with. It may possibly be a mix of both. Or something completely new and unique.

(I’ll never give up Halloween, but I may have to find a new model for Samhain and the other funny bastards.)

Thoughts? Prayers? (Just kidding, thoughts will be more than enough.)


The red coat

29 Oct

“My, what a lovely red coat you have! Waiting for christmas, aren’t you!”

I smile, and say nothing. It’s grey outside. The new moon is approaching. I don’t wear red to honor a jolly red man. I think of the blood that brought me into this world, of the life given to keep me here. Maiden, mother, crone – each one gave life, so I would become. There are those who die to nourish me, plant life and animal life alike, and I honor their sacrifice. No life can be had on this earth without paying for it in blood. It’s a terrible mystery, and a wonderful gift.

I wear my red coat, remain silent, and smile.

Imbolc cake

18 Feb


I wanted to have some Imbolc cake based on dairy products, light and sweet and full of promises for the coming season. Fortunately the internet is full of recipes, so in the end I decided to have some apple vanilla cake smothered in mascarpone cream. It’s not as pretty as it could have been, mostly since I had to improvise and spread the cream with my fingers. Apples fit well with this season, since they can be stored for the winter.

(In the end I was full of cream and sugar. I love baking.)

Something useful – planning your wheel of the year

27 Dec

One thing I love to do during the nights following Yule, besides reading oracles, is plan the sabbaths for the coming year. Of course there is the simple rule of celebrating fix dates, but if you want to follow a more nature-based approach, here are some suggestions (which probably work best in the northern hemispere and might have to be adapted for the south):

  1. Grab your pocket diary and a number of fancy pens, if you are into that kind of thing. Yes, I love keeping a paper diary. Every year in December I spend hours trying to decide which one to use for the coming year. I need one page per day, lined, at least Din A5 – approx. 5×8 inches. This is the one I am going to use for 2014. Pretty, hu?
  2. The sun-related sabbaths are easy to find, and there is general consense on when to celebrate. Just google the start of the seasons in your area, usually around the 21st (of December, March, June and September). Take a few moments to decorate the respective pages in your diary.
  3. There are several ways to decide when to celebrate your moon-related sabbaths. You have to decide whether you want to celebrate all on a full moon, all but Samhain on a full moon or whether you want to celebrate Imbolc on waxing and Lammas on waning moon, with a Beltane full moon and Samhain dark moon (or any other variation you might think of). The last idea is pretty much work if you also like to celebrate the esbaths and dark moons… – we witches are a merry bunch, but three big celebrations per moon cycle can become a bit much.
  4. Once you have decided which calculation pattern you want to follow, the rest is just counting. Find a trustworthy moon calendar, either in print or online or as an app – for those who want to be ultra-exact, use ephemerides, but keep in mind that our ancestors probably went by what the moon looked like, and that no one I know has been smitten by their Deities because they celebrated their moons a day off. ^^
  5. The following way of calculating I found in Vicky Gabriel’s “Ways to the Old Gods” (“Wege zu den alten Göttern” – she is a rather well-known German writer on all things Pagan). It’s a pretty decent way to line up your sun and moon year as well, and in my experience works pretty well with nature cycles.The first new moon following (on or) after Yule will be the first new moon of your moon year. Sounds complicated, but we witches know how to count, right? Number your new moons until the next Yule celebration, and you have your moon year. It will hold either twelve, thirteen or fourteen moons.
  6. Imbolc is usually celebrated during the second moon, Beltane during the fifth, Lammas during the eight and Samhain at the end of the eleventh. Find the pages in your diary and decorate them accordingly. This will help you get in the spirit during the year, when things are busy and you “have better things to do than stay in tune with nature” (don’t laugh, we all have thought this more than once – or is that just me?). I personally like to celebrate at the beginning of the night with a full moon, so if, for example, the full moon was on the 27th of September at 03:24 A.M., I would celebrate in the evening of the 26th. (See above. No one smitten so far, from what I know.)
  7. One last step remains – mark the page a week before your sabbath celebration with a quick note, so you remember to get everything you need in advance, maybe bake or cook something fancy or prepare spiced wine and such.

I guess you could also do all this with a digital calendar, but I like the feel of paper, and the crafty aspect. And finally, once I have found my dates, I like to compares notes with my witchy family – sometimes we can schedule a celebration or two, if we plan carefully. And these are the dates I have come up with for 2014:

  • Imbolc: 2014-02-14 (full moon at 0:52 on 02-15)
  • Spring equinox: 2014-03-20
  • Beltane: 2014-05-14 (full moon)
  • Sun solstice: 2014-06-21
  • Lammas: 2014-08-10 (full moon)
  • Fall equinox: 2014-09-23
  • Samhain: 2014-11-22 (dark moon at 13:33)
  • Yule: 2014-12-21

What have you done so far to prepare for the coming year?

Merry Lammas, everyone!

28 Aug

Why yes, I have looked at the calendar recently. ^^

As opposed to many witches and pagans I know, I celebrate the sabbaths in relation to sun and moon. For the sun-related sabbaths that’s easy to calculate, but for the other four, confusion may ensue. This year, the lunar sabbaths are rather late, with Beltane only arriving at the end of May and Lammas – well, last night.

Still trying to figure out how to fit everything into my life and where to stack my priorities, I did a simple candle-lighting (yellow and brown candles) and offered a corn cobb from the organic store, which I intend to leave outside when going into the woods tonight.

My Lammas mantra was, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” I think it is a fitting mantra and a good description of this special sabbath – a great opportunity to see what has been growing from your efforts so far, and to decide whether to harvest the fruit or till the lands and start over next year. Out on the fields the farmers have started harvesting the grains, and friends have reported taking the first vegetables and fruit from their gardens. My tomatoes and such are a little late, which I attribute to the stupid lack of summer.

I also spent some time celebrating with friends and colleagues – bringing home-made bread to the office last full moon, cooking vegetable soups and stews and such.  Sometimes the small things help remind me that I am a witch and not just a weird woman with a love for pointy hats.

Other everyday Lammas activities include enjoying the last warm(ish) days and starting to squirrel all kinds of stuff away for the dark seasons. In earlier times this mostly related to food, but I mostly stash memories and adventures. Once winter comes around, I hope to enjoy them with a cup of hot tea.

Any of you starting on fall and winter preparations?

Happy belated spring equinox!

1 Apr

Or Ostara.

Or Eostre.

Or whatever. As long as there is cake, I don’t care. And this is the mother of all cakes. A lemon biscuit, lemon buttercream cake with lemon curd and meringues. From what I recall, it containes 16 eggs, more than a pound of butter and the same amount of sugar (if you are not scared, go here to read the complete recipe). Isn’t it pretty? I am planning on taking it with me this afternoon when we visit Richard’s family to give all of us a major case of diabetes. ^^

Some detail. I think the two-colored meringues are pretty, and they are extremely easy to make! OF course I could have done a better job smoothing the cake, but I have extremely sore butt muscles (take your minds out f the gutter! ^^ ) and avoid standing for longer periods. Also I ran out of yellow color before the cream had the intended color, but I think that won’t keep us from enjoying every last bite!

I feel spring in the air!!

1 Mar

The beginning of spring is, as opposed to Imbolc, an occasion that is hard for me to miss. Yesterday, all of a sudden, I felt the need to prepare. You know, it’s only three weeks. ^^ So I decided to pretty up my every-day life to preserve the mood.


I got me some pretty nailpolish. The tomcat wanted his claws done, too, but I refused. Can’t let the other cats make fun of him.


My spring stationary. Enough to last me at least through Beltane.


Our front door. I’ll add some more color and flowers and lambs, but for the moment it will have to do.

When you look out at the forest around the corner, you see the first glow of spring, and I heard the geese return… can’t ignore it, spring is on its way!

Today we’ll go on a trip up north to reclaim our zombie car, and I cannot wait! The last few weeks were so tough… more on that once we’re back safely.