Lammas, August 1 is the first of two harvest festivals. The second one will happen around September 21 and is known as Mabon or Autumn Equinox. Lammas means the Feast of Bread and it is a festival of the wheat harvest. Its older name, Lugnasad, meant the sacrifice of the grain god Lug or Lud. Lug was killed (reaped) and buried (planted) so he could rise again as a new crop.
March 19 or 20, depending on the year is when we celebrate Spring Equinox. The word ‘Equinox’ refers to when the day and night are of equal length. We are finally out of winter’s grasp. As light returns, we come out of the cave of winter and darkness. Spring Equinox is a time of new beginnings and is connected to the astrological sign of Aries.
Imbolc is when we begin to tap into the Maiden aspect of ourselves – the other aspects being Mother and Crone which are represented at other times of the year. The word Imbolc means ‘in the belly’ and it is a festival of the Waxing Light, of Brigid’s Day in Ireland and Groundhog Day in North America.
At Winter Solstice, we turn the Wheel of the Year to the return of the light. This is the longest night and the shortest day. After midnight, the Sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day.
Samhain (pronounced sow-in) also known as Halloween means summer’s end and is celebrated on October 31. At Samhain, we turn the Wheel of the Year to the beginning of winter. We begin to have more dark in the day than light.
Autumn Equinox is the second of two harvest festivals and is celebrated on September 22. It is also called Mabon, for Queen Mab of the Faery People (Maeve of the Celts). At Autumn Equinox, day and night are equal, in perfect balance, and we give thought to the balance and flow within our lives.
Summer Solstice marks the sun’s maximum height in the sky, making it the longest day of the year. The themes are light and warmth. In Celtic times, young people, still in the throws of the lusty month of May, leaped over the flames of bonfires at Summer Solstice.
Beltane is one of the four fire festivals in the Celtic Wheel of the Year that marks the beginning of summer. Beltane is observed on May 1. In Celtic times, it was referred to as May Day. It was celebrated by processions, wearing garlands and lighting bonfires. Many houses were decorated with green branches brought into the house on May Day morning.
For centuries, men devised the religious rituals for our civilization. Today, womyn are devising religious rituals by forming scared circles and getting together periodically. The Wheel of the Year is the perfect way to begin. The photo above clearly depicts the eight seasons/festivals in the Wheel of the Year, shown below.