Seasonal Celebrations

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In a World where we are largely urbanised, plugged in and switched on 24/7 and connected to hundreds of people we may or may not know through social media, it can seem quaint and contrived to encourage seasonal celebration as a route to connection.

I would argue this is exactly why we need seasonal celebrations the most!

We may view our agricultural past as time of lesser knowledge and technology, yet no-one can deny that our farming ancestors has a deeper and more mindful awareness of the land they lived on, worked on and survived upon. This awareness goes back even further, characterised most notably by cultures such as the Native Americans and even the ancestral builders of monuments such as Stonehenge. Wherever or whenever they were living, the same truth applies: that their awareness of the land and the turning seasons gave these people a knowledge that most of us today have entirely lost.

We have also lost the notion that we are somehow connected to the World; that we are all part of one large ecosystem that needs all it parts to be aware and working together to survive. Global warming, natural disasters and various food shortage are re-teaching us this; we can help the process by returning to our ancestral roots and marking the turning of the seasonal Wheel of the Year.

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taken from Walk The Wheel; What Wheel?

“The WHEEL OF THE YEAR is a cyclical calendar that includes eight festivals and is primarily used to track seasonal changes. They fall approximately 6-8 weeks apart and they are relatively evenly spread throughout the year.

The Wheel breaks up the year into eight portions. In the Northern Hemisphere Dec/Midwinter is at the very top and June/Midsummer at the bottom. The four ‘compass points’ mark the Solstices and Equinoxes; the exact date of these astronomical occurrences can vary slightly each cycle so the festival date will move in response to this. The four ‘cross quarter’ festivals mark the historic Celtic Fire Festivals that are known in folk history. These dates tend to be the same each year.

Each festival has its own collection of themes, myths, stories and traditions. Some of these will have been around for many years, others will be newer additions. There are a few over-arching myths that tell the story of the whole Wheel in one go; it is not unusual for such a story to be portioned up and told over the course of 12 months.

Most festival traditions are linked to the weather, the agricultural calendar or local folk history; often a mixture of all three. Some of the festivals have more ephemeral ideas linked to them too, such as spirits at Samhain. It has become popular in recent times to use the Wheel as a method of self-exploration and development too.

The Wheel of the Year is a symbolic representation of the turning seasons and the sensory and energetic changes that take place in the World and our lives as we move through the year. Despite its close acquaintance with Paganism, following the Wheel is not limited to those who would identify as such… after all an appreciation of the World is not limited to those with religion or faith.”

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From October 2012 to February 2016 I ran seasonal celebrations in Hadfield and New Mills, two small towns in the county of Derbyshire, called Walk The Wheel. Over that time a format developed which included:

  • sharing creative expressions of the season (art, stories, songs, recipes etc; personally made or found elsewhere)
  • sharing mindful observations of the season
  • meditation or pathworking
  • crafting
  • a variety of celebratory activities including singing, chanting and jumping over the odd Beltane broomstick.

These events formed a wonderful community of ‘Wheel Walkers’ and provided a wealth of inspiration and connection for those involved. Not only did we come to know ourselves and our World better, but we also felt a deep connection between ourselves as humans, which grew through the shared experience of celebration and ceremony.

Although the regular events ended in 2016 due to time commitments, I still offer seasonal celebrations by request.  Please get in touch via the Connect page if you would be interested.

For more information on the events and a variety of articles including many on the Wheel visit the Walk the Wheel website.

Photo credits:

  1. tbc
  2. saamiblog via photopin (license)
  3. Keli Tomlin
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