The wheel of the year marks very specific moments in time.
The summer solstice, is when the Earth’s axis is tilted towards the Sun giving us the most daylight hours.
This is the peak of our year, the Sun is in full force the summit of firey life-giving power. The Earth is overflowing with fertility time of joy and merriment, of expansiveness.
Yet held within this climax is the gentle whisper the inevitable promise of the return to the Dark. This peak of Light energy is also the instant, the potency of the Sun starts to wane. From now on the days grow shorter and shorter and the nights grow longer and we are drawn back into the Dark to complete the Wheel of the Year.
This year it falls on Saturday, June 20 – when we here in the UK will enjoy 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight! Sunrise 4.43am and Sunset 9.21pm.
The winter solstice,in contrast, occurs when the Earth’s axis is tilted at the furthest point away from the sun, giving us the longest dark night.
Half way between these two points are the Equinoxes, where day and night are of equal length. There are midway points between each solstice and equinox. These are also recognised as celebrations in the wheel of the year giving the calendar eight yearly celebrations.
Journey through the Sabbats
We shall begin this journey on the Pagan New Year – the new beginnings of October……
On the Oct 31st we celebrate the festival of Halloween (All Hallows Eve) Samhain this is a great time for the Rooty medicine of the Horseradish, Valerian, Inula and Marshmallow plants.
Between Dec 19th – 22nd falls the Winter Solstice/Yule the most auspicious time to find and work with the Mistletoe
The magical and mythical Mistletoe is, revered by Herbalists, Witches & Druids alike, particularly potent when it grows on the majestic Oak, but we often find the herb growing on apples in the orchards of Avalon, growing in the trees braches, between the worlds of Heaven & Earth.
The begging of February sees the fire festival of Candlemas/Imbolc a glimmer of hope for the lighter and warmer times to come back again here in the Western Hemisphere and a good time to collect Dandelion Root, and making a tincture to support cleansing out the winter sluggishness
dandelion root tincture
Between March 19th – 22nd sees the Spring Equinox/Ostara and birth of new life is all around. us picking Plantain leaf, Dandelion leaf, Nettle leaf and Cleavers leaf for spring vinegars is what us witches are busy with at this time and sitting in the fields with the Daisy flowers reconnecting with the joy and play that they bring us.
May 1st May Day/Beltane and the Elderflowers are starting to bloom once more the Hawthorn flowers are back and the warmth of life is all around.
June 19th – 22nd sees the Summer Solstice/Litha the intensity of the Fire energy has built to its peak and the Hypericum is ready to create a magical alchemical blood red oil with the Red Clover and Calendula are offering their lymphatic wonders and flower medicine is flourishing
Summer is turning by Aug 1st Harvest Festival/Lughnassadh and the Milk Thistle has bloomed and may be ready to offer the super nutritious seed liver protection the Mugwort is swaying on the lanes ready to be harvested for sacred smoke check out our Video about it here
Sept 19th – 22nd Autumn Equinox/Mabon a fruitful time the hedgerows are packed with superfoods crab apples, Elderberries, Rosehips, Hawthorn berries syrups and elixirs to be made to protect and nourish throughout the winter months to come
For farming and foraging, these pivotal points are extremely significant. These times mark when certain seasons are upon us. The plants and crops respond to the changes in energy, influenced by the amount of light and the atmospheric temperature. The more you work with nature and the cycles of the earth, the more you naturally recognize the shift in the seasons.
There are specific dates that mark the exact turning points. We can assume, however, that celebrations would have happened depending on the weather and harvest. If there was a crop to bring in and it was the first fair weather for weeks, folk would be out harvesting, not yet in celebration. Farming communities would celebrate at different times from fishing communities.
Paganism (or worship of deities, seasons and spirits of the land) has roots intertwined with the physical reality of harvesting food and medicine. As part of your Sensory Herbal Practice you will naturally start to follow the seasons as the cycle through the year. The importance of each season will start to hold deeper significance the more time that is spent with and on the land, foraging for herbs and harvesting according to the seasons.
Harvesting plants gives a grounding and practical side to a spiritual practice. Harvesting puts you in tune with the changing seasons and the ever-changing tilt of the Earth’s axis. Spring brings a bounce in your step with the excitement of fresh green leafy medicine. Summer warmth and light brings the fertility and passion and autumn brings bountiful harvests. Hips, haws, berries and fruit practically spill out of the door as you struggle to find surfaces on which to process them. The depth of winter allows time for planning and preparations for the next cycle.
If you are interested in finding out more check out The Sensory Herbal Handbook