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24 September 2014
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Moonraking: The Celtic Wheel of the Year
 

We're used to the idea of religous festivals helping us identify where we are in the calander but in more pagan times, the key points of the year were recognised in much the same way by our ancestors. Summer St John from Wiltshire-based Apogee has been investigating...

 

Have you ever wondered why we feel full of energy in the summer but slow down and want to stay-in in the winter? And why does Nature burst with life in the spring yet start to 'go to sleep' in the autumn?

It's because we are all responding to the changing energies of the different seasons and our Celtic ancestors were exquisitely aware of this.

They followed this seasonal flow of energy around a 'Wheel of the Year', honouring the changes with celebrations that kept them in touch with heaven and earth.

There are eight key points in the year - four Quarter days that mark changes in the sky, and four Cross-quarter days that celebrate changes in the land.

The Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year
© Apogee

I find it helps to think of the year as a clock face with mid-winter, the first Quarter day, at 12 'o clock.

WinterThis is the Winter Solstice (Dec 20th-23rd), which is also known as the shortest day and is the darkest point of the year. The Solstices are when the sun seems to 'stand still' in the sky.

SummerOpposite this at 6 'o' clock is the Summer Solstice (June 20th-23rd) - the longest day of the year and the point of highest energy.


SpringAt 3 'o clock is the Spring Equinox (March 20th-23rd) and, at 9 'o clock, the Autumn Equinox (Sept 20th-23rd).


AutumnAn equinox is when night and day are of equal length.

These are like the edges of winter and often take a hard toll on our bodies.

In between these 'sky points' are the Cross-quarter days which mark 'gear shifts' in the energy of the earth. These times are also important agriculturally.

Imbolc (Beginning of February) is when the first lambs are born and ewe's milk is available again after the long winter. The year is beginning to stir and wake-up.

Beltane (Beginning of May) is the transition from spring to summer when Nature is pumping with life-force and fertility.

Lammas (Beginning of August) is the time of ripeness and when the earth starts to give up her harvest.

Samhain (Beginning of November) is the end/beginning of the Celtic year. It is a time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest and it is possible to commune with the ancestors.

There is great joy in being aware of the seasons in this way and celebrating them in simple ways.

As the year unfolds, we will look in detail at the eight energy-points of the year and the ways in which they affect us.

We will also look at how these festivals have been celebrated in Wiltshire, both past and present.

• The Winter Solstice - click here to learn more.
• Imbolc - click here to learn more.
• The Spring Equinox - click here to learn more.
• Beltane - click here to learn more.


   

FOLKLORE

• Beltane
• Spring Equinox
• Winter Solstice
•
Community History
•
The Celtic Wheel
•
Black Dogs
•
Moonraking
• Name-calling
• Oak Apple Day
• Flying monk
• Devilish Wiltshire
• The ghostly fair
• Maypoles

WEBSITES

BBC: Iron Age Celts

BBC: History of the Celts

Celts and the Iron Age

The Druid Grove

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

 
CONTACT

BBC Wiltshire
Broadcasting House
56-58 Prospect Place
Swindon
Wilts
SN1 3RW
Telephone: 01793 513626
E-mail: wiltshire@bbc.co.uk

 


BBC Wiltshire, Broadcasting House, 56-58 Prospect Place, Swindon, Wilts, SN1 3RW
Telephone: 01793 513626 | E-mail: wiltshire@bbc.co.uk


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