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 [En attente de traduction] Wheel of the Year

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MessageSujet: [En attente de traduction] Wheel of the Year   Dim 18 Avr - 11:44

Wheel of the Year In contemporary Paganism and
Witchcraft, the life cycles of continual birth, death and
renewal as expressed in the changing seasons. The
Wheel of the Year is marked by eight seasonal festivals
that are tied to the natural transitions of seasons and to
the old Celtic agricultural calendar. The Sun, which rules
the seasons, is symbolized by a wheel, and Earth turning
around the Sun also is a wheel. Observing the seasonal
festivals brings celebrants into an awareness of the turning
of the cosmic wheel, and of the individual’s relationship
to Earth.
The seasonal festivals also are known as sabbats, a
term which has declined in use because of its association
with the demonic orgies described in the literature
of the European witch-hunts. Contemporary Pagan seasonal
rites are drawn from earlier traditions of agricultural
observances.
The celebration of the seasons has provided opportunities
for creative expression through poetry, music,
dance, song and drama. Festivities include both old Pagan
customs and newly created rituals. There is no orthodox
liturgy in Paganism and Witchcraft, and observances are
as different and as creative as the many who participate
in them. The Wheel of the Year honors the Goddess, God
and Nature, and provides a means for giving thanks for
the bounties of the earth. The festivals are times of rejoicing,
feasting, dancing and gaiety. Generally they are held
outdoors, and may last over two or more days.
Not all traditions or individuals observe each of the
eight festivals. Each tradition follows its own customs
and rituals. Beltane and Samhain are the most universally
observed.
Winter Solstice Eve (Yule). The winter solstice marks the
longest night of the year. The Goddess awakens from her
sleep and finds she is pregnant with the Sun God. It is a
time for reflection and an awakening from the dark. Solstice
rituals, for both winter and summer, are universal,
and are intended to help the Sun change its course in the
sky.
Samhain. An ancient Celtic festival that celebrates the
beginning of winter, marked by death, and the beginning
of the Celtic New Year. It is observed on October
31. “Samhain” (pronounced sow-ain) is an Irish term for
“end of summer.” According to tradition, home fires were
extinguished and relit from the festival bonfire. Samhain
marks the third and final harvest, and the storage of provisions
for the winter. The veil between the worlds of the
living and the dead is at its thinnest point in the year,
making communication easier. The souls of the dead
come into the land of the living. Cakes are baked as offerings
for the souls of the dead.
Samhain is a time for taking inventory of life and getting
rid of weaknesses and what is no longer desired.
Samhain is known popularly as All Hallow’s Eve, or
Halloween, and a multitude of games and customs have
evolved in its observance. It is possible that the custom
of trick-or-treating originated with an old Irish peasant
practice of going door to door to collect money, breadcake,
cheese, eggs, butter, nuts, apples, etc., in preparation
for the festival of St. Columb Kill. Apples appear
in many rites, especially as ingredients in brews. Apple
dunking may once have been a form of divination.
Dancing at a seasonal rite (Old woodcut)
Wheel of the Year 369
Imbolc (Imbolg). A winter purification and fire festival,
often called the “Feast of Lights.” It is observed on February
1 “Imbolc” or “Imbolg” (pronounced iv-olc), which
in Irish means “in the belly,” or “lactation,” and signifies
the growing of life in the womb of Mother Earth. It celebrates
Brigid (Brigit), Irish Celtic goddess of fire, fertility,
crops, livestock, wisdom, poetry and household arts. Imbolc
provides the first glimmers of life in the darkness of
the Earth. The Goddess prepares for the birth of the Sun
God. “Candlemas” is the Christian name for this festival,
which also is known as St. Brigid’s Day.
Spring Equinox (Ostara). Day and night, and the forces of
male and female, are in equal balance. The spring equinox
observed on or about March 21, paves the way for
the coming lushness of summer. It is a time for nurturing
new growth and launching new projects. Dionysian rites
may be performed.
Beltane. One of the great Celtic solar festivals, celebrated
in earlier times with bonfires. It is observed May 1. Beltane
is an Irish term meaning “great fire.” Beltane rites celebrate
birth, fertility and the blossoming of all life, personified
by the union of the Goddess and Sun God, also
known in Christianized lore as King Winter and Queen
May. Celebrants jump over broomsticks and dance around
maypoles, both symbols of fertility. Great bonfires are lit.
Offerings are left for the fai ries.
Beltane bonfires were believed to bring fertility to crops,
homes and livestock. People danced deosil, or clockwise,
around the fires or crept between fires for good luck and
protection against illness. Cattle were driven through fires
for protection against illness. In Druidic times, the Druids
lit the fires on hillsides as they uttered incantations.
Midsummer. One of the most important and widespread
solar festivals of Europe, and universal around the world.
The Sun God dies. In European tradition, the night before
the solstice on or about June 21, is a time of great magic,
especially for love charms. Certain herbs picked at midnight
will bring luck and protect against ill fortune. Contact
with the fairy realm is easier. Bonfires are lit to help
the Sun change its course in the sky, and rites resemble
those for Beltane. Burning wheels are rolled downhill,
and burning disks hurled at the Sun. The peak of power
of the Sun God is manifested in the flourishing of crops
and livestock. Celebrants jump over fires.
Selena Fox, center left, and Dennis Carpenter, to her left, lead a spring equinox candlelight ritual sponsored by Circle Sanctuary in
Wisconsin (Courtesy Circle Sanctuary)
370 Wheel of the Year
Lughnasadh (Lammas). A great festival of games and
dance, named for Lugh, the Irish Celtic solar god. It is
observed August 1. Lughnasadh relates to words meaning
“to give in marriage,” and was once associated with marriage
contracts. Nine months away is the next Beltane, the
birth of summer and life. According to medieval legend,
the festival celebrates the Irish god Lugh’s marriage to
the Sovranty of Ireland, the goddess Eriu. A hag, Eriu is
transformed into a beauty by the marriage, and personifies
the land of Ireland. First harvests are made, accompanied
by thanksgivings and rites to ensure the bounty of
the next year’s crops. Some traditions observe the death
of the Sacred King as a sacrifice to ensure the fertility of
next year’s crops. In old Pagan customs, the blood of a
cock would be scattered on the fields.
Lammas, from the Old English terms for “loaf” and
“mass,” is a Christianized name for an old Saxon fruit
and grain festival coined by the early English Church.
The holiday was celebrated with the first harvests, the
ripening of apples and winter wheat, the latter of which,
according to tradition, was made into loaves and blessed
in the church. Lammas Day also was a day of accounts. In
Scotland, tenant farmers took their first grain harvests to
their landlords on August 1 to pay the rent.
Autumn Equinox (Mabon). Once again, day and night and
male and female forces are equal. The autumn equinox,
observed on or about September 21, is the time of second
harvests, of balancing the accounts of life, and preparing
for the winter. Traditionally, the Eleusinian Mysteries are
observed in rites and dramas. “Mabon” is a name introduced
in the 1970s to give the festival a Celtic trait.
Further reading:
Crowley, Vivianne. Principles of Wicca. London: Thorsons/
Harper Collins, 1997.
Harvey, Graham. Contemporary Paganism: Listening People,
Speaking Earth. New York: New York University Press,
1997.
Hutton, Ronald. The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British
Isles: Their Nature and Legacy. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers,
1991.
———. The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in
Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Starhawk. The Spiral Dance. Rev. ed. San Francisco: Harper-
SanFrancisco, 1989.
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[En attente de traduction] Wheel of the Year
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