By Kristin Olsen
Welcome the Way of the Celts, land of myth and fantasy. Let us discuss a concept that dates back to the earliest times of Pre-Christianity. This was a time when Fairies, Leprechauns and Dragons roamed the Emerald Isle, a time when the interconnectedness of the clans, the land, the world and the universe were treasured. A time when the passage of time and the cycles of the moon, sun and tides were honored and respected. Let us explore the concept of the Wheel of the Year in the Celtic Lands. Close your eyes and envision a giant clock with gold spun hands turning as each new season arrives. Can you see the harvest? Can you feel the warm air on your face and the brisk chill as the land turns its way from summer to fall? Let us now turn the Wheel and explore the ancient Celtic Seasons of life. As each wheel turns in each and every season of our lives, there is new hope. With each seed of hope sown is the promise of a better tomorrow. Open your eyes wide as we explore, learn and grow and discover that all things are possible if you see it so.
In the Celtic Lands year was divided into eight positions that were determined by the position of the sun. Each season was marked by a festival that began at sundown on the eve of the event and lasted until sundown on the day of the event. The ancient Celts were part of an agricultural society and the changing of the seasons and the natural patterns the seasons brought helped to define the routines of their lives. The Celtic year was basically divided into the Light Seasons and the Dark Season. What can we learn from these ancient traditions today? Can we take the magic of ancient times and bring them forward to make our own lives richer and blessed? Let us see… Hurry, the veil between worlds is thinning, we must catch our ancestors, for in understanding the past, we create the now and set sail the path of our future.
Since the Wheel of the Year has no beginning and no end, it is simply a circle of life unfolding; I will start with Samhain. October 31-November 1st. Known as the Festival of the Dead or Samhain to the Celts. To the modern world it has become known as Halloween or All Hallows eve. This is a time when the veil between the land of the living and those who have passed before us is so thin cross over is possible. I have spent many a night praying for those in my world and those who have crossed over. To light a candle and ponder the past, present and future on this night is truly magical. This celebration divides the Celtic year along with Beltane in May. This is the start of the dark season.
Winter Solstice – December 21-22 is also known as Alban Arthuan Welsh for “Light of Winter”, is the Celtic festival marking the winter season. The Christians have named this time Christmas after the birth of Jesus Christ. In Ireland New grange, a circle of standing stone shows the dawn of the Winter Solstice. Winter Solstice is one of the oldest festivals and was celebrated under other names by many other cultures through time.
Imbolc – February 1-2 is also known a St. Brighid’s Day or Candlemas, and the Christians named this season the Purification of the Blessed Virgin. This season belongs to Brigid, the Celtic goddess who in later times became St. Brigid. This is a time of Fire and purification and for preparing for the sun to return and the harvest to be planted.
Alban Eiler – March 20-21 also known as the Spring Solstice and to the Christians the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is a time of fertility and for planting and renewal of life and love. This season provided for a balance and transition and it was considered a very magickal time by the Celts.
Beltane – April 30-May 1 also known as May Day. Many celebrations occurred, as this was the beginning of the summer season. This is the time where life and fertility was honored and revered. The Otherworld and Fairies were magickal and prevalent in the celebrations during this time.
Alban Heruin – June 21-22 also known as Summer Solstice and to the Christians the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year so bonfires were lit to welcome the sun and also to honor the passing into the harvesting season.
Lughnasada Irish – July 31-August 1. This festival marks the beginning of the harvest and is a time of community, markets, feasts and reunions. This is the perfect time for handfastings and finalizing marriages from the previous years celebrations.
Alban Elued – September 21-22 also known as Autumn Equinox and to the Christians the Feast of St. Michael. This is the time of the very last harvest of the year and preparing for the winter season. This is a time of balance and for honoring the spirit world.
Join me again for more tales of the Celtic Lands. We have much to discuss, The Book of Kells, Celtic Mythology, The Claddagh, Gaelic, Poetry and Prose and perhaps even a way to see Fairies in your everyday world or how to obtain the pot of Gold from that dreaded Leprechaun. Magic and Adventure is all around you, just close your eyes, open your heart and listen to your soul. Celtic Magic is everywhere. Visit me at http://www.celticattic.com