With spring we welcome greener days ahead while plants seem to wake up from their winter slumber with emerging buds and blossoms as symbols of new growth. The energies are more active as animals and humans seem to awaken into more activity, and even the bees return to their pollination cycle. While we have not yet arrived at the heat of Summer, instead we can enjoy the balanced energies of Equinox as the Sun seems to suspend in time.
Officially celebrated on February 1 at sunset, Imbolc, or Imbolg, signals the halfway point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. Its name derives from Celtic meaning "in the belly,” as it refers to the “just-showing” pregnancy or a stirring of new life that has just begun. At its core, this Pagan holiday is a clearing and cleansing preparing us for rebirth. Imbolc focuses on fertility and the promise of returning light in the spring season. However, Imbolc’s claim to fame is the Irish Goddess Brigid, also spelled Brigit, Bride, or Brighid. She was considered a triple goddess or triune representing maiden, mother, and crone. In this way she had several facets to her symbolism of fire, hearth, poetry, and smithcraft. Brigit was believed..
Yule or Yuletide, aka Winter Solstice, in the Northern Hemisphere marks the longest night and shortest day of the year and is one of the oldest celebrations in the world. Like all the Neopagan holidays the date varies between December 20 to December 23 depending on the year with the Gregorian calendar. Though with modern technology we can more closely track the exact moment when the Earth pole is at its maximum tilt away from the Sun. This year the winter solstice is exact on Friday, December 21 at 2:22 p.m. PT or 5:22 ET as the Sun moves into the tropical zodiac sign of Capricorn. As a turning point of light and reflection and of all the cyclical, seasonal holidays, the winter solstice is perhaps the most Christianized from its Earthly Pagan roots and Roman traditions.
Lammas, aka Lughanasadh in Gaelic, marks the beginning of the harvest season in Wiccan and Pagan traditions. It occurs August 1 as rough halfway point between Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox for the Northern Hemisphere, though Old Lammas was said to occur when the Sun reached 15 degrees Leo. Whether you honor the mid-point or astrological date, this special holiday celebrates the mystery and magic of the spirit of the grain. The name Lammas comes from old English meaning “loaf mass,” as it originated from celebrations of harvest time. Historically in Pagan and Wiccan traditions there were three harvests each year with corresponding holidays honoring each. Lammas was the first harvest with grain, the second Mabon (September 21 through September 29 this year) was fruit, and then finally near Samhain (October 31-November 1 this year) was nuts and berries.
Known as Summer Solstice to most, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere has several names including Litha and Midsummer. It is a day of joy and merriment, as well as major witchiness. Litha comes from the old Anglo-Saxon name for June and July, given by an English monk named Bede. As the lustful and passionate energies of Beltane subside, they make way for the maturity and power of Litha. Spring was the phase of courtship and now summer has become the commitment to love as the...
Beltane comes from Proto-Indo-European bhel- meaning “to shine, flash, burn” and also the name of the Celtic Solar God Bel, and ten related to “hot.” And things definitely heat up with Beltane, and I’m not just talking about the weather ;). Originally Beltane was the Celtic holiday honoring the mating of Green Man and the Earth goddess that marked the beginning of summer. This sacred union symbolized the necessary act to bring about Earth’s fertility.