Why I'm a Witch
One of the things that immediately felt so right when I first studied the craft was the holidays. Our Holy Days equally divide the year, hence the term "The Wheel of the Year". I love this for so many reasons. First it underscores our connections to nature and the passage of time. These are not arbitrary days. If we start today on the Summer Solstice, we know that this is the longest day of the year, the day with the most hours of daylight. Exactly opposite this holiday, we have the Winter Solstice or Yule which is the longest night of the year, the day with the fewest daylight hours. The Sabbats that fall between these two are the Vernal (Spring) Equinox known as Ostara and Autumnal Equinox known as Mabon, being the days of the year when there is an equal amount of sunlight and darkness. There are four other major holidays that each fall between a Solstice and an Equinox. Imbolc falls on February 2nd and is a celebration of the coming sun, a fire festival to celebrate that warmth is on the way. Beltane is celebrated on May 1st in many cultures and is a fertility festival. This is related to fertility of crops and livestock, of humans, and also of ideas and ventures. (Witches always look at the big picture when it comes to symbolism.) Lammas is celebrated August 1st and is the first of three harvest festivals. It celebrates the bounty of the harvest. Samhain, our New Year, is the third and last harvest festival of the year and focuses on our passed loved-ones, taking time to honor and remember them, and often on divination for the coming year.
This is a very broad overview of Pagan holy days. (I hope to go into more detail about each holiday in the future.) There are probably no two celebrations that are alike but there is a common thread running through them each. There is something about celebrating in this measured way that helps us connect to the passage of time, being, hopefully, a little less surprised by it. What I love the most, or what really connects me to these days, is the fact that when these holidays were first celebrated, it was in a time when all people were so much more aware of our dependence on the land, and the sun, and the seasons. In early February, there is no part of me that can sense the coming spring, but thousands of years ago, people were so keenly aware of the rising and setting of the sun that they realized that day as a turning point. I very much honor and respect the ability (I admit, necessity) our ancestors had to live close to the land, having real and lasting respect for our Earth. As much as I love technology and the connectivity it can offer us, there is a part of me that longs for connection to Earth, to the way my food grows, to the passing moments. In a world where we're so consumed with what's happening next that we can't remember our drives in to work, it's nice to re-member a time when life was really all about living!