Wheel of the Year

The second entry in my Book of Shadows is the Wheel of the Year.

pagan-wheel-of-the-yearThis calendar was developed by Neopagan practitioners – the first Wiccans – during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s drawing from ancient traditions. Based on the eight-armed solar cross of the Nordic Bronze Age (c. 1700-500 BCE), the Wheel of the Year describes the cycle of seasons, the eight “landmarks” determined by the annual movements of the Sun.

wheel-of-the-yearThe Wheel shows the four quarter festivals which have Anglo-Saxon roots. These people celebrated the summer and winter solstices and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes. During the Middle Ages in the British Isles, it was customary to collect rents, hire new servants and resolve legal matters on four days of the year close to these solar events. These quarter days were Lady Day, Midsummer, Michaelmas and Christmas. In Neopaganism, they correspond to Ostara, Litha, Mabon and Yule.

hand-painted-wheel-of-yearThe midpoints of the quarter festivals are the cross-quarter days of Celtic origin. Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas (a.k.a. Lughnasadh) and Samhain are associated with fire and are often celebrated with a bonfire or the lighting of candles. Thus, these four are known as the fire festivals.

Followers of Wicca refer to these eight festivals as sabbats, with the solstices and equinoxes being Lesser Sabbats, and the fire festivals being Greater Sabbats.

wheel-of-the-year-detailI drew the Wheel on cotton paper using a Pentel EnerGel black pen, Tombow Mono black drawing pen, Uni-ball Signo pens in gold and silver, watercolours and watercolour markers. I’m trying for a bit of an ‘illuminated manuscript’ effect!