: Christine Irving
: 60.64 MB
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The Celtic Wheel of the Year is a yearly round of celebrations based upon the cycle of the sun as seen in the northern hemisphere. It includes the summer and winter solstices, the spring and fall equinoxes and the four cross-quarter days which fall-half way in between them. Although not unique to the Celtic tradition, these ancient celebrations are best known in the western world through remnants of the Celtic culture (i.e. artifacts, stories, songs, inscriptions, extant practices, historical records, and archaeological evidence).
The Twentieth Century revival of paganism has brought together these existing tidbits of information into a basic body of knowledge from which new traditions and ceremonies are being created. At the same time, much information about non-western traditions has also become widely available. Seen side by side there are countless parallels and concurrences. It isn’t surprising that people would begin to incorporate elements from other cultures and eras into the creation of new rituals and traditions.
Few if any 1st Century CE Celts would recognize the words and practices of even the ‘purist’ practitioners of the Old Religion. Nevertheless, these ceremonies grow out of the changing of the seasons. They acknowledge seasonal differences in light, weather and temperature that are the same today as they were millennia ago. The moods and feelings associated with the yearly cycle of the sun are as familiar to our bodies as they were to the Picts or Brigantes. While they might not recognize the words or actions of our rites, they would certainly understand why we performed them.
This book grew out of my participation in a study group envisioned and conducted by Sharyn McDonald. Sixteen times a year she called together a group of twenty men and women to study and celebrate the ancient holy days. On study days we gathered to compare and discuss the research we had done on the upcoming holiday. Taking the elements which most resonated and appealed to us, we devised a ritual to celebrate the season. On the holy days we performed the rituals we created.
The rituals are based on a particular format which involves the casting of a circle, the honoring of the directions, the invocation of deities, experiential work which grounds the rite in personal experience and a celebration which reenacts, in some form, a creation myth.
Although I had been present at and had helped to create rituals in other contexts, Sharyn’s group tied me to the great cycle of seasons in a way I had never before experienced. Gradually I began to see the eight days of the Wheel as a metaphor for my life. As I grew more conscious of how deeply I resonated, body and soul, with these celebrations, I came to see that I had it backwards. It is my life that is the metaphor for the Wheel.
The book is divided into eight sections: Samhain (pronounced sow-un), Yule (winter solstice), Imbolc, Ostara (spring equinox), Beltane, Mid-summer (summer solstice), Lughnasadh, and Mabon (fall equinox). I use art and poetry to convey a feeling of their meaning and tell some of the old stories associated with them.
I included the recipes for a feast with every ritual because it is usual to end these celebrations with a sharing of food. Food and hospitality were terribly important to the Celts. It is a part of my own Celtic heritage which has survived intact
Finally there are the essays which tie some of the events of my life to the Wheel. The Goddess Brigit inspired this book. She is a goddess of poetry and healing. Re-examining my life caused me to recall things I had forgotten or pushed aside. I began to re-member; to bring back and put into place those misplaced parts of myself. I feel that my own interior landscape now forms a more complete circle, a less wobbly wheel.
Nevada City, California