After the establishment of Christianity in the Roman Empire, these traditions and beliefs were persecuted and largely disappeared (my 12 year old daughter is currently learning about this in her history class).
Regardless of whether you practice Christianity, our Western European calendar today is significantly influenced by Christian celebrations be it Christmas, Easter, All Saints Day, Ascension day, often public holidays with specific traditions.
Most of these celebrations originated from ancient Celtic celebrations that have been banned or strategically transformed to fit the dogma of Christianity.
Nowadays these pagan celebrations are re-emerging as feminine wisdom is on the a rise and there is an increased awareness of the importance to live in harmony with nature for our own survival as a species. We can draw on this ancient wisdom and the powerful energetic portals of the seasons to navigate life today in a more grounded, balanced and wise way.
Regardless of labels, what is particularly interesting with Celtic celebrations, is how connected they are to nature, to the rhythm of the seasons, to agriculture and the trajectory of the Sun and the Moon which is echoed in our biorhythms.
In the Northern hemisphere, the Celtic or pagan calendar (of which the New Year starts on 1st November, the day after Samhain) marks 8 key celebrations or sabbaths : Samhain (between 31 Oct to 2 Nov) that has become Halloween/All Saints Day, Yule / Winter Solstice (between 19 and 23 December) becoming Christmas, Imbolc (1 0r 2 February becoming Candlemas), Ostara / Spring Equinox (between 20 and 23 March) becoming Easter, Beltane (1st May), Litha / Summer Solstice (19 to 23 June) , Lugmasadh (1 and 2 August) and Mabon / Autumn Equinox (between 19 to 23 September). Days differ depending on the year and the inclination of the Earth.
Each of these celebrations were associated to rituals practiced at home or in community. Celtic traditions are closest to home but many traditions honoured and continue to honour this cyclical wisdom. Native Americans live by the Wheel of the Year in harmony with the seasons, each associated to a direction representing the stages of human Life (Winter is North, Spring is East, Summer is South, Autumn is West). I find it fascinating to discover more about these different traditions anchored in nature and use this wisdom as a navigation compass for life as it unfolds.
Becoming aware and honouring the rhythms of the Earth is healing and beneficial at many levels. Living with the wheel of the seasons and the year supports our awakening and connects us to Life. It invites us to live more in harmony with nature, to bring appreciation to each moment of the year and its gifts. To become aware of how these processes mirror our own evolution. Through the wheel of the seasons, we honour the cyclical nature of all Life, including our own cyclical nature, we too are cyclical beings. Everything is in balance through this year wheel: day and night, light and darkness, life and death, woman and man.
To bring balance to how we evolve on this planet today as human beings, it is wise to draw inspiration from this cyclical rhythm. It is impossible for us to disregard it, as we evolve on a planet that revolves around these cycles and that means we need to be in sync with these rhythms to ensure our own survival. This is such a simple truth. It is an illusion that we can disregard this fundamental physiological fact. And we’ve been living in this illusion for quite some years, major blind spot. Modern society has evolved in a linear and accelerated way since the industrial age and it is clear nowadays that this is no longer sustainable without great threats to existence. It is time to start to integrate the wisdom of nature’s circularity into our daily lives be it intimately or professionally.
It’s certainly a long way to go towards that transition and it can be daunting even where to begin. This involves gradually changing our belief system, our routines, our relationships, our behaviours, ….
Being out in nature, listening and feeling into these rhythms and how they are echoed in our bodies, honouring these cycles of Life and drawing wisdom from them is a wonderful and joyful place to start.
I will continue to offer gatherings and ceremonies to support us to remember, integrate and embody this natural and seasonal wisdom. Join me on that journey for a Spring Equinox ceremony and morning walk on 20th March.