At Halloween, the wheel of the year turned. The energies of the old year waned, to clear the way for a new year with a fresh tide of energy. There’s no need to wait until 1st January to make new year resolutions. Instead, you might want to begin now, using the rhythms of the ancient year to plan and complete your creative projects. Whether we realise it consciously or not, we are attuned to these natural energies and the cycles of the sun. So it makes sense to plan our year around the hooks of the seasons. One reason so many new year’s resolutions fail could be that we dive straight into them at a time when we should still be shaping our plans ready for spring. Using the wheel of the year gives us the necessary prompts to begin our projects with the proper preparation and to give them the right kind of focus at the times that feel appropriate.
It may seem strange that a year based on cycles of energy should begin when everything is dying. More appropriate perhaps, to begin in spring, when the earth is vital and fresh energy abounds. But there can be no spring without a period of rest and preparation and this is what the start of the year is about. Think of winter as a dreaming time. The weeks between Halloween and the winter solstice should be still and introspective. They’re a time to dream, but to dream with purpose. Don’t fritter away the hushed, dark months. Use them to visualise what your creative dreams will be this year. What will you write? What will you paint? What do you want to harvest when autumn comes again? This is not a time for realism, but for dreaming your biggest dreams of what your year could be.
At the winter solstice, the sun and mother nature are reborn and the spark of creativity grows a little brighter. Daylight slowly begins to lengthen after the longest night. It may still seem like the dreaming time, but there has been a barely perceptible shift. Think of this as a honing time. Begin to shape and sharpen your dreams. Now is the time to hone those visions into goals and projects you’re confident you can put into practice.
At Candlemas, the first small signs of spring begin to appear. It’s a depressing time for many, with the distractions of yuletide over and the days still cold and dark. Spring still feels far away. I think of this as the incubating time. You’ve honed your ideas and now it’s time to sow the seeds of the year’s projects and plan how you’ll nurture them. As the seeds start to germinate in the slowly warming ground, begin to gather the materials and tools you will need and decide what action you will take to put your plans into practice.
Spring equinox heralds the growing time. Now is the time for action. You should be able to see and feel the signs of spring. Though the weather is unsettled and the winds blow, they bring with them a point of balance followed by fresh energy. After the equinox, the days will be longer than the nights. Your spirit should feel lighter and ready for action. It’s time to focus and put all your energy into making the projects you’ve dreamed about happen.
By Beltane, you should be seeing real signs of progress. This is a festival of joy, sensuality, fertility and self-expression. It’s a time to revel in the act of creation and the effect this has on your senses. After the preparation of winter and spring, your mind should be fertile with ideas. Beltane is the beginning of the blooming time, when your projects begin to flourish. This is also a good time for collaboration with others and communal celebration.
Summer solstice arrives and the sun is at its height. This is the longest day and you should be making the most of the warmth and light of summer to help your projects thrive. This is a time of empowerment, when the time is right to pursue outward success. You could use this as a period to show or submit your work, or to ensure it’s ready for you to do so. But don’t forget that after today, the days become shorter. So the solstice is also a reminder to make the most of what is left of the light, to boost your health and gather energy to prepare you for the winter.
Lammas is the first harvest and marks the fading of summer. This is the tide of transformation. As the sun fades, its spirit is woven into the corn to preserve it through the winter. Wheat is cut down but is transformed into bread and baked goods to feed us. You’ve worked hard on your creative projects since the beginning of the year and now is partly a time to recognise the work you’ve done and the sacrifices you’ve made. But you can still affect what your final harvest will be, so it’s time to reflect on what still needs to be done to achieve your goals.
Autumn equinox leads us into balance once more, but this time darkness will begin to take over. This is a time of storms and tension, as we accept that the light is dying and darkness coming. We now turn inwards. This is the harvesting tide, when you have your reckoning. Have you achieved all of the things you wanted to achieve this year? What could you have done differently to gather the harvest you would have wished for? Whatever the outcome, you should make time to celebrate your successes and begin to consider the seeds you will sow next year.
Finally, we return to Halloween, when we honour our ancestors, including the artists and writers who have gone before and inspired us. We also try to divine the future and create a little mischief before retreating back into the dreaming time. So if you think using the wheel of the year could work for you, it’s time to begin. Don’t be downhearted by the encroaching darkness. Instead, use it as an opportunity to dream bigger than you’ve ever dreamed before.
Click on the links for more information about the themes of each festival and look out for upcoming posts that will explore these ideas in more detail.
(If you live in the southern hemisphere, the year may make more sense to you if you begin at Beltane.)