Talk:Wheel of the Year

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Clearing up some stuff[edit]

Wiccans, and some Neopagans who base their practices on Wicca, observe eight festivals, which are commonly referred to as "sabbats". These fall on the solstices, and the equinoxes, sometimes known as "quarter days," and the four dates falling (approximately) midway between them, known as the "cross-quarter days" or "fire festivals." In some calendars each cross-quarter day marks the start of a season.

Here are some questions I have about the above:

  • What sabbats are the cross-quarter days/fire festivals?
  • What sabbats are the quarter days?

I have a few assumptions, but I really don't want to go ahead with it until I read it from someone else.. or get my hands on a book later today. The sentence structure right now is really kind of sloppy and doesn't make sense, and its hard to understand what is being referred to. What are these "four dates falling midway between"? WHAT are they falling between? Also.. which dates are the ones changing the seasons? Samhain, Imbolc, etc? Or Yule, Ostara, etc? I just really think we need to clear this up and fix the sentence structure.

Just another thing, perhaps we should mention the origins of the sabbats, like what kind of culture they come from? I remember reading somewhere that four of the festivals have Germanic/other origins, and that some (I believe that are "fire" fesitvals) come from Celtic origins. Disinclination 19:28, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

The cross-quarters are the four that are not solstices or equinoxes: Beltaine, Lammas/Lughnassadh, Samhain, Imbolc.
I have not heard this term "fire festivals" applied to the cross-quarters, myself.
The four dates fall midway between the solstices and equinoxes (that's the "them" in the sentence), i.e. Beltaine falls between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice.
I believe this sentence is my rework of a somewhat less-readable one: I apologize if it's still unclear. If you have ideas for improving it, edit mercilessly! {grin}
*Septegram*Talk*Contributions* 20:06, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
Thank you for your help. :) I really just wanted to make sure not to mangle it up anymore before doing anything. I'm just uncertain about one more thing: which of the two "sets" change the seasons? Quarter or Cross-Quarter? Disinclination 20:44, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
Long before I even heard of Paganism, I thought that the seasons should change so that the longest day was actually the middle of the summer, not the beginning, the shortest the middle of winter etc. However, strange though I think it is to have it work that way, I and everyone I know recognizes that mainstream society considers the summer solstice to be the beginning of Summer, the vernal equinox the beginning of Spring, etc., and goes along with that.
*Septegram*Talk*Contributions* 21:02, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
The date that a season begins varies with local climate, so it's kind of silly for there to be a declaration that a solstice or equinox is the first day, no matter where one lives. In Irish and Germanic lore Summer Solstice is "Midsummer", not the beginning of Summer. In Celtic folklore the festivals are often called "fire festivals" or by similar terminology. I assume this is because bonfires were usually an important part of the festivities. On Imbolc, depending on where one lived (climate at that time of year in the north of Scotland will vary significantly from that in the south of Ireland, for instance), people were less likely to have outdoor bonfires, but fire is still an important part of the festival in the form of hearthfires, candles, and the focus on Brighid, who is a Goddess of the fires of the hearth and smithy and the fires of inspiration (among many other things). Kathryn NicDhàna 22:31, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
Well, there does seem to be some kind of cultural consensus that spring starts on the vernal equinox, summer on the solstice, etc.
And yes, She's associated with a great many things. IIRC, to the Brigantii, She was pretty much Goddess Of Everything In Sight...
*Septegram*Talk*Contributions* 21:46, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
I should have phrased that more clearly. Yes, *now* there is the general agreement in mainstream, American culture that the Solstices and Equinoxes are the official beginning of the season, no matter where you live. But in terms of, say, Gaelic culture, the beginning was marked by local seasonal phenomena. I think it's silly to set the same date for every bioregion, but it is the norm :-) Beannachd Bhrìghde leat - Kathryn NicDhàna 22:19, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
I think it's actually an astronomical thing, more than a US cultural thing, but I agree that it's silly. And if you feel you must set a universal date, it seems even sillier to have summer begin at the solstice.
But, as with so many things in this world, they neglected to ask me before making these decisions. And people wonder why the world is in such sorry shape...
*Septegram*Talk*Contributions* 13:42, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
  • giggle* :)
I want to thank those that went through and corrected my (horrible) grammar. :) But yeah.. I was just thinking about how.. we can't apply one function to each of the solstices/equinoxes. Some "start" and some are in the "middle" of the seasons they .. represent, I suppose. Although.. now that I think about it... The Solstices seem to mark the middle of the seasons.. and the Equinoxes "start" the seasons. Although I suppose that all depends upon what tradition you are.. or what you believe in. But most of the books I have read seem to coroborate this.. to a certain level. Or am I making any sense at all? :S Disinclination 19:24, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
If the solstices mark the middle of the seasons and the equinoxes mark the beginning of them, then you only have two seasons. Back when I was ten or twelve, long before I'd even heard of the cross-quarters, I thought it made sense for seasons to begin and end halfway between solstice and equinox. Imagine my surprise to discover that there actually are such holidays, even though not practiced or recognized by most people nowadays.
*Septegram*Talk*Contributions* 20:05, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
I find it all a bit strange, the dates that our modern beaurocracies have set for when the seasons begin. Midsummer is called midsummer because... it was the middle of summer! And there's a reason why so many May Day traditions talk about that day being the first day of Summer: because that was the traditional beginning of Summer! "Unite and unite, and we will all unite, for Summer is a-comen today". People don't pay much attention to tradition nowadays... Fuzzypeg 00:49, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
I didn't mean for there to be only two seasons. I would think that the other sabbats would begin/mark the middle of the seasons. Disinclination 21:12, 19 March 2007 (UTC)
Candlemas, May Day, Lammas and All Hallows are known as the "Cross-Quarter Days", and are the modern forms of the old Celtic festivals of Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnassadh and Samhain. These are sometimes described as "fire festivals". They fall roughly at mid-points between the solstices and equinoxes (Candlemas is between midwinter and Spring equinox, etc.), although there seems to be no consensus as to how the ancients determined the precise dates. Hence the variety of dates now observed: everyone has their own theory (or uses the modern dates).
The Quarter days (solstices and equinoxes) were a recent addition to the set of sabbats (see the article). These were observed to a greater or lesser extent by the English public: Christmas is the most obvious one; midsummer had a variety of folk observances; the autumn equinox was marked with various odd traditions including the widespread observance of the Devil's nutting day; and spring, I can't remember at the moment... It seems unlikely that these observances were thought of as part of a greater set of 8 festivals until the Bricket Wood coven's innovation (see article). The Quarter days were also observed by English neo-Druids and ceremonial magicians in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The terms "Quarter days" and "Cross-quarter days" come down to us as economic/legal terms, for they were (and still are) rent days or term days on which rates were due and servants were hired. The English and Irish "Quarter Days" were the solstices and equinoxes (roughly); the "Cross-quarter days" were the old Celtic fire festivals. In Scotland they had "Term days", which were the close to the English Cross-quarter days. See Quarter days. Fuzzypeg 02:35, 14 March 2007 (UTC)
Sorry ('Peg?), I trimmed the first 3 words from your text above ("The solstices at")and now it's ok. I just couldn't sleep at night with you calling the crossquarterdays "solstices" (typo, eh?) earrach
Thanks. A bit of verbal diarrhoea, I'm afraid. I was probably thinking "sabbats". Fuzzypeg 03:31, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Okay. I tried to re-write it. Tell me what you guys think? :)

Wiccans, and some Neopagan groups, observe eight festivals, which are commonly referred to as "sabbats".[1] Four of these fall on the solstices and equinoxes, which are known as "quarter days", and the other four fall (approximately) midway between, and are commonly known as "cross-quarter days" or "fire festivals". The "quarter days" are loosely based, or named after, the Germanic festivals, and the "cross-quarter days" are similarily inspired by the Gaelic festivals. However, modern interpretations vary widely, so Wiccan groups may celebrate and conceptualize these festivals in very different ways, dominantly having little in common with the cultural festivals outside of the adopted name. The "quarter days" and the "cross-quarter days" are also referred to as "Minor" and "Major" sabbats, respectively.[2]

It should be noted that exact dates for the sabbats, and the fact that there are 8 of them, is a relatively new concept that did not exist in pagan religions in the past and was popularised by the Wiccan religion. [3]

References in order: Wiccan Veterans waging new war Devon Haynie March 3, 2007, Wicca For The Rest Of Us: The Wheel of the Year/the Sabbats", The Eightfold Wheel of the Year Moonhunter 2003.

Any good? :) Disinclination 19:36, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

Looks pretty good to me.
*Septegram*Talk*Contributions* 21:46, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
Thank you. :) I'll go put it up.. and if anyone has a problem with it, just.. edit it? I suppose. I just wanted to make it a bit clearer to the average reader. Disinclination 21:51, 15 March 2007 (UTC)
One query: is Gaelic not a subgroup of Celtic, and would not Celtic be better, including as it does the other inhabitants of the British Isles? I'm not the expert on this, but it looked slightly strange... Fuzzypeg 00:49, 19 March 2007 (UTC)

Origin of the term 'Litha'[edit]

I am not sure that Litha was invented by Aidan Kelly; it is the Anglo-Saxon name for Midsummer, I thought? Tolkien refers to Aerre Lithe (before midsummer) in one of the Appendices to Lord of the Rings. --yewtree 13:18, 21 May 2007 (UTC) ---

I think the inferrence was to be that Kelly introduced the usage into the Neopagan scene so I wedged that in as a fix. A further reference to the Bede source ("de Temporum Ratione" by the Venerable Bede, 8th century) would be good there too, it -is- the sole ancient source for the terms "Litha", "Modranect"(Mothers Night), and "Eastre"( "Ostara" is a guess-word Jacob Grimm gave us the 19th century ). Earrach (talk) 22:52, 3 April 2009 (UTC)

More Cleanup[edit]

Since the last overhaul on this that I was involved with, I see a certain amount of Neopaganism defaulting to Wicca has crept back in. So, I'm clarifying a few things, more along the lines of what was here after that cleanup. I'm also moving the Moon Sabbats thing here to the talk page, as that has been waiting on a source for many, many months.

Dates of Moon Sabbats
Imbolc: new, crescent, 1st quarter
Beltane: 1st quarter, gibbous, full moon
Lammas: full, disseminating, 3rd quarter
Samhain: 3rd quarter, balsamic, new

Additionally, there's still a lot of OR in this article. Though a lot of it is "common knowledge", there really needs to be more sourcing. I've held off on flagging it, but we have whole sections that are without even a single source. - Kathryn NicDhàna 21:12, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Fire festivals[edit]

It's just plain silly that 'fire festival' defaults to 'Wheel of the Year'. I was looking for something about Japan's Katsuyama Sagicho and ended up here in this very Euro article. Alpheus (talk) 04:10, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

Agreed - much better to have a disambiguation page that leads to both. Set one up, or I'll do so myself if I can find the article you mention! Kim Dent-Brown (Talk) 08:02, 24 February 2008 (UTC)


8 Festivals and the connection with Ross Nichols, Druidry etc?[edit]

This doesn't really explain why we have these 8 though? I've seen several reports that Gerald Gardners coven was only celebrating the fire festivals/cross quarters at that nudist camp, and the inclusion of the solar festivals/quarters was partly a) to give an excuse for more meetings (& potlucks), and b) after discussion with Ross Nichols, being involved with meso-Druid movements that celebrated those only. Ross Nichols went on to use all 8 as well when forming OBOD, which gave us the 'Wheel of the Year' being used in the Wiccan & Neodruid tradition (to use Isaac Bonewits terms), and so associated with Neopaganism in general. Did Hutton cover this? I know Phillip Carr-Gomm has mentioned it. - 222.154.238.36 (talk) 01:00, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

The reference is clearly given in the article: Fred Lamond, 50 Years of Wicca. As he explains, the Wiccans were celebrating the cross-quarters, but adopted the solstices and equinoxes (while Gardner was away travelling) as obvious seasonal points they could add to their list of celebrations. Lamond surmises that one reason Gardner was happy to accept these additions was because it brought them more in line with the Druid practices of his friend Nichols. And no, I don't believe Hutton mentions this; he seems to assume the 8 festivals was an innovation of Gardner's.
I can't speak for OBOD and why they ended up with eight festivals. Fuzzypeg 00:43, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Correspondence Table?[edit]

I have looked on the 2009 and 2012 year of, pages and found nothing, as well as the Cross-quarter day, and Neopaganism page... Would it be possible to list the dates of the Wheel, for upcoming years, I am trying to get organized for next year, but cannot find anything. 76.170.118.232 (talk) 07:38, 10 October 2008 (UTC) 2008-10-10 T00:38 Z-7

The times of the Sabbats differ depending on which sabbat, where in the world, and what method you decide to calculate them by.
The equinoxes and solstices have the most widely agreed-upon dates, but these differ depending on what time-zone you're in. See those two articles for the dates/times in UTC for the next few years.
The Greater Sabbats are calculated differently by different people. One common scheme is 2 Feb, 1 May, 1 Aug and 1 Nov, however many people celebrate each of these festivals on the eve before, and others choose quite different dates.
And if you're in the southern hemisphere, remember to switch all the festivals six months apart. You can probably see by now why a single correspondence table might not work. Fuzzypeg 00:36, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

Sabbat names[edit]

I've done a little rearranging so that newfangled names like Mabon and Litha aren't necessarily the first names listed. I've tried to follow the namings given in authoritative sources describing traditional Wicca, such as the Farrars' books, Doreen Valiente and so on. Fuzzypeg 01:38, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

"Christian Wiccan" propoganda in lead section?[edit]

I'm sorry guys but a 172 word entry wedged into the lead section of the article attempting to justify/rationalize so-called "Christian Wiccans"? The article is about the Neopagan Wheel of the Year, not a soapbox for promoting a tiny population of a subsection of Neopaganism that by many NP folks' estimation is as legitiamte a classifcation as "Nazi Jews", "Black Klansmen", or "Republican Liberals". I'm pulling it and leaving the text below: PULLED: "In some instances Christian Wiccans, also called 'Celtic Christians'(termed as adherants of Celtic Christianity ) utilize these festivals and their framework, while adhering to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible. In Wiccan belief an individual has the freedom to select the deity of their own conscience, therefore Jesus is permitted; further because the historical church did utizile these festivals in Celtic and Germanic lands in earlier history, it is equally appropriate for Christians who want to honor their heritage to utilize these festivals as for Pagan Adherants to utilize them. In this way both Pagan and Christian people with an interest in the festivals and culture of their own heritage can find satisfaction in celebrating European Feast Days that may stem back into the Bronze Age, while continuing to honor their own inner beliefs and faith. In this way, both groups use Celtic and Germanic Festivals as a framework for worship, symbol, the teaching of morality, and so on, and both are free to choose the deities of their choice.'' ENDQUOTE Earrach (talk) 23:50, 3 April 2009 (UTC)

Discrepancy about location[edit]

In the Yule section it is said that Bethlehem is in "the SOUTHERN hemisphere" which is clearly not the case seeing Israel lies about 29 degrees north of the equator at its southernmost point and Bethlehem is at around 31°42′11″ if we use the commonly accepted location for Jesus' birth. LeoDaVinci (talk) 18:57, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

You are right, and doesn't this invalidate the whole argument that is set forth in that section? Julienvr (talk) 20:53, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

Someone is vandalizing Samhain[edit]

I removed obvious false information from the section on Samhain (someone claimed that children pursue candy to ward off demons, among other things). —Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.180.49.1 (talk) 05:16, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

wheel of the year in other religions??[edit]

The wheel of the year is sometimes said to reflect the growing season and harvest cycles of agrarian communities. There are references to such cycles in other religions and traditions? Perhaps a section could be added on that (after all there is much comparative religion in other articles esp amongst the Abrahamists). I was just looking here ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ritual_Decalogue

and it struck me the similarities with the harvestings and the wheel of the year. Maybe there is more like that. I have not added it as some might see it as original research. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 84.231.178.239 (talk) 17:05, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

Oak King and Holly King[edit]

The version of the story of the Oak King and Holly King is contrary to any version I have ever heard. I had always heard that the Oak King wins at the winter solstice and the Holly King wins at the summer solstice. I read through the citation given and the only mention of the Oak King was in reference to St. John. There was no mention of the Holly King. Does anyone have more accurate information on this story? WarriorPrincessDanu (talk) 15:06, 20 June 2011 (UTC)WarriorPrincessDanu

Narratives, Celtic sub-section[edit]

I've started cleaning up this article as I can. Admittedly, I've been letting a lot slide (for the interim) given the original horrid state of this article, but it looks like Wheel of the Year is getting more attention again! I am glad to see a return of at least a few discerning eyes. To that end, some collaboration:

Kathryn NicDhàna (talk · contribs) removed the Oak and Holly kings story from the Celtic narratives section.

None of this is Celtic. Source to Celtic sources, not Wiccan ones, if you want to re-add

Honestly, I'm a little tossed on how to treat the segment. The battle is too common a Neopagan narrative to omit but as the result of speculation on the part of Robert Graves, it can be claimed a modern non-Celtic story. On the other hand, it has acceptance in modern Neo-Druidry[4], thus can be argued at least a modern addition and this article's focus is on modern Paganism.
Sowlos (talk) 07:25, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

I do think the motif is significant, and should be included in an article or section that covers the groups who incorporate this myth cycle: usually Wiccans and Neopagan traditions derived from Wicca. The Neo-druid groups that use this are rather eclectic, but as long as it's not mislabled as Celtic, I think it can be added back in. Let me look at the article and see where it might fit. Slàn, - Kathryn NicDhàna 17:54, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
On it. Editing now. - Kathryn NicDhàna 17:55, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Not sure I improved the Celtic section. I basically explained that we don't have a cyclical narrative. I will not be offended if you want to cut it or move it elsewhere. Slàn, - Kathryn NicDhàna 18:33, 17 November 2012 (UTC)
Expanding the Wicca section to accommodate the Graves narrative should work for now. I still feel like there should be a better way to categorize it.
You are right to keep the Celtic section. Normally, I see no reason to mention a historical culture that lacks a narrative fitting into the WotY. There are many. However, given the high ratio of 'Neowiccans' to other Pagans and the lack of historical understanding prevalent among many of them, I think it is necessary. I am going to try clarifying the wording, though.
Sowlos (talk) 06:26, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
The source you used for They observe the four Celtic holidays, also known as "fire festivals," and do not generally refer to their calendar as "The Wheel of the Year." clearly states modern Celtic practitioners may adhere the modern Wheel — illustrating my what do you define as Celtic, only historical or modern developments too? dilemma. Also, Welsh seasonal festivals, which you subsequently linked to, lists festivals for all eight major points on the Wheel.
I have removed mention of what festivals are/aren't part of Celtic practice due to the conflicts and its off topic nature in the context of narratives.
Sowlos (talk) 08:30, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

Article template[edit]

I would like some clarification on the appropriate template for this article. My understanding of the templates is that the article should be a part of the relevant series, i.e. linked in the template. It seems more appropriate to me that the WiccaandWitchcraft template containing the Wheel of the Year link is used for this article rather than the Contemporary Paganism series template which does not contain such a link. See also Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Neopaganism/Templates, my understanding is that only the most appropriate one should be included. Thanks in advance for any feedback on this. HelenOnline (talk) 10:02, 23 November 2012 (UTC)

P.S. I am interested in general as this would also affect other pages I am working on. HelenOnline (talk) 10:06, 23 November 2012 (UTC)

This article was originality written from a Wiccan point of view, but it was expanded quite some time ago. The described celebration cycle is not exclusive to Wiccans.
Due to the low activity on Pagan related articles, there are still some remnants of the old state of affairs (e.g. this article being linked in {{WiccaandWitchcraft}} rather than {{Contemporary Paganism}}. However, they are not indications of how things should be; they are issues in need of updating.
Wheel of the Year is properly categorized under contemporary Paganism, but Sabbats may be suitable for expansion into a full article covering the Witchcraft-only angle.
Sowlos (talk) 20:32, 23 November 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback Sowlos. HelenOnline (talk) 07:06, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

Additional citations required[edit]

I have added some citations, but am not sure exactly where more are required. I would appreciate some inline Citation needed templates for guidance if anyone can help with that. HelenOnline (talk) 07:37, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

It's not just how many sources are cited, it's also the quality of those sources. Most paragraphs and all sections now are sourced, but several of them need replacing or support from sources with broader coverage.
Sowlos (talk) 14:56, 25 November 2012 (UTC)

RfC: Should this article be moved/split?[edit]

Glitched edit, please fix[edit]

Hello! I attempted to edit this article from my phone. It went fairly well (although I had to use desktop mode and an external editor), but it seems to have glitched a bit. For whatever reason, a section header got messed up. Fixing it should be easy for a desktop user, but would be almost impossible from my cellphone. Please press ctrl+F (Windows / Linux; idk if that works on Macs), and type "==" (w/o the quotes, ofc), and your browser should take you right to it. I'm guessing some nowiki flags must have been automatically added to it. Just remove those, and it will hopefully be fixed.

Also, regarding my last edit, is there any information available on how the Wheel works for those of us near-ish to the equator? For example, where I live (Naples, in southwest Florida), we have a tropical climate with two seasons: wet/warm (during the N Hemisphere's summer), and dry/cool (during winter). No snow of course, and very little change in day length.

Alrighty, that's it for now.  :)

~MaiyaH78 04:59, 17 July 2013 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done HelenOnline 06:45, 17 July 2013 (UTC)

  1. ^ http://www.hamiltonspectator.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=hamilton/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1172877012955&call_pageid=1020420665036&col=1112188062620 Wiccan Veterns waging new war Devon Haynie March 3, 2007
  2. ^ http://wicca.timerift.net/sabbat.shtml "The Wheel of the Year/the Sabbats"
  3. ^ http://www.manygods.org.uk/articles/essays/wheel.html "The Eightfold Wheel of the Year" Moonhunter 2003
  4. ^ Druid Mysteries: Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century, by Philip Carr-Gomm