Like many others within the pagan communities, I recognise and honour the special times of the year for reflection and celebration, known as the Wheel of the Year. Interestingly many festivals and sacred days across religions and spiritualities often coincide within date and similar themes to the eight Sabbats that are celebrated by many pagans and those who follow Earth-based spiritual pathways. Christianity and other religions have many celebrations and festivals that coincide with the Wheel of the Year, including Samhain/All Soul’s Eve, Yule/Christmas, Imbolc/Candlemas, Oestara/Easter and Madron/Harvest festival. Indeed these festivals even share key elements, for example, Samhain on the 31st October and All Soul’s Eve on November 1st are special times dedicated to remembering and honouring our ancestors and those who have passed before us; Yule around 21st-22nd December focuses on family gatherings, good will, and of the birth of the light returning to the the earth like Christmas on 25th December; Oestra and Easter in April both celebrate the rebirth of the land, and of the fertility and fruitfulness of Spring.
There are many, many more coinciding themes that can be found in sacred or holy days between different cultures and beliefs- just consider how many individuals celebrate their own recognised holidays with feasting, community and family gatherings and light in the form of candles, bonfires, and fireworks!
The Wheel of the Year is a celebration of Sabbats, marking the changes, shifts and cycles of energy within the year. The Wheel of the Year follows the natural rhythm of the seasons in Nature and incorporates elements of the planetary, solar and lunar cycles as well as agricultural influences and traditional customs.
By reflecting on themes that coincide with the changes occurring in our surrounding environment, one can observe the balance of light and dark, cause and effect, birth, death, and re-birth that the seasons bring. In opening our awareness to Nature we can reflect on the natural cycles and recognise the “seasons” that are present in our own lives, becoming reconnected with the rhythms of the Earth.