It all starts with nature.
It is kind of amazing that we have forgotten this. We have gotten so out of sync with Earth cycles, and instead we move to the rhythm of capitalism and economy, a cycle of production dictated by systems that seek perpetual growth at any cost.
The Wheel of the Year is calendar of sorts. A calendar that follows the seasons of the year, but also the seasons of our life, and the seasons of a day, and a month. When you live your life by the Wheel of the Year you will feel more in sync with the Earth, with Gaia, with nature, and with your ancestors. Life will flow more effortlessly, once you break the bonds of the GO-GO culture that we find ourselves living in.
Reading the Wheel
Starting at the right , or eastern side of the Wheel, we have Spring. This season is associated with the Maiden, with water, sunrise, and with awakening. It begins with the Spring Equinox, around March 21, and ends on the Summer Solstice, June 21. It is the time of blossoming, of fertility, of revealing the seeds that have been growing deep underground all winter, in the dark void.
During spring, you may feel your energy grow, gathering force after the dark, dreamy, quiet winter. This is a good time to listen to what is growing inside you, what dreams, ideas, and secrets are emerging, just like the plants and flowers that are beginning to bud. What have you been quietly manifesting in dark winter, and what wants to blossom forth? Encourage those buds, gently coaxing them, and allowing them room to grow, giving them the nourishment that they need.
To the south, is Summer. This is the season of fire, of the Mother, of high noon, of productivity and intense growing. This is the season in which we grow all the fruits and nourishment that we will use throughout the Autumn and Winter. During this season, the days are longest, and we work hardest, burning our fire energy. This is a period of abundance, but also working and producing.
Man believe that our modern culture is keeping us in a season of perpetual summer, of constant productivity, and working long long days. If we do this for too long, we eventually burn out. Living according to the seasons, means that as Fall Equinox arrives, we begin to slow down, and transition to Autumn, and leave behind the energetic days of Summer.
Autumn is associated with the Wise Woman, with water, and with dusk. During this period, we harvest, and gather our resources that we have been cultivating over Spring and Summer, and begin to prepare for the quiet of Winter.
In Autumn, we cut back that which is no longer needed in our lives, as in our gardens, so that energy can be focused inwardly. It is a good time to consider what to keep and what can be discarded, and where to focus your energy. It is time to rest, and be okay with slowing down, doing “nothing”, or just cutting back on what you commit to. Use the resources you have, do not start new projects, or attempt to burn with the energy of Summer.
Winter is the season of deep night, of the Crone, and of Earth. During Winter, we learn to go into deep sleep and to dream with Gaia. We let our bodies become very still, and conserve our energy in the long nights. During this time, the Earth draws its energy inward. Plants die back above the ground so that they may gather their energy below ground, in their roots, in preparation for blossoming in the Spring. This is a time for letting go, for merging with the void, and for deep rest and quiet. This may be the hardest season to flow with, as the quiet and stillness can be unnerving to some. When Winter draws toward Imbolc, around February 1, you may start to feel the stirrings of the seeds that you have planted over Autumn and Winter begin to stir, and the cycle will begin again.
SEASONS OF THE DAY
While the Wheel of the Year maps perfectly to the currents of the seasons, it also maps to the times of day, and you can learn to ride the currents of the day in the same way that you ride the currents of the seasons.
Morning 6 – 10am
Morning corresponds to sunrise/Spring, and is a time for blossoming, and early growth. This is a good time to collect your thoughts, plan your day, determine where you will put your energy.
Midday 10am – 3pm
High noon corresponds to Summer and fire. This is the most productive time of the day, and you can plan to get your most pressing and important work done during this time.
Dusk 4pm – 8pm
At dusk, it is time to let the high energy of the day retreat, and to begin to transition to night and sleep. Find a ritual for slowing down, and allowing your body to quiet and turn inward.
Night 10 pm – 3am
Night is the time of deep sleep and dreaming. If you have been in Summer through the evening, by staying on devices and working, it can be hard for your body to fully relax into sleep. Sleep is when the body regenerates itself, rids itself of waste, and creates important hormones to keep us vital. So it is very important to allow yourself to experience deep sleep and relaxation every night, so that you can meet the day again with energy and vigor.
SEASONS OF LIFE
In the same way that the Wheel of the Year works for the day, it also works for your life.
Spring/Maiden Ages 8-20
In the Spring, you are associated with the Maiden, with youth, and fertility. It is a time for trying new things, for exploring, being open minded and free. Many things may blossom for you in Spring, and you will have energy to pursue them all.
Summer/Mother Ages 25-50
As you enter Summer, whether or not you have children, it is a time associated with Motherhood. This is the time of caregiving, of feeding and nurturing people and projects around you, of working hard, and giving of yourself. Days will be long, you will not have much time for yourself, and you will be tired. It is an important time to be productive, to create, and to work hard.
Autumn/Wise Woman Ages 50-75
Autumn is the time for harvesting all that you have created. For calling in your crops and celebrating and living off of the bounty you have created. Your crops or projects may still be producing, but you are now more focused on reaping than on working hard. You will begin to be able to say “no” to more, to give less of yourself, and focus a little bit more inwardly.
Winter/Crone Age 75+
During the Winter you become more solitary and inwardly focused. This is a time for conserving your energy, not starting new projects, and using the knowledge and wisdom you have collected and can recognize inside yourself. It is a time for deeply connecting with Gaia and nature, and slowing down to prepare for transformation.
The Wheel of the Year in Your Life
Can you immediately find connections to the Wheel of the Year in your life? Have you been riding the regenerative currents of the Earth, or have you been living in perpetual summer? What rituals can you observe to bring you in closer touch with the seasons of the year, of the day, and of your life? We love the rituals suggested on The Seasonal Soul.
Shari Boyer, Founder, Plant Society
My understanding of the Wheel of the Year is informed by the teaching I learned as an apprentice in The School of the Sacred Wild, with Marysia Miernowska, our fabulous teacher. Thank you also to Erin Bruce of The Seasonal Soul for her deep work on the Wheel of the Year, and her lovely drawing.