Wheel of the Year
For hundreds of thousands of years, our ancestors lived in tune with the seasons. They were dependent on the spring for planting crops, and the autumn for harvest to provide food for the long winter. The sun’s changing rhythms dictated their daily lives, and honouring the seasonal changes was a natural expression of their gratitude. It is thought that our ancestors cultivated a close and reciprocal relationship with the land they tended. This in turn created meaningful bonds within their community through their shared experiences of the holidays throughout the year.
The Wheel of the Year is an ancient tradition that celebrates the eight solar holidays throughout the year. It is a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, and it is represented by a wheel with eight spokes. The opposite ends of the wheel are the Winter solstice from 21st to 22nd December in parallel with the Summer Solstice on 20th-22nd June.
It is thought that using a tarot to read the Wheel of the Year helps us to connect with the natural cycles of the Earth and ourselves. These are based on the eight pagan sabbats, or holidays, that mark the changing of the seasons and the solstices and equinoxes. Each sabbat has its own unique energy and symbolism, and the tarot cards can be used to tap into that energy and gain guidance for our lives.
Yule, 21st to 22nd December
Yule is the celebration of the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. The tradition historically lasted two weeks from the winter solstice to early January. It is a time of rebirth and new beginnings as the sun has reached its weakest point and from the solstice onwards grows ‘stronger’. The Yule sabbat also serves as the basis for our modern day Christmas holiday. It is still featured in many modern day festive decorations such as yule logs and Christmas trees. The colours representing the Yule, red, green, and gold also are common themes for the Christmas holidays.
Imbolc, 1st to 2nd February
The Imbolc sabbat is the celebration of the first stirrings of spring. Winter is almost over, and we can look forward to spring. It takes place in early February when the winter is starting to fade and follows a similar theme of looking forward to more sun – It is a time of new life and hope. Figuratively and, well, literally the Earth is waking up as the days become lighter for longer and there’s more rain to help the growth of plants and crops. Plants like blackberries start to come into season. The Imbolc is the start of the time to plant new crops. The tarot cards associated with Imbolc are the High Priestess and the Ace of Wands.
Ostara, 21st March
The name Ostara comes from the Germanic Goddess Eostar of fertility and Spring. Ostara is the traditional start day of Spring among our ancestors. It is the day when day and night are equal in length. It is a time of balance and harmony. Flowers are in full blooms of colours and our gardens are a range of blues, reds, and yellows. Light and warmth return in tandem with rain to create the perfect conditions for growth and rebirth for nature. It’s also a chance to clear the effects of winter from your mind and mentally reset for spring and summer. The Easter holidays are still celebrated now, and much of the symbolisms such as rabbits, baby chicks and painted eggs still remain. The tarot cards associated with Ostara are the Emperor and the Empress.
Beltane, 1st May
Beltane, or as its widely known May Day, is the middle point between the seasons of spring and summer. Beltane comes from the pagan God of Sun, symbolising the fertility of Earth. The day is a celebration of the Earth being in its most fertile state. The days are warmer, there’s still rain but not enough to be a wash out. Animals are born and new plants are sprouting. In many European countries it is observed as a fertility festival that celebrates the union of the earth and the sky. Many places will light bonfires as a representation of protection, or dance round a May Pole. It is a time of beginnings and creativity. The tarot cards associated with Beltane are the Lovers and the Ace of Cups.
Litha, 20th-24th May
The sabbat of Litha is the summer solstice otherwise known as the longest day of the year when we receive maximum sunlight. This occurs when the Earth is tilted towards the Sun and the sun reaches its highest position in the sky. Litha is celebrated because this is when the Earth is at its absolute peak as indicated by the warm, sunny days. In general, people’s moods are a lot better, and it is believed that the sun’s maximum energy contributes to this. To this day the Summer Solstice is still celebrated at Stonehenge by druids, and the general population as it’s a time of joy. The tarot cards associated with Litha are the Chariot and the Ace of Swords.
Lughnasadh [or Lamas], 1st August
Lughnasadh celebrates the harvest festival that rejoices in the first fruits of the season being collected. It is a time of gratitude and abundance, and for collecting food to prepare for the harsher winter months. It is believed that our ancestors saw it as the day the Sun would put its last bit of energy into a gift which came in the form of harvested food. The tarot cards associated with Lughnasadh are the Justice and the Ace of Pentacles.
Mabon, 21st-24th September
Much like the spring equinox, Mabon is the autumn equinox, the day when day and night are equal in length. From this day onwards there is less, and a lot less light in our days. Our ancestors used it as a time of balance and to reflect on the previous months of good fortune, blessed weather and harvest. Mabon is a time to give thanks, and many pagans hold Thanksgiving, to look back at the gifts the Earth and Sun have given us over the year. The tarot cards associated with Mabon are the Hermit and the Hanged Man.
Samhain, 31st October – 1st November
Samhain, or as its more widely known Halloween is the Celtic New Year. It is a time to pay respects to those that have passed. It is the lats spoke on the wheel, which marks the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. Many people will take the time to take gratitude for everything they have achieved and have in life. The tarot cards associated with Samhain are the Death and the Tower.
Need a place to stay?
Looking to book for the Winter or Summer solstices at Stonehenge? If you’re heading to Wiltshire to celebrate the Wheel of the Year, book one of our campsite spaces. If you’re not keen on camping but want to enjoy an alternative accommodation experience, you can go book the Hobbit Hole!
Brades Acre’s quirky and cute glamping pod, aptly named the Hobbit Hole in honour of those legendary inhabitants of Middle-Earth from the writings of JRR Tolkien, is highly sought after for weekend and overnight stays near Stonehenge.
If Middle-Earth isn’t your vibe, then why not relax in one of our log cabins! The log cabin sleeps four in a double bed and two singles, so it’s ideal for a small family get-away. It may feel like living in a fairy tale, but the mod-cons are all there, including a fridge and TV set. There’s even a porch where you can sit and enjoy some stargazing.