Season and Spirit: Magickal Adventures Around the Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year is the engine that drives NeoPagan practice. Explore thw magick of the season beyond the Eight Great Sabbats.

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Leni Hester

Leni Hester

Leni Hester is a Witch and writer from Denver, Colorado. Her work appears in the Immanion anthologies "Pop Culture Grimoire," "Women's Voices in Magick" and "Manifesting Prosperity". She is a frequent contributor to Witches and Pagans and Sagewoman Magazines.

Spring Equinox: Aries, Action & Identity

Friday March 20 marked several astrological events, all of which gave power to this year's Spring Equinox. Not only was it the Equinox, when day and night are balanced, marking the shift into a new season and an acceleration towards the light in this waxing year, it was also a SuperMoon and a Solar eclipse. While the eclipse was not visible in most of the Americas, the timing and power of these events were felt, subtly and not so subtly, throughout the world.

Although many Pagans mark the “new year” on Samhain or Yule, for many ancient cultures the New Year started in Spring. For while the work of the new year may be seeded or dreamed of in the dark of Winter, it is now that this new life becomes evident. Just as the baby rabbits born weeks ago are starting to come out and explore, just as the new buds that have been plumping up for weeks are starting to pop, maybe we are aware of something stirring inside ourselves.

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The Green Season: the Approach of Spring and Finding Our Work

The past few weeks have been wintery indeed. Yes it is March, but there is still plenty of snow in my yard, and there's more snow in the forecast. It was not until yesterday that a sudden warm snap began to hint at the Spring that is due to arrive any time now. So while many of my friends have been chattering at me about tree buds, or cherry blossoms, or legions of daffodils suddenly popping up in a sunny patch of their yards, it all sounds like a fable to me, and I didn't quite believe any of it.

A Rocky Mountain Spring takes its own sweet damn time anyway, and March and April are our snowiest months traditionally. So as weary as one gets to be of Winter by now, we are also grateful for the cold and the snow, for a deeper snow pack, for flowers that bloom in concert with arrival of the birds and insects that feed on them. All of us have noticed the rhythms and cycles of the seasons where we live, and no doubt all of us have noticed changes in recent years. I certainly have—drier, colder Winters that end abruptly, hot smoky Summers. So I am perfectly content for the Winter to go on as long as it needs to. I have lots of work to do in the garden before planting can start. I have plenty to do in my house and office, clearing and cleaning before the new projects of the year can truly begin. I may grumble about having to shift yet another five inches of new fallen snow, or having to run errands in 20 degrees of icy fog, but given the alarming specter of permanent climate change, a real Winter, with a real Winter's bite, is somewhat reassuring.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Dead of Winter: January 31, Hecate's Feast

Many years ago, from some long forgotten source, I read that the goddess Hecate's sacred festival was celebrated on January 31. Although I have never been able to find the source or corroborate this information (Stewart and Janet Farrar's classic “The Witches' Goddess” mentions August 13 for her annual festival as well as the night of the Full moon), I have celebrated this feast every year, in preparation for Imbolc and as an entry into the coldest (but not darkest) part of the Winter.

My experience of Hecate is as a seasonal Goddess. I sense her presence in October, as the frost bitten garden finally dies back, as the light deepens into honey and amber, in the first tantalizing days of Hallowstide, the first days of the thinning Veil. She is present in the Descent, and in the Underworld, and in the solemn, silent movements of our beloved dead. She is present in the rapidly darkening year, and she helps to midwife in the promise of the sacred Child, reborn as the Sun at the Winter Solstice.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Leisa Reynolds
    Leisa Reynolds says #
    My mother passed 21 years ago this Jan 31 and every year since her passing I have gotten up and taken a deep breath and thought to
  • Leni Hester
    Leni Hester says #
    Thanks for sharing this, Leisa! My mom and gramma have died in the past 2 years, and the loss is so present with me, at this time
  • Deborah Blake
    Deborah Blake says #
    I love this :-)
  • Leni Hester
    Leni Hester says #
    Thanks, Deborah! signed, squeeing fangirl of your work!
At home in the Dark: Winter and New Year magick

The moon has not come up yet, and my neighborhood is dark and cold. It strikes me how very dark it is tonight, compared with just a few weeks ago. The holiday lights are gone. The hills behind my house are dark as pitch, but less than a month ago I could have easily made out street after street in sharp detail, because the stringed lights were so bright and covered so many houses and trees. Tonight is very dark, but clear so the stars are very bright. It is biting cold out, with a sharp breeze out of the North. Nothing is stirring out there. The trees are bare and hard as wire, there is no hint of a bud anywhere. It is Winter, deep and austere.

Once the glitter of the holiday season all gets put away, and we settle into Winter's deep freeze and stillness, we might feeled challenged or distracted. For many of us, Winter means increased expense, work and worry. Snow is beautiful indeed, til the fifteenth time you've had to shovel inches of it off your driveway, and then join a white-knuckled, treacherous commute. It's wearying, carrying extra layers, taking cautious steps. Everything seems to take longer. We feel less vital, cooped up, perhaps depressed by the cold weather and dark skies. While there can be so much beauty and revelry in Winter, it is for many people the hardest, least joyful time of the year.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Magic of Christmas

In the weeks leading up to December 24, my 8-year-old kept asking the same question. She asked it in as many different ways as she could, trying to tease out the information she was convinced I was withholding. She asked it after her choir's holiday concert, she asked it when she and her sister came shopping with me for gifts. She asked it as we made cookies, as we planned menus, even as we drove up to Boulder for a children's Solstice celebration. However she put it, the question remained the same:

“Mom, is Santa Claus real?”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
First of the Season

Last weekend, the first pumpkins showed up at the farmer's market.

The first pumpkins, scarecrows and Halloween decorations appeared in the neighborhood.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Mabon and the Search for Balance

As the Summer winds down towards the Autumnal Equinox, we are in between two seasons. In this time of transition, we stand at a crossroads, one foot in the Waxing Year, one in the Waning. Hot sunny days give way to cooler nights. The rains are more frequent and last all night, and out in the garden I am bringing in a harvest as well as getting ready to 'winterize.' Most trees are still vibrant and green, but here and there you can see a tinge of rusty red or a shock of yellow leaves. The light thickens like honey, and even as we are enjoy the last days of Summer's warmth and light, we already sense the slow steady pull downward, towards the Descent and the darkening days of the Waning Year. Right now we stand suspended between these two seasons, and for a brief moment we feel balance.

Balance is the law that governs all of nature, but it rarely shows itself as a static, tranquil point. The balance I'm talking about is a dance, a commotion of interconnected and interdependent parts that make up the living systems of our planet. The plants, animals, land and weather all interact and act upon each other, effecting the very shape of the landscape. Any change or disruption to one part of the web will be felt throughout it. Those changes can be for good or ill, but they are unpredictable and may take a long time to reveal themselves. At Mabon, we stand in a place of balance where many possibilities are open to us. We strive to come to a still point of balance, amidst change and potential, where we can take a moment and see where we are, in our lives and the Year, and the webs of connection that make up our own lives.

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