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The Wheel of the Year

Coriolis

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I was asked recently about the significance of Yule, one of the 8 holidays that comprise the Pagan Wheel of the Year. I thought the topic worthy of its own thread, hence this OP.

These holidays, or sabbats, are relatively evenly spaced, 4 coinciding with the solstices and equinoxes, and the other four halfway in between these. Many correspond to more commonly known holidays like Christmas (Yule), Imbolg (Groundhog Day), Ostara (Easter), Beltaine (May Day), and Samhain (Halloween/All Saints Day). As the longest night of the year, Yule symbolizes the return of the light to the world, a symbolism often associated with the birth of Jesus. This is a big part of why we celebrate his birth near the solstice, rather than in March sometime which is probably when he was really born.

Here are a couple links with more details about the individual holidays and the whole cyclic nature of life represented in the symbol of a Wheel.

Wheel of the Year - Ancient History Encyclopedia
Wheel of the Year: The 8 Wiccan Sabbats (2021 Dates) | The Pagan Grimoire

If you have questions about any of this, or celebrate any yourself, or want to discuss parallels among the various things humans celebrate throughout the course of the year, this is the place. Meanwhile, Blessed Yule (and Christmas, and Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, and every other Winter holiday) to everyone.
 

Red Memories

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It's really interesting to see how the Christian holidays actually heavily correlate to pagan ones... I appreciate you making this thread!

I am curious - are the gods/goddesses represented in these holidays like, main gods? Do they tier above the others? are they just particularly chosen because they correlate to the theme? Do all gods/goddesses have sort of "feast days" kind of like Catholic saints? My slim knowledge of paganism in any way came from my "predator" who sort of picked and chose the gods he wanted to involve with. Is that how most handle paganism as well or is it not the accurate way to handle it? XD

I'm sorry I laid like 20 theological questions here.
 

Firebird 8118

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FREAKING FINALLY! Thank you Cor! :roundthnx:

I know this started out as a Christmas/Yule thing but I also recall Samhain as a pagan tradition (which was in a sense “bastardized” to become what we know as Halloween). So I’m asking this more for others than myself: what is the significance of Samhain?
 

Coriolis

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My apologies. I didn't mean to start this thread and then abandon it.

It's really interesting to see how the Christian holidays actually heavily correlate to pagan ones... I appreciate you making this thread!

I am curious - are the gods/goddesses represented in these holidays like, main gods? Do they tier above the others? are they just particularly chosen because they correlate to the theme? Do all gods/goddesses have sort of "feast days" kind of like Catholic saints? My slim knowledge of paganism in any way came from my "predator" who sort of picked and chose the gods he wanted to involve with. Is that how most handle paganism as well or is it not the accurate way to handle it? XD

I'm sorry I laid like 20 theological questions here.
The term "paganism" refers nowadays to a broad spectrum of spiritual beliefs and practices, so generalizing is hard. One thing most have in common, though, is taking their lead from the natural world. The holidays, then, are based on the changing seasons, and especially on what that means for traditional agricultural cycles of planting and harvesting. In modern times, we intrpret this symbolically to large degree.

So, to take your questions. A given holiday, e.g. Yule, will be tied to events in the physical world, in this case, the Winter solstice. The different gods often come from different cultures and parts of the world. How the Solstice plays out will differ from culture to culture and pantheon to pantheon, though there will be common elements like the idea of darkness giving way to light. Even Christians use this symbolism for the birth of Jesus.

Some gods are associated more with certain holidays, but to understand that you need to understand how deity "works" for pagans, which is a huge topic in itself. To keep it brief, each pagan culture (think Greece, or Rome, or Scandinavia, or Ireland, or even the various native American cultures) will have an assortment of deities that represent whatever is important to that culture, be it social roles, or natural forces, or areas of human endeavor (e.g. war, music, domestic life). Some pagans consider them as truly separate entities. Others, like myself, consider them all as representations of one single divine entity, much as the Christian trinity are all aspects of one God. Deities are loosely sorted into male and female (god, goddess), and age: maiden, mother, crone; green man, father, sage. The youngest of these - maiden and green man - will be associated more with springtime holidays like Ostara and Beltaine; the mother and father with midsummer to early fall, as crops bear fruit and come to harvest; and the elders with the introspective times of Samhain and Yule, at which time the year renews. (Yes, for any Pagans out there this is a gross oversimplification, but it serves the purpose here.) Bottom line, I am not aware of any particular feast days of gods, but some will have special associations with certain holidays in certain traditions.

FREAKING FINALLY! Thank you Cor! :roundthnx:

I know this started out as a Christmas/Yule thing but I also recall Samhain as a pagan tradition (which was in a sense “bastardized” to become what we know as Halloween). So I’m asking this more for others than myself: what is the significance of Samhain?
Again, interpretations will vary from pagan tradition to tradition, but Samhain has a few common meanings. First, it is the last of the three harvest festivals, with Lammas (early August) and Mabon (fall equinox) being the other two. The last of the crops have been harvested, and the fields are being cleared of the dead, dry stalks, to lie dormant over the winter. Livestock that may not last the winter are slaughtered to provide food for the winter and save on feed. Death is in the air.

This is often taken to mean that the separation between the living and dead is especially thin, allowing us a chance to communicate with those who have gone beyond the veil. No, most pagans I know don't hold seances or think we can talk directly to the departed, but a primary focus of the holiday is remembering the deceased, especially those who have died in the year just passed. As such it functions much as the Christian All Saints Day. We often write messages to deceased loved ones in a book that is then burned, to consign the wishes and thoughts to the Universe. Of course the other aspect, as with secular Halloween, is just to enjoy the fruits of the harvest and have a big party. So, it is a holiday with both somber and fun aspects. Many Pagans mark Samahain as the beginning of the new year, or at least the end of the old. The wheel keeps turning into darkness, until the light is reborn at Yule.

Feel free to ask if you have other questions or want to discuss more. If anyone else celebrates these holidays, don't hesitate to add your perspective. The more, the merrier.
 

ceecee

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It's really interesting to see how the Christian holidays actually heavily correlate to pagan ones... I appreciate you making this thread!

I am curious - are the gods/goddesses represented in these holidays like, main gods? Do they tier above the others? are they just particularly chosen because they correlate to the theme? Do all gods/goddesses have sort of "feast days" kind of like Catholic saints? My slim knowledge of paganism in any way came from my "predator" who sort of picked and chose the gods he wanted to involve with. Is that how most handle paganism as well or is it not the accurate way to handle it? XD

I'm sorry I laid like 20 theological questions here.

December 25th was generally thought to be the feast day of Sol Invictus - the festival of "Natalis Invicti". Or somewhere in that general time frame. Easy enough to just rename it the feast day for Christ.

As a footnote, strange that the Sun cult didn't celebrate solstice in this feast day but it appears they didn't. But since Easter, not Christmas is the main Christian holiday, it got shoehorned in with a bunch of other pagan traditions in Western and Northern Europe. Such as Eostre and her feast of spring, which is a much more realistic thing to celebrate - being able to plant, livestock and the end of winter - than anything else at that time of year.

But Jacob Grimm (the fairy tales guy) is heavily responsible for what is seen as part of the Easter modern holiday.
 

Julius_Van_Der_Beak

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December 25th was generally thought to be the feast day of Sol Invictus - the festival of "Natalis Invicti". Or somewhere in that general time frame. Easy enough to just rename it the feast day for Christ.

As a footnote, strange that the Sun cult didn't celebrate solstice in this feast day but it appears they didn't. But since Easter, not Christmas is the main Christian holiday, it got shoehorned in with a bunch of other pagan traditions in Western and Northern Europe. Such as Eostre and her feast of spring, which is a much more realistic thing to celebrate - being able to plant, livestock and the end of winter - than anything else at that time of year.

But Jacob Grimm (the fairy tales guy) is heavily responsible for what is seen as part of the Easter modern holiday.

I didn't know Grimm was responsible for all the stuff about bunnies and eggs. Very odd the idea of rabbits bringing eggs, haha. I know rabbits and hares are associated with fecundity, so it wouldn't surprise me to learn that they played some real in pagan traditions around spring.
 

The Cat

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I didn't know Grimm was responsible for all the stuff about bunnies and eggs. Very odd the idea of rabbits bringing eggs, haha. I know rabbits and hares are associated with fecundity, so it wouldn't surprise me to learn that they played some real in pagan traditions around spring.

I like that you used this word.
 

Coriolis

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I didn't know Grimm was responsible for all the stuff about bunnies and eggs. Very odd the idea of rabbits bringing eggs, haha. I know rabbits and hares are associated with fecundity, so it wouldn't surprise me to learn that they played some real in pagan traditions around spring.
They did. If you look at the holiday traditions many people dismiss as secular - eggs and rabbits at Easter, trees and holly at Christmas, flower baskets in May, Jack-o-lanterns and cornstalks at Halloween, etc. - you will find most/all come from Pagan traditions. They symbolized important aspects of the agricultural year, in all their literal and metaphorical interpretations.
 
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