The Wheel of the Year is like the temporal version of the ritual circle – the circle marks where we are in space, the place on the Wheel marks where we are in time. Time is a wheel. We mark the points along the year to honor the rhythms of the world, to stay aware of the tides of the season. Each season has its own focus, and by observing each one as it comes around in turn we are connecting with the past and the future – the Imbolc I celebrate now is the same as I celebrated last year, and the same as I will celebrate next year. Yet, like a spiral, it changes as it turns back on itself. I was a different person and the world was different a year ago. Next year I will be a different person again. Marking the Wheel honors change and sameness, all at once.
Meditation is a solitary thing – even done in groups, the real goings-on of meditation can’t really be shared. The Sun festivals, though – those are group events. I can celebrate them on my own, but I’d rather do so as part of a group. We are all in this together, we all travel the wheel together – if it’s Imbolc for me it’s Imbolc for everyone in the community and in this latitude. Marking the Wheel is the biggest single reason I want to be part of a spiritual community – so I have people to do this with. Doing it with the same people over and over builds the power and builds the community. We don’t have to be friends, or really even like each other all that much, but we do have to walk this reality together and celebrating it together brings us all closer.
Each festival has its particular energy and its place. Below I’ve outlined some of my strongest associations with each time. For each one, I lead a guided meditation for the group; given below is the setting for each meditation. I take us all to that field and lead a meditation based on the theme. The meditation is only part of the ceremony; each season also has its appropriate activities, and we always also do ritual to establish sacred space and honor the gods.
Samhain – barren time, dark time, time for regrets and letting go. Samhain meditation: a barren field. Samhain theme: releasing and letting go, of things we want to see gone and things we wish could stay.
Alban Arthuan(Yule)- time for rebirth, return of the light, celebration of home. Yule meditation: a snow-covered field, asleep and peaceful. Yule theme: honoring stillness, warmth of family.
Imbolc – time to wake up, poke your head out the front door, think about what’s to come. Imbolc meditation: The field is bare, but the first stirrings of life begin. Imbolc theme: looking ahead to future goals
Alban Eiler (Ostara) – egg time, spring time, new growth. Ostara meditation: The earth has been turned and prepared for planting. Ostara theme: it has begun
Beltaine – fertility, sexuality, dancing, flirting. Beltaine meditation: The grain has sprouted, green covers the fields. Beltaine meditation: Coming together with others to create the new
Alban Heruin (Litha) – high energy, party time, time for joy and faeries. Time of fruit and sweetness and plenty. Litha meditation: The grain grows high and strong. Litha theme: Coming into fruition, we celebrate our accomplishments.
Lughnasadh – the first sorrow, the first harvest, celebration of the sacrifices made to feed us. Lughnasadh meditation: The grain is cut. Lughnasadh theme: We see the outcome of our work.
Alban Elued (Mabon) – harvest time, going into the dark again, gratitude that once again the Earth has provided. Mabon meditation: a field after harvest. Mabon theme: We give thanks for all that has been successful.
In the future, moving into a more Druidry-based practice (meaning, “when I have my own Grove”), I would like to adapt the AODA seasonal ceremonies as outlined in the Handbook and combine them with this guided meditation – the AODA ceremonies do nicely for calling upon the gods and making offerings, while the meditations encourage personal, internal work – self-examination on where the participant is in life and in relation to the turning of the Wheel.