I was drawn to this book because I feel connected to the Wheel of the Year, which is the basis of the spiritual lifestyle practice referred to as Wicca. I would like to familiarize myself with the nuances connected to each Sabbat (feast day) in order to attune even more to the rhythm of nature that surrounds me. I have followed the Wheel of the Year in varying degrees ever since my discovery of Wicca in 1999. It is my wish to create stories and materials to help parents teach their children how to incorporate the Wheel of the Year into their perspective. By reading more and more about the Sabbats and incorporating them more seriously into my mindfulness practice, I hope to manifest the creation of these pieces that I will share with our growing minds.
This book was great because it reminded me that the Wheel of the Year is depicted the way it is because it originates from a locale with a particular climate and view of the cycle their world undergoes. There is specific significance for each Sabbat that takes you through what resembles the life cycle of any and all things. For example, youth, adulthood, old age. This is why I believe it is helpful when connecting spiritually to all aspects of life. Your life will be in limbo between all the points of the life cycle because things in your life move at different paces and have their own cycles. For example, you have a pet, your relationship with your pet has a general beginning, middle and end that resembles the life cycle of youth, adulthood and completion. If you get a new job, the nuances of newness are similar to when you experience other new things. That all relates to the nuances of beginnings related to late winter/early spring→ Imbolc and Ostara. I digress… The Wheel of the Year connects you to the natural cycle of nature and helps you recognize the cycles within your life and how to honor them where they are.
In The Year of the Witch, Temperance Alden gives a great rundown of how Wicca became a thing as we know it, and what that means for you if your yearly seasons do or do not match that of the Wheel exactly. This is great because it opens the idea that there can be more than one Wheel that secures you to your practice. I think the concept of the Wheel of the Year is what makes Wicca consistent and the freedom it bestows on the individual is what makes it empowering.
There were some great concepts from this book that I have to share. The seasons are described in delightful insights on which activities are best for the time. The seasons are also presented alongside the elements. Each element is imperative and holds significance when crafting magick. It is a huge boost to your practice to attune to them. Temperance gets into it pretty deeply. So many things are mentioned including colors, and Spirit, the element of Ether. This concept also leads to the Pentacle, a well known and highly misunderstood symbol.
I enjoyed her meanderings about being a "Shepherd of the Earth". She explains that in Wicca, one commits to taking care of the Earth as if it is a living thing. If we allow the Earth to waste away, to be neglected and spend all it's natural resources, it will die and so will we with it. This is where mindful and intentional living come into play. I think mindfulness and environmental awareness are thankfully becoming more popular trains of thought in recent years. All you have to do is your very best to make choices that will not harm the earth. These are basic lifestyle things like not littering, recycling correctly, composting and other things. It is also applicable to the other side of the spectrum where you should leave ⅔ of the amount of plant life you forage from the wild. This is because mother nature needs it! If we take more than we need, this throws off the balance of all things. Again, I digress… A faithful Wiccan treats the Earth with respect and equal energy exchange.
There can be a sourness amongst the witchcraft community called Gatekeeping. It is pretty shitty and happens when one witch goes out of their way to declare a right and wrong when it comes to the craft. This can have negative influences on other witches by making them doubt their own intuition. THIS IS GATEKEEPING! It takes power away from others and is ultimately against the moral code of Wicca→ harm none. So this book warns against the harm gatekeeping can cause. The message throughout the text is that you can take what you like and leave what you don't. This is all just information for us to process in our own way and use as inspiration for our own practice.
The term "Plastic Witch" also came up. This refers to someone who is an inauthentic witch just in it for the aesthetic. On this topic, I can't completely digest this because how do you know if someone truly connects to all this stuff or not? I don't think it can be spotted definitively and in my opinion no one else's practice is my business so I have no right throwing a label around accusing people of being fake. If you are worried about that, just look to your own craft. Nothing else matters.
A great concept covered is "anticonsumerism" and budget witchcraft. I think it's great to highlight that you don't need any tools to achieve pure magick. It is all within you. Tools are personal and are meaningful when procured through experiences and as gifts. When seeking these things out, remember, take only what you need/will use. Take only what feels right to you, what really calls to you. Your intuition will tell you what aligns. It is not necessary to buy out the crystal shop because you want to achieve a certain status, look or level of experience. Stop. Those are the wrong reasons to gain a tool. The right things will present themselves to you, like magick. Because you are magick.
There is also some beautiful information about altars and Grimoires. It is typical practice to have an altar set up where you meditate or practice magick and a book in which you record your marvelous witchery. This is something that I really enjoy since I love to write. I would love a truly parchment notebook with blank pages to include tokens and poems and drawings that are used for my magick. However I use a composition book and it works great! She also includes pertinent information like how to procure and dispose of altar goodies.
There is a lovely section on gardening that I found to be a great aspect to include. As the saying goes, it's not what you do but how you do it. Definitely worth keeping in mind when setting up your plant babies.
The main event is all the information about the Wheel of the Year. It's origins are of Northern and Western Europe, and the UK and Ireland and some ancient Roman and Greece pop in there too. It's truly fascinating because this spiritual lifestyle structure is not based on any holy person or event. It is not structured in a right or wrong fashion. It is not governed by any entity or infrastructure. It completely revolves around the things that connect all of us→ the cycles of nature! You do not worship anything but the earth and its nuanced energies!
The main "personas" in Wicca are the Feminine aspects→ maiden, mother and crone or the triple goddess, and the masculine aspects→ Oak/Holly King/ Green Man. They are not gods per se, just what we call feminine and masculine divine energies that change with each turn of the wheel (like we do!). So beautiful! The feminine and masculine divine are depicted in progression through each Sabbat. There are eight Sabbats. 1 for each Solstice and Equinox and 1 for the midpoint between them.
Samhain (October 31) fire festival- honor the dead
Yule (December 21) Solstice the longest night- gratitude and inner light
Imbolc (February 2) fire festival- companionship and visions of creation
Ostara (March 21) Equinox day is equal length of light and dark- fertility
Beltane (May 1) fire festival- fertility
Litha (June 21) Solstice the longest day- fire and abundance
Lughnasadh (August 2) fire festival- wheat harvest
Mabon (September 21) Equinox- vegetable harvest (Wiccan thanksgiving)
It is stressed that these are merely guidelines for inspiration to your own craft. Every year is different, every moment changing. Climates are different too! Allow yourself and your practice to flow! Use what calls to you. Give yourself time and space to FEEL who you are, what you are, what is around you and the magick that animates you.
Please reach out with anything that resonates with you. Are you inspired to learn more about the Wheel of the Year? Wiccan philosophy? History?
I would love to know how you incorporate the Wheel of the Year into your life.
I am really thankful for this book! It was a pleasurable and educational read!
Please support Temperance Alden on her website https://www.wildwomanwitchcraft.com/
I am available for distance and in person reiki sessions that can help align you to your higher path. If you are struggling in any way, know that I am here for you! Just reach out to me to book!