Pagan Wheel of the Year
Yule (Winter Solstice) 21 December: Longest night of the year, various methods of celebrating, most involve some form of lights (sometimes affixed to an obvious phallic symbol like, oh, a fir tree) which are employed in an act of sympathetic magick to encourage/welcome the return/rebirth of the sun/son. A major female deity gives birth to (insert name of preferred solar deity here). There is much rejoicing and praise unto Him while Her husband, the God of the Old Year who, dressed in a tacky red suit trimmed with rabbit fur, watches and packs Her an overnight bag in anticipation of Her departure. Celebrants light candles (indoors), ignite bonfires (outdoors mostly), drink to excess, sing carols, remove clothes, sing dirty carols, engage in group unprotected sex, drink some more, vomit copiously, have more unprotected sex, exchange gifts, have one more drink/boink for the road and return home.
Imbolc (Groundhog Day/Candlemas) 2 February: More lights, however by this time we’re pretty sure the days are getting longer so we can throttle back on the pleas for Apollo/Ra/Lugh/Baldur to return. The aforementioned mother of the newborn solar deity returns to this plane of existence from the underworld, bearing the sun/son with Her. Not as big a bonfire this time, but still excessive drinking, plenty of bare-butt-on-the-ground sex to warm the earth for seedlings, lots more drinking to excess followed by the projectile vomiting “Write your craft name in the snow” competition, more sex to make sure the ground is good and ready, a few more drinks, back home.
Lupercalia (Valentine’s Day) 15 February: (The 14th for Saint Valentine being a pre-emptive usurpation of the Roman Ides of February pre-spring fertility celebration. Not an actual sabbat but still a sentimental favourite.) The wolves come down from the hills around Rome looking for a little nosh. This is related to the weather prognosticating involved in the observance of hibernating animals like the groundhog emerging around Imbolc. Bears were ruled out as an appropriate animal for observance by trial and error and attrition of the bear watching advocates. Note that this is about two weeks after the Imbolc solar cross-quarter; if the groundhog didn’t see its shadow (and remained out) Winter ends here; if it did see its shadow (and returned to its lair to resume its nap) Winter ends about six weeks later at Ostaera, the next sabbat. Anyway, pretty much the same activities as Imbolc but candles/bonfires are optional (unless you insist on watching for a bear, in which case a bonfire is stronglyadvised).
Ostaera (Spring Equinox) 21 March: Probably named after a Germanic Goddess, Eostur, whose name translates literally as “Easy lay, easy May,” a reference to and reminder of the importance of the next Sabbath, which is actually concerned with sex, unlike the previous two in which sex is a (welcome) bonus and potential life saver in the colder climates. The baby born at Yule here ages to childhood and the major female deity absorbs His youthful energy to grow younger, back to childhood; they then play “Asclepius.” Once again celebrants drink to excess, paint a few eggs (rebirth representation) with increasingly blatant yonic/phallic symbols, followed by more drinking, then paint a few hares/rabbits (fertility totem), boil the eggs and probably the rabbits too, what the hell, chow down on the eggs and rabbits since nobody remembered to pack a lunch, still more drinking followed by rabbit-fur-lined vomiting, group unprotected sex, lick rabbit grease out of the pot, more sex (any remaining rabbit grease at this point is given priority consideration as a sexual lubricant), a couple of more drinks, dress up in rabbit skins and back home.
Beltane (Walpurgisnacht/May Day) 30 April-1 May: “Hooray, hooray, the first of May, outdoor (sexual act euphemism) begins today!” The Goddess and God who are at this point both of adolescent age actually get it on, after which they become betrothed. Celebrants erect large Maypole (get it?), half the dancers going deosil and half widdershins interweaving their hand-held ribbons until they clothe the pole in colourful array and the Maywreath, previously laid at the top, rides the ribbons down to the very base of the pole — as close as Pagans ever get to “safe sex.” After which everybody attends the bonfires, usually two bonfires so you can pass through your livestock to be blessed by Prometheus/Ba’al/Wotan/Elvis but the really adventurous just build one big fire, or let the two smaller ones get out of hand until they become one big fire. Attendees then jump the fire (bare naked, as if I needed to mention), and preceded by the at this point mandatory excess drinking, there follows a MAJOR ORGY of the Mongolian Cluster-Fuck variety, wherein the bodies of the participants are so thoroughly entangled and interlocked that you can’t tell who’s doing what to whom and you couldn’t care less and the vomiting is actually partof the gestalt and provides much needed lubrication.
Litha (Summer Solstice/Midsummer’s Night) 21 June: Longest day of the year. The young Sun God at His zenith, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.” This is the marriage of the Goddess and Her incestuous consort who are both fully adult at this point and it turns out She’s knocked-up anyway so He has to. This being a Pagan wedding celebration…well, you can just imaginethe debauchery. Here is the origin of the “Honeymoon,” where bride and groom stay plastered for a month (moon) on mead, a honey based wine.
About this time the God of the Old Year has grown bored with the rather limited interpersonal interaction with ghosts in the underworld and bit parts in Ingmar Bergman films and so travels as a spirit to the womb of the pregnant major female deity and inhabits the unborn child, to be near His rejuvenated love.
Lammas (Somebody’s day somewhere) 2 August: Sad day for the young God; having passed His prime last sabbat at this first harvest of the grain festival the Goddess decides He is more useful as compost and fructifies the ground with His blood to ensure future abundant harvests. Several methods may be employed by Her, perhaps no Pagan version being quite as picturesque as being nailed to an uneven armed solar cross with blood running down the upright beam to the ground, but She gets the job done none the less. On this solemn occasion celebrants are expected to drink until they fall down in imitative honour of the dying God. Sex is for those still conscious or who at least had the foresight to pin “Do me anyway” notes to their beer and vomit drenched clothes.
Mabon (Autumn Equinox) 21 September: Preggers and alone, sure, now she misses Her slain lover/son and decides She cannot abide this world without Him. He, meanwhile, has found the abandoned throne in the Land of the Dead and is having a high old time trying on the crown which looks suspiciously like a pair of antlers and is getting horny…the God that is. Depending on whose press release you read the Goddess is abducted by the just-back-for-a-quick-one God or She jumps onto His chariot and won’t get off until He takes Her all the way down (get that one?). This harvest festival centers around grapes, so celebrants consume barrels of wine and each then take turns climbing intoa barrel to play the traditional “Guess which orifice I’ve placed at the bunghole?” game. This Sabbat’s accompanying lunar cycle is sometimes referred to as the “Keith Moon.”
Samhain (All Hallows Eve) 31 October: The by this time big-as-a-house Goddess is crowned Queen of the Underworld. She and Her reunited and now mature King shoo all the souls out of their realm so they can have a little quality time together, which is why it gets so crowded up here around then. Ghosts, Goblins and Ghoolies come topside for a little R&R or just to wish that special someone good-bye, in their own inimitable fashion. Celebrants offer food and drink to the dead and attempt sex with any who posses sufficient ectoplasm to generate friction. A lovely time for all.
Yule (Again, to complete the circle): The once young and vital Sun God becomes the God of the Old Year in His turn, and takes up sewing to pass the time. Since red is one of the few colours visible to the dead He makes Himself a red suit to keep them from bumping into Him during the long dark nights and trims it with some leftover rabbit fur. Waste not want not. He knows what’s coming and packs a bag for His wife and new son to take on their journey back to the land of the living.