Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Wheel of The Year

Some kids and I were talking about holidays at school today, and how every person, and every family, and every community picks out those holidays that really resonate for them as sort of "way stations" in the wheel of the year.  This is how my year rolls out...
  • Autumn
    • I've really spent my entire life on an academic calendar.  Except for the "lost years" in my early twenties, I've spent almost my entire life in school, first as a student, then as a teacher.  For me, the year begins when I go back to work, which is usually the last week in August.
    • High Holy Days (Mid Sept - Early October)
      • The Jewish High Holy Days begin with Rosh Hashannah (New Year), to Yom Kippur (the day of atonement, which doesn't really resonate much for me, but is the last day I saw my parents alive).  It then runs through Sukkot (the harvest festival) and ends with Simchat Torah (the reception at Sinai).  I have off work for a great number of these holidays (because I teach in a Jewish school).
    • Ancestors' Week (late October)
      • Late October has always been a very unstable time of year for me.  Since my parents' death (Oct 21, 2012), late October is a pretty dark time for me.  It starts with the anniversary on the 21st, and runs through Halloween.  It's all about the ancestors, and coming to terms with past karma, and etc.
  • Early Winter
    • For me, the wheel of the year tips at Halloween;  the Unseelie court rules until Purim.  Halloween is the great "inaugural ball" of the Winter Court.  From here on, the Winter King is slowly gathering power, eating daylight, coming to its zenith at Christmas.  The Summer King dies at Halloween and rises up again at Spring.  It's also when we close the cottage.
    • All Saints Day (Nov 1)
      • Where I live, it's often quite cold by November 1st (sometimes its even snowing already) and daylight savings ensures that it gets dark quite early.  
    • SunReturn
      • When I can, I like to stay up al the way through the Longest Night of year, holding vigil for the Sun.  This is a very solitary, meditative thing for me that (in the last few years) often involves a lot of shamanic journeying and vision questing.
    • The War on Christmas (Late December)
      • The War on Christmas culminates with the Final Battle between The Winter King and the King of the Wild.  This is usually held the Friday after Christmas.  We collect old Christmas trees, and then wrap logs in festive paper.  Which we periodically throw onto a bonfire.  A ritual fight takes place between two martial artists, one dressed as Santa and one as the Horned God.  (spoilers: Santa looses).  To celebrate the victory of the Horned One, we throw whole christmas trees on the bonfire.  
  • Deep Winter
    • January is deeply, bitterly cold in the American North East where I live.  This is a month of no gods and no holidays.  If I had to assign a patron to this time, it would be Sedna.
    • Tu B'Shevat (early Feb)
      • The New Year of the Trees; when the world begins to wake up.    It's the first sign that the long, cold, dark winter might eventually end.  This is the festival of the first blossoms in Israel, but we're still under deep snow here.  Over the last 600 years or so, it's become a deeply kabbalistic holiday.  I encourage you to read more about it; it's pretty cool.
    • My Birthday (February 21)
      • I don't really have to explain why this is important, right?  If I have to pick sides, I'm left-hand-path (whatever the fuck that even means...I feel like the whole right hand path  / left hand path thing is ridiculous.  If you only use one hand, you're a cripple.)  Although, as many of my friends have noticed, I'm actually only UnSeelie in the winter. ;)  Note: because I help plan the calendar at school, our February break almost always contains my birthday, which means I have a week off work for my birthday.
  • Spring
    • For me, the wheel tips back at Purim.  From this point on, the Seelie Court reigns again until Halloween, led by the fabulous May Queen, who comes in as Ishtar, and then slowly descends in the fall, going out as Ereshkigal.
    • Purim (mid March)
      • Purim is a Jewish holiday celebrating the events of the Book of Esther.  It's VERY OBVIOUSLY a thinly (very thinly!) veiled festival of Ishtar.  Seriously, the protagonists are named Marduk (oops, sorry, I mean Mordechai) and Ishtar (oops, I mean Esther).  There are jam-filled cookies shaped like vulvae.  Religious Jews are required to get so drunk they can't tell the difference between good and evil.  (for real, look it up).  In my circle, we celebrate with drunken debauchery, the ritual marriage of Solomon & Sheba, and belly dancing.  And also cookies shaped like vulvae.   I haven't been able to celebrate this holiday in a real way in several years, because I am so far from everyone.  Instead, there is a "carnival" at school, which is like a horrible, empty, soulless satire of my holiday.  #fuckCT  UPDATE:  Now I go to Sacred Space for Purim, which isn't Purim, but it's still awesome.
    • Passover (April)
      • The celebration of Liberation, when I am brought out of the House of Bondage.  Liberation is probably the central feature of my spiritual practice; my liberation and everyone else's.  How can we possibly be free when others are still enslaved.  Our Spring Break at school coincides with Passover, because Jew school.
  • Early Summer
    • This is when we open the cottage.
    • Walpurgis Nacht and May Day (May 1)
      • May Day is the beginning of summer for me.  By this time, it's reliably nice out.  May Day, for me, is all about the Fair Folk.  When we were younger, my bff and I used to always gather wild flowers for our (grand)mothers on May Day, but I haven't been able to bring myself to do it since my mother (and her grandmother, shortly thereafter) died.  I like to spend this day in the woods and fields.  When I have a partner, this is a day for heiros gamos.
    • Graduation (Mid June)
      • This day is all about a year's worth of work paying off.  It's a very liminal day, all about sending my Work out into the world.  It also happens to coincide (more or less) with my younger brother's birthday (the 11th) and my late parents' wedding anniversary (the 12th).  They don't always realize it, but it's also the day I bless and seal graduating students' initiations (the ones who take to my current).  A surprising number of them do notice.
  • High Summer
    • I'm a teacher, so I usually still have "school" (grading, meetings, etc) for about a week after graduation.  As soon as I finish, I set off for the woods.
    • Midsummer (late June)
      • Solstices aren't that big of a deal to me, but this is the day I kick off my summer magics (usually).
    • Lazy Days (early July)
      • Early July is a time for chilling, reconnecting with my body and spirit.  I spend a significant portion of this time at the beach.  A time for hedonism.
    • Lammas (early August)
      • Peak summer.  This is when summer magical work usually manifests.  The grain moves from growing to ripening; the tomatoes are red on the vine.  It's all denoument from here.
And then I'm back to the start of the year again.

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