Season and Spirit: Magickal Adventures Around the Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year is the engine that drives NeoPagan practice. Explore thw magick of the season beyond the Eight Great Sabbats.

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Leni Hester

Leni Hester

Leni Hester is a Witch and writer from Denver, Colorado. Her work appears in the Immanion anthologies "Pop Culture Grimoire," "Women's Voices in Magick" and "Manifesting Prosperity". She is a frequent contributor to Witches and Pagans and Sagewoman Magazines.

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The Last Day of Winter

My husband Aaron died on February 25, after a long hospitalization, and even longer illness.

The shock has not fully worn off. And the grief will be present, for who knows how long. This is all to be expected. But throughout the sorrow and dislocation of this loss, it’s the movement of the Great Wheel that has been part of my support, my comfort, and ultimately my acceptance of my grief.

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  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    I am so very sorry for your loss.

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New Moon in Aquarius: Stellar Ascent and Aid

I am usually visiting family over the New Year. Not being at home during the 'calendar flip' can make those first few days of the year similar to the “intercalary days” of ancient times. The first few days of the year take on this otherworldly tinge. Ungrounded in the mundane work and routine of every-day, but loaded with cultural baggage, including the pressure to set a template for the coming year, the first few days of the year have their own magick, they are both malleable and prophetic.

Beginning in the middle of the Sun's transit through Capricorn, the first days of the New Year are a clean slate, in every sense of the word. As a Cardinal sign, Capricorn signals the beginning of the Winter season, and as an Earth sign, ruled by practical, austere Saturn, Capricorn's focus is on managing resources most effectively. Its mantra is “discipline is remembering what you want,” emphasizing that desire and emotion are best served when ruled by will.

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Just Winter

It's just Winter now, and I took down all the Yule decorations this weekend—the tree, the ornaments, the pine garland on the mantle, the wreath, everything has been been taken down, put away, discarded. The boxes are back in a shadowy corner of the basement. Like Narnia, where it was “always Winter and never Christmas,” the trees are bare, snow is inches deep, the wind is icy, and now dark nights are even darker, there are no Christmas lights still lit to soften the darkness.

It's just Winter, and the bills we ran up during festive Sagittarius, have come due in austere, disciplined Capricorn. The holiday season has ebbed, and in its wake is a return to the small and cautious, to the frugal, to the tightening of belts, the tyranny of the budget, the austerity of a cleaner diet. It's just Winter, just a cold season with many weeks to Spring, still hibernating and quiet, too soon to plan Spring's garden or Summer's vacation.

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Halcyon Days

There is an ancient Greek legend, recorded by Ovid and other poets, that tell of the tragic love of Ceyx and Alcyone. When Ceyx died in stormy seas, Alcyone threw herself into waves to kill herself , driven by her grief. Divine spirits took pity on her and transformed into a kingfisher, and from then on ruled that the days surrounding the longest night, would be calm and gentle, that no storms would rage, no tempest blow. These calm days in early winter, days when the kingfishers are nesting, are called the Halcyon days—a respite from Winter's cold and turbulent weather, a time of peace, repose, and gentleness.

This Autumn, a long, lingering, warm Autumn, seemed never to end, and when it finally did, it came in with a very cold deep freeze. Storms and cold weather arrived, refreshed, at every holy day I celebrated. At Faunalia, I made offerings in 5 inches of snow. At Saturnalia, a blizzard kept me home. The last days of the Autumn were golden and warm, and the gifts of almost-Winter were on display—the vegetation dying off had revealed all the paths in the woods, the river was flowing fast and deep, every day long lines of Canada geese would etch the twilight sky as they flew past. One name for December’s moon is the Geese Fly Moon, the time when migrating flocks pass by on their way South.

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Scorpio: Samhain, Fear, and Tyranny

All through October, which was the warmest October on record here on the Front Range of Colorado, there were rumors and reports of scary, threatening clowns walking around scaring people. These clowns would be sighted on deserted roads, skulking suspiciously near woods or schools or unlit parts of neighborhoods. Leading up to Hallowe'en, my own kids could not stop chattering away the “creepy clowns,” repeating and embroidering on rumors that kept getting more threatening, more morbid. The clowns were seen close by, hanging around someone else's school, someone else's playground. It got so bad that the school district called the police, then sent letters to every home in town, trying to allay fears: no scary prowlers had been seen or arrested, there was no cause to continue to believe in them. But that did not stop the rumors, did not stop my kids and their friends taking turns scaring the daylights out of each other, with creepy clown stories.

.A quick scan of urban legends reveals that the creepy clown scare, like many other mass hallucinations, has a tendency to pop back up in times of collective societal stress. Kids, picking up vibes and amplifying them, act as both sensors and transmitters. Whether the cry is “creepy clown!” or “witches!” or “Communist!” or “terrorist!,” the dynamic does not shift very much. The pressure of anxiety, fear, and dread rises, is pressed down, but never released, until it bursts out explosively, sometimes even bizarrely. As we approached Hallowe'en and the election soon after, the creepy clown meme kept reasserting itself, no matter how many reassuring letters were mailed out.

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Vine and Ivy: Lush Libra

In the golden days between Mabon, the Fall Equinox, and Samhain, the beauty of Autumn is on display all around us. The trees are ablaze, the harvest is in, there's a festive mood as we head towards Hallowe'en. There's magick in the air, a sort of enchantment. It's intoxicating,

Under Libra;s influence, all things take on a golden glow. Ruled by Venus, Libra awakens at the Autumn Equinox, holding the balance of light and dark in those famous Scales. As a Cardinal sign, Libra issues in many qualities of the season to come. Libra brings the desire for justice, for fairness, for loving connection. We are suspended between the extroverted joys of the ending Summer, and the beginning of the Descent into introspection and quiet. It is this exquisite tension that calls up the magick of this juicy moment of the year.

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Last Apple on the Tree

Last week I picked the last apple on the tree.

It's been a good year for apples, but my trees are young and small, and the crop was subject to the predations of squirrels and jays. Too many times I would leave an apple to ripe one more day, only to find it the next morning, smashed on the ground, maybe a few bites out of it, swarming with ants. So I grabbed this one, the very last one left, dangling on the very thinnest branch, and was grateful to have it.

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