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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Halcyon Days

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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.

As another year wraps up—a year that has brought a lot of heartache and fear and grief—and a new year begins, a new year marked by anxiety and the dread of not knowing what comes next—it is easy to focus on the many negative things that have come our way. I don't need to enumerate them, and certainly along with all the negative impacts that we are all dealing with, I can add my own personal losses, sorrows, and fears. But the day before Christmas, it warmed up. And as it warmed up, my bare trees filled up with little birds, the wind dropped from a howl to a lullaby, the Sun illuminated the dead grass to platinum. I fell into this warmth, and let myself sink, let the sorrows of the year past and the hard work of the year to come, fade into the background. I sank into my bed, into the repose of the Time of Endarkenment, when the Earth, the animals, plants, and ourselves all turn inward, get still and quiet, begin reflecting on what has passed, and take a moment between what has gone and what is yet to come.


There are so many things we cannot change, no matter how much we would like to. We mourn our dead, we release what we must, whether we like it or not. But in this moment, poised between the past and the future, we can be the comfort that we crave, we can be the gentle hand that stills the stormy ocean for another, we can provide safe passage and haven for those less fortunate. We cannot always protect ourselves and those we love from tragedy, hurt, or violence, but in any day we can be a balm of compassion for each other. We can be the halcyon day for another, and provide safety and security in a troubled and tumultuous world.  

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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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