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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Seasons of the Witch's Calendar

In a general sense, witches see the world very differently than everyone else.  And that doesn't just extend to what we see out our windows, in fact, it affects even the dates on our calendar.  At face value it may seem like I am referring to the Holidays themselves, yes, those are different, but that's not what I'm talking about here.  Religious holidays are different between ALL the different religious groups.  It would be a little silly if they weren't. Instead, I'm talking about how witches view the more mundane days - which often happen to be our Holidays.

The clearest example of this is New Years.  For most people, New Years celebrations take place December 31st or January 1st.  This is the time when we turn the Calendar year from one to the next.  And for most, it's still a time of celebration. But for witches, the real New Year, or at least the important one, is NOT the cusp of December/January, but instead October/November.  Samhain was celebrated by the Ancient Celts as the New Year, celebrating the entrance to the dark half of the year. Today we continue this tradition by marking the New Year at this time as well.  Many Witches use this time to make resolutions, plans or set goals for the coming year, as well as to reflect on all that happened in the past 12 months.

This however, is not the only difference between the "conventional" calendar and that of a witch.  In fact, aside from Political Holidays which one may or may not choose to mark depending on their political beliefs, there aren't really any days which aren't different.  The Witch's calendar is a designed to celebrate the cycle of nature and to create balance throughout the year.

The seasons, for example, are often marked on the conventional calendar as beginning on the Solstices and Equinoxes. For witches, however, these are not the seasonal starting points, but their mid-points. Again, the reason for this links back to the Celtic peoples.  And depending on where you live in the world, you may still encounter a more conventional calendar which uses these traditional Celtic dates for the seasons. So as witches, we mark the seasons differently.  Each season of the year consists of 13 weeks, starting 6.5 weeks prior to the Solstice/Equinox, and ending 6.5 weeks after it.

But witch's holidays don't just celebrate the cycle of the year, they also have additional meanings.  Mabon, for example, isn't just the Autumnal Equinox, it's also the second of three harvest celebrations, more than that though, it's celebrated as the Witch's Thanksgiving.  What's more, where the conventional calendar simply marks these days, the witch's calendar marks them for celebration - which makes them better!

Why does it matter when we celebrate what?  To some degree it doesn't.  But we need to remember that these dates are not just marking where we are, they mark special times of the year for both magickal and mundane actions.  The planting, growing, harvesting and preserving of food are all marked, as are times to focus on creating change, remembering those we lost, celebrating all we have, and even cleansing ourselves and our homes.  Like the idea of Samhain being the New Year or the Solstices/Equinoxes being seasonal mid-points, most of this comes from a time in history when the lives of every day people were generally dictated by the movement of the seasons and the moon.

It may seem like a new and strange way to go about looking at things, but it's mostly just an "old world" view of things.  And it most likely seems like an out dated way to see things if it's not something you're used to. But there is a point.  As witches, we need to be able to attune ourselves with the energies around us. The best way to do this, is to understand the energies of the Earth, Sun & Moon at any point in time.  Because of this, it's best to have a clear understanding, not of where MAN says we are in the year, but where we actually are. Most animals know instinctively where they are in the year... Bears know when the Salmon swim up river and when to make their den for hibernation without ever being told.  And those salmon, know exactly when to swim up river and where to go, again, without being told.  But as humans, we don't have that.  We are living so far out of sync with nature that if we want to have just half the intuition and connection that other animals have, we have to work at it, which is where the nature based calendar comes in at and why it's different.

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