The Celtic Calendar was and is still used by the Celts – in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Like any Calendar – it divided up the year into natural cycles.
The Celtic Calendar Wheel is based on the connection the Celts had to the Earth.
It is dictated by the seasons, the darkness and the light.
Festivals within the Celtic Calendar mark significant points within the year; Samhain, the Winter Solstice (December 21st), Imbolc, the Spring equinox (March 21st), Bealtaine, the Summer Solstice (June 21st), Lughnasa and the Autumn Equinox (September 21st).
There are many Neolithic sites in Ireland that align with the sun at key points in the Celtic Calendar. Many people will have heard of Newgrange in Co. Meath. It is older than the pyramids. The rising Winter Sun on December 21st, fills the inner chamber with light.
Our ancestors were deeply in tune with the Celestial sky and these sites are still relevant and celebrated today at these key points in the year.
These Neolithic sights are all over the country, with the oldest in the West of Ireland. The art work more primitive than its’ famous counterpart Newgrange but none the less beautiful. Each one allowing the sun to fill their chambers at specific days of the year depending on the site and can often be on the Equinox or the Solstice.
Each of these important sites still attract locals to them on these significant days in the Celtic Year to mark them with respect, ritual, song and story.
The wheel of the Celtic Year connects with Fire.
In Ireland it is traditional to have Bonfires – which are connected with all the Celtic and pagan festivals.
Samhain – Halloween. (Oct 31st). to mark the start of the darkest part of the year.
This is the beginning of the Celtic Year. Starting in darkness, going to ground, withdrawing.
Imbolc (February 1st) to mark the start of Spring – St. Brigid’s day.
Moving into light, Emerging from the ground.
Bealtaine (May 1st) to mark the start of Summer. Rejoicing in the fullness of light.
Lughnasa(August 1st) to mark the beginning of the harvest. Collecting and reaping the rewards of hard work.
These festivals took place around the time of year when the veil was thin.
It was believed that the barrier between the upper and lower worlds diminished, that the veil between them would thin around this time of year, allowing the dead and the living to mingle.
The spirit work was visible at this time.
The underworld dwellers could cross over and loved to play tricks on the living.
This gave rise to many traditions involving faeries (fairies) or Sidhs. Offerings were made to appease them and fires were lit for cleansing, protection and involved rituals.
With all of these festivals purification, protection, good luck, appeasement of the faeries when the veil was thin is a common theme. The significance of light and dark also marking each one.
How do you divide up your year?
What are the significant turning points in the year for you?
What events do you celebrate?
Do you pay homage to any tradition?
If so how do you celebrate this?
How do you want to mark the passage of time in your life?
What new traditions would you like to embrace?
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