By Angela Kaufman
“We practice Rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross-Quarters.”
Wiccans practice rituals throughout the year to celebrate the forces inherent in nature that promote growth and transcendence through the sacred alignment of the self, soul, and environment. We observe the changing of the seasons and the tides of the Moon, Sun, and Mother Earth by honoring these transition times throughout the calendar and seasonal year. To a practitioner of Wicca, the change in season means more than a reason to change wardrobes, winterize the home or car, or open the pool for the season. These fluctuations in nature strike a personal chord that resonates deep in the lifestyle of the practitioner so that we may feel the energies of the Goddess and God as recognized as a part of the Earth, Moon, and Sun. We recognize in these cycles the energy of transformation and we seek to parallel the transformation process in our own personal lives. We follow the axiom “As Above, So Below.” Thus, as the Earth, Sun and Moon interact to produce abundance or a scarcity of growth or light, so do we as spiritual seekers on the Wiccan path, observe the hope of the long sun filled days, or the seasons of darkness with introspection examining our lives and ourselves.
We observe eight annual milestones in the waxing or waning of Sun known as the Sabbats. These power days also mark the seasons recognized by all humankind even aside from their religious connotations. The Sabbats are the equinoxes, or days of equal day and night time (occurring in the start of both spring and fall), the solstices, days of greatest and least sunlight (first days of winter and summer), and the cross quarter days, which mark the transitions to spring, fall, winter and summer. This cycle also represents milestones in the growth of the God and Goddess as representative of the lifespan (birth, puberty, adulthood, full maturity, death) and the lifespan of growth seasons (planting, growth, harvest, barrenness). Thus, the multi-layered forces at work in all natural creation and destruction are represented, celebrated in symbolic birth, growth, death, and rebirth of plant and animal life as seen in the changing seasons.
Attunement to the cycles of nature need not wait for summer or winter, but is experienced in the growing and waning power of the Moon, signaling the power ebb and flow of the Divine Feminine. By observing the lunar cycles, we work with the energies of growth and productivity in both Magickal and mundane tasks during the waxing Moon. As the Moon wanes, we acknowledge the change in energy as we focus on banishing from our lives what is no longer useful. We acknowledge the Divine Feminine as a lunar Goddess whose height of power is celebrated at monthly Esbats, or full moon rituals.
Wiccans find fulfillment in synchronizing periods of growth or loss, preparation or introspection in conjunction with these shifts in nature. It is through attuning with Mother Earth’s cycles that we are able to keep our own growth and development in perspective and carry the connection to our divine and fluctuating world in our daily lives.
Angela Kaufman is the coauthor of Wicca:What’s the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions, along with Dayna Winters, and Patricia Gardner. You can find out more about the book at: http://www.wwtrd.webs.com.