There are 8 points on the wheel. They alternate between fixed points, the solstices and equinoxes, associated with lesser deities, and “moving” points, also called hinges, that keep the wheel turning. In the traditioan of the Seabhean, when we describe or call upon the 8 Goddesses, we start with the greater Goddesses, beginning at the Celtic New Year, November 1.
The Moving Points:
Samhain (Sow-an) (literally October in Irish) October 30 to November 1: Tlachtga (Clack-ta) – The harvest must be done by now. Whatever is left in the fields or on the trees will be left for the animals and the spirits of nature. Tlachtga oversees beginnings and endings. What are you giving up? What needs to leave to make room for other things? Whatever we begin, begins in the dark. Tlachtga is veiled so she can see in the dark, into the spirit world rather than the visible material world.
Imbolc - January 30 to February 1 – Brigid (Bridget) – the planting of seeds. Brigid is the patron of hospitality, gardens, midwives, education, poetry. She’s often worshipped at wells and springs. She’s the most beloved saint and goddess in Ireland.
Bealtaine - April 30 – May 1 - Medb (Maeve) – The first shoots and buds. Medb is the wild young woman, ready to take on the world. She represents passion and energy. She’s associated with horses, and is mentioned in the Tain bo Cuailnge (Toy-n bo Cooley) the great epic story of Ulster.
Lughnasadh (Loo-na-sa) July 31-August – Tialtiu (Tal-too) – the harvest, the gentle mother. The seeds you planted with Brigid and nurtured through Medb have ripened and are ready to be harvested. Tailtiu nourishes and comforts us. The weather is warm, there’s penty of food.
The Fixed Points:
Spring Equinox March 20-21 - Boann – the dreamer. Plants start to germinate in the ground, we dream of our future so we can make plans. Boann is the patron of rivers and water. She’s associated with cows.
Midsummer Solstice, June 21 – Aine – Queen of the fairies. She represents midsummer, joy, play, sweetness. Trees have come into leaf, fruit is beginning to grow. Life is good. This is the longest day of the year, and traditionally a time for revelry and celebration in northern Europe, where everyone stays up all night.
Autumn Equinox September 20-21 – Macha – She guards the cave of our becoming and our undoing. Harvest is well underway now, days grow shorter, nights grow longer, and nature is less welcoming than in summer. We begin to turn inward, and issues we haven’t resolved yet will begin to weigh on us. Or we’ll begin to imagine a different future, see new opportunities we can ponder through the long winter.
Midwinter Solstice December 20-21 – The Cailleach – The Ancient One, the crone. She created the hills and valleys before anyone was around. She’s lived through it all, done it all, seen it all. Nature is quiet and still, yet under the soil, things are working so they’re ready for spring, when the cycle begins again. John O’Donohue said, “spring is the secret work of winter all the time.”
On the altar cloth I painted, the trees represent the fixed points. Trees are alive, but rooted to the ground. The moon phases represent the moving points, as the moon moves around the earth and moves through its phases, from new to first quarter to full to last quarter.
You can choose a small object, a stone or figurine, to show where you are in the year during that gathering or ritual.