A Guide to Living by the Wheel of the Year

A Guide to Living by the Wheel of the Year


Healer and author Dina Saalisi shares the power of connecting to the rhythms of life and the Wheel of the Year.

To flow effortlessly with the seasons, to welcome the sacred directions, and to give thanks to the elements is your natural cadence within the earth’s rhythm. I cannot stress enough how an acute awareness of the continual returns of each cycle will support you in ways that feel wholly empowering and right. Somewhere within the fabric of your soul’s existence you already know how to cultivate this connection, so it will feel familiar, easeful, and fulfilling.

How to Reconnect to the Natural World

Recognizing your divine connection with the natural world requires reflection on how the elements, directions, and seasons all contribute to a balance of your inner states. Healers have long sought harmonious partnerships with the earth’s energies to inform communities how to create sustenance and sustainability.

When we think of calling in the four directions and honoring the seasons, we may think of these as sacred rituals performed only by shamans or wizards. We may even view such observances as irrelevant or separate from the threads that weave together our human tapestry. In reality, knowing and performing these observances is your birthright, and celebrating the changing of the seasons helps us develop a deeper relationship to the greater world around us and with all of humanity.

A reverence for and understanding of the seasons and elements develops wisdom of and kinship with the sacred cycles, which is wholly nourishing and completely unifying. This is relevant now more than ever, as the ignorance of our soul relationship to the earth contributes to the mass destruction we are experiencing. The good news is that we can easily relearn how to live within these perpetual rhythms, and we can pass this wisdom on to future generations to continue to heal planetary wounding.

An Introduction to the Wheel of the Year

Although it’s documented by historians that ancient civilizations followed the ebb and flow of seasons since at least the 10th century, the Wheel of the Year was a newer model brought into popularity in the mid-20th century through British pagan sects inspired by ancient Celtic practices. As the term paganism simply refers to a spiritual belief in the omnipotence of nature, we can adopt such a belief to embrace the submerged wisdom of this primordial calendar. To attune ourselves to the cycles of nature is to reclaim our rightful place on the Wheel, and to more deeply enjoy a fulfilling experience on earth.

Several years ago, I became part of a circle of five women, an informal support group to help each other manage our challenges and share our joys. We did this after three of us attended a workshop by Jungian analyst Jean Shinoda Bolen, author of The Millionth Circle. Jean’s current work focuses on the powerful energy of circles and what happens when women gather solely for the purpose of exchanging ideas, inspirations, and insights.

When the group was being initiated, we met for an introductory meeting to talk about how it would transpire. We agreed that we wanted to follow a format that was meaningful, authentic, and included nature. We decided to follow the Wheel of the Year to acknowledge and celebrate the eight yearly solar events that each relate to a specific cycle or season. Attunement to this continual rhythm has carried our group for years, as we revisit each season with more emotional depth and greater perception of how the innate cycles hold, nourish, and grow us. It’s through this consistency of honor and awareness that each of us notices the profound support of the earth, as we are meant to experience it.

How the Wheel of the Year Supports Our Wellbeing

With a clear understanding of the rhythm of the Wheel of the Year, you naturally begin to integrate these patterns into your life. This wisdom can be universally applied, in that these are the exact points in the earth’s turning that govern every living thing. After many years of following Wheel of the Year and trusting its energy to carry me through the seasons, I recognize the greater health and harmony instilled from this awareness.

Without being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I once dreaded the dark months of winter. Through the new lens of a cyclical flow of the year, I now embrace a solid understanding of when the seasons begin, peak, and end, only to morph into the next scene of life. I notice how my energy becomes more exultant during the long days of summer, and how the flowers and food abundantly grow to fruition. I hear the birds sing, bees buzz, and crickets chirp, and I know what the clamor (or quiet) signals. My humanity is enlivened, and my healer-self is empowered as my experience aligns with the world around me.

The Eight Solar Sabbats

The Wheel of the Year recognizes October 31, Samhain, as the beginning of the new year. It is the third of the three yearly harvests, denoting completion and preparation to move into the darkest months ahead, with the shortest days and longest nights. This is a time to honor our ancestors.

Yule, or winter solstice, occurs around December 21 and is the shortest day of the year. It marks the return of the light when the cycle moves towards the emergent longer days and signifies awakening within.

Imbolc happens on February 1 and is a time of celebration as we begin to emerge out of winter. The days are a bit longer, with subtle signs of new life around: the stirrings of spring, with buds just beginning to form; crocus popping out of the snow; animals rousing from sleep.

Ostara, or spring equinox, occurs around March 21 and is a celebration of balance, when the days and nights are of equal length. This is a powerful time to sow seeds and tend to gardens, as sprouts and flowers come alive and days are noticeably longer.

Beltane arrives on May 1 and is the time of longer days leading up to the summer solstice. During this cycle of light-filled energy, growth abounds. We feel enlivened and inspired as our bodies and souls are deeply nourished by abundant life force.

Litha, or summer solstice, occurs around June 21 and is the longest day of the year. It is a time of great warmth as we celebrate the sun at its highest peak. After this pinnacle, the light begins to wane slightly each day.

Lughnasadh happens on August 1 and is the first of the three harvests. This is when we begin to see the fruits of our labor ripen as the daylight becomes somewhat shorter.

Mabon, or fall equinox, occurs around September 21 and is the second of the three harvests. We gather that which sustains us, as day and night share equal expanse. This is a time of balance when the days become noticeably shorter.

Excerpted with permission from the forthcoming book, DIVINE FLOWERS, by Dina Saalisi (Red Feather, Fall 2024).

A Guide to Living by the Wheel of the Year

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