Every Pagan is familiar with the wheel of the year. Usually the story is told from the perspective of the earth. In this blog I will try to explore the meaning of the festivals from the perspective of the sky.
Before we can do this, let us start with some general considerations. It is obvious what the role is of the earth within our lives. She is our mother: she gives birth to us, she nurtures us, she carries us throughout our lives.
And yet we should not forget that there is a second factor in play as well: the sky. The air that surrounds us, that gives us the breath of life, that is a conductor for the light and warmth of the sun. The one that shields us from the deadly environment that exists outside the earthly atmosphere. It is in the embrace of these two forces that we are given life.
The cycle begins at Imbolc, when the first whispers of the sun begin to stir the earth back to the memory of embodied life. A call that is first taken up by the snowdrop. We are called back to existence, while still sheltered from the worst cold by a cover of snow. That covering is a gift from the sky. A reminder that warmth can be generated in even the most dire of circumstances. A call of love: be not afraid. If you decide to embark on this adventure, I will be here to protect you.
There will still be time before life is in full bloom, but around the Spring Equinox the first definite signs can be seen that the call was heard. And the sky keeps its promise: along with the birth of greenery come the gentle spring rains. A clear message: dare to grow. You are held. In need, you will find the sky to be your biggest supporter.
This gives confidence, and the example of the early pioneers is soon followed by the rest of the natural world. And the call is infectious, and the urge to create new life is strong. The time of Beltane comes. And once again, the sky shows its support, with the coming of warmer days. You must not be afraid to make new life of your own. In the coming months, life will be warm and gentle, and the light of my love will shine on you.
As the first fruits come to ripeness, and the pups play in the grass, a first gentle warning is voiced at the Summer Solstice. I am your father, and I love you dearly, but be aware that my resources are finite. This is your call to grow up. I will give you all my love and shelter you for as long as you can. But make sure that in the coming months, you create the memories and stories that will shine for you as a beacon in the darkness the next winter.
Not that there is any urgency just quite yet. At Lughnasadh, the realization that life will not last forever is a distant background warning. The sky is gentle, and clouds cover the brightness of the sun every now and then to make sure that its children are not burned. The rains support the making of memories, and allow the fruits to swell to magnificence.
There is however a time when final preparations need to be made, and once again the sky is there with a gentle warning. At the Autumn Equinox, the winds of change begin to blow, a warning that is passed on by the rustling of the leaves. Not just a warning, but an invitation as well. Together, let us celebrate the abundance of life one final time. Tell me your stories, and I will carry them in my memory, and repeat them for future generations when you will no longer be around.
Then, a sudden change. The sky seems to have taken on a different guise: from protector of life, at Samhain he turns into a taker of lives, as the first frosts open up the gates of the Otherworlds. But there is always that whispering. Have no fear. I will guide you onwards. I have come to be your guide in difficult times. When your earthly body is taken away from you, you will find shelter in me. Your spirits shall be my body and together we shall go and be the memory of Earth.
For at the darkest time, at the Winter Solstice, it will be us who sing the sun back to life. It is us who have lived who will carry the hopes and dreams of the next generations. We are always with you. For we who once were earth have now become the sky. And we love you dearly. And together we will make sure the cycle continues. Now and forever. As long as love is at the center of your life, you will live forever.