Celebrating the Cycles

(Excerpt adapted from Women/s Rites, Women’s Mysteries, by Ruth Barrett)


Women are once again honoring the seasons and cycles of nature as did our ancestors from all corners of the globe.  The return to a consciousness where Mother Nature is loved, revered and celebrated evolved out of the ecology and early Goddess movement of the late 1060’s and 1970’s.  Interest in Goddess and woman-centered traditions, feminist ritual and the pagan roots of western religion are providing more ways to celebrate the Goddess’s eternal, cyclical themes of birth, death and rebirth.  Although the pagan holidays celebrated today are largely based o the seasons of northern Europe, seasonal cycles are universal and occur with variations everywhere.

All life emerges from darkness into light and returns again into darkness.  The ancient metaphor of the Goddess birthing all things from darkness of Her cosmic womb is present within the life cycle of all living things.  Thus, in Celtic tradition, the New Year begins in the dark season, and the sun’s cycle begins at the darkest point of the night.  Each new day begin at sundown on the previous night – which is why the cross-quarter holy days begin on the night before the holy day itself.

As we live, our lives cycle around the Wheel of the Year, moving through the changing seasons of the Earth.  Pre-Christian peoples in Northern Europe marked the change of seasons by eight festivals that guided farmers to their various tasks: Hallowmas/Samhain; Winter Solstice; Brigid/Imbolc; Spring Equinox; May Eve/Beltane; Summer Solstice; First Harvest/Lammas and Fall Equinox.  These agricultural festivals gathered community members together and gave structure to their lives, indicating when to proceed with the activities of breeding livestock, planting, sowing, reaping and harvesting the land, and storing food for the winter.  People honored the changes of the seasons with seriousness and reverence, for without the cooperation of nature, their lives would be lost.  And so it still is with us.

Each seasonal transition can initiate a unique understanding of the Goddess, and of its correlation to the cycles of women’s lives.  Through this connection and the natural cycles of the Earth, Sun, Moon, and stars, we deepen in our understanding of life Herself.  If you pay close attention and observe how the body of the Earth is transforming throughout the year, She will speak to you, as She did to our ancestors, and can guide you toward what kind of rituals to create and celebrate.

Speak Your Mind