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ADF High Days: The Wheel of the Year

ADF embraces the common Neopagan calendar of eight holidays, popularly known as “The Wheel of the Year” (Corrigan, 2005: 17). The eight festivals pattern was established in early second half of the 20th century by the Neopagan founding fathers Ross Nichols and Gerald B. Gardner (Bonewits, 2006: 180-181). ADF Groves are required to offer public services on these High Days.
In the following charts I have tried to sketch a broad overview of the Neopagan liturgical year, as requested by the DP Requirements. I paid attention to how the festival is reflected in Czech civil calendar and preserved folklore.

Since no local Pagan group has ever made it to full eight rituals a year (except the very unorthodox Brotherhood of Wolves, briefly mentioned in my High Day accounts) and a lot of popular Neopagan lore feels “imported” here, I expect a long journey lies ahead of me in order to establish an eight (or more) High Day pattern that would reflect my personal Pagan practice.

The November Feast

Other names and corresponding Pagan festivals
Halloween (Civ.); Samhain (Celt.),Winternights (Nor.), Dísablót (Nor.), Thesmophoria (Hell.)
In Czech civil calendar, the 2nd of November is Památka zesnulých (lit. Memory of the Dead), commonly known as Dušičky (All Souls), when we visit cemeteries and remember our dead, akin to Spanish Día De Los Muertos. A special Catholic mass is celebrated to aid the souls trapped in between.

Suitable Deities of Occasion
All Underworld and Chthonic Deities, rulers of the Underworld – Hades, Persephone (Hell.), Donn (Celt.), Hel (Nor.); Crone and Winter Goddeses – Cailleach Beare (Celt.), Morrigan (Celt.); The Ancestors. In Wicca, the Goddess is honored in her Crone aspect and the God as the Lord of the Underworld.

Corresponding Myths
The Descent of Persephone to the Underworld (Hell.)

Keywords
Third and last harvest. Celtic New Year. The beginning of the dark half of the year. Excellent time for spirit communication and divination.

Symbols and Customs
The pomegranate, Jack-o´-Lantern, masks and costumes.

Winter Solstice

Other names and corresponding Pagan festivals
Christmas (Civ.), Yule (Nor., Anglos.), Dionysia (Hell.), Modranicht (Anglosax.), Saturnalia (Rom.)
In Czech civil calendar we have several national holidays during the Christmas season (24. - 26. 12.) and celebrations of the New Year´s Eve. “Baby Jesus”, commonly depicted as a ray of light, brings children the presents.

Suitable Deities of Occasion

Depends on one´s understanding of the season, local climate and geography. From ecstatic festivals like Oreibasia or Dionysia (Hell.), to enacting the apocalypse (as in Voluspá, Nor.), to a joyful solar festival (Sunna – Nor., Sulis – Celt.). I personally perceive the season as very Outdwellers ruled.

Corresponding Myths
The Wild Hunt (of Odin, or Perchta), Birth of the Solar God (Mithra, Baldr).

Keywords
The longest night of the year. The rebirth of Sun. A family or kindred-oriented celebration. Exchange of gifts. Divination is popular too, esp. slicing the apples or founding lead into water. One interesting superstition which survived is that if you behave well (i.e. keep the fasting during the day), you´ll see a golden boar, which might point to Frey.

Symbols and Customs

Lightning the Yule log, kissing under the mistletoe, the Christmas (World) Tree, baking cookies, holly, wreaths. Traditional Christmas tree decorations often depict Pagan symbolism.

The February Feast
Other names and corresponding Pagan festivals
Imbolc (Celt.), Oimelc (Celt.), Candlemas (Cath.), Lupercalia (Rom.), Terminalia (Rom.), Charming the plow (Nor.), Ground Hog´s Day (Amer.).
In the Catholic liturgical year we celebrate Hromnice (lit. Thunders), a women and family-focused feast when candles are blessed that are intended to protect from danger during storms (hromničky). There´s a saying that notes that day-light grows considerably after Hromnice.

Suitable Deities of Occasion
Brighid (Celt.), Carmenta (Rom.), Iuno Lucina (Rom.). Local Slavs celebrate the feast of Veles, the protector of herds. In Wicca the Goddess is honored in her Maiden aspect.

Keywords

Purification, motherhood, lambs. The light starts to grow noticeably. Healing, new beginning.
Symbols and Customs
Making and blessing the candles. Making Bride´s beds and crosses. The Crown of Lights. First flowers such as lily-of-the-valley.

Spring Equinox

Other names and corresponding Pagan festivals
Ostara (Anglosax.), Liberalia (Rom.), Gleichennacht (Nor.)
In Czech folklore the Easter marked the end of the fasting and would be celebrated by merriment and pranks. Some of the preserved customs relate to fertility cults and purification (throwing the water onto others, switching the girls with ribbons-decorated willow rods who give out decorated eggs to men.)

Suitable Deities of Occasion

Goddeses of spring and youth – Eostre (Anglosax.), Idunna (Nor.) Persephone Koré (Hell.); Nerthus (Nor.); Eos (Hell.); Gods with relation to masculine power (the beginning of the war season) – Mars (Rom.); local Slavs celebrate the feast of Yarovit, a god of spring and physical force.

Corresponding Myths
Overthrowing the personified winter. The rise of Persephone from the Underworld.

Keywords
Spring. The Earth becomes fertile again. The day and night become equal once again.

Symbols and Customs
Coloring eggs and a variety of other Easter customs. The hare. Spring flowers such as daffodils, lilac and tulip.

The May Feast

Other names and corresponding Pagan festivals

Beltine (Cel.), Valpurgisnacht (Nor.), May Day, (Civ.), Labor Day (Civ.), Floralia (Rom.)
In the 19th century the First of May became related with lovers. It´s the Czech Valentine´s day. In civil calendar it´s the Labour Day. The evening before is known as Valpurga´s night and it´s dedicated to burning “witches” (evil forces) on high bonfires. Witch costume contest are popular. The maypoles used to be a centre of various folk customs too.

Suitable Deities of Occasion
Vegetation and Love Goddesses – Flora (Rom.), Bloddeuwed (Celt.), Aine (Celt.), Frey and Freya (Nor.); Belinos (Celt.), Aengus Og (Celt.)

Corresponding Myths
This date was an important feature in many Celtic myths (The Book of Invasions).

Keywords

The Sacred marriage (hierogamy). Fertility.

Symbols and Customs

Bonfires from nine woods. Leaping through the fire. The Maypole. The crowning of the May King. The “greenwood marriage”. Popular time for handfastings among Neopagans.
Czech lovers go to visit the shrine of love, a statue of our foremost romantic poet, whose well-known poem is “The May”. To kiss one´s lover under a blooming tree is said to bring luck. Students have their king crowned for the upcoming year, during a huge carnival (Majáles). Traditional day for political marches.

Summer Solstice

Other names and corresponding Pagan festivals

Litha (Celt.), Midsummer, Mediosamios (Gael.), Skira (Hell.), Agnihotr (Ved.)
In Czech folklore, St. John the Baptist´s Eve is surrounded by folklore and related to fairies. No civil equivalent.
High summer is also the traditional time of pilgrimages to various Virgin Mary shrines, places of miracles and wells. Local Slavs celebrate Kupalo, the ritual bathing for purification.

Suitable Deities of Occasion

Gods of storm – Taranis (Celt.), Perun (Slav.), Jupiter (Rom.) Fire and Sun Gods – Agni (Ved.), Nature Spirits (Fairies, Sidhe, Álfar) are paid special honor.

Keywords

Sun at its peak. Growth, glory.

Symbols and Customs

Catherine (solar) wheels or discs. Leaping over the bonfire. Ritual baths in springs. Traditionally said not to be a good time for divination because fairies do interfere. Traditional time for gathering herbs or which nine are considered to be especially powerful (“Svatojánské býlí”).

August Feast


Other names and corresponding Pagan festivals

Lammas, Lughnasadh (Cel.), Freyfaxi (Nor.), Panathenaia (Hell.)
In Czech folklore the main grain harvest (Dožínky) was surrounded by various customs like presenting the best of the harvest to the landlords in a ceremonial manner, making corn dollies or keeping the last bundle of grain. In Russia this bundle was called “the beard of Veles”.

Suitable Deities of Occasion

Patrons of agriculture – Ceres (Rom.), Frey (Nor.), Thor and Síf (Nor.), Veles (Slav.); Patrons of arts and crafts – Lugh (Celt.), Apollo (Hell.); Athena (Hell.) In Wicca, the sacrificial Grain God is honored.

Keywords

The first, main harvest of grain. Reaping. Creativity at its peak. Skills.

Symbols and Customs

Loaf of bread. The corn figure. Asatruars hold annual Things. Traditional time of horse races, fighting and other games and competitions in honor of the Gods (Tailltean games).

Autumn Equinox


Other names and corresponding Pagan festivals

Mabon, Dísablót (Nor.)
Does not have any equivalent in contemporary Czech calendar; wine harvest festivals are popular though, often developing into a tribute to the original Dionysia.

Suitable Deities of Occasion
Gods of the harvest – Demeter (Hell.), Frey (Nor.), Dionysos (Hell.); Agricultural mysteries – Eleusinian mysteries (Hell.). Local Slavs celebrate the feast of the Great Mother Mokosh on the last Friday in October.
In Wicca the God descends to the Underworld, luring the Goddess, who would not follow him until Samhain.

Keywords
Second harvest. The day and night are equal and from here the days start to shorten remarkably. Thanksgiving. Completion. Reflection. Preparing the house and oneself for the upcoming period.

Symbols and Customs
Fruits of the local harvest – apples, grapevines, cornucopias, gourds. Bright autumn leaves. Wassailing the apple trees.

Sources used

  • Ian Corrigan (ed.), Dedicant Program, self-published: place not given, 2005
  • Isaac Bonewits, Essential Guide to Druidism, New York: Citadel Press, 2006
  • Virginia Carper, Roman Wheel of the Year, in Oak Leaves No. 41
  • Internal Materials of Rodná víra in the appendices to a 2007 thesis on Slavic Neopaganism, archived by Masarykova Univerzita in Brno, www.muni.cz
  • Hearth Cultures and High Days in Our Own Druidry: Introduction to Adf and the Druid Path, to be published by ADF Publishing in October 2008
  • Rituals, in: ADF Website,
  • Amber K, Coven Craft: Witchcraft for Three or More, Llewellyn: St. Paul, Minnesota, 2003
  • Michele Morgan, Simple Wicca, Edison, New Jersey: Castle Books, 2002
  • Pauline Campanelli, Wheel of the Year, St. Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn, 1989

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
chronarchy
Aug. 4th, 2009 09:49 am (UTC)
I think that the use of tables is probably okay, since we've had haiku virtues essays, after all. But I think that this might need to go to a special reviewer because these aren't actual "essays" as the requirement calls for.

Still, between the fact that you cover most everything and English is not your first language, I think they'll be alright.
alvita_felis
Aug. 5th, 2009 01:43 am (UTC)
We´ll leave it as as, then. I´m looking forward to hearing from you on the rest, hope you got my email :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )