The cyclical nature of the Wheel of the Year is reflective of that old saying, “…with no beginning, and never ending.” Growth follows birth, decline follows growth, death follows decline, and rebirth follows death. While there are many ways to subdivide the Wheel, one of the most common is to break it into Quarters and Cross Quarters. Solar festivals and season festivals. Planting and harvest. Life and death.
We have just passed through the solar festival of Litha, midsummer. The longest day of the year. The modern calendar places this holiday as the beginning of summer, with the hottest days still to come. Within Wicca though, we mark it as the apex of the God. Moving forward from this point, while great things still lay in store, inevitable decline is the order of the day. As the poet notes:
Things fall apart. The center cannot hold.
Mere anarchy is unleashed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
-Yeats, The Second Coming
Litha is a time of celebration, filled with the abandon that is only found when the inevitable decline is still over the horizon. The golden days of summer feel as if they will last forever, and no one will ever grow old.
At the height of this revelry though is the reminder. The year is a wheel in constant motion. Every point has its counterpoint. In time all things will pass, and all things will come again.
The abundance of midsummer must be balanced against the scarcity of midwinter. The God triumphant must be weighed against the Goddess, deep within the Earth, nurturing incipient life against the cold of the grave.
With Litha now behind us, we walk with the God as his decline begins. It isn’t readily apparent yet, as close as we still are to the height of midsummer. Yet if we pay attention, we will see the signs. The quality of the day will lose its balance, trading pleasant warmth for oppressive heat. Plants nurtured through gestation and growth will move towards harvest, and the decay that follows. On the horizon, a wound is waiting for the God, a piercing blow that will shatter the illusion immortality of youth, and will mark the beginning of Wisdom.
That time is not this time though. For a while yet we can hold the youthful God in our thoughts and our hearts, and celebrate the strength that comes with him. So eat, drink, and be merry; and dance with the God and Goddess through each of the stations of the ever turning Wheel.
Post Litha 2017