“We are the Witches Who Turn the Wheel, and so the Wheel Must Turn”
My good friend Rob explained it to his Grove students this way:
Teacher: “Of course, if no one were to turn the Wheel, the Wheel would not turn.”
Student: “But that’s ridiculous. If no one observed the wheel, the sun would rise on Solstice morning anyway.”
Teacher: “No. The sun would rise each day, of course, but unless we honor the Wheel, the sun would *not* rise for us on Solstice morning.”
The Wheel and Why Wiccans Honor it
I recently wrote a post that got me blocked by some folks. I can only guess that the reason was that I pointedly and loudly advise against what many “beginner” Wicca books tell people to do. I tell people NOT TO BUY ANYTHING, even books, for a year. WHY? I’ll tell you why. First, we have the internet, which is both a horrible and a fine tool for learning most things. Sure, it’s true that the first hundred pages you get when you search “Wicca” are written mostly by those with not the first clue nor real training in Wicca, but beyond that, there are many resources to read so as to get a handle on what’s good and what’s NOT good information. And spending your money on books, even mine, isn’t necessary, when you are an abject beginner. It is, frankly, a good way to waste hundreds of dollars and learn a bunch of shit that is just wrong at best and harmful at worst. And if you know me at all, I advise strongly against DABBLING, which is what many beginners end up doing, and it’s not pretty. I also tell people that it is not only not the best way, but actually detrimental to your learning, to start by setting an altar and casting circles. And people don’t want to hear that. They want to be an insty-witch. Well, sorito, kidlets, but that’s not the path. It’s A path, sure. It’s not the path I recognize, nor is it the path I teach. Why? I’ll tell you why (I say that a lot).
The Wheel of the Year, whether you are in the Southern or Northern Hemisphere (the Southern Wheel is “flipped” and opposite of the Northern, more typically taught, Wheel), is the best teacher you have as a new seeker. While it’s fine to read everything you can get your hands on for free, and it’s fine to consecrate a stick for your first wand, and it’s fine to start to study the Gods and all that, the very first thing that any serious seeker in Wicca needs to do is to CONNECT WITH THE WHEEL. The act of mindfully connecting with the Wheel, where ever it happens to be when you begin, is going to teach you more than any teacher can teach you as a beginner. And frankly, you deprive yourself of a boatload of wonder and bliss if you don’t do that first. Why? I’ll tell you why.
To connect with the cycle of Life, Death, and Rebirth is to step into a reality that, while it has always existed all around us, opens up to the new seeker in Wicca like a book of Faerie Tales into which you find yourself immersed. I cannot do justice to the ethereal depth of absolute wonder that awaits the first time seeker when she/he/they experience the seasons and the moon cycles (also part of the Wheel) in spiritual terms instead of in mundane terms for the first time. To SEE the God and Goddess in manifest nature and to EXPERIENCE Them in the Two Year Cycle (more later) of Their Story as a new Wiccan is to enjoy a one-time, yet ever-emanating spiritual opening that cannot be described and is not to be sidestepped. This is a sacred time for the new seeker and NOTHING should come between that person and their physical and emotional connection to the Wheel–not even learning to set an altar with the 4 Tools and learning the Parts of Wiccan Ritual and all that happy stuff. Sure, if you have a teaching coven that can expose you to the teachings simultaneously, great. But if you are a solitary seeker, do this first. You will NOT be upset about this later. You will be filled with expansive joy. But HOW do you do it? I’ll tell you how.
By the way, these steps are great for any Wiccan at any stage of study. In Wicca, we return again and again to the beginning. Our circle of Life is a spiral and it is never ending, yet always beginning. You are NEVER ‘too experienced’ to do these exercises.
- Observe the sunrise for a week, observe the sunset for a week, observe the moon cycle from new to full and journal about your experiences. This might seem pretty simple. I mean, geez, we’ve all seen the sunrise, right? We’ve all seen the sunset. We’ve all looked at the moon. Big deal, right? Just do it. Do it silently, alone. Do it patiently and although looking directly at the sun isn’t recommended, do it with great attention to detail. Journal about how you feel before, during, and after. What sensations do you have in your body? What does the air smell like? What colors did you see? What do you feel in your body as the moon changes and grows? What emotions does the moon evoke in you? Write it all down and keep it.
- Learn what Sabbat is upcoming and begin to get outside and feel the energy of the approaching holy day. What is the Earth doing right now? Is it in the process of birthing, growing, maturing, declining, dying off to be born again? How does being outside make you feel? What does it smell like, and can you taste anything on the air? What emotions does this time of year bring to your body and mind? Write it down.
- Make something with your hands that has something to do with the energy of the upcoming Sabbat. It doesn’t matter if you’re not artistic. It isn’t the end product that is important here. It’s the doing. Learn to make a Brighid’s Cross if Imbolc is upcoming, or make a Brighid’s bed, or make a white candle to light on Imbolc night. Can’t do that? Decorate a purchased candle and learn to dress it with holy oil. Is Ostara coming up? Make hot cross buns to enjoy with friends and bury the corners in your garden to bless the space. Bless your seeds! Not handy with plants? Get an air plant. They’re hard to kill. Learn something about the upcoming Sabbat and make something, anything, that corresponds with the season. Then journal about the experience.
- As each Sabbat comes, do one devotional activity that is in alignment with the Sabbat. You could write a poem for each one and frame it to put on a personal shrine, or you could learn a song that captures the essence of each Sabbat season. Bake a seasonal food and feed friends and family. Or take beautiful photos that show the season and make a collage. Cast eggs into moving water for Ostara, after having dyed them with natural dyes. Write it all down.
- Spend a year observing one natural object. It could be a tree, a mountain, a stream…anything. Meditate with the natural object and sit silently with it, feeling its energy. Observe how it changes with the seasons. Write down your observations and feelings regarding this for an entire solar cycle. Maybe sketch what you see or take pictures. Keep this information to return to later on in your studies.
I guarantee that any new seeker who does these steps for a year will find a world of wonder opening up for them. Your introduction to the Wheel of the Year can only really be taught by the Earth Herself, by the Sky Himself, by the guardians of natural places and the spirit of the wood. Listen to these teachers. This is the first year of the Wiccan journey. Value it and love it and it will fill you with unspeakable knowledge and joy. I promise.