The Wheel of the Year
At this point, things for me take a slightly more personal turn in my series of blogs this Advent. While there is nothing particularly unconventional about expressing my Christian faith using Celtic patterns of worship, there are two areas where I have incorporated other, non Christian expressions of spirituality into my practice. Before I explain the first one, I want to assert that the essence of my faith has not wavered, but incorporating the Wheel of the Year into the way I live my life has been personally helpful in being able to bring some markers of distinction into the turning year.
In my previous entry, I mentioned that there came a point where I notice a sense of disconnectedness between my Christian life and the world around me. The non-conformist tradition that established itself after the Reformation largely did away with following the ecclesiastical year, retaining only Christmas, Easter and Pentecost as marker points. Whereas, starting at Advent, the established church follows a routine, which helps to create a sense of the passing year in liturgy and minor festivals.
While originally being a rush to dump it, about ten years ago I realised that this sense of rhythm, routine and connection was missing and that it turns out that it’s an important part of how I want to experience the Christian life. I respond to the way the British Isles changes as the year moves through Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter and it feels integral to my faith that I connect more deeply to the natural year.
I found myself looking simply to the seasons of the year. Taking inspiration from Pagan beliefs in dividing my year more formally into seasons. While I don’t mark or celebrate the pagan festivals of Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas or Samhain, I use the passage of the sun as natural transition points: Spring Equinox to Summer Solstice is Spring (March, April, May). Summer Solstice to Autumn Equinox is Summer, (June, July, August). Autumn Equinox to Winter Solstice is Autumn (September, October, November). Winter Solstice to Spring Equinox is Winter (December, January, February). I find it helpful not to treat the year as one, but actively live and experience the changing seasons within those months. I’m surely not the only one who does it.