Walk the Celtic Wheel : A Return to Cyclical Wisdom
To walk the Celtic Wheel is to return to the wisdom of cycles and spirals. It’s an invitation to connect to and to come into right relationship with nature, the self, and the earth. Each threshold carries certain energies, intentions, wisdom, and healing. Through contemplation, ceremony, meditation, and earth-based practices, you can embrace the medicine each turning point holds for you as it arises in your own life.
As the seasons move around us, we, as beings of nature, move with them. We remember the gifts of being our true nature; we reclaim our power and our creative fire; we dance with life, death, and rebirth; we craft new pathways in our lives; we learn when to rest deeply; and we receive the gifts of healing in community. We let each of the thresholds work on us. We surrender to their magic. We feed our soul.
The turning of the wheel reminds us of the impermanence of life. Change is always occurring, and cycles keep moving. Can we move and change with them?
As you continue to walk the celtic wheel, spiral after spiral, you will gain tools, resources, a deep understanding, and the experience of knowing not only where you stand on the wheel in all aspects of your life but also how to be and navigate those spaces.
Celtic Wheel Dates
The beginning of each season is marked by a cross-quarter (or fire) festival:
Imbolc (February 1st) for spring;
Bealtaine (May 1st) for summer;
Lughnasa (August 1st) for autumn
Samhain (October 31st) for winter.
Though these dates may seem early, they are suggestions that a different energy is emerging; the smallest of signs that change is on the horizon. The dates mentioned above are the traditional dates, but these fire festivals actually have ‘true’ dates that change each year.
The height of each season is marked by a quarter point (or solar festival):
the Spring Equinox (20th–23rd March);
the Summer Solstice (20th–23rd June);
the Autumn Equinox (20th–23rd September);
the Winter Solstice (20th–23rd December)
From each quarter point, the season begins to wane until we reach the next cross-quarter festival, which signifies that one season has ended and another has begun.
The Celtic Wheel in Irish
Wheel of the year: Roth Na Bliana
Winter Solstice: grianstad an gheimhridh […un YEV-ree]
Summer Solstice: grianstad an tsamhraidh [… un TOW-ree, “tow” as in “cow” or “now,” not as in “tow-truck”]
Autumn Equinox: cónocht an fhómhair [… un OH-irzh, with the “fh” silent]
Spring Equinox: cónocht an earraigh [… un YAR-ee]
Why Walk the Celtic Wheel: The Call to Centre
Life is busy. We feel we live in a linear time. We run from one thing to the next. There’s never enough time to do it all. We are looking for the next thing. We feel rushed and disconnected from ourselves and the world around us.
We have forgotten what it feels like to dance with the spiral of life, to open our hands to the mystery, and to look to nature as a guide back home to ourselves. Our souls long for the touch of being in relationship with nature.
Walking the Celtic Wheel ignites a deep soul remembering that the upward & downward spirals of life support one another. You can experience that they are two halves of a path towards fulfilment and wholeness.
We are cyclical beings. We ebb and flow like nature. The breath of life—expansion, contraction, expansion, contraction, and so on—continues. Just as light requires shade, yin requires yang, spring requires winter, action requires rest, and giving requires receiving.
We can learn to work with these seasons and flows of life rather than pushing against or rushing through them. When we surrender, we can trust the movement between active and receptive, creative and still, light and dark, inhale and exhale. We learn that no matter what challenge we are facing, it’s not permanent.
If you turn to nature, you see that after winter must come spring, and after a new moon must come a full moon. This happens in its own time. You can’t force a flower to grow and bloom, so why do we force ourselves?
Each turning point on the Celtic Wheel offers you an opportunity to come into attunement (harmony) with certain archetypal energies, wisdom, healing, and themes. There is much to learn when you truly listen and feel into these turning points.
When we turn to nature, we have an infinite intelligence guiding us. We are reflected in it, just as much as it reflects to us.
All we have to do is be open and curious.
What are the turning points on the Celtic Wheel?
31st Oct / 1st Nov (‘true’ date varies each year – astronomical date)
The Wheel starts at Samhain, as our ancestors believed the day started at dusk and that all life began in the dark. Seen as the third and final harvest season.
A time of honouring our ancestors, getting honest about what needs to die, and rooting within A liminal time where the veil between our world and the otherworld is thin. Are you ready to sit with An Cailleach and your ancestors to hear their wisdom?
A time of dark gestation, of renewal and regeneration so you and your life can be revitalised. The seeds can only germinate in the darkness. The darkness is as important as the light for growth. Nurture your inner world with reflection, dreaming, creativity, and patience. Let what needs to die nourish your dream seeds of potential.
You cannot continue to evolve and birth new life without experiencing death. Growth and change require a sacrifice, a loss, and a death. Something needs to be laid down on the earth or placed in the fires of the cauldron. Let die what no longer sustains you. Death is not an end but a part of the continuous cycle of the renewal of life. Yet death cannot be rushed or outsmarted.
What within you or around you must die?
Can you allow what must die to die so you can (re)connect to an aspect more aligned with your soul?
Can you stand where you are, not knowing what will happen next? Rest in the mystery and uncertainty.
Solstice means to ‘stand still’. At this turning point, can we pause and stand still during the longest night as we await the return of the light? The landscape reveals the skeletons of things, just as we too are sometimes stripped right back to our bones. The contrast is that we huddle in the cosiness of the hearth fires and candlelight, a time of telling stories.
Everything is quieter; the land is quiet. Can you be quiet so you can hear the whispers of your soul?
If you were stripped back to your bare bones, what would remain of you? Your essence is an ever-living aspect of you. The true self, from which you can rebuild
We feel the darkness will never end as we sit in the void, the mystery. It is in the darkness that transformation occurs. It’s where we can tend to the grief, the sorrow, the dissolution, the fear, and our shadows. We do this so we can awaken to the inspiration, hope, and alchemy that await in this space. If you walk the spiral, you know that this too shall pass. Can you let yourself be with the darkness?
It’s a time to go inward to dream and to gestate new ideas. It’s not a time to rush forth into action. Create space within you for a spark of change and a chance to ignite new possibilities.
30th Jan / 1st Feb (‘true’ date varies each year; astronomical date)
The Cailleach brings you to the threshold of Imbolc, you reach across your hands to be greeted by Goddess Brigid. You carry with you the wisdom, the dreaming, and the vision gifted through winter. You allow these tender seedlings to enter your creative heart. What gifts of wisdom does Brigid, the Soulsmith, healer, and poet, wish to share with you at this turning point of the Celtic Wheel, Imbolc?
Imbolc helps clear you of the remains of the deep winter that clings to you; she invites you to step your feet onto the dewy earth and begin to feel the life force awakening in the earth beneath you and also within you. You begin to slowly turn your head towards the light, allowing yourself to gently awaken to a new rhythm, attuned to that which you’ve been dreaming of during the winter.
You carry within you, at this time of Imbolc, the tiny seeds of beginnings, the soft budding of spring. What is the invitation within Imbolc for you? Learn what Brigid wishes to gift you at this tuning point, what she desires you to tend to in your heart / hearth, what she wishes to ignite within you with her perpetual flame.
Imbolc is the end of winter, and Beltane is the beginning of summer. The spring equinox is Spring at its peak. Spring Equinox is a joyful time, with themes of awakening, rebirth, and new life. Nature is waking up after her long winter’s slumber. Everything’s coming alive; the natural world is being reborn. As we look outside in nature, we see, feel and hear, the energy, the pulse, and the sound of new growth. It reflects to us that there is new life after the ‘death and decay’ of winter.
This same thing is happening within you—in your life and in your spirit.
The equinoxes are a time of balance. Balance isn’t static. It’s an active process of moving gently back and forth between the range that is available to us—moving between different activities, different sides of the body, different emotions, and different perspectives. We are never just one thing, one emotion, one energy.
We are constantly ebbing and flowing between movement and stillness, solitude and togetherness, light and dark, hiding and seeking, being and doing, receiving and contributing, acting and resting, listening and expressing, open and closed, vulnerability and strength, receptive and active, unconscious and conscious, inner and outer, the rational, logical mind, and the instinct / intuition. These can be united within us so that we are whole and balanced individuals. This gives birth to actions that come from the heart.
1st May (‘true’ date varies each year – astronomical date)
At Bealtaine, we stand on the turning point of the celtic wheel, which is the midway point between Spring (Spring Equinox) and Summer (Summer Solstice) – it is the light-giving portion of the cycle. Bealtaine celebrates the end of the dark half of the year and the coming of the light half.
The name derives from the old Irish words Bel Taine meaning ‘bright fire’ and the celtic word “bel,” and the Celtic God ‘Bel’ which means “the bright one.” Both of these days, Samhain and Bealtaine, are strongly linked to fire. When we honour Bealtaine, we think of harvest, of roaring bonfires, and of the heat of summer. When we honour Samhain, we light the fires to honour the dead, to honour life, and to warm ourselves during the cooler weather.
At Bealtaine, rituals and ceremonies celebrate fertility, protection, cleansing, relationships, clan bonds, abundance, and renewal.
The Uisneach fire is a strong symbolic nod to the power of lighting our inner fire. When we are ablaze with ideas and inspiration, fuelled by long summer nights and at least the promise of sunny days, our light can catch, like wildfire, spreading out into our families, our colleagues, and our communities. Often, in our own lives, we need to sacrifice our old habits that no longer serve us and allow ourselves to blossom into the fullness of our authentic selves.
So, this Bealtaine, pause to fuel your inner fire and consider what is ablaze within you.
The Solstice is the longest period of daylight of the year. The word solstice comes to us from the Latin for “sun standing still”: sol meaning sun and sistere meaning to stand still. At Solstice, the Sun appears to rise in the same place on the horizon for several days, hence the name. This makes it a potent moment for all of us to stop and reflect before we, too, like the sun, pivot in new directions. It is a powerful time to slow down and honour where we’ve been before forging a new path.
The light of the Solstice illuminates and superpowers the heart. You are invited more deeply into love and to open to what is possible, not just for ourselves but for all of life and our Earth. How can you lead from your heart center? If your heart were to speak to you, what would it say?
The fruits and vegetables are growing and abundant, and they will need to be harvested soon. This process cannot be rushed, just like Mother Nature. We can apply this to our own dreams and goals. No matter what we are moving towards, there comes a time when we need to let the universe take its course and surrender to divine timing. No amount of doing or striving will make it happen any quicker; we have to surrender to the process.
The summer solstice is a time for celebration, and it also reminds us that time passes quickly. Can you feel yourself already clinging to Summer or wishing that it could stretch itself a little? Can we stay here longer? We need to intentionally take the time to stop and enjoy what we have created and what we’ve been experiencing before moving on to the next step.
1st Aug (‘true’ date varies each year – astronomical date)
The first harvest festival marks the turn towards autumn. You begin to see and feel that it’s the end of the summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Are you open and willing to embark on the descent towards autumn and winter?
Lughnasa is a festival of celebration, harvest, abundance, and joy. Take the time to taste your harvest—to sit at the top of the mountain to take it in. Like ripe fruit, let the juicyness of life flow into your cells.
It’s a time to honour the abundance of the earth and express gratitude for the bountiful gifts of nature that can sustain you during the dark winter.
A time to reflect on the gifts and skills that you carry within. Those that have been gifted to you through your ancestors, those that are innately a part of you, and the skills you’ve developed throughout your life. It’s easy to dismiss the gifts you’ve been given or hide them. Can you let yourself truly see and own your gifts? Consider how you can share them with others.
21st September (‘true’ date varies each year – astronomical date)
The second harvest festival is a time of receiving as well as letting go. We are reminded that by letting go, you can also find growth, abundance, and life. It’s a sweet point of balance before we descend. Are you open and willing to embark on the descent towards autumn and winter?
A time of release, surrender, and letting go. Pause, reflect, and gain clarity over the last year. What is or isn’t working? What do you want to preserve, carry forward, or release? Take the time to reflect on what is coming to completion in life. How can you engage consciously and intentionally with the endings and full cycles?
It’s the dance within opposites that brings the gifts of balance and wholeness. Where in your outer and inner world are you being called to come into more harmony? What small adjustments can you make?
The Celtic Wheel in the 21st Century: An anchor point in an ever-changing world
The Celtic Wheel is full of wisdom shared through our ancestral lineage. It is ever-changing and ever-evolving, just as we are. It’s as applicable to us now as it was to our ancestors, albeit in different ways.
The Celtic Wheel can be seen as a map, a compass point, and a guide on how to meet and move through life.
- It encompasses all of life – life, death and rebirth.
- It shows us how to live in harmony with nature, ourselves, and the world around us.
- It is not a manifestation tool, but a way to live life.
- It guides us with an animistic lens—that everything is alive and filled with spirit.
- It connects us to our roots and sense of belonging. No matter where we live, we can find archetypal energies in our landscape. Even though throughout the world we experience the seasons differently, we can still connect to the wheel and draw wisdom from it.
- It teaches us how to hold the dynamic tension between opposites. It is not about this/or, but this/and… It opens our minds to possibilities, to different ways of viewing life, and how to weave our inner and outer energy within ourselves.