How do Pagans in the southern hemisphere accommodate the differences in their seasons when most of the Pagan literature is focused on more northern climates?
As Wicca’s spiritual roots are found in pre-Christian European mythology and culture, consequently its festival dates tend to follow the seasonal cycles of the northern climate.
In fact, previously, most books on Paganism and Wiccan focused almost exclusively on the northern hemisphere, but more and more Pagan writers are getting the idea that this there are Pagans practicing in other parts of the world, with entirely different seasonal cycles.
We’ll explore more on this in future articles with book reviews and interviews featuring Pagans from varying traditions from all over the globe.
As a nature-based religion, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to be celebrating the slumber of the Earth and the Sun-God’s rebirth in December, where in Australia, for instance, they’re throwing shrimp on the barbie and the sun’s in the full blast of summer.
Typically southern hemisphere Pagans shift the traditional designated dates on the Wheel of the Year by 180 degrees, so you have the following designations:
Samhain – 30 April
Yule – 21 June
Imbolg – 31 July
Ostara – 23 September
Beltane – 31 October
Midsummer – 22 December
Lughnassadh – 2 February
Mabon – 21 March
In each of the Sabbat articles I’ve written thusfar, I’ve included both the northern and southern dates for the festivals, and I will continue to do so.
If you’re a Pagan down under, let us know how you celebrate. What you do differently, what you do that’s similar. You can begin or contribute to discussions by clicking on the link at the bottom of this article.
First published on Suite101.com on 25 June 2006. (Unfortunately.)
31 October NH
30 April SH
First Full Moon in Scorpio
Most people are more familiar with Samhain than some of the other Wiccan and neo-pagan festivals because of customs associated with Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night in England.
Samhain is often seen as the old Celtic New Year, though it is not certain that this was the start of the New Year in all Celtic areas. It may seem strange that this season of death be considered the new year, for this is the time when the harvest is over, this is the season of rusty leaves, grey mists and an ever-increasing bite in the air is present. Life is fading, sleeping or dying. However, in ending cycles one can create new ones. In this time of death one becomes aware that new life will come, from under this frost bitten land. When outer life decays it is the inner strength that must become stronger to persevere.
The God is true Lord of the Underworld at this time, and the Goddess is the Wise Crone. They are both old and clothed in Mystery. This is a time of death, leading then to rebirth once more at Yule.
The Goddess is present as Crone and Wisewoman. Her time of fruits and harvest is complete. Now She offers secrets of the inner realm, of wisdom and magickal power. Within Her glimmers the light of the Maiden, for She is also seen as Lady of Life-in-Death, as Mother too, for she carries the Sun God in the secrecy of Her womb.
The God, having been cut down with the corn of Lammas and Mabon, is making the final journey into darkness and is with present as Lord of the Underworld.
The veil between this world and the spirit world is thin at this time, and it is traditional to ask the beloved dead to be with us – but they are asked, never commanded or summoned.
The God’s descent is honoured by identifying with the way life is retreating, and by allowing what must die in our lives to do so. The Crone is honoured by seeking Her wisdom.
It is a time of coming to terms with death, not only the death of the body, but the death of other things that have ceased over the year, such as relationships, jobs, hobbies, material wealth.
Samhain takes place during Scorpio, which is ruled by the element water. Water transforms and changes, and during Samhain it is a good time to meditate and wash away the pains and sorrows that have taken place during the course of the year.
The theme of this festival is ‘descent’ – descent into our own Underworld, our inner minds – facing our fears, discovering latent talents.