Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Wheel of the Year - Happy Imbolc!

An excerpt from The Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Members of The Grey Council

The Annual Cycle of the seasonal celebrations is variously referred to as the Sacred Round, the Cycle of Sabbats, or the Wheel of the Year. The eight spokes of this Wheel are the Great Festivals that occur at the Solstices, Equninoxes, and Cross-Quarters midway between. These are also called Sabbats, from the Hebrew shabbat ("to cease or rest"). As the year progresses, the rituals and myths associated with each Sabbat recapitulate the great Cycle of Life, from Birth to Death to Rebirth. Some version of most of these festivals are celebrated by nearly all peoples of the temperate zones, and they have even been assimilated into the Christian calendar, as Saints' days and Masses. A bonfire in the evening is the most common feature. Often, people stay up all night around the fire, singing songs and telling stories.

In my community and traditions we have for many years been evolving a complex cycle of celebrations and have incorporated numerous elements of custom and folklore from our ancient heritage. We have drawn mainly from Western Europe and the British Isles, but as Greek mythology has always been a strong component of our collective Western lore, we also bring the Eleusinian ritual cycle into our seasonal observances. Often, the ritual will include a dramatic performance or Mystery Play related to the mythos. The main characters in our seasonal dramas are Mother Earth (Gaea) Father Sun (Sol), and their children: the leafy Green Man (Florus) and flowery Maid (Flora/Kore), and the horned Red Man (Faunus/Pan) and Furry Maid (Fauna).

Similar rights are held at these times by just about every magickal group in the entire worldwide magickal community. The only difference is between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. South of the equator, the seasons are reversed, and so the calendar dates on the wheel for those Sabbats are opposite. For each Sabbat you should redo your altar with appopriately colored altar cloths, candles, and seasonal directions.

As the Wheel of the Year forms a circle, any starting point is arbitrary, and several of these Sabbats are regarded as New Year in various traditions.

Oberon Zell has accomplished many things in his long and colorful career. A modern Renaissance man, Oberon is a transpersonal psychologist, metaphysician, naturalist, theologian, shaman, author, artist, sculptor, lecturer, teacher, and ordained Priest of the Earth-Mother, Gaia. Those who know him well consider him to be a true Wizard in the traditional sense. He is also an initiate in the Egyptian Church of the Eternal Source, a Priest in the Fellowship of Isis, and an initiate in several different Traditions of Witchcraft. He holds academic degrees in sociology, anthropology, clinical psychology, teaching, and theology.

Oberon is the author of numerous published articles on history, Gaian thealogy, magic, shamanism, mythology, anomalies, dinosaurs, archaeology, cosmology, and related topics, and has been interviewed and quoted extensively in many books on New Age religious movements and the occult.

In 2002, Oberon gathered together many of the best-known minds in the Neo-Pagan movement to form the “Grey Council.” In 2004 Oberon and the Council published Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard, a book filled with the accumulated wisdom and insight of dozens of the most experienced magicians, priests, artists, and authors in Pagandom. Also in 2004, Oberon created his proudest accomplishment, the online Grey School of Wizardry. The Grey School currently offers over 300 classes in 16 Departments, at seven levels, with more than 750 students aged 11-75. The faculty number 40 highly-qualified teachers. Graduates are certified “Journeyman Wizards.” Oberon is the school’s Headmaster, and has been called “The real Albus Dumbledore.”

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