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Author Topic: Is the Wheel of the Year strictly Wiccan?  (Read 1454 times)

Arthurine

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Is the Wheel of the Year strictly Wiccan?
« on: October 14, 2013, 09:31:34 am »
I can't seem to find a definitive answer about whether or not celebrating the Sabbats is a Wiccan thing or whether Wicca is a celebrating the Sabbats thing, if that makes sense.

I have always felt the changing of the seasons are important, just as life itself has had pretty clearly defined seasons for me, and the concept of birth/life/death and rest/rebirth has always felt very important to my still-nebulous spirituality, but there are things about Wicca that I can not with sincerity get behind, so I'm curious: is there any harm in me celebrating Yule/Ostara/Midsummer/Samhain with no real connection to Wicca? Should I celebrate the days in my own way but using different names?

Thank you in advance!

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Re: Is the Wheel of the Year strictly Wiccan?
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2013, 09:37:30 am »
Quote from: Arthurine;125277
I can't seem to find a definitive answer about whether or not celebrating the Sabbats is a Wiccan thing or whether Wicca is a celebrating the Sabbats thing, if that makes sense.

I have always felt the changing of the seasons are important, just as life itself has had pretty clearly defined seasons for me, and the concept of birth/life/death and rest/rebirth has always felt very important to my still-nebulous spirituality, but there are things about Wicca that I can not with sincerity get behind, so I'm curious: is there any harm in me celebrating Yule/Ostara/Midsummer/Samhain with no real connection to Wicca? Should I celebrate the days in my own way but using different names?

Thank you in advance!

 
They don't OWN the holidays, no.  Though people WILL assume you're approaching things from a Wicca-like system if you use them and use the same names, that's only a problem if you care about that.

They are, in fact, often viewed as universal.  *shrug*

Liadine (dragonflyeyes)

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Re: Is the Wheel of the Year strictly Wiccan?
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2013, 09:45:50 am »
Quote from: Arthurine;125277
I can't seem to find a definitive answer about whether or not celebrating the Sabbats is a Wiccan thing or whether Wicca is a celebrating the Sabbats thing, if that makes sense.

I have always felt the changing of the seasons are important, just as life itself has had pretty clearly defined seasons for me, and the concept of birth/life/death and rest/rebirth has always felt very important to my still-nebulous spirituality, but there are things about Wicca that I can not with sincerity get behind, so I'm curious: is there any harm in me celebrating Yule/Ostara/Midsummer/Samhain with no real connection to Wicca? Should I celebrate the days in my own way but using different names?

Thank you in advance!

 
I don't see any harm in it, mostly because I do the same thing. I started from a Wicca-lite foundation in my early teens and I've mostly shed that entirely, but I still celebrate the wheel of the year. However, I celebrate them as spiritual festivals instead of religious ones, if that makes sense - since I don't have any connection to the deities of Wicca or Neo-Wicca, I don't use ritual text or anything deity-related on those days, I just celebrate in my own way.

As for the names, I usually go with calling them solstices or equinoxes, but for ones which don't fall on those days I do use the Wiccan names. Given that those names have entered Paganism-as-a-whole, for better or worse, I don't see any problem with using those names except for the previously-mentioned issue of some people misunderstanding your path if/when you use them.
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Gilbride

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Re: Is the Wheel of the Year strictly Wiccan?
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2013, 09:58:20 am »
Quote from: Arthurine;125277
I can't seem to find a definitive answer about whether or not celebrating the Sabbats is a Wiccan thing or whether Wicca is a celebrating the Sabbats thing, if that makes sense.


IMO, celebrating the combination of the four Celtic fire festivals with the solstices and equinoxes is definitely Wiccan in origin, but a lot of non-Wiccan pagans do it. I don't think there's any folk tradition or ancient ritual calendar in any culture that corresponds exactly to the Wheel of the Year.

Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lunasa are the Celtic "fire festivals." There is some debate about whether they were celebrated widely in the ancient Celtic world (much of Europe) or only in some areas. For instance, Imbolc is a big deal in Ireland and Scotland but was only ever a minor festival in Wales and we don't know if the ancient Gauls celebrated it at all.

As for the solstices and equinoxes, there are traditional festivals near those dates in a lot of European countries, but near is not the same thing as on. For instance, the traditional midsummer festival is June 24. Since ancient people knew how to calculate the solstice precisely, it seems odd to set the traditional midsummer festival on the 24th when the solstice would always fall on the 20th-21st. Before the switch to the Gregorian calendar the date would have been even further off (by almost two weeks!), so personally I've always been skeptical that traditional midsummer/midwinter festivals really had anything to do with the solstices.

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Re: Is the Wheel of the Year strictly Wiccan?
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2013, 10:49:15 am »
Quote from: Arthurine;125277
I can't seem to find a definitive answer about whether or not celebrating the Sabbats is a Wiccan thing or whether Wicca is a celebrating the Sabbats thing, if that makes sense.

I have always felt the changing of the seasons are important, just as life itself has had pretty clearly defined seasons for me, and the concept of birth/life/death and rest/rebirth has always felt very important to my still-nebulous spirituality, but there are things about Wicca that I can not with sincerity get behind, so I'm curious: is there any harm in me celebrating Yule/Ostara/Midsummer/Samhain with no real connection to Wicca? Should I celebrate the days in my own way but using different names?

Thank you in advance!

My own practice is still in development but I do celebrate the eight holidays. I do not identify as Wiccan by any stretch. I ran into this thread: http://www.ecauldron.com/forum/showthread.php?682-How-Do-You-Refer-to-the-Celebrations-Within-the-Wheel-of-the-Year rather early on in my lurkdom and the first post pretty much knocked it out of the ballpark for me in terms of inspiration.

I rename each holiday as I come to them every year and take the adjective from my observations of nature at the time. The suffix I selected is -mæsse**. For example: this summer was stupidly wet and so my Midsummer was celebrated as Regnmæsse (Feast Day of Rain). I pull terms from Old English exclusively; it is nicely compatible with Norwegian most of the time which is a nice touch.

I also do not celebrate the cross-quarter days on the conventional dates. I have a strong bent towards astronomy and prefer using this calendar: http://www.archaeoastronomy.com/2013.html



**The suffix -mas (as in Christmas and Candlemas) derives from the Old English mæsse which means a feast day, festival, and/or high mass. Mæsse was in turn derived from messa which is a Vulgar Latin alteration of missa, a Late Latin word for ‘religious service’ that was eventually narrowed to refer to the Eucharist. The religious service usage is due to the phrase ”Ite, missa est” (Go, the dismissal is made) at the end of services. Missa is itself a Classical Latin word; it is the perfect passive participle of the verb mittō (to let go, to send). As a PPP, missa means “having been let go” or “having been dismissed”.  Holy crap is it nice to get at least some small use out of the three years of Latin I took in high school.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2013, 10:50:38 am by Allaya »
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Re: Is the Wheel of the Year strictly Wiccan?
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2013, 11:58:25 am »
Quote from: Arthurine;125277
I can't seem to find a definitive answer about whether or not celebrating the Sabbats is a Wiccan thing or whether Wicca is a celebrating the Sabbats thing, if that makes sense.

 
That's because, basically, it depends what you mean by 'Sabbats'.

Historically, speaking, *lots* of people over time have celebrated either the equinoxes and solstices, or the four fire festivals (May 1, August 1, October 31, February 1 or so.)

Putting all 8 together is a very modern thing (done by both Gerald Gardner and by the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids in the 1950s, basically) and mostly on the theory that "8 celebrations is better than 4", by all accounts. Likewise, the joining mythology is quite modern: historically, they were (based on the data we have handy) more individual.

Beyond that, some of the names are very modern in being used for festivals (notably Mabon and Litha, which were originally given those names in the US in the late 60s/early 70s.)

So, no, they're not the sole purview of either Wicca or Druidry, but some methods of joining them together come very clearly out of those traditions, some methods of celebrating them are quite modern, and the entire group of names as a set is not historical, so using a particular set tends to imply things about what your practices are (and so if that's *not* what you're doing, you probably want to be aware of that.)

Above and beyond that, there is also a certain consideration that if you're not following Celtic practice, it might be a good idea to figure out whether using Celtic names is really the ideal. (My practice does not work with Celtic deities, and I've been moving away from using the more commonly used names in favour of other options - if I'm talking about it in public, I'll say Samhain or Imbolc or whatever, because it takes less explaining, but in my private practice, I'm using something else.)
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Aiwelin

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Re: Is the Wheel of the Year strictly Wiccan?
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2013, 05:23:41 pm »
Quote from: Arthurine;125277
is there any harm in me celebrating Yule/Ostara/Midsummer/Samhain with no real connection to Wicca? Should I celebrate the days in my own way but using different names?

Thank you in advance!

 
Definitely not!  As others have said, they've become more "generic-Pagan" holidays than Wicca-specific.  My own tradition, ADF Druidry, celebrates the purposely adopted the Wheel of the Year as a way of connecting with the larger Neo-Pagan community; despite being definitely Not Wiccan.
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Re: Is the Wheel of the Year strictly Wiccan?
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2013, 09:35:05 pm »
Quote from: Arthurine;125277
I can't seem to find a definitive answer about whether or not celebrating the Sabbats is a Wiccan thing or whether Wicca is a celebrating the Sabbats thing, if that makes sense.

I have always felt the changing of the seasons are important, just as life itself has had pretty clearly defined seasons for me, and the concept of birth/life/death and rest/rebirth has always felt very important to my still-nebulous spirituality, but there are things about Wicca that I can not with sincerity get behind, so I'm curious: is there any harm in me celebrating Yule/Ostara/Midsummer/Samhain with no real connection to Wicca? Should I celebrate the days in my own way but using different names?

Thank you in advance!

 
There is no harm in doing it, if you feel pulled to it. I have to readily second what Jenett and Gilbride mention, I mention this because it is my opinion that if you're going to celebrate a holiday then it's often a good idea to understand the context behind said holidays. The Sabbats, as they are put together in the Wiccan wheel of the year, are a blend of both Celtic (from what I have understood a very Irish Celtic perspective) and Germanic holidays. Knowing the who, what, and why of these holidays can help with seeing how they fit with you and what you believe in and honor religiously.
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Materialist

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Re: Is the Wheel of the Year strictly Wiccan?
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2013, 02:55:03 pm »
Quote from: SerpentineSorcerer;125359
Knowing the who, what, and why of these holidays can help with seeing how they fit with you and what you believe in and honor religiously.

 
An excellent point to consider, Arthurine. What does celebrating, say, the summer solstice mean to you? Why do you want to do it? Asking oneself such questions can prove very insightful.

Medulla

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Re: Is the Wheel of the Year strictly Wiccan?
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2013, 08:11:16 pm »
Quote from: Arthurine;125277
[...]is there any harm in me celebrating Yule/Ostara/Midsummer/Samhain with no real connection to Wicca? Should I celebrate the days in my own way but using different names?

Thank you in advance!



I associate those names with Wicca but I know other paths or people also use them so while I would think you were probably Wiccan I wouldn't jump to that conclusion. There are many paths that mark the changes in seasons in some way, especially since in the past when people were much closer to agriculture it was very important in their daily lives. So I think you can celebrate the changes of season without being Wiccan.

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Re: Is the Wheel of the Year strictly Wiccan?
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2013, 11:29:33 pm »
Quote from: Arthurine;125277
I can't seem to find a definitive answer about whether or not celebrating the Sabbats is a Wiccan thing or whether Wicca is a celebrating the Sabbats thing, if that makes sense.

I have always felt the changing of the seasons are important, just as life itself has had pretty clearly defined seasons for me, and the concept of birth/life/death and rest/rebirth has always felt very important to my still-nebulous spirituality, but there are things about Wicca that I can not with sincerity get behind, so I'm curious: is there any harm in me celebrating Yule/Ostara/Midsummer/Samhain with no real connection to Wicca? Should I celebrate the days in my own way but using different names?

Thank you in advance!

 
The Sabbats are Wiccan, yes, however they happen to fall around times that have been recognised in various cultures in different ways and names throughout history. Originally there were only four (pertaining to Wicca that is, and known as Halloween, Candlemass, May eve, and Lammas) known as the Greater Sabbats. The Soltices and Equinoxes of the Lesser Sabbats were added later by Gardner's Bricketwood coven, and since the same days have come to be known by other names (Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasadh), the latter specifically more to my line being an Irish coven since different lines, covens, and traditions have their own acknowledgements (Mabon and Litha being very new and something we don't use for ex.) but that also brings us into...

The four 'Celtic' fire festivals just happen to fall on these days that pre-date Wicca greatly. They have their own myths and lore, so as a Gaelic Polytheist as well I celebrate them both quite differently.....so I guess your answer is yes, and no ;) The Sabbats are Wiccan and fall around other festivals that aren't Wiccan.
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Arthurine

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Re: Is the Wheel of the Year strictly Wiccan?
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2013, 08:10:06 pm »
Quote from: Allaya;125287

I also do not celebrate the cross-quarter days on the conventional dates. I have a strong bent towards astronomy and prefer using this calendar: http://www.archaeoastronomy.com/2013.html



**The suffix -mas (as in Christmas and Candlemas) derives from the Old English mæsse which means a feast day, festival, and/or high mass. Mæsse was in turn derived from messa which is a Vulgar Latin alteration of missa, a Late Latin word for ‘religious service’ that was eventually narrowed to refer to the Eucharist. The religious service usage is due to the phrase ”Ite, missa est” (Go, the dismissal is made) at the end of services. Missa is itself a Classical Latin word; it is the perfect passive participle of the verb mittō (to let go, to send). As a PPP, missa means “having been let go” or “having been dismissed”.  Holy crap is it nice to get at least some small use out of the three years of Latin I took in high school.

 
That link is actually perfect! The way I practice is more a lot of little day-to-day things and a maintained altar but I don't usually take special time to focus solely on my spirituality and the bigger picture, so I try to celebrate the seasons to refocus my energy and take stock of my own spiritual self and the cycles I'm going through. The link you provided will help me date these days without so much attachment to specific holidays.

And I appreciated the etymology!

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Arthurine

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Re: Is the Wheel of the Year strictly Wiccan?
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2013, 08:11:49 pm »
Quote from: Micheál;125568
The Sabbats are Wiccan, yes, however they happen to fall around times that have been recognised in various cultures in different ways and names throughout history. Originally there were only four (pertaining to Wicca that is, and known as Halloween, Candlemass, May eve, and Lammas) known as the Greater Sabbats. The Soltices and Equinoxes of the Lesser Sabbats were added later by Gardner's Bricketwood coven, and since the same days have come to be known by other names (Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasadh), the latter specifically more to my line being an Irish coven since different lines, covens, and traditions have their own acknowledgements (Mabon and Litha being very new and something we don't use for ex.) but that also brings us into...

The four 'Celtic' fire festivals just happen to fall on these days that pre-date Wicca greatly. They have their own myths and lore, so as a Gaelic Polytheist as well I celebrate them both quite differently.....so I guess your answer is yes, and no ;) The Sabbats are Wiccan and fall around other festivals that aren't Wiccan.

 
This is just what I was looking for, thank you!

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Arthurine

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Re: Is the Wheel of the Year strictly Wiccan?
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2013, 08:19:54 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;125293

Above and beyond that, there is also a certain consideration that if you're not following Celtic practice, it might be a good idea to figure out whether using Celtic names is really the ideal. (My practice does not work with Celtic deities, and I've been moving away from using the more commonly used names in favour of other options - if I'm talking about it in public, I'll say Samhain or Imbolc or whatever, because it takes less explaining, but in my private practice, I'm using something else.)

 
Thank you for your reply! I think I'm going to get to work pulling together names for the ~5 times a year I find myself regularly celebrating (winter solstice, summer solstice, May 1st, some time in february and around October 31st) and then I'll work on actually setting dates and spacing things out a bit more evenly and keeping the appointments I make with myself. >_>

(It can be a little tricky to get me to do something regularly, but I'd like to be better at doing things on a schedule because I feel like it might help me find more balance.)

   With any luck, I\'ll grow up to be Nanny Ogg.    

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Re: Is the Wheel of the Year strictly Wiccan?
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2013, 10:29:17 am »
Quote from: Arthurine;125277
I can't seem to find a definitive answer about whether or not celebrating the Sabbats is a Wiccan thing or whether Wicca is a celebrating the Sabbats thing, if that makes sense.

Calling them 'Sabbats' is a Wiccan thing, or at least started as a Wiccan thing and is a generally Witchcraft Revival thing.
But the festivals themselves were synthesised into their current Frazerian cycle by the interactions between Wicca and Neodruidism in the 1950s. Both of which laid the foundations for eclectic Neopaganism in the 1960s.

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