The Northern Hemisphere Versus Southern Hemisphere Debate
The original Wheel of the Year, or the liturgical calendar for
Wiccans, was generated for a northern hemisphere seasonal cycle. The
celebrations and festivals in the Wheel of the Year celebrate the
passage of the sun across the sky and the passing of the seasons within
a mythological framework of ritual and traditions. That's easy to
follow but the problems begin to arise when we understand that Wicca
comes from England so its calendar follows the fact that Winter and its
related festivals happens over November, December and January while
Summer and its festivals occurs in the middle of the year. So you say,
let's just swap the whole thing over for Australia so that the
festivals for Winter occur in the middle of the year here and those for
Summer occur through December. Well, it's not quite that simple!
Depending on where you live, you may or may not in fact have exactly
the opposite seasons to those of England. So you might not be able to
just swap them over. For example, in northern Australia, it's pretty
much either hot or even hotter! While in the more southerly areas of
the country, there may be a little more resemblance to the four
seasonal regime albeit opposite to the UK. For example, in the tropical
regions of Australia, unlike in England, the rains come in Summer so
while the English suffer through the dark, wet and chilling cold of
their Winter, Darwin and the tropical regions of Australia bathe in the
glory of the warmth and peace of a tropical Winter. By comparison,
while the English Summer might bring forth the odd day of 23 degrees,
warm breezes, crops growing and baby lambs developing, the tropical
Summer brings stifling heat, torrential rains, plant life dying under
the strength of a killer sun and animals scurrying for shelter! Just to
make things even more confusing, meanwhile in Tasmania, the Summer
brings relief from the cold and the crops are developing nicely thank
you very much. Begin to get the picture? Australian seasons can simply
be transposed onto an opposite cycle to that of the northern hemisphere
because depending on where you live, that simply may not be
The Circle of Oak and Mistletoe's Wheel of the Year
Here in Adelaide however, we are lucky to follow a fairly simple
pattern in opposite to the UK so for our Circle, it's quite easy to
work with an exact opposite of the northern hemisphere Wheel of the
Year. Thus the calendar presented below works well for us. I urge you
to consider though that dependent upon where you live, you may need to
reconsider the pattern in which you celebrate the Wiccan festivals.
For the festivals (or Sabbats) of the Circle of Oak and Mistletoe we
focus on two things at each event; the seasonal relevance of the date
and the underpinning mythological stories synonymous with that
celebration. To celebrate those two factors, we participate in rituals
and practices that symbolise both the seasonal relevance and
mythological stories so that we can better understand how important
each Sabbat really is for us as Wiccans
[ header = Lughnasadh ]
Feb 2nd - Lughnasadh/Lammas (A Greater Sabbat and an Earth Cross-Quarter Day)
The first harvest is brought in. Some flowers are already beginning
to fade while the late bloomers are coming into their fullness. The new
life that came in Spring is fast developing toward adulthood and we are
beginning to see the outcomes of the fertile energies sewn earlier in
the seasonal year.
This Sabbat is in honour of the Celtic Sun God Lugh and marks his
life in sacrifice so that the fruits can ripen. He is a God of harvest
Bake bread from many different grains to honour the harvest and celebrate the food of the Gods.
[ header = Mabon ]
March 21st - Autumn Equinox/Mabon (A Lesser Sabbat and a Sun Quarter Day)
The second grain harvest is brought in and the hunt begins. There is
an equal balance of light and dark, Summer and Winter, male and female.
There is equilibrium between male and female energies.
Save some ears of corn or grain from the harvest to make into a 'Brigid's Cross' at Imbolg and keep them safe within your home.
[ header = Samhain ]
April 30th - Samhain/All Hallows (A Greater Sabbat and an Earth Cross-Quarter Day)
This is the time of the final harvest when Summer is already losing
its power and people must prepare for the long winter ahead by
preserving foods and slaughtering all but the animals which will be
used for breeding next season's stock.
This is the most important Sabbat of the Wiccan faith. It is a
sombre festival that celebrates the dead and marks the time when the
veil between the world of the mundane and that of the Spirit is at its
thinnest. It is the Wiccan New Year and at sunset, when neither the old
nor new year exist and thus when time stands still, humans can commune
with their ancestors and loved ones who have passed over.
While this Sabbat celebrates our relationship with our ancestors and
with the dead, it is not a frightening or sad occasion. It is a time to
feast on the last of the harvest and to make ready for the cold times
Lay an extra place or two at the feast table so that departed ancestors and spirits can share in the festivities.
Carve jack-o-lanterns from pumpkins to honour the Witches and other
religious practitioners who have been persecuted for their faith.
Pay any debts, settle quarrels and prepare for a few weeks of quiet solitude and meditation
[ header = Yule ]
June 21/22nd - Winter Solstice/Midwinter/Yule (A Lesser Sabbat and a Sun Quarter Day)
The longest night of the year and Winter is at its peak.
This festival marks the re-birth of the sun with the cyclic story of
the death of the Holly King (the king of the waning year) and the
re-birth of his son the Oak King (the king of the waxing year).
This is a time to look forward to the return of the light of the sun
and the warmth that it brings. Although still cold, this time of year
brings hope for a brighter future as we quietly celebrate the
forthcoming warmth and prepare for the growth season to come.
Find a good size log and decorate it with Ivy, (traditionally also
with Holly and Mistletoe; Holly because it is an evergreen and
symbolises ongoing life while the white seeds of Mistletoe prevalent at
this time of year symbolise the sacred seed of new life). Light the log
with an unburnt piece of last year's Yule log to symbolise the kindling
light of the re-born sun. Save a small piece of the log from burning to
use to light next year's log and spread the ashes of the burnt log on
[ header = Imbolg ]
July 31st - Imbolg/Candlemas (A Greater Sabbat and an Earth Cross-Quarter Day)
Spring is on its way and we can very clearly see that the days have
become longer and the warmth and light of the sun is returning. Imbolg
comes from the ancient word meaning 'ewe's milk' and reminds us that
this is lambing season. In addition, the grass is beginning to grow
again and the Spring flowers are just beginning to come forth from the
The time of the quickening. The baby Oak King is growing and the
Goddess is a maiden once more. This Sabbat belongs to the fire Goddess
Brigid, who presides over healing, the well springs and the hearth.
Because this time of year is synonymous with new life, new ideas and
new beginnings it is particularly relevant for initiations and
dedications. Even more, it is a purifying time of year when we should
clear out the old things that have held us back and make room for
brighter and healthier behaviours and actions for the growing season
Make a 'Brigid's Cross' from woven straw, hang it on your front door as a protective charm and burn the old one from last year.
Conduct rituals using candles to invoke the fire Goddess Brigid, and to symbolise the light of the longer days.
[ header = Ostara ]
Sept 21st - Spring Equinox/Ostara/Eostre (A Lesser Sabbat and a Sun Quarter Day)
Spring has arrived and there is an equal balance of light and dark.
Flowers are blooming, birds are nesting and all around, new life is
This Sabbat is named after the Saxon Goddess Ostara and this
festival specifically marks an equal balance between male and female
energies. The young Oak King courts the maiden Goddess.
Eggs a symbolic of new life and Wiccans use painted eggs to
celebrate the wonderful eruption of new life all around them. Throw
hard boiled, painted eggs high into the sky and as you do make a wish
for the summer months ahead. The higher the egg goes, the more likely
your wish will come true. Bury the fallen eggs to cement your wish.
Bake and eat Hot Cross Buns marked with an equilateral cross to symbolise all things equal.
[ header = Beltaine ]
Oct 31st - Beltaine (A Greater Sabbat and an Earth Cross-Quarter Day)
The summer begins and the warmth is welcomed.
This is a time of great fertility and is a fun filled time in marked
contrast to the sober and sombre Sabbat of Samhain. It celebrates the
sacred marriage of the Oak King and the Goddess and the consummation of
that union. The fire God Baal is celebrated at this time as the God of
light or 'The Bright One' while the Goddess Maya is also celebrated.
This is a true fertility festival with dancing round the Maypole (an
ancient phallic symbol) to symbolise the sexual union between male and
Light a balefire with nine different types of wood (three pieces of
each wood type) for the God Baal. Leap over the purifying flames and
let them cleanse you of unwanted behaviours or openly state your desire
and as you jump, let the flames take those desires to the skies to be
[ header =Summer Solstice ]
Dec 22nd - Summer Solstice/Midsummer's Eve/Litha (A Lesser Sabbat and a Sun Quarter Day)
The longest day of the year and Summer is at its height.
The Holly King is born of the Goddess and the Oak King dies. This
symbolical cycle is repeated each year as new life takes over from old.