The Seasonal Festivals
FESTIVALS OF THE WHEEL OF THE YEAR
Sundays, 11am at The Woolshed except for Samhain and Beltane which are on a Saturday night ; Winter Solstice which is a sunset ritual at Stonehenge Aotearoa (Carterton); and Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice which are on a Saturday at 11am.
DATES FOR YOUR 2012 CALENDAR
January 22: Lughnasadh / Te Waru / First Fruits / Lean Time
March 25: Autumn Equinox / Poututerangi / Ngahuru / Seed Time and Harvest
April 28: (Saturday, 7pm) Samhain / Haratua / Last Light / Halloween
June 23: (Saturday, sunset) Winter Solstice /Te Maruaroa o te Takurua / Matariki – Herald of the New Year (Stonehenge Aotearoa)
August 5: Imbolc / Pakawera / Brighid / First Light / Candlemas
September 22: (Saturday, 11am) Spring Equinox / Alban Eiler / Oestre / TeWha o Mahura /Te Koanga
October 27: (Saturday, 7pm) Beltane / Whiringanuku
December 22: Summer Solstice / Alban Hefin / Te Maruaroa o te Raumati
Alban Eiler / Spring Equinox / Te Koanga
The Spring Equinox ceremony of the Druid tradition is known as Alban Eiler - "Light of the Earth". Alban Eiler, at the point of balance between Imbolc and Beltane, as it is at the point of balance between day and night, is a time for festivity and celebration for it marks the beginning of a new phase, the beginning of the triumph of light.
In Europe Spring Equinox was the festival of Eostre, the Saxon goddess of the dawn and spring.
In ancient Maori society the rising of the star Aotahi (Canopus) announced the arrival of spring, together with flowering of kowhai, rangiora and kotukutuku the plants of the fourth lunar month spanning September and October. This was also a sign for kumara planting to begin. Puawananga (clematis) now flowering, was regarded as one of the three first-born children of the stars Rehua (Antares) and Puanga (Rigel).
A key event was the return of pipiwharauroa, the shining cuckoo, from its winter stay in Hawaiki, the legendary Pacific homeland of the Maori.
Halfway between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice, this is a high energy time when the whole earth sings of growth and regeneration. Birds are nesting, deciduous trees leafing, flowers are blossoming and the increasing sun power quickens both sap and blood.
To the Maori, this was Whiringanuku, the fifth month, when ka whakaniho nga mea katoa o te whenua i konei ('all things now put forth fresh growth'). A good flowering of ti kouka (cabbage tree) is said to be a sign that a long, fine summer will follow.
Beltane is the third of the Spring celebrations in the Druid and Wicca tradition. The invigorating energies of spring growth are flowing at their strongest through the earth, and indeed through us too.
The two elemental symbols for Beltane are water (healing and the time of the first swim) and fire ('destroyed the powers hostile to humankind, purified the air, and allowed human and beast and vegetation to thrive and become fertile')
Summer Solstice, the longest day, arrives as the year is coming to an end and the holiday season about to begin. Although this is when the sun's light reaches its maximum, it is but the threshold of summer. The crimson flowers of the pohutukawa fringe the coastline, dancing against the blue sea.
Summer is also announced by the appearance of the star/spirit woman Parearohi shimmering in the sky with her consort Rehua (Antares, the red star in Scorpio). Rehua was sometimes also referred to as the sun and people would say karakia to Rehua 'Rehua is the sun, and if he did not shine the grass and vegetation would die and life would cease.
In the Druid tradition, these words are spoken:
'We are met here on the shortest night of the year to celebrate the zenith of the Mabon, the Sun-Child of the Druid tradition. We come together to honour a great mystery - that every zenith contains its nadir, as every nadir its zenith. And we come together too, to celebrate the power of light and warmth and Summer. The sun which has warmed and lighted us through the Wheel of the Year seems to stand still for several days. This is the time of Great Light.'
This is also the time of Kiwi Christmas - a Summer Solstice rather than a Winter Solstice celebration in this part of the world.
Juliet Batten, Celebrating The Southern Seasons, has this to say about Lughnasadh/Te Waru:
“The theme of this season is the ageing of the year as the Corn Mother becomes the Crone and the warrior Sun, King Lugh, is soon to be felled. At this season we are faced with divergent meanings, depending on which cultural tradition we look at. In the European grain cycle of wheat and barley, it is the beginning of harvest, and the first loaves of bread are offered to the Great Mother. In the Maori cycle of the kumara, it is not yet harvest; in fact far from being a time of plenty it is te waru patote the lean month, when the staple crop is at its scarcest. We can allow the discrepancy to speak to us. While the European ovens are full, the Maori rua (storage pits) are empty. It is not harvest for everyone in our land; economic discrepancies are a reality.”
In the night of the year, the Land lay bare.
In the dawn of the year, buds burst, shoots sprouted.
In the noon of the year, flowers bloomed, petals blossomed.
Now is the day of First Fruits and Lean Time
Berries ripen, the golden corn is cut in the ear but
the kumara pit is empty awaiting the harvest.
The Autumn Equinox represents a time of reflection and contemplation of how the balance of light and dark tips at equinox and, as we now enter the dying time of the year, the mysteries of life and death. This is when we make the transition from outer to inner, from above to below.
In the Maori calendar it is known as Poututerangi, when the crops are dug up. This was the beginning of the kumara harvest, perhaps the most significant event of the year. It was thought that Poututerangi came down to earth in autumn, bringing the harvest down with him. At harvest, European and Maori symbolism is surprisingly similar. The rua, or underground kumara pit, is a symbol which parallels the European imagery of the return of the seed to the earth. The stories of Persephone, Pani and the Mabon all follow this theme
To restore the real meaning of Halloween, we celebrate it at this time of the year, when all of nature appears to be dying and the time of darkness is upon us. In the Celtic tradition it was recognised as a major seasonal shift which dislocated time and space, opening people to their realities. This was the feast of the dead, with storytelling and divination playing an important part; in fact it was the beginning of the story-telling season, which would continue through the dark evenings until Beltane. It was also a feast of peace and friendship. when weapons were laid down and violence put aside.
Haratua is the time when crops are stories in pits, labours are over and when the emphasis now shifts into the bushy, the domain of Tane, as a food source. The kiore is traditionally important at this time as it grows fat in late autumn and winter when feed is plentiful. The kiore is a descendant of the goddess Pani, whose daughter Hine-mataita gave birth to it.
It is time to hear the story of Hine-nui-te-po, goddess of death, and her encounter with Maui when, in his foolishness, he tried to conquer her
The Winter Solstice ceremony of the Druid tradition is known as Alban Arthuan - "The Light of Arthur”. Here Arthur is equated with the Sun-God who dies and is reborn at the Winter Solstice.
For the ancient Maori the new year began on the first new moon after the rising of Matariki (the Pleiades) in the eastern sky at dawn. The saying Matariki kainga kore (homeless Matariki) refers to the constant travel of this constellation which disappears from the sky to rest only once a year, on the waning moon of May. Matariki reappears in the tail of the Milky Way during the waning moon of June, which brings the start of the new year close to Winter Solstice.
Ra was said to have two wives, both daughters of Tangaroa. He spent half the year with Hine-Takarua, the Winter Woman in the south far out on the ocean. At the Maruaroa of winter, he was said to begin his return to his other wife, Hine-raumati, the Summer Woman who dwells on land.
This is a call to venture forth from your winter 'cave' and celebrate
Imbolc or Imbolg (pronounced without the 'b'), "ewe's milk", represents the time of the quickening of the year, the first foetal stirrings of Spring in the womb of Mother Earth, Papatuanuku. It is the only one of the eight Great Festivals given entirely to the Mother Goddess under many names, Brigid being the central one of the three, each representing a season. Not only the Celts and Druids, but also the Aztecs, Tibetans and Greeks all recognised this time as being one of great importance.
For Maori, First Light comes in the second lunar month of the year, Pakawera, described as ruarua huangohingohi when the leaves of all things become shrivelled by frost. However, the inanga (whitebait) begin to swim upstream and can be caught and at sea the moki are said to be growing fat,