“Four seasons fill the measure of the year.”
The Wiccan Wheel of The Year follows the seasons and marks the days Wiccans commemorate the changes in the earth: Changes Mother Nature herself reflects. These rituals are the four major points on that wheel, like a crossbar holding everything together and keeping the cycle moving. By following this pattern – this natural rhythm – we can allow the earth and the Sacred Powers to guide our way through living magic.
Magick Ritual and Timing
Note: The arrangement of celebrations is different for those in the Southern Hemisphere:
- March 21: Fall Ritual
- June 21: Winter Ritual
- September 21: Spring Ritual
- December 21: Summer Ritual
Spring Ritual for Witches
The major Wiccan spring ritual takes place on or around March 21: The Spring Equinox. This rite commemorates the earth’s rebirth and the Sun’s return. Other themes for the observance include liberation, new beginnings, and fertility.
- Gather some early blooming flowers, a pastel-colored altar cloth, and white or yellow candles for decoration.
- Place a cup of mulberry wine on the altar along with a small string of sweetly toned bells (or a wind chime).
- Burn a mixture of mint and lavender incense to emphasize spring’s refreshing winds.
- Put together a dish of soil, seeds, a red candle, and a bowl of water for the four Quarter points.
- Don light, comfortable clothing that rejoices in the warmth returning to the planet. Go barefoot!
This begins in the North, to honor the earth’s awakening, then moves around the circle clockwise, stopping at each Quarter point to recite one verse. If possible, enact this ritual at dawn: The hour of new beginnings.
In the North: Say, “In the beginning, the Lord and Lady danced upon the fertile earth, creating hills and valleys, plains and mountains.” Scatter a small handful of soil here.
In the East: Say: “In the beginning, the Lord and Lady scattered seeds to the four winds so that the earth would flourish with beauty.” Scatter seeds here.
In the South: Say: “In the beginning, the Lord and Lady warmed the earth, shining brilliant light over the four corners of creation.” Light candle here.
In the West: Say: “In the beginning, the Lord and Lady wept for joy over the radiance of the world, their tears becoming nourishing rain.” Sprinkle water here.
Move to the Center: Light whatever candles you’ve chosen to represent the Lord and Lady at your celebration. Then hold a cup of wine high to the sky saying: “Youthful Goddess, full of happiness and play, welcome. Youthful God, full of zeal and energy, welcome.”
Take a sip of the wine and pour the rest into the earth. (If you’re working indoors, you can pour this into a pot of soil instead and take it outside later to return the magic to the earth.) Say:
“Let the sweet wine of spring bring fertility and beauty back to the earth. Hail, spring!’’
Replace the cup on the altar. Next, lay the strand of bells (or the wind chime) across both palms and visualize it filling with the pale, yellow light of dawn. As you visualize, repeat this incantation:
“Ring out hope; chime with freedom. With each wind, let the magic begin!”
Closing the Circle
This begins in the West and ends in the North, again emphasizing the earth’s transformation as the central point of the ritual.
In the West: Say, “The rain has fallen and the earth all around has grown green. Thank you for this blessing and for protecting this sacred space. Farewell.”
In the South: Say, “The sun’s fire has nourished all things, and warmth has returned. Thank you for this blessing and for protecting this sacred space. Farewell.”
In the East: Say, “The winds have scattered seeds and brought fertility, thank you for this blessing and for protecting this sacred space. Farewell.”
In the North: Say, “The soil is filled to overflowing with life and beauty. Thank you for this blessing and for protecting this sacred space. Farewell.”
In the Center: Say, “Lord and Lady, we join with you in your dance of life; it renews our energy. Thank you for being here with us for this blessing, and the dawning of a new cycle in the earth. Farewell.” Extinguish the Lord and Lady candles.
If you wish, add a spring prayer. Make notes of your experience in a journal or discuss them over some refreshments if working in a group.
Summer Ritual for Wiccans
The major Wiccan summer ritual takes place on or around June 21: The Summer Solstice. This rite commemorates the power of light over darkness and spiritual “fire.” Other themes for the observance include love, energy, and truth.
- Gather your favorite summer flowers and a red or gold-colored altar cloth.
- Throughout the sacred space and at each Quarter point, place vibrant yellow, orange, or red candles.
- Put a cup of red vegetable juice on the altar along with a brazier (ignited) and powdered cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and orange peel in a separate small bowl.
- Get a lantern with a white candle burning inside to represent Spirit and leave this at the center of the altar.
- Also leave a red-colored cloth and white ribbon on the altar for each participant.
Begin this invocation in the South to honor the fire element. If possible, enact the ritual at noon when the sun is highest in the sky.
In the South: Say, “Fires of Power, Fires of Spirit, be welcome in this place. Even as the sun blazes in the sky, overpowering darkness, burn too in my heart.” Light the candle.
In the West: Say, “Fires of Warmth, Fires of Love, be welcome in this place. Even as the sun warms the earth, let it also warm my heart.” Light the candle.
In the North: Say, “Fires of Evolution, Fires of Progress, be welcome in this place. Even as the sun brings growth to earth’s greenery, let it also nurture my heart.” Light the candle.
In the East: Say, “Fires of Creation, Fire of All Beginnings, be welcome in this place. Even as the sun inspires the earth’s seeds, so, too, let it inspire my heart.” Light the candle.
Go to the Altar: Take the herbs placed there in hand while saying, “Burn with my prayers, burn with my wishes, hopes, and dreams.”
Sprinkle the herbs into the brazier and let them ignite. As they do, whisper a wish or prayer into the smoke that represents what you most need presently. Let this burn unhindered, carrying your magic and message.
Next, pick up the Spirit candle and, starting in the south, use it light all the other candles placed around the room, moving clockwise as you say, “Great One, Light of Lights, renew the world. Hail Summer!’’
Repeat this all the way around the circle, then return the candle to the center of the altar and take up the cup of juice. Hold it up saying, “Ignite the embers of Spirit within me.”
Each participant should drink from the cup. The leader then pours a little of the remainder on the burning brazier saying, “Even when the fire is extinguished, it is never really gone.”
Consider doing summer meditation at this point, and a summer spell or charm before closing the circle.
Closing the Circle
In the East: Say, “Dawn has passed, but the light remains strong. I thank Powers for each miracle of each new morning.” Blow out the candle.
In the North: Say, “Darkness has not yet come, but the stars still shine. I thank the Powers for the beauty above, below, and all around.” Blow out the candle.
In the West: Say, “Twilight is approaching, but the sun’s strength has not yet waned. I thank the Powers for the ever-turning wheel that gives significance to each moment.” Blow out the candle.
In the South: Say, “It is the sun’s brilliant hour; the summer of life and the apex of energy. I thank the Powers for this fire, which burns even in my heart.” Blow out the candle.
Consider adding a spring prayer. After the ritual each participant can take one red cloth, a pinch of the leftover herbal mixture, and bind it up as a charm for love, light, and renewed energy. Also, give the leftover potion to the earth by way of blessing and libation.
Fall Ritual for Practitioners of Magick
The major Wiccan fall ritual takes place on or around September 21, the Autumn Equinox. This rite commemorates the harvest and the earth’s generous gifts to us. Other themes for the observance; include conservation, frugality, and sharing.
- Gather apples, nuts, squash, pumpkins, grapes, and other freshly harvested edibles to decorate the circle.
- Use an orange-colored altar cloth dotted with fall leaves.
- Any candles desired.
- Put a cup of grape wine or cider on the altar along with a Spirit candle, a handful of nuts, and a piece of black construction paper.
This begins in the West, the region associated with fall metaphysically. Start this ritual at sunset, and if possible, place symbolic item at the four Quarters so you can pick up and hold during the invocation, like a cup of water or a shell, seeds or soil, a fan, and a candle or incense.
In the West: Say, “Lady of the Waters, I welcome your abundant energy. Let my heart overflow with gladness.”
In the North: Say, “Earth Mother, I welcome your harvest. Let me reap seeds of character.”
In the East: Say, “Lord of the Winds, I welcome your changes. Let me breathe deeply the air of thoughtfulness.”
In the South: Say “Fire Father, I welcome your warm protection. Let me burn with Spirit’s embers.”
Go to the altar and hold the cup high to the sky saying, “Gods and Goddesses of Earth and the Harvest, you have been generous once more, and now, I return your kindness with a thankful heart.”
Pour out half of the cup to the earth to return the gift given by the soil. (If you wish, put a fruit or vegetable bearing seedling in the ground here, too). Pass the cup to all participants one at a time saying, “What is it you wish to harvest?”
Each participant replies, “I harvest and accept the ability to______.” [Fill in the blank with the characteristic or attribute desired, and take a sip.]
If you’re working the ritual alone, simply skip the “What is your wish . . ..” Replace the cup on the altar. Consider using a fall meditation at this point in the ritual, and a fall spell or charm.
Afterward, take the candle from the altar and hold it in both hands while thinking intently about one question that lies heavy your heart (fall is a favored time for divinatory efforts). Visualize the question in symbolic or literal terms, if possible. When you feel ready, tip the candle toward the black paper so the wax freely drips down saying, “Spirit of Insight, reveal the answer. Open my inner sight so I can see what you place here.”
Let the candle keep dripping in a random pattern for three to four minutes, then replace the candle. Leave the paper to dry through the rest of the ritual; you can scry it for interpretive value later during the grounding time.
Finally, take the nuts (with the shells on) and hold both hands, palm-down, over them saying, “Spirit of Providence, Fill! Fill! By your power, by my will!”
Each participant should take one of these nuts home and open it only when they have a pressing need. Opening the nut releases the magic. At least one of the nuts should be planted in the earth, too, to fulfill the planet’s needs.
Closing the Circle
Move counterclockwise, beginning in the East.
In the East: Say, “The winds grow quiet, but the magic stays to keep me judicious and thrifty each day. Hail and farewell.”
In the North: Say, “The earth is weary, but potential remains to grant strong foundations, when the sun wanes. Hail and farewell.”
In the West: Say, “The waters chill, but house life deep within to keep the spirit, so let the wheel spin! Hail and farewell.”
In the South: Say, “The fires die down, but the coals still burn to maintain our soul, and the lessons it’s learned. Hail and farewell.”
Consider adding a fall prayer here, then enjoy noting your experiences, or a time of fellowship over a Kitchen Witch-style Thanksgiving feast!
Winter Ritual for Pagans
The major Wiccan winter ritual takes place on or around December 21, the Winter Solstice (or Yule). This rite commemorates the slow return of the sun and Spirit’s providence through the harsh months. Other themes for the observance include thoughtfulness, creativity, and personal well-being.
- Decorate the circle with pine branches, holly, and ivy, all of which represent the power of spirit to overcome “death.” The pine specifically welcomes the sylvan beings into your sacred space.
- Have a gold candle (to represent the sun) at the center of the altar along with a cup of wassail or eggnog.
- Have one piece of mistletoe per participant placed on the altar.
- Around the sacred space, place white candles dotted with silver glitter and have them lit when you begin the invocation.
This invocation begins in the North, the region of snow and cold. If possible, begin the ritual in the dark of night.
In the North: Say, “Spirits of the earth, rouse from your slumber for a moment. Shake off the blankets of snow and frost to join me in this sacred space. I honor the magical night and welcome the returning sun.”
In the East: Say, “Spirits of the air, blow gentle from your resting place. Join me in this sacred space where in darkness, I shall find light to walk the Path of Beauty.”
In the South: Say, “Spirits of the fire, burn brightly again. While your power waned momentarily, it is time to awaken. Join me in this sacred space where warm hearts will replace winter’s chill.”
In the West: Say, “Spirits of the water, break free from winter icy grasp. Flow freely once more! Join us in this sacred space where your intuitive waves will not be hindered.”
In the Center: Light the gold candle which represents both Spirit and the Sun, and say, “Father Fire, Mother Hearth, take strength from this candle, and come share this sacred space.”
As you stand before the altar, take up the cup saying, “We are each as unique as a snowflake designed by Spirit, but even such beauty can have flaws. During this season I ask for strength and health to attend my tasks. Let me be well in body, mind, and soul.”
Take a drink from the cup and pour the rest to the earth saying, “May the blessings of warmth and health be likewise bestowed on the earth, our Mother.”
Put the cup down. Take the Sun candle to begin lighting all the others in the room, moving clockwise (the natural movement of the sun). As each one ignites say, “Strength to the Sun; strength to my heart.” Put the Spirit candle back on the altar.
Place your hands, palms down, over the bowl of mistletoe. Close your eyes and visualize it being filled with golden-white light while saying, “As in the days of old, I honor the magical power of the golden bough. By Apollo and Odin, and all gods and goddesses who held this plant sacred, let it be filled with healing, love, and protection this night. Whoever bears this gift is a friend of earth, so guard them well.” Give a piece to each participant.
At this point consider adding a winter meditation, or a spell or charm.
Closing the Circle
Begin by walking counterclockwise around the circle once, blowing out half of the white and silver candles. As you walk, say, “The sun is down. It has reached the lowest point in the sky, but it will not tarry. Hope is not lost. Even when we cannot see it, the sun is there and tomorrow it will grow strong again, as will my spirit.”
In the East: Say, “Spirit of the wind, bear away the snow. Within my heart, let the magic flow. As above, so below; with each dawn, hope bestow. So be it.”
In the North: Say, “Spirit of the earth, remain hardy and sure−within my heart, let the magic stir. As the old decays, your beauty endures−with each day, keep my intentions pure. So be it.”
In the West: Say, “Spirit of the water, flow out from the seas. Within my heart, let the magic course free. As within, so without, it’s easy to see with each moment, that the magic is me. So be it.”
In the South: Say, “Spirit of the fire, burn ever, burn bright; within my heart, the magic−ignite! What once was dark, now fill with light; within me, spark inner sight. So be it.”
Consider closing with a winter prayer, then enjoy traditional Yule foods. Keep your magical sun candle from this celebration intact. It can become the center of the Yule log or be used to light a new sun candle next year, thereby representing life continuance. When the original candle gets too small for this re-melt its wax with some additional yellow-colored wax and make a new one filled with all the energy of rituals past!
Adapted from “Wicca 2000,” by Patricia Telesco. All rights reserved.