In antiquity, light pollution was not the all-encompassing dilemma that it is today. As a result, our ancestors were much more acquainted with the individual stars and their constellations than we could ever hope to be.
What we are fortunate enough to glimpse during late nights in the countryside was normative for the Babylonians, who are credited as the first civilization to create “star catalogs”—the earliest known form of star-charting, or astrology, in human history.
Predating the Abrahamic religions, the Wheel of the Year is defined as a pagan tradition, though it intersects seamlessly with many Western faith traditions. Furthermore, most modern religious holidays originate from the Wheel of the Year.
In our fast-paced, chaotic modern culture, there are a lot of reasons why we should consider slowing down and living in accordance with it. You might be surprised, too, to learn that, in some ways, you already are.
The World’s Oldest Tradition
The Wheel is punctuated by eight festivals, which are celebrated on the most cosmically significant days of the year: solstices and equinoxes, plus the “midpoints” between them.
Samhain, which was historically celebrated with communal bonfires and believed to represent a “thinning of the veil” that brought the living closer to the realm of the dead, eventually became the modern-day Halloween.
Saturnalia, the winter solstice festival during which gifts and candles were offered to the god of time and agriculture, was later adopted by the early Christians as the model for what would become Christmas.
Cycles and Celebrations
While the Hellenistic astrologers are known for the strategic and methodical compilation of their knowledge, they were far from the first society to recognize the existence of celestial cycles, nor the first to acknowledge their apparent correlation with earthly matters.
If there is one thing that remains constant in our ever-changing modern world, it is the beauty and simplicity of the changing seasons. As creatures of habit, there is nothing more wholly human than a life lived in harmony with the rhythms of nature that surround us. We can easily observe and recognize them.
Taking time to celebrate them allows us a chance for rejoicing, a break from the daily grind, and an opportunity to slow down and look around at the abundance all around us.