100% Pre Shrunk cotton t-shirt depicting THE WHEEL OF THE YEAR.
Large one color front print.
The Celts did not measure the passing of time with a calendar. Their sense of the years was circular, marked at the quarters and cross-quarters by seasonal festivals. This beautifully detailed T-Shirt by Maxine Miller depicts the cycles of nature in plant forms arrayed around spokes denoting the festivals.
The symbolism of the “turn of the Wheel” is represented by the bounty of Nature's growth and harvest through the seasons of the year.
The contemporary, eightfold, Wheel of the Year is a modern innovation. Many historical pagan and polytheist traditions celebrated various equinoxes, solstices, and the days approximately midway between them (sometimes termed “cross-quarter days”) for their seasonal and agricultural significance. Generally, European cultural communities observed four main celebrations a year, sometimes with smaller, more local festivals as well. But none were known to have held all eight as seen in the modern, culturally syncretic “wheel” that is popular in Modern Paganism.
Mid-20th century British Paganism had a strong influence on early adoption of an eightfold Wheel. By the late 1950s, the Wiccan Bricket Wood coven and Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids had both adopted eightfold ritual calendars, in order to hold more frequent celebrations. This also had the benefit of more closely aligning celebrations between the two Pagan orders.
Due to early Wicca's influence on Modern Paganism and the syncretic adoption of Anglo-Saxon and Celtic motifs, the most commonly used English festival names for the Wheel of the Year tend to be Celtic and Germanic, even when the celebrations were not based on those cultures.
The American Ásatrú movement has adopted, over time, a calendar in which the Heathen major holidays figure alongside many Days of Remembrance which celebrate heroes of the Edda and the Sagas, figures of Germanic history, and the Viking Leif Ericson, who explored and settled Vinland (North America). These festivals are not, however, as evenly distributed throughout the year as in Wicca and other Heathen denominations.
In Wicca, the narrative of the Wheel of the Year traditionally centres on the sacred marriage of the God and the Goddess and the god/goddess duality. In this cycle, the God is perpetually born from the Goddess at Yule, grows in power at the vernal equinox (as does the Goddess, now in her maiden aspect), courts and impregnates the Goddess at Beltane, reaches his peak at the summer solstice, wanes in power at Lammas, passes into the underworld at Samhain (taking with him the fertility of the Goddess/Earth, who is now in her crone aspect) until he is once again born from Her mother/crone aspect at Yule. The Goddess, in turn, ages and rejuvenates endlessly with the seasons, being courted by and giving birth to the Horned God.
Many Wiccan, Neo-Druid, and eclectic Neopagans incorporate a narrative of the Oak King and the Holly King as rulers of the waxing year and the waning year respectively. These two figures battle endlessly with the turning of the seasons. At the summer solstice, the Holly King defeats the Oak King and commences his reign. After the Autumn equinox the Oak King slowly begins to regain his power as the sun begins to wane. Come the winter solstice the Oak King in turn vanquishes the Holly King.[After the spring equinox the sun begins to wax again and the Holly King slowly regains his strength until he once again defeats the Oak King at the summer solstice. The two are ultimately seen as essential parts of a whole, light and dark aspects of the male God, and would not exist without each other.
The Holly King is often portrayed as a woodsy figure, similar to the modern Santa Claus, dressed in red with sprigs of holly in his hair and the Oak King as a fertility god.
Artist: Maxine Miller
Specializing in Scottish, Irish, Welsh and the Celtic and Pagan Communities Worldwide.
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