Our design of the Wheel is the Solar Calendar on the outside featuring the cross holidays and the cross-quarter holidays. Inside the wheel is the Lunar Cycle with special events denoted like blue moons, black moons, annular, partial and total eclipses and special overlaps in the lunar and solar calendars.
Traditionally the Wheel is a Celtic solar calendar followed by those who once lived close to the land. It was a way to measure life; celebration, harvest and the harsh cold time of the year, a way to “keep track of time by paying attention to the relationship between the Sun and the Earth. The “New Year” starts at Samhain, contrary to our typical Gregorian calendar which begins after Yule.
Yule overlaps many holidays, just as most of the Sabbats on the Wheel of the Year do. Yule typically happens around Winter Solstice when we recognize the darkest, longest night of the year and the next day starting to bring the light back. From this point on the days will get slightly longer until we get to the Spring Equinox in which we have equal day and equal night.
Yule is a hopeful time when we decorate with fairy lights to keep our spirits up in the dark time of the year as plants turn brown, but not our evergreens. Yule is a wonderful time to connect to the evergreens in your neighborhood.
I’ve often had the experience here in the Midwest of visiting the woods during Solstice and stumbling upon a “Crow Convention;” hundreds of crows flocking together and heading off to their next destination. A familiar call in the mornings, crows speak during the winter times, just as the evergreens continue on.
Despite the major commercializing of the holidays at this time, we can choose to create a quiet, dark nest haven in our homes, to turn the lights out as soon as the sun sets and just be by candlelight. This time of year begs us to stop, to listen to our own innerness, which can be quite difficult for some. It may be a time ripe for shadow work. Some still use a Yule log to celebrate the yuletide season while others do bring evergreen trees into their homes to decorate. However you choose to celebrate the end of our calendar year, the beginning of the light and sitting with the darkness, may it be healing!