A segment from "Lore of the Seasons", by Gert McQueen
available at THEOD, PO Box 8062, Watertown, NY, 13601
Traditional names for the two major divisions of the year
are the solstice: Yule and Midsummer. The solstices are the times when we have
the shortest day, Yule, and the longest day, Midsummer. In the Anglo-Saxon
tradition Yule is known as Giuli and Midsummer as Litha. The equinoxes, Spring
and Fall are the times when the day and nights are equal in length. The
Anglo-Saxon names are Eostre Emnight and Harvest Emnight. The solstices and
equinoxes can be thought of as the central vertical and horizontal spokes of the
wheel; dividing the year into four parts of about three months each.
Each of these three months season is then divided, by ancient observances, into two six week sections. Between Yule and Eostre we have February 2 known as Candlemas or Groundhog's Day. The Anglo-Saxon called it Ewemeoluc or ewe milk day. Between Eostre and Midsummer we have May Day, also known as Wealburges Day. Between Midsummer and Harvest we have August 2, known as Lammas Tide. Between Harvest and Yule we have October 31, known as Hallows or Hallowe'en.
This division of the year into eight "seasonal" events constitutes the eight major holidays or holy days of the ancient pagan-heathen traditions. Each holy day has significance to the well-being and balance of the community and the individual with the forces and conditions of living in "the state of nature".
In addition to the seasonal divisions, the calendar reflects the phrases of the moon. The waxing and waning of the moon produces forces of energy that enhance not only pragmatic considerations such as times for planting of crops but also for the heightening of supernatural considerations. Tacitus tells us in his "Germania" that the Germanic tribes met three days before the full moon, at its height of waxing and three days after the new moon, when it began its waxing.