I find it coincidental that I am writing this on Imbolc, particularly as I do not celebrate that holiday. Regardless, I wanted to write about my own religious calendar today. My religious calendar is very simple, but I’ll hold off on that for now.
When I first started out actively learning about Paganism, one of the first things that I – as many others first starting out – learned of was the “Wheel of the Year” and the eight sabbats. Looking at it then, I shrugged and kept it in mind for a few years, but I never felt the desire to celebrate the majority of these holy days. They just didn’t make sense to me and they didn’t speak to me at all, chiefly because I did not identify as Wiccan.
Thinking on my year, I don’t feel a connection to many sacred days. I feel no true desire to celebrate the majority of the religious holidays, in either the various Pagan traditions or the various Abrahamic practices.
In winter, I celebrate no holidays – neither Christmas nor Yule nor any other variant – having gone into a more meditative state after December 1. I choose this time as a reflective period, a time to mull over the deeper issues of my practice and religious beliefs.
Come spring, I am elated to see the land begin to awaken once more, green grass and tiny buds on trees; however, as this can vary year to year, I never regard it as a holiday. Instead, I view it as a gradual change over weeks if not longer – spring does not happen all at once.
As May rolls around, I feel a draw to Beltane and Walpurgisnacht. The former I have celebrated for the past five years with my university Pagan group as it came at the end of our academic year and was a good time for us to get together and relax before finals and the very different stresses that summer brought. This year will be the first time I celebrate it alone, and the first year I incorporate Walpurgisnacht into my calendar. As they fall one right after the other, I tend to think of them as two sides of the same coin; one two-part holiday instead of two separate celebrations.
Then summer arrives a few weeks after my birthday at the end of May, the twenty-second for any curious folk. While I appreciate summer and it’s warm breezes and lush landscape, the solstice that comes to announce its arrival does not appeal to me, either.
As summer fades, my favorite time of year comes: autumn. Between the Equinox and Samhain, I tend to spend more time reflecting on my year, what has occurred, and how the rest of the year will go. I do not regard Samhain as the “new year” like many other neoPagans and (neo)Wiccans do, but merely the “beginning of the end.” (I follow the Gregorian calendar.) Samhain, though, tends to last the entire month of October and extend into the first few days of November for me. How I celebrate varies, but I incorporate the common Halloween celebrations, regarding them as both secular and spiritual. Typically, this involves horror movie binges, apple-picking, and haunted hayrides and cornmazes. I take drives this time of year to view the vivid colors of the trees and breathe in the cool air. Autumn is sacred for me and I celebrate it each day, making the most of it as much I can.
So looking at my year, there are only two “real” holidays that I celebrate: Beltane and Samhain. I’m okay with that. It puts less pressure on me to “go all out.” Additionally, I try to regard each day as sacred, in its own right, and live with the seasons as best I can. This normally involves trying to eat seasonally and engage in traditional practices of different times of year, such as the apple-picking in fall.
On a different note, though, I have other sacred days that occur more frequently. The most notable of these is Wednesday – Odin’s Day or Woden’s Day. Each week as Wednesday rolls around I reflect on Odin and how I can do my best to honor him that day. This is why I do my Not in the Cards work on Wednesdays and why I’m pleased my writing group meets this day as well. I can honor him with my divinatory experiments and expand my knowledge of the different ways in which cultures and peoples have tried to learn what is yet to come; I can honor him through the written word, rebuilding my familiarity with language and writing.
Overall, my calendar is quite simple, but on my Path I do my best to regard every day as sacred. And they all are, in their own way. The importance of calendars, I think, comes from reflecting on what times are most important to you, a culture, or a religion.