Pagan Astrological Celebrations and Observances

sunEvery tradition that I know of has sacred days they observe and honor. There are many variations in observances under the large umbrella of Paganism; a good rule of thumb, though, is to look at the Solar and Lunar cycles as guides. The Lunar Cycle is 28.25(ish) days long and run from New Moon to Full Moon and back. The Solar Cycle is 365.25(ish) days, and has the Solstices at the extremes and the Equinoxes in the middle. Many currently practicing Pagan groups will also observe the cross-quarters (those dates that fall in between and Equinox and a Solstice). It gets a little weird when they then try to shoehorn those into the Gregorian Calendar. As an aside, there is a theory that a similar disconnect occurred with Judaism in early Rome, when the lunar months were shoehorned into the Republican calendar. Cross quarters are most often observed on 5/1, 8/1, 10/31, and 2/2. If you actually look at the astronomy, though, they should be observed around 5/5, 8/7, 11/7, and 2/4 (depending on the year).

Here is a brief primer on the 2 astronomical cycles:

Full MoonWithin the Lunar cycle, the waxing moon (the period between New and Full moon) is for growth and the waning moon (the period between Full Moon and Dark Moon) is for releasing

  • New Moon is good for intention setting and starting the planning of new projects, planting, and trimming your hair if you want it to grow – any growth process. Energetically, it tends to be a little quiet and introverted.
  • First Quarter Moon (which looks like a half moon) is good for learning, absorbing, and gathering energy.
  • Full Moon is for bursting into action, celebration, and boosting pre-existing projects. Energetically, it is extroverted.
  • Last Quarter Moon is for analysis and course correction.
  • Within the Solar cycle, the time from Winter Solstice to Summer Solstice is expansive and from Summer Solstice back to Winter Solstice is contractive

  • Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year; dark and contemplative, it has the energy of a vigil.
  • The February Cross Quarter is associated with first growth – early spring flowers, baby critters, and the like. It tends to carry a lot of energy of hope.
  • Spring or Vernal Equinox is a time of balance, and is often associated with the first Spring planting, as well as fertility.
  • The May Cross Quarter is more frisky; things are blooming, the crops don’t need as much tending, and there’s a lot of sexual energy around. The veil is thin, and it is easy to interact with the Fae and elementals.
  • Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year; it is a time of celebration, of getting out to see the neighbors, and for staying up late. If you have a Full Moon on Summer Solstice, it becomes even more extra.
  • The August Cross Quarter is associated with the first harvest, and also has a lot of the energy we see at County Fairs – demonstrations of skill and bounty. There is a strong sense of gratitude in this observance.
  • Fall or Autumnal Equinox, like it’s sister in the Spring, is a time of balance, and is associated with the second harvest. Energy is winding down, but there might also be a second wind.
  • The November Cross Quarter has a sense to it that everything has gone fallow. There is no more harvest, really, and we are starting to draw inward. he veil is thin, and we connect easily with our ancestors and the past.
  • When we pay attention to the astronomical cycles, as well as our local seasonal cycles, and we sync our energies with nature, our lives flow much more smoothly. It does require paying attention, especially if you live in a city and don’t have as much immediate connection with nature. As we move through the pattern shifts that are occurring on the planet, we will weather the changes much more gracefully if we are already in sync with Mother Nature’s energies. If you aren’t used to paying attention to the world around you in this way, start a daily journal where you look at where the the Sun and the Moon are in their cycles, what season it appears to be (observation, not calendrical), and what the energy of the day seems to be, as well as where you are in your own energy cycle. The simple act of paying attention enough to document it will help you sync your energy to that of Nature, and you have the added bonus of being able to see trends over time.


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