The Cycles of the Wheel


To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together”

…Lyrics by The Byrds…

There are several cycles that can be used to describe the energy of the movement of the Wheel and how it aligns with the natural world. All are occurring interwoven and simultaneously, even though it may appear that in a particular ritual one or another may be more apparent. Below is a brief listing of a few of these cycles:

The Cycle of the Seasonal Tides
The Cycle of the Growing/Hunting and Gathering Year
The Astronomical Cycle.. The Equinoxes and Solstices
The Cycle of the Waxing and Waning Year… Light/Dark
The Astrological Cycle
The Cycle of God and Goddess… Birth, Sacred Union, Maturity, Death, Rebirth


The Cycle of the Seasonal Tides


The seasonal tides align with the agricultural activities and the space of rest from the labor and efforts of survival.

Tide of Sowing
Spring Equinox through Summer Solstice

Tide of Harvest
Summer Solstice through Autumn Equinox

Tide of Reflection (Moving Within)
Autumn Equinox through Winter Solstice

Tide of Turning Overs (Beginning Anew and Quickening)
Winter Solstice through Spring Equinox


The Astronomical Cycle


The Astronomical cycle marks the cosmic balance of abundant flow and balanced synthesis of energetic outpouring. These are also pivotal times for growth. The states of balance that occur during the equinoxes offer opportunity for synthesis and pause. These are the “between” times and breathing into the space of this energy becomes an opening to the silence of deep wisdom that fills and flows through us.

The markers of the Solstices, give sway to one form of energy over the other and allowing its abundant gifts to flood through as bolster and support that refines and reshapes what it is applied to. This is the action of expansion and contraction and the incremental movements forward that this motion creates. This action is much like that of the tiny hair like projections of cilia in our bodies that rhythmically beat out a pulse that carries waste material out of the body. Those aspects of our growth that are no longer productive are then further modified and kept or released as the energy of the equinoxes exacts its refinement.

The Equinoxes and the Solstices

The Equinoxes: Time of balance between light/dark

Vernal Equinox – Spring and the season of rebirth. All things are now in their phase of growth, having passed through the periods of quickening and ripening.

Autumnal Equinox – Autumn and the season of release and harvest. All things have now passed their peak and what has been gathered makes way for what will be planted later.

The Solstices: Time of Transition

Winter Solstice/Yule – Marks the point of the longest night and the hope of the sun’s return as the days’ become longer from here forward until the
Summer Solstice/Litha – Marks the point of the longest day and the beginning of the winter and dark months ahead until the Winter Solstice begins the cycle once again


As the Wheel Turns..
The Waxing and Waning of the Year

Screen Shot 2013-01-15 at 12.27.34

Within each half of the year, waxing and waning the equinoxes provide a place of balance. This is the cycle of polarity, light and dark, increase and decrease. The Light or Waxing half of the year begins at the Winter Solstice. Having completed the place of maximum length of darkness, the time of daylight begins to slowly increase day by day. We move through this stage of increasing light passing through Imbolc, the celebration of increase and quickening of the spark of fire and light that was birthed at Yule. The Spring Equinox offers a space of synthesis and equanimity and is the mid-point achieved during this increase of daylight. As the fires increase and the heat and intensity of light continue in their increase Beltane signals the time of rutting, courting and active creation. The intensity of this effort and action culminates at the Summer Solstice. The Peak of the length of daylight, heat and ripening fruits of what was planted.

Upon reaching the Summer Solstice, the Dark or Waning Half of the Year begins. The harvests are ready to be gathered and the sacrifice of the grain and any animals needed to ensure food through the winter is celebrated at Lammas. As the length of daylight continues to decrease the mid-point of the waning cycle occurs at the Autumnal Equinox. This is a time of pause from the business of harvesting and hunting and giving thanks to all that has willingly sacrificed its life to ensure humanity’s. Samhain brings the shroud of darkness that will prevail in the cold months ahead and the time to move inside and turn within to hearth and home is at hand. At the darkest hour of the longest night the hope and promise of the return of the sun and new cycle of renewed life is held in reverence on the eve of the Winter Solstice. Imbalance gives way and the cycle of Waxing and Waning begins anew.

The Light Half of the Year


Winter Solstice
Beltane                           Imbolc
    Union                              Quickening
Spring/Vernal Equinox
Place of Balance

The Dark Half of the Year


Summer Solstice
Samhain                           Lammas
Promise/Potential               Sacrifice
Fall/Autumnal Equinox
Place of Balance


The Astrological Wheel of the Year


Looking at the Wheel from an astrological perspective provides a way of also learning new overlays of correspondence for the study and application of Astrology. In this pattern, we begin our journey in the astrological sign of Aries, the first of the Zodiacal wheel and the date of the Spring Equinox. Aries is of the Fire element and represents the initial action of the fires of creation. Ostara is the celebration on the Wheel and heralds Spring, new growth just emerging from frozen and cold earth and the promise of warmth and the full blossoming of things to come.

The next Sabbat of Beltane occurs in the zodiacal month of Taurus and Earth sign. Beltane celebrates the sacred union of Goddess and God. This is the pivotal point of consummate action to insure viability of creative product. The symbol for Taurus is the Bull and his energy is one of potent fecundity and the striving for secure physical space of dwelling. Taurus is the sign of safe-guarding an as in the case of the Sabbat, the union of male and female is the safe-guarding of the promise of renewed and sustainable life.

The time of gathering information and disseminating that information occurs as Gemini, the astrological sign of communication moves into place. Seasonally, we could consider this the time when all of plant life is getting its wake up call, the weather s warming and the word is out that creation and life are ready and able.

When we reach the Sabbat of Litha/the Summer Solstice the heat and abundance of June is at hand. This timing heralds the transition from communicative Gemini into the nurturing watery and emotion-filled sign of Cancer. Gemini spends the last bit of its energy communicating all of the vital information needed to home-loving Cancer as the Waning of the Solar Year begins and the healing of release of the dominant Sun is required as darkness begins to slowly overtake the length of daylight.

The three harvest, beginning with Lammas mark the space of transition from the last hurrah of the Sun’s energies in Leo, as the abundance of growth receives the energy of daylight to complete its cycle of fruition. As we move into Virgo’s gift of reorganizing, accountability and preparation for what is at hand this is the time of rest before the next harvest of the Autumnal Equinox/Mabon.

We welcome the dynamics of Libra’s balance and refined grace and what would normally be simply an intellectual (Libra is of the Air element) exercise is tempered by the temporary state of balance between heart and mind. The Autumnal Equinox engages the animal kingdom in the harvesting process and the God as Lord of the hunt and Guardian of the hunted, holds that balance in check offering up only what is needed to sustain humanity and the predators of his world. We are submerged in the space of shorter days and the night calls us more insistently to bring our light indoors and stoke the fires of hearth and home.

The reckoning that is exacted as Samhain’s fires burn and the call to Ancestral wisdom is held within the energies of the astrological sign of Scorpio. Scorpio is of the element of Water and its waters are both the incubator for what will be quickened and held within until the Winter Solstice and those that drown and submerge what needs release. Some are stored as shadow and memory and others are pulled into the sea of return as the Ancestors call to their own. Samhain is veil and shadow and the deeper mysteries of the Self and as October gives way to Novembers beginning chill we dig deeper into our own subconscious like the scorpion hidden and waiting to strike.

Time flows through Sagittarius as the fiery arrows of connection and seeking fertile ground are launched. These will be the tiny sparks that light the way for the blaze of brilliance that will emerge at the next turn of the wheel; finding us at the Winter Solstice and the beginning of the Waxing of the Year. Late December’s cold cautions of the need for warmth and security of dwelling space and the light that has been awaiting rebirth is now ready to come into manifestation. We call to the Sun Child to return to us and bring His promise of new growth in the months ahead. We call to the upcoming marking of the passing of the old and the start of a New Year to bless all of our endeavors. And the astrological sign of Capricorn begins its first steps as the goat stepping with assurance on the craggy surface of a sheer cliffside.

We move towards completion of one cycle of the Zodiacal Wheel as Aquarius provides the vision of what is possible with collaborative effort and proper use of the new light that has been birthed. Imbolc honors the quickening of this fire as it takes its place in the hearth of our Being. Brighid, is the Goddess most often called upon and her healing, creativity and forge of flaming strength are presented in the broad reaching mind of the Aquarius sun. This vision will nourish and support the young that have been birthed from its fires and the seeds still held in frozen state awaiting a deeper level of warmth in the compassionate waters of Pisces, the last of the astrological signs and the keeper of the wisdom of experience of all that has preceded it. Pisces is also the place of final release, having learned these lessons as its flows into the Fires of Aries, the first and catalyzing sign of the Zodiac. And, so the cycle begins anew and what is ignited moves into the Spring Equinox to receive the tempering of balance and strength from the foundation earth of Taurus.

Foundations of Practice:
Practical Experience: can You Feel It?


Next Week’s Post:

The God and Goddess Through the Wheel of the Year 


About themagickalpen

Robin Fennelly is an Elder within The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition and also serves as High Priestess of Coven of the Mystic Path. She teaches and facilitates classes for the Pagan Experience Study Group that serves as foundation for membership within Coven of the Mystic Path. Her spiritual journey is strongly rooted in both Eastern philosophy and theWestern Magickal systems from which she has formed a core foundation that is diverse in knowledge and rich in spiritual practice. A life-long learner, her practice has evolved from the classical and philosophical teachings of books, practical experience and enrichment of this knowledge base by attending workshops of various spiritual traditions presented by master teachers. Robin formally came to the Wiccan path in 1994. Following practice as a solitary for 2 years, she dedicated to Oak and Willow Coven of The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition in November of 1996. She received her 1st, 2nd and finally 3rd degrees within the Assembly Tradition. As a teacher of esoteric and magickal studies she has used Energetic Anatomy, Tarot, Astrology, Hermetic Qabala, Eastern Philosophy, and Numerology as the foundations of her diverse selection of workshops and writings for more than 25 years. Exploration of varied energetic protocol has been the focus of her work for some time now and the information gained through direct experience informs all of her magickal and spiritual work. Robin’s writings have been featured online, and in print Internationally. She has authored several books incorporating her unique style of writing making use of poetry, prose and pathworking to enhance the concepts presented. She has taught extensively throughout the Pagan community, including Sacred Space Conference, Spring Magick, Between the Worlds Interfaith Conference and Free Spirit Gathering Festival this Summer. Her most recent project is hosting an online blogging community entitled The Pagan Experience. Robin is the owner of Holistic Embrace providing services for mind, body and spirit such as Tarot readings, Astrology reports, Spiritual Guidance and other related offerings. She lives in Eastern Pennsylvania and her life is blessed by a 43-year marriage, five children and the opportunity to work in the field of public education. Robin's esoteric writings can be found on her blogs.
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7 Responses to The Cycles of the Wheel

  1. FairyWitch says:

    Really nice article, with a lot of information! I found it very informative and nice to read! 🙂

  2. hocuspocus13 says:

    Reblogged this on hocuspocus13 and commented:
    jinxx xoxo

  3. As always, I appreciate your re-blogging!

  4. Pingback: Sacred Space Within Ritual | A Witch's Sacred Journey

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