The Witches Wheel of the Year with Many Names Old and New

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Witches Wheel with some of the old names

There have been volumes written on the Witches Wheel of the Year with its various festivals and names from around the world, some names probably original to the Gardnerian and Alexandrian lineages, and in the last few decades many names from their original sources in the UK, Germany, various parts of Europe both western and eastern, and even names from the Catholic church. We all know from those books that the Christian church originally put their feast days on the same or near same day as original pagan festivals from the countries they conquered. I am neither an historian nor a linguist, but below are listed some of these names and then at the end I wish to put forward a theory regarding the names our coven, the Coven of the Catta, uses.

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Witches Wheel with some of the newer names

The Mid-Winter Solstice is usually called Yule by witches, which is I think a German name that was adopted into England and also used as a name for Christmas.

Imbolc or St. Brighid’s Day is from Scottish Gaelic and in the Catholic Church and our coven is called Candlemas.

Ostara is Old English and Old High German and in Christianity is close to Easter and also closer to Lady’s Day (the day of the Annunciation of the BVM), which is the name our coven uses.

Beltane is Gaellic for what the Germans call Walpurgis Night and what our coven refers to as May Day or Beltane.

The Mid-Summer Solstice is called St John’s Day by the Catholic church and our coven just calls it Summer Solstice, but in some places in our BOS it is also referred to as Beltane, the feast of Bel. (this may be a copyist error but i think Lady Sheba’s BOS used this name also). It can also be called Litha by some pagan reconstructionists.

Lammas is what we call this spoke of the wheel, though the Germans call it Lughnasadh after the old god Lugh in Scottish Gaelic lore.

The Autumn Equinox is sometimes called Mabon in Neo-Druidic systems and was coined by Aidan Kelly. We just call it the former.

Samhain is Gaelic Celtic and used widely nowadays, but our coven called it All Hallows.

So it turns out the Coven of the Catta uses many of the old Catholic names for our Wheel of the Year, and here is my theory – Before our coven was founded in 1967 in Pennsylvania by Lady Phoebe Athene Nimue and Lord Merlin aka Dr Frederick LaMotte Santee, Before that it came from Dame Sybil Leek of the Coven of the Horsa of the New Forest in England. But before that it came from the SE coast of France at an area called Gorge du Loup (gorge of the wolf) it was called the Coven de la Dragon Rouge. As you know from the history of the English Reformation Catholicism was brutally suppressed by the Church of England and for many years England was mostly a Protestant country. In Germany Protestantism took many strange forms that were considered heretical, and those sects with the suppressed English sects of Quakers and Puritans etc escaped to the New World. But Catholicism continued to be practiced in secret all across Europe in rich people’s secret chapels and poor people’s hovels with traveling priests giving the sacraments. By the late 1800s in France Catholicism was still very strong yet fighting for its life against a more scientific humanistic philosophy, but it survived. Also on the SE coast of France there were remnants of Gypsy and other old shrines to the Black Virgin. And French Catholicism was also able to stay alive by all the miraculous appearances of the Virgin Mary it propagated at that time, so the common people had a great love for The Goddess.

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Witches Wheel with old and new names

So my theory is (and it has probably already been proposed in many books I can’t reference) that just how Christianity took on the pagan practices and holidays, so the Pagans and Witches of France and maybe even England patterned their rituals after what they already knew and practiced, the Catholic Mass. The rituals of the Coven of the Catta, like rituals of many lineages, have the form and pattern and taste of the Mass. I do not think it is a bad thing, and have no problem with newer covens trying to reconstruct the paganism of their native lands, but it is what it is. Any comments or feedback on this?

For more on how our coven and I practice please refer to this link to a post called Every Witch Makes their own Wheel of the Year.

Note the images above come from multiple sources on the www.

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11 thoughts on “The Witches Wheel of the Year with Many Names Old and New

  1. Thank you for a really interesting look at some of the origins of the wheel of the year. I am certainly no expert on the derivation of the names/or the lineages associated with them, but what you are saying would seem to make sense. In the same way early Christians linked their festivals with existing pagan ones it would seem logical that pagans would also associate and assimilate some Catholic ideas and ritual styles that they were familiar with, into their own rituals. (What goes around comes around perhaps?) after all, ideas travel in all directions. The ‘fixed’ points throughout seem to be the seasonal or solar points in the year and a human need to acknowledge them.

    • I’m sure all of those have been written in books many times, but like i said my theory was based on the origins of our coven. Yes the solstices and equinoxes are celestial events and the in between festivals are more agrarian. For instance it may be summer on the summer solstice, but on earth real hot summer does not filter down until around Lammas, etc.

  2. Thanks for sharing, love the illustrations and intersting to hear about the background to your coven. As Christianity has been the main religion across Europe for centuries there’s no way of escaping that Christian and pagan festivals have become intertwined and there’s no real way of unravelling them… And should we want to? I think this question can only be answered when the ravelling’s better understood.

    • I wish i could give credit for those illustrations, but they are all over the image searches. As both Europe and the US are both melting pots of various cultures and religions it is hard to trace the true root of anything. It was just my conjecture, which i am sure someone has written about somewhere. Probably pre-Gardnerian witches (and even them) mixed together what they were taught by their parents and grandparents and if they could read also the translations of old texts.

  3. An excellent resource that discusses the early folkloric names and traditional symbolism of the holidays is “The Witches’ Sabbats” by Mike Nichols. :)

    • Yes i love his short but concise book for sure. Mike definitely knew and lived what he was writing about. Is this Kel or Mike commenting since the Gravitar leads back to Mike’s website, which I love? BB

      • Kel. (Kal was a typo.) I included Mike’s website for reference, as it contains many writings by him that were not included in his first book.

        • Thank you for referencing to him, and i have the highest respect for his books, though i do not have his latest version as i cannot read books d/t my neurological and photophobic condition.I can only read stuff on the pc blown up in large size. Is he still with us in the land of the living and doing well? I hope so as he is a resource many do not see or appreciate. BB. Lee / Shawnus

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