I spent a number of years celebrating the 8 standard wiccan/druid festivals. It gives the cycle of seasons a shape, and for people new to the idea of engaging with the wheel of the year, this is important. The ‘Fire’ festivals have all kinds of history and folklore so are also a way into a lot of traditional material, stories and ideas, making them a great teaching tool. They’re also rather a blunt instrument. The precise date of the equinoxes and solstices vary, and in practice most groups don’t celebrate the event. They celebrate the weekend most convenient to the event, and the idea of the event. As for the other four, they may be tied to natural events, but in any given year those events don’t all correspond to the dates. Arguably they are festivals of ancestral connection more than fertility festivals or part of the cycle of the seasons.
Whatever we do in terms of public and collective ritual, there’s also scope for creating a personal calendar. Our own responses to the seasons can create personal cycles. It’s autumn, and I can see the winter people getting all excited and gearing up joyfully for the dark while the summer people face SAD and feel out of sorts. People whose season is autumn are of course in their element just now. We’re all different. For some, autumn means returning to school or the education cycles. This time of year is very different for a student, teacher or parent, than it is for someone not connected to the education process. For many, this is a time of new beginnings. For others, the tax year commencing in April will be more significant. Many forms of work will have their own seasons too, and we’re all affected by those. Times of quiet, times of industry, not all of them connected at all to the solar year.
Historical events can be a big part of the personal calendar, too. Birthdays, deathdays, anniversaries of rites of passage. Over time, some fade away and don’t need re-celebrating, while others acquire greater significance. Today is the third anniversary of my landing in America for the first time, and along with the date of Tom’s coming to the UK, and our wedding day, has become part of the calendar. Those kinds of dates can be powerful in affirming relationship, and also give an opportunity to reflect. Where are we now? Where have we been? Where do we want to be, three years hence? Where personal dates are forgotten or ignored, it can be a symptom of an ailing relationship. Where too much money is spent on anniversaries, too much attention paid at the few key points it can flag up how threadbare things are the rest of the time. I’m glad to say this is nothing like that!
Sometimes personal events become meaningful to a whole community. An annually reaffirmed handfasting can become a regular party and get together. The date of an event can become a definitive moment that stays in the local calendar, or the national calendar. Armistice day. Columbus Day. Martin Luther King Day. Or at a more local level, strange remnants like Hunting the Earl of Rhone or the one about finding a mediaeval lady’s hood – something lingers on even when the meaning gets a bit vague. These rituals and rememberances can become part of a communal identity.
The moral of this story is, don’t be afraid to add new things. The day of the founding of your grove might be an event to reflect on every year. The day of your becoming a fully fledged OBOD druid might be one you want to earmark for druidic reflection in years to come. There are no wrong answers here, it’s just a way of being alert to the resonant things in your life and making a space for them, honouring what they mean. It’s also important to let them go when they cease to have resonance, moving on to new ideas, new celebrations.