One thread of belief that is shared within most pagan spiritual paths is that the belief of circles and cycles of all living things intertwine with one another. This touches on many practices, and threads through myth and an interconnectedness with all things.
You can see cycles in the seasonal changes; of winter warming to spring, to the hot days of summer fading into the months of autumn back to winter again. You can see the same cycle in gardens and crops, with seeds coming to fruition, then turning back to seed to start over the cycle. Even the moon goes through her monthly changes, and the sun cyclestravels through the solar year. An endless wheel that keeps on turning.
The solar year is broken into eight major holidays known as Sabbats. Based on the Celtic year and that of seasonal changes and crops, the year ends and begins October 31st, a day named Samhain. Other holidays cycle through Yule, Imbolc, Oastara, Beltane, Midsummer (Litha), Lughnasadh, Mabon, and then back to Samhain. This ‘wheel of the year’ follows the life, death, and rebirth of the sun/harvest god.
The lunar cycles are celebrated in Circles called esbats. The Full moon wanes to the New moon, waxing to the Full once more. This is also revered as a feminine symbol. This comes to no surprise when a woman’s menstrual cycles matches the 28 day cycle. Without the artificial light, a woman’s cycle will match that of the moon, proving the connection is stronger than one might think. The very word ‘menstrual’ derives from the Latin ‘mensis’ meaning month which in turn means moon.
Crop cycles of planting to harvest are essential to the celebration of the holidays. The harvest/sun god(s) goes through Birth to his Death in the fall/winter, to Rebirth in the springtime. More often than not, however, the ‘crops’ have become metaphors to whatever goals are selected for the year. Success of these goals are symbolic of the harvest.
Even the sacred space the is evoked for Circles is created and dismissed in a cycle. The invoking of the Quarters/Elements/Directions, the god/ddesses, and doing one’s working, is then dismissed opposite to how the Circle was cast.
Beginning to ending…to beginning again.