The Wheel of the Year
The wheel of the year is a diagram that shows the Sun’s movement through the twelve signs of the tropical zodiac from Aries to Pisces.
You can draw a wheel of the year in many ways, but they still represent the passing of time throughout a twelve-month period.
Typically, the diagram flows clockwise like time on a clock face, but astrologers flow them counterclockwise to align with the zodiac from which the dates originally come and the rising of the Sun at the Ascendant.
The special eight celebration days have been used for centuries in many cultures around the world.
If you draw your own wheel of the year, you can color it and add the symbols that resonate with you.
In the modern world, there is no right or wrong way to tap into this ancient calendar.
Follow your instincts and create a wheel of the year diagram that speaks to you.
As an astrologer you would typically draw the wheel of the year in your astrology journal.
If you are more of a pagan, you can create your wheel of the year in your book of shadows or grimoire.
The Sun’s Path
We have watched the Sun mark time as it rises and sets every day.
At a broad stroke, the Sun’s rising position on the horizon moves slightly each day.
The daylight hours are longer in summer and shorter in winter.
Every year the Sun transits through the 360º of the tropical zodiac, and in its passing, marks special days in the year.
Cardinal Points and the Four Seasons
The Sun’s path crosses the four cardinal points each year which mark the beginning of the four seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter.
Please note that these dates are for the northern hemisphere.
The four quarter days divide the year up into four quarters.
They are the dates of the two equinoxes and two solstices.
- March 21st – equinox
- June 21st – solstice
- September 21st – equinox
- December 21st – solstice
The cross-quarter days divide each of the four quarters of the year.
The cross quarter days are midway between the equinoxes and the solstices.
These dates are around the 8th of the inbetween months and each year is slightly different.
The definition of a cross-quarter day is when the Sun reaches fifteen degrees of the fixed signs.
- February 8th
- May 8th
- August 8th
- October 8th
Spring Equinox – Ostara
Around March 21st, the Sun crosses the celestial equator at 0º Aries, moving north for three months.
It is the Aries ingress and this is springtime.
The pagan celebration of Ostara is aligned with the equinox when the day and night is the same.
The pagan festivity of Beltane is the day the Sun reaches 15 º of Taurus.
This is often celebrated on May 1st each year.
Midsummer Solstice – Litha
Around June 21st, the Sun reaches its highest declination at around 23.5º north at 0º Cancer.
Now the Sun moves back towards the celestial equator for three months.
The Cancer ingress heralds summer.
The pagan celebration of Litha is on the midsummer’s day which is the longest day of the year and the day with the most sunlight.
Autumn Equinox – Mabon
Around September 21st, the Sun crosses the celestial equator moving south at 0º Libra and continues for three months during autumn or fall.
The Libra ingress happens at the autumn equinox and the start of the new season.
The pagan celebration of Mabon is usually celebrated on October 1st which is a date close to the equinox.
Samhain – Halloween
The pagan celebration of Samhain is when the Sun passes over 15º of Scorpio, which is around November 8th.
In general, this special day is usually celebrated on October 31st as Halloween.
All Saint’s Day follows of November 1st.
Midwinter Solstice – Yule
Around December 21st, the Sun’s declination reaches around 23.5º south as it enters 0º Capricorn.
Now the Sun moves back up towards the celestial equator which takes three months and it is wintertime.
As the Sun enters Capricorn it is known as the Capricorn ingress when the winter season begins.
The pagan celebration of Yuletide is celebrated on midwinter’s day.
Imbolc occurs when the Sun reaches 15 degrees of Aquarius which is usually around February 8th, although Imbolc is celebrated around February 1st each year.
One symbol for Imbolc is Brighid’s cross made from wheat sheaves or corn dollies.
As an aspiring astrologer, it is valuable to understand when the dates for the cardinal signs and the cross-quarter days happen as they shift a little each year.
These special days are not just plucked out of thin air.
Often at the start of a new season, the news channels will state that, “Spring is starting on March 21st at 4:37pm” and this statement may seem weird.
Now that you know how each season is timed (by the Sun’s ingress into a cardinal sign), you can fully understand the seasonal changes and the cross-quarter days that occur at around six-week intervals.
If you are just starting out, pay attention to the equinoxes and solstices first.
Then explore the cross-quarter days afterwards.
The whole year begins at the vernal equinox when the Sun enters Aries around March 21st every year.
Aspiring Astrologer Activity: Wheel of the Year
In your astrology journal and with a compass and protractor, please do the following:
- Draw the diagram for the wheel of the year with four concentric circles.
- Divide the outer wheel into the four seasons.
- Divide the second wheel in, into the months of the year.
- Divide the third wheel in, into the twelve signs of the zodiac starting with Aries in the ascendant position.
- Divide the center wheel into the eight celebrations of the wheel of the year.
- Color in your wheel of the year and decorate it as you see fit. Use your intuition as a guide.
- For the next celebration that is coming up, give some thought and list what you want to manifest for your life during that period.
Share your drawing on social with the hashtag #starzologywheeloftheyear or send a link to your artwork to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here you can see the right hand pages from a few of the zodiac notebooks.
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