Shamanism was and is practiced worldwide. Its roots can be found in many traditions and peoples around the globe. I was born in Austria and therefore I feel connected to the traditions of Celtic shamanism. My family and I celebrate the festivals of the Celtic wheel of the year and also the Hindu holidays (My husband Nipun is Hindu).
The Celts lived in the Iron Age in Central Europe. They populated the area from Anatolia to Ireland, leaving their traces of their culture. However, the Celts were not a united people. There was no central leader, nor a proclaimed state. In fact there were several individual tribes, which had some cultural similarities. They were also not called “Celts” at that time. In France for example they were called “Gallier “, in southern Germany and today’s Switzerland “Helvetier”, “Sequanen” and “Rauriker” and in Turkey “Galater”.
However, these tribes had similarities. Thus there was a spiritual leader in each tribe, who was also a teacher and judge. These men, and later also women, were later called Druids. Knowing their job responsibilities, we can easily call them shamans today. In addition to their worldly duties, the Druids were priests, who mediated between the worlds, performed sacrificial customs and led the community through the annually recurring traditions. This is where the Celtic wheel of the year has its roots.
The Celtic calendar
The Celtic peoples have built many structures (e.g. Stonehenge) that are strictly aligned with the solstices. These days have been extremely important. The Celtis were farmers and therefore they needed to know when they have to seed, when to harvest etc. The four solstice celebrations are accompanied by four moon festivals.
The calendar starts with the beginning of the winter half-year with the moon festival Samhain.
|1.||Samhain||beginning of the winter half-year, 11th new moon in the calendar year||usually celebrated on the 31st of October|
|2.||Yule||winter solstice||21st of December|
|3.||Imbolc||2nd full moon after Yule||usually celebrated on 2nd of February|
|4.||Ostara||Spring Equinox||21st of March|
|5.||Beltane||Beginning of the summer half-year, 5th full moon after Yule||usually celebrated on 30th of April|
|6.||Litha||Summer solstice||21st of June|
|7.||Lammas||8th full moon after Yule||usually celebrated on 2nd of August|
|8.||Mabon||Autumn equinox||23rd of September|
Celtic Wheel of the Year today
For time immemorial, festivals mark new sections and turning points. Everything is constantly changing, that is the natural course of life. We should not be afraid of change or even try to ignore it. The Celtic annual festivals are wonderful ways to celebrate something new in life and to connect with nature and the inner self. The festivities give us the opportunity to thankfully conclude the past and welcome the future. In our stressful everyday life, we barely take time to breathe and to be free. Celebrate the annual festivals and find the freedom for yourself. When we celebrate these festivals today, we connect with the power of nature and our ancestors.
To find out more about the individual festivals and how we celebrate them, click on the names. In this year I will write a blog post to every festival.