Beltane or May Day is on May 1 in the Northern Hemisphere and on November 1 in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s traditionally the end of winter and the beginning of summer, about midway between Ostara or the spring equinox and summer solstice in June. This is a joyful time, a time for fun and celebrating the promise of abundance. However, the harvest is still months away. Just as we still have a lot of work to do in our gardens, there’s still work to do on our goals.
Ostara, which falls around March 20 in the Northern Hemisphere and September 22 in the Southern Hemisphere, is the spring equinox. Day and night are about equal. From this point on, the days will begin to grow slightly longer. It’s the beginning of spring, although we may not feel that everywhere. Symbolically, Ostara is a time for renewal, fertility, and balance. It’s also a good time to clarify your desires.
Imbolc, sometimes called Brighid’s Day or Feast of Brighid, falls on February 2 in the Northern Hemisphere (August 1 in the Southern Hemisphere). Since the Winter Solstice/Yule, the days have been getting gradually longer, though there are still weeks of winter to go. Hidden in the earth, however, is the potential for spring, and Imbolc is the chance to celebrate that.
The winter solstice, also known as Yule, is the longest night and the shortest day. The previous Neo-Pagan festival, Halloween/Samhain, was a celebration of death in the sense of the old dying out. Yule celebrates the coming (though not yet arrival) of the light. In assessing the past year without judgment, you can let go of what you no longer need to worry about and prepare for what you still need to achieve.
The festival known as Samhain, or more commonly Halloween, is coming up. For many Neo-Pagans, this is the end of one yearly cycle and the beginning of a new one. This links closely to the harvest when the last of the abundant crops are picked and a winter mindset begins setting in. It’s a time to bring closure to the year, honoring the process of death and rebirth, and to play around with some new possibilities, at least for a while.