The Wheel of The Year is a structural diagram on which to place all the phenomena of Nature, such as weather, tides, light, life of plants and animals etc. The Wheel described below is The Wheel of The Native British Tradition. Each continent has its own Wheel which describes the elements, weather, and life forms inherent to that particular Land. The Native American Tradition has The Medicine Wheel, while the Chinese Taoist Tradition has The Wheel of The Eight Trigrams etc.


In Britain we live in a culture which has lost connection with the Four Seasons of Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. So much so that the London Met Office now starts seasons at the beginning of December, March, June, and September – in the middle month of the season; and recently the BBC1 programme ‘Autumn Watch’ announced that Autumn starts in October, and lasts for two months !!!

Midsummer’s Day is officially on 24th June in Britain, (not to be confused with the Summer Solstice). As a season is three months long, and in line with historical tradition, the British Summer begins on May Day, when we are surrounded by the beauty of flowers. May Day is also known as Beltaine -from bel/goodly, and aine from tinne/fire. This is a time when all hearths (the sacred centre of the home) were cleansed, and newly lit from beacon/temple fires. May is the time of fertility and rapid growth. As the flowers fall, the fruits swell, watered by the torrential rains of June, and ripen in the heat and electric storms of July.

Autumn, the season of harvests, begins on August 1st, known as Lammas, or Lunasa in Ireland. In Thomas Hardy novels we can read about the hiring fairs at Lammas, for the first grain harvest – from which the seed corn is saved for the following year. Fruit and vegetable harvesting also occurs throughout this season, and by the Autumn Equinox we celebrate the Harvest being safely gathered in for the Winter. Then, at Martenmas (marten = oxen) the final meat harvest takes place. In October, the last month of Autumn, the leaves begin to fall and compost down into the earth.

The beginning of Winter has always been celebrated at the Festival of Samhain on 31st October (eve) and 1st November. The fruit has rotted away and the seed is left – containing the cycle of next year’s growth and harvest. Now divided into three parts – Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night, and All Soul’s Day – Samhain (pronounced sow-aine) was originally the Native British New Year’s Festival. Winter is a time of rest and regeneration, and for many animals a time of gestation in the dark womb, and for many seeds a time of transformation deep in the dark earth.

Then, at the beginning of February the earth begins to awaken, and shoots push up from the dark, protective depths. Life begins to stir once again, as Spring begins. The early lambs are born, and we celebrate the Festival of Imbolc (meaning ‘ewe’s milk’). The increase of light is noticeable, snow waters begin to melt, animals come out of hibernation. We begin to plant seeds indoors or in our greenhouses. The Hazel tree is in catkin, and as the season progresses, buds begin to burst, leaves begin to shoot, animals are born, hens begin to lay, and the mating season of birds begins.


While the Year can be divided into Four Seasons, it can also be divided into Eight Points of Power – which have traditionally been celebrated with Eight Festivals. While the diagonal cross, or Cross Quarter Days mark the very beginning of the Four Seasons as outlined above, the upright cross – vertical line marking the Solstices, and horizontal lines the Equinoxes - delineate the passage of the Sun around the Wheel. The Sun which gives us changing light throughout the year, and warmth, and fire – so essential to all life on Planet Earth.

The Solstices and Equinoxes are often mistakenly attributed to the moment that the Sun enters the Cardinal Signs of the Zodiac. In fact, the Solstices mark the Turning Point of the Sun when it moves into the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer in a spiral movement. When the Sun reaches the centre of the spiral movement, it turns – and this is the moment of the Solstice. The Sun can take three or four days to turn and this creates a sense of time standing still. The Spring/Vernal, and Autumn Equinox fall when the Sun crosses the Elliptic – an imaginary line above the Equator. At this point in time, day and night are of equal length.

Yearly path of the Sun as mapped by artist, Charles Ross, by using a lens on his New York studio roof to burn a mark on wood every day at noon.

I also created the following calendar last year after keeping a chart on the wall during the previous year, and marking things that seemed important to me. It is a calendar that relates to living in Southwest Britain, so if you create one you need to centre it where you live, and choose things that are important to you.

As for the choice of trees – remember that trees have a number of power stations throughout the year. Also remember that Robert Graves - who many people follow unquestioningly about trees – was a poet who was into the moon – so he cut a 25 tree calendar down to a 13 tree calendar, and put evergreens at Midsummer, and deciduous trees at Midwinter – which ought to tell us something……..mainly that this was his personal poetic choice. I became very interested in Kaledon Naddair’s group exploration of an ancient Ogham Wheel diagram they found and worked with. Basically you have to work with trees and find out for yourself – and put your findings on the Wheel of the Year. Or come to my workshops where we work experientially as a group with trees.










the earth awakens

sacred springs

Apple tree

mind, body, spirit

new shoots

seed coverings crack


winds…. germination

Hazel tree / wisdom

Spring Equinox

sun over elliptic

equal night & day

dawn & its powers

buds bursting


icy snap…. showers

unfolding & growing

Oak tree / doorway

greening of the May

Beltane Eve

clean the hearth









light new sacred fire

dew / essence

Hawthorn tree / love

thank the sea


rapid growth


Swelling…..heavy rain

Ash tree / Fates

Summer solstice

sun turns in the

Tropic of Capricorn

24th midsummer’s day



Rowan tree / wheel

hot, close

thundery showers

lammas eve

what do you harvest?









first harvest

thank the earth

keep seed corn

for next year’s growth

Yew tree

eternal life


Gooseberry / incarnation

Autumn equinox

sun over elliptic

harvest home

dusk & its powers

seas & mists

heron / Sheelagh na Gig




Elder tree / sight

dark moon

Samhain eve

honour the

beloved dead









new moon / new year



Blackthorn tree

tests integrity

endings & beginnings


rest & renewal

13th midwinter’s day

Winter solstice

sun turns in the

Tropic of Cancer.

Yule 26th Dec. – 6thJan.

Holly tree / sanctuary


deep transformation

seed coverings change


tenacity & fertility

Imbolc eve

Initiation, dedication

Info on Author

Welcome to my blog

2010 is the year this dream has finally become a reality and the Goddess Study Centre website goes online thanks to website designer, Steve Furley.

This is my year – the Year of the Tigress – a year of optimism and activity. A year to make new friends and meet more people of like mind - coming together to expand and celebrate the joyful reality of women’s culture, identity, and values as well as the amazing experience of working with Nature and with Ancestral Wisdom.

I speak as an artist who comes from a church family background, and who explored Christianity but found it lacked something – which I much later realised was equality. After leaving the church at 16, I began a lifelong study of visual symbolism, and an exploration of some of the world’s faiths – Kabbalah, Taoism, Native American Spirituality – finally coming to rest in my own Native British Spiritual Tradition.

I have studied men’s culture for 30 years and women’s culture for 24 years. In 1985, after the break up of an important relationship I found myself in a pit of despair. I later read from Native American Elders that the bottom of the pit is a place of power. And so it was. What came to me was The Goddess, Feminism, and Women Artists. This set me on my road, and I have never looked back.

Hera’s Bath in Spring to cleanse Herself of Winter. Argos.

I have taught about The Goddess since 1987, and co-ordinated many events. This has had a profound impact on women – who have been socialised as unclean, second class citizens by the patriarchal religions. I now realise that these religions have been invented by the ‘jealous men’ (not all men are in this category) to subordinate women to the status of second class citizens. Shame is internalised every month at menstruation. Yet I have come to realise that these religions are built on profound womb envy. My MA thesis (1992) was about ‘Blood and Power’ (see the now Sheffield Hallam University Library).

Also in 1987 I also ran a small group with Phil Hine, then Editor of Pagan News, on Human Perception. There were many things I wanted to explore, and Phil was my safety net. As it happened, these experiences became the bridge over which I travelled to experiential work. After this I created my own rituals and meditations in Nature, and worked with the Wheel of the Year, grounding my experiences in a series of masks and mandalas which were finally exhibited at the London Ecology Centre in 1990. This exhibition – ‘Listen To The Earth : You And The Mother Are One’ – has just come back to me from it’s recent long term exhibition at the New Infirmary at Leeds.

Sheila Broun with Beltane mask.

Fortunately I found no books as I worked with Nature over the following three years. Also at this time I was studying Lee Family Style T’ai Chi, where we were encouraged not to try to work things out mentally, but to focus on where we felt the experience in our bodies. I grounded my experiences in Nature in a series of masks, one for each of the Festivals, and Elemental mandalas.

As I made the masks I came to realise that each of the Eight Festivals is a plateau of power. I experienced about a three week rise in energy to the Festival – which seemed to last for about three days – and then about a three week descent of power – at which point there was weather turbulence, after which I found myself in a completely different quality of energy.

It is for this reason that I now mark the halfway point between Festivals in my diary, and begin to turn my attention towards the next Festival from this date. Thus I have marked my change point on 11th January 2010 to begin to pay attention to the energy which peaks at Imbolc – and will finally change again on 25th February. Look out for weather turbulence – it is not always exactly at the date. It is quite good to keep a diary.

You may also be interested in the following set of definitions which I have written about the Wheel of the Year. I find it such an amazing way to mark time. We have all been socialised to think of time as linear – with it’s notions of progress – rather than cyclic. Living in cycles, and cycles within cycles, evokes memory and comparisons which are insightful and creative.