The Wheel of the Year is a Pagan calendric system marking the passing of the seasons with eight festivals: the winter and summer solstices, the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, and the halfway points between them. Even for non-Pagans, the symbolism associated with these eight festivals can provide a rich and insightful Tarot reading.
1. Samhain (Halloween): Ghosts
This holiday marks the halfway point between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice. In the Catholic tradition, it’s All Saints Day (November 1st). This card represents the past, the memories that you’ve held on to for too long and that need to be put to rest.
2. Yule (Winter Solstice/Christmas-ish): Conception
The winter solstice is the darkest night of the year, but in it is the promise of the sun’s rebirth with the coming spring. This card shows something new that you’re about to bring into being.
3. Imbolc (Candlemas/Groundhog Day): Gestation
February 2nd marks the halfway point between Yule and the vernal equinox. In modern Irish, the name of this festival literally means “in the womb”. This card shows the influences that are going to help you manifest the new aspect of your life (shown at Yule).
4. Ostara (Vernal Equinox): Birth
Yeah, okay, so we’re skipping about six months of pregnancy here. But it seemed a bit silly to have separate cards for the first, second, and third trimesters. We get the idea. The Ostara card in the spread represents the moment where you’re finally able to bring that Yule card to life–no longer making, but made.
5. Beltane (May Day): Growth
We’ve seen the way you’re going to nurture this Yule-baby and bring it into the world. This card now shows the way that it’s going to nurture you. How is this new influence going to affect you? What changes will it bring about in your life?
6. Litha (Summer Solstice): Triumph
The longest day of the year is the crowning achievement of this cycle. This is the moment where everything comes to fruition. What is the big, capital-L Lesson for you to learn here?
7. Lammas (August 1st and no corresponding non-Pagan holiday I’m aware of): Wisdom
This is typically the hottest day of the year, and although it’s technically not midsummer (that honor belongs to the solstice), it is definitely the point where the force of summer is most powerfully felt. You’ve learned your lesson–now what are you going to do with it? How are you going to apply the wisdom you’ve gained?
8. Mabon (Autumnal Equinox): Death
All things must die. You’ve nurtured this new thing in your life, watched it grow, and learned all your lessons for it. Now is the time for you to let it go, to make room in your life for something new.