The Druid Year, Solstice/Equinox/Cross-Quarter Day Impulses, 15 moons, and Sacred Alphabet
Twenty years ago, when I began my Celtic path, my inner druid guides suggested I make flower essences for all the sacred trees over the cycle of one year. And it was good advice, for I could feel the spirit of each tree through its particular 24-day moon, all 15 of them. And I was also guided to do simple ceremonies for the eight equinox/solstice and cross-quarter high holy days of the druid year. As the year went along, it was easy to feel the portals of spirit these days truly are. I was guided to draw the Ogham symbols on small rounds of Oak wood, too, and over all these years, I’ve draw them out when I’m confused or frightened for guidance along the way. And my experiential path of feeling the energies was far simpler to understand than all the book learning on Celtic lore I had tried before, which only left me far more confused than when I started. The Goddess definitely teaches through experience!
The druid year is identical to the flow of emotion throughout the cosmos, 15 24-day moons with five intercessory days, November 24th through 28th, when the Celts held their gratefulness celebrations to Her for the living of the year (similar to our Thanksgiving). This cycle of emotion is ruled by the Goddess, the White Tara (identical to Mary Magdalen). Her Beloved, Oghama (identical to Christ), rules the flow of the mind, another whole calendar (12 30-day moons with 5 intercessory days, December 27th through 31st, Hogmanay!). Underlying the energies of the past twenty centuries in the Celtic isles are the twenty centuries before that, Goddess times. And as I gradually learned and grew into the old ways, I felt my own inner feminine plumped up and reawakened, along with her wise woman knowledge of herbs, energies, spirit, the uses of light, and magic.
There’ll be a blog about the Creator Sun at some point, but until then, I just need to explain that this Sun is the highest light structure in the seventh heaven. (In my 21 years of meditation, I came through 350 planes of light, and these sorted themselves into seven heavens.) Earth is in the first or lowest heaven, the Creator Sun in the highest, one of 15 light structures there that regulate cycles too numerous to mention. And the Creator Sun is the guiding light structure for the entire cosmos. It is shaped like a Celtic cross, with a central circle, where God and Goddess live as Beloveds with four quadrants around Them: Mother (in the northeast), Father (in the northwest), Girl (in the southeast), and Boy (in the southwest), the five basic aspects of spirit. Virtually everything in the universe carries this same fivefold pattern; all nations, the earth with her four continents around the Middle East, and every human being with torso/arms and abdomen/legs around the heart. So, let’s go through the high holy days of the Celtic world.
Equinox/Solstice/ Cross Quarter Holy days
These eight crossroads of the year open the various cosmic aspects of spirit for each annual cycle, moving around the cosmic quadrants. The cross-quarter days open one fourth of the cosmic feminine, while each solstice/equinox day opens one fourth of the cosmic masculine. They begin with an infant girl in February and end with an elderly grandfather at Midwinter, a whole life in one skyturn. And because each person carries all of these aspects of spirit within, these openings impact everyone.
On Imbolc then, the evening of Feb. 4th (all feminine days begin at sunset the evening before), future structures of light for the coming year are drawn up out of the dark cosmic sea that infuses every person’s belly. It’s a baby girl who emerges, and she shapes and directs the growth of the girl aspect of spirit within each person and the entire world for the next six weeks, according to the annual directives from God/Goddess. These eight portal days are overlit by another one of those 15 light structures of the seventh heaven, the Circle of Eight, and the girl goddess there is called Fiona. She is fae, delicate and soft, and she always brings forth surprises and the first hints of what the year ahead will hold. But she also wants to free the cosmic little girl from all bindings of fear, so girl specific challenges are brought forth at this time, too.
These Circle of Eight regents send the yearly impulses into the various ethers of the cosmos, and every person, as well. And there are four of these ethers, each with a different vibration: core, mental, emotional, and action. Imbolc opens the red dragon or mental ether time of year, for the girl impulses enter the cosmic and individual mental ethers only, the feminine half.
On the Vernal Equinox then, Fiona’s consort, Finnegan, opens the boy impulse for the year, again spreading this through the mental ethers of the cosmos, the masculine half. All masculine waves open at sunrise, so this happens at dawn on March 22nd. This boy aspect of spirit loves adventure, action, and FUN! Travel and new directions always seems to pop up at this time of year, too. The inner boy connects everyone with the Goddess through our sacral roots, and he is the keeper of time, wanting to slow everything down and feel the slow flow of life. And this boy aspect of spirit also rules the personal will force and the eventual surrender of it into alignment with divine will (an ENORMOUS task!). So, this is the six weeks when challenges to our wills, too much hurrying, and other messages about freeing the cosmic boy from fear will certainly arise. It is at the Vernal Equinox that the red dragon wave peaks and begins its descent toward Bealltain (Scottish Gaelic spelling, pronounced beealchen).
Then on the eve of May 4th, the virgin girl aspect of spirit opens across the cosmos, overlit by the virgin goddess of the Circle of Eight light structure, Belissima. She is a powerhouse, for she wants to cleanse all partnership issues to prepare for the union of hearts with the virgin male that will occur at Midsummer. And the virgin girl aspect rules sensuality as well, plus the very first love-making, but also standing in non-violence in the face of violence, and peace on earth. But the virgin girl’s most important task is birthing the divine child each human carries within, their highest destiny. And this six weeks is when fears related to all these virgin girl qualities will arise in life for healing, with a single strong directive for growth each year. It is also the opening of the green dragon, the emotion ether time of year, when the impulses of life flow into the feminine emotional ethers of the cosmos (and every person on earth).
Then on Midsummer’s dawn, June 22nd, her consort, Belenos, burns off the veils between virgin girl and boy in the heart. The virgin male rules courtly love, the union of hearts, and at Midsummer, the two halves unite at a deeper level than ever before, as the masculine side of the emotional ethers open to receive the impulses of the year. But the virgin male is also the world server and regent of action impulses, so Belenos pours her and his passion into some work for tribe or world, uniting them primarily in heartfelt action, instead. It is the time of year when obstacles to the dreams of the virgin male within will also arise. Oh, but his dreams are so lovely and powerful, uniting heaven and earth! It is worth working for them to come to fruition after all. This is the peak of the green dragon wave, when it begins to diminish toward Lughnasa (pronounced loonahsa).
Lughnasa begins on the evening of Aug. 4th, the opening of the mother wave across the cosmos and within. And the Circle of Eight regent who overlights this day is Cìrceidh (pronounced keerkay, rolled r), earth mother. And her main impulse is the feeding and nourishing of all families, especially children, caring for the household. The mother issues of overwork and neglect of her own needs will also arise at this time in the yearly cycle, but it’s also the season of family celebrations, which renew inner bonds of light. This is the opening of the yellow dragon time of year, too, the harvest, manifestation into the physical, when the yearly impulses enter the feminine action ethers across the cosmos. At Lughnasa, Cìrceidh brings forth the first fruits of the year’s labor, and three days later, the White Tara manifests some significant gift that will bring forth delights or depth of spirit for the remainder of the year.
Then, it’s Cìrceidh’s consort, Lugh, who opens the father wave at dawn on the Autumnal Equinox, September 22nd as the masculine action ethers light up. And the father’s major directive is bringing in the harvest. He oversees the nourishment of the whole tribe, all people everywhere, and the trade and commerce of the world, plus the union of heaven and earth. This is the time of year when father issues of carrying too heavy a load or financial issues or lack might arise. But the father brings forth new directions of thought and learning, too, that will always brighten future destiny patterns. This is the peaking of the yellow dragon wave, the action ether time, manifestation into the physical.
Then at sunset on Nov. 4th, the grandmother wave of the year opens, as the Circle of Eight grandmother goddess, Samhein (sahven), waves her cosmic wand. It’s when all are pulled back into the core ethers, the oldest levels of the spirit, the feminine half. The core ethers combine all three; mental, emotion, and action into one ether, always connected to the two highest light structures of the seventh heaven; 1) the Creator Sun, love and light alone, and 2) the Dragon Star, where our deepest fears were built into us. So, each winter brings three new fears to the surface that stem from the earliest times of each person’s long-ago descent from the seventh heaven to earth, and Nov. 5th is when these activate. It’s why winter can be particularly challenging. But the goddess Samhein’s real specialty is cutting the flow of life at the root of various yearly projects with her spirit scythe, a time of closing down and the beginning of rest after the harvest has been gathered in. But it is not really death, as some might imagine, for the seeds of the new yearly cycle are already stirring within, hopes and dreams for the next skyturn that are still rooted to the flow of life under the inner spirit leafmat of fall. Still, grandmother challenges of leaving will certainly arise at this time, along with ancient sadness and paring down to essentials. This is when the black/white dragon wave arises, the core ether time of year.
On Midwinter dawn then, December 22nd, the cosmic grandfather impulse opens, and his seeds of what will manifest during the coming year are sent down into the womb (energetic) of every human on earth. (We all have every one of these aspects of spirit within, remember?) These seeds look like small twinkling stars, blessings of the future, every one. It is a magical time, greatly celebrated by ancient people’s, for it lifts the whole cosmos out of its lowest ebb and sets the vector of light for the whole new year into place. The grandfather of the Circle of Eight is called Bran, and his specialty is building the learning of the past year into light seeds that he fuses into the permanent light body of each person, accessible even after passing over to the Otherworld and in all future lives. Lovely! And then, three mornings later, on December 25th, the very first inkling of the new cycle arises from the abdominal cosmic sea, the divine child of the coming skyturn, delightful hints of what is to come. But the following six weeks will also bring forward grandfather fears for healing. It is the bone time of year, when lack rises up, deep cold, occasional brushes with the death force. Midwinter is the peaking of the black/white dragon wave, when it begins to descend toward Imbolc. And the cycle begins all over again!
The Druid Moons and Sacred Alphabet
There are 15 druid moons (24 days each, the cycle of emotion for the cosmos, remember?). The first five of these shorter moons match the five sacred aspects of spirit and set the tone of them for the whole cycle. These first five moons are overlit by the gods and goddesses of the Pillar Realms, another light structure in the seventh heaven. And the last eight moons match the Circle of Eight regents and their eight aspects of spirit (the four cosmic quadrants doubled, with virgins and grandparents added in), plus two more moons for Goddess and God. And because the emotion ethers move through lakes, river, and seas, and then into trees for activation in our world, there are sacred trees for each moon. This is why the druids are such lovers of trees, for they serve the emotional/wisdom flow of the Goddess!
The first moon is Beithe (pronounced beetha), the Birch moon, the Beloved center, December 23rd to January 15th. But because it is the very start of the cycle, it is the child part of the Beloveds this ray streams from, the divine infant of the cosmos in the very small center of the Beloveds of the Central Sun. Both birch trees and this time of year bring forth the clear ray of light of the innermost Central Sun, sending visions and hopes of what can be achieved by the end of the yearly cycle, the main directive for growth from above. Some moving experience will always occur during this time that draws each heart into taking on the challenges of the year ahead, opening an inner longing to fulfill the year’s promise the Creators. The sacred letter for this moon is B, and if you say the sound of B over and over, this clear ray will arise around you and remind you what you are working for. If you have any Bs in your name, it means the same thing along your path of life (letters of the first name are your feminine, home life; letters of the middle name are the divine child within; and the letters of your last name are your masculine, work and destiny. Just divide your life expectancy by the number of letters in each name to get a feel for how many years each letter signifies. They can tell you the basic outline of your life, what to expect.) The Ogham letter for this moon is shown above. And it you draw it from your Ogham bag (druid medicine bag with the sacred symbols imprinted on small rounds of wood or stone) in answer to some question, it signifies a gentle sustained yearly cycle of growth that ends with the flowering of a long-forgotten part of the self. Sweet!
Next comes the father moon, Luis, the Mountain Ash or Rowan tree, January 16th to February 8th. This is the time when the father patterns for the yearly cycle ahead are put into place, especially abundance and future work opportunities, but also mental details and learning. Plus, the father always surrounds and protects the Imbolc infant girl as she arises. Its sacred letter is L, and the father’s power, courage, and protection will rise up around you, too, if you repeat that L sound. If you draw the Ogham symbol for Luis, shown above, from your druid bag, it signifies that some surprise of great love is coming your way, especially in work, but maybe in partnership, a father blessing of some sort. But if it is in your name, it means you’ll be building his courage in the heart by making changes in the world, despite outer obstacles, but within the father’s protection and financial support.
The girl moon is next, overlit by the elder sister of the girl quadrant, the virgin, when the girl patterns of growth for the year are put into place, February 9th to March 4th. Its tree is the Ash, the world tree, for she is regent of the spine as well, standing tall in love, no matter what happens. Her challenges often involve domination by male brute force, neglect, inner strength being crushed. But the letter N, Nuin (pronounced nwin), signifies new freedom for some part of the virgin girl spirit on earth or within, often facing challenges in order to do so. This promise will rise up around you, if you repeat the n sound, too. And the meaning is the same, if you draw it from your Ogham bag or have it in your name, freedom for the girl within.
Then comes the boy moon, the Alder moon, Fearn (pronounced feearn), the letter F, March 5th to 28th. This is when the elder brother, the virgin, puts the boy patterns for the coming cycle into place within. The boy is a wriggly, action oriented aspect of the spirit, and this moon will bring increased activity, adventures, fun. Saying the f sound brings up the boy’s exuberance and humor, too. Same meaning if you draw it from your Ogham bag, but in a name, it signifies a very active time of life that is usually fun, often with nearness to water. His challenges often involve hurrying, over-mentalized work, overwork, or pushing others around.
Last of the five spirit aspects is the mother, the Willow moon, Saille (pronounced syeeya), the letter S, March 29th to April 21st. It is when the wisdom lessons of the mother are put into place, the difficulties of the year ahead. The letter S means acceptance of whatever comes along, even the painful things, not the easiest one. And the sibilant s sound brings forth an acceptance of the shadows of the year, which will surround you. But in your name or drawn from your Ogham bag, S often signifies some challenging lessons to be learned in life. But these are ever balanced with the personal comforts of the mother, rest, tea and crumpets, perhaps. The mother’s challenges relate to fatigue and overwork usually, putting others need before her own.
Then comes Belissima again, overlighting the Hawthorne moon, Huath (hooah), the letter H, the lightning force, April 22nd to May 15th. She often works through disruption, opening and cleansing one fear that will make the union of hearts on Midsummer much deeper, freeing the virgin girl in some intense way. And Belissima always opens some long-forgotten passion of the inner virgin girl at this time, too. It is the same meaning if you draw this symbol from your Ogham bag and for the letters in your name, a cleansing that will come along and is needed in your life to free the virgin girl within.
Then the Oak moon arrives, moon of the high God, Oghama, the cosmic Bridegroom or Beloved, May 16th to June 8th. The word for oak is Duir (jooer), the letter D. And during this time, in some sweet moment of His own choosing, Oghama reaches into the back of each person’s heart and leaves His seeds of emotional growth for the coming year. These are always a blend of His, the Goddess, and the individual’s heart’s desires. Oftentimes, this is a romantic moon, full of roses, warmth, nature’s delights. Oghama, too, opens and prepares the heart for the inner virgins’ union at Midsummer. And if you draw this symbol from your Ogham bag, it will tell you that some intimacy with Oghama is coming your way to surround and fill you with passion for a specific endeavor. It can mean partnership with Oghama Himself or an outer beloved, and holds the same meaning if you have D in your name.
Then comes the Holly moon, Tinne (teenya), Belenos again, virgin male of the Circle of Eight, June 9th to July 2nd. He sends out a specific action impulse that brings the passion of the inner virgins into work for the tribe or world. It is always a time when outer obstacles to forward movement rise up. But his strong drive weakens and breaks those challenges down, for he’s the spiritual warrior, too. T in both your Ogham bag or name will signify holding your balance in facing darkness in the outer world and moving steadily toward positive change in the world.
This is followed by the Hazel moon, overlit by Nemetona, high priestess of the Triple Spiral light structure, also in the seventh heaven. The Triple Spiral regents overlight all spiritual paths and religions of the world. And at this time, Nemetona brings through some inner call to learn, to face new challenges and open up another aspect of yourself, hints of what will come during the winter ahead. The word for Hazel is also Coll, the letter C, July 3rd to 26th. And on July 22nd, the goddess, Artio (arsteeo) of the Indigo Pentagram in the sixth heaven (that overlights the annual growth and release of our shadow selves) sends a very specific message to each individual about the focus of their winter difficulties ahead. This moon brings a turning inward, Nemetona ever deepening of the feminine powers of prophecy and intuition. And in your Ogham bag or name, the letter C indicates a new spiritual direction of growth or endeavor, often deeply personal, that will develop your spirit powers.
Then comes the Apple moon, Querst (keerst), the letter Q, the high Goddess moon, July 27th to August 19th. The White Tara, Mother-of-All, always brings some very personal message to every individual at this time, often at Lughnasa. And Her moon will ever deepen the individual’s devotion to Oghama and birthing those divine children within, too. It will strengthen the inner mother and goddess in some important way as well. In your name, Q indicates a close working partnership with the White Tara, the high Goddess, in some important work in the world, often helping women or children. It can also mean the strengthening of family or tribal ties. In your Ogham bag, though, it might also indicate a message from your spirit family in the Central Sun or from the White Tara Herself.
This is followed by the Vine moon, Muin (mwin), Grape, the letter M, August 20th to September 12th. It means the union of heaven and earth, but also manifestation into the physical as the harvest is gathered in and security of life is assured through the coming winter. This moon is overlit by the god, Lugh, of the Circle of Eight, the father there, bringing nourishment for both body and soul, but also the heavy work impulses of the father. But it often also means the coming together of two opposing aspects of the self in a way that will bring great easing of pain, when you have it in your name or if you draw it from your Ogham bag. Repeating the m sound is one of the most comforting and uplifting things to do, bringing the promise of the father’s abundance and security around you. (If I am chanting OM, for instance, I confess, I always linger far longer on the M!)
Then comes the Ivy moon, Gort (gorst), the letter G, September 13th to October 6th. This is the moon when a final push toward the year’s fulfillment comes in, some delay or unexpected extra work usually. And then, the yearly divine child is birthed on Oct. 6th, ten druid moons or one gestation cycle after Midwinter. The Ivy moon is overlit by the virgin goddess, Rhiannon, of the Indigo Pentagram light structure in the sixth heaven (the one that oversees the rising and breaking down of the shadow self during each yearly cycle), for virgin girls always help in the birthing process. But for Rhiannon, this means helping the year’s shadow child fall away. G in your name or drawn from your medicine bag will signify some difficulty that you will need to endure, usually with some fatigue from facing similar obstacles over a period of time, but a sure breaking through into light, too. The sound repeated, the hard g, will surround you with determination to succeed and tenacity in difficulty.
This is followed by the Reed moon, Cattail, Ngetal (engetahl), the letters and sound Ng (eng), October 7th to 30th. It is overlit by Cìrceidh, mother of the Circle of Eight. And its impulse is family celebrations that celebrate the recent birth of the year’s divine child. There will always be some opportunity to show off new talents, too, bringing them out of hiding in the self. This goddess also loves to shower families with nature’s abundant gifts, especially food. In your own name, ng will signify the emergence of new abilities in a way that is observable and supported in the outer world. But drawn from your Ogham bag, or the sound repeated, means a time of peace after some travail, peace and rest for the child within especially. (A lot of words end in ing, with that peaceful completion included.) This is what I always think of when I hear this sound, inner peace, the true meaning of Ngetal.
But this time of joy is followed by Straif (stryeef), which means strife in Gaelic, the Blackthorne moon, October 31st to November 23rd. The letters are St. This moon is overlit by Samhein, grandmother goddess of the Circle of Eight. She cuts the root life force to efforts and/or relationships that are passing by, remember? Not the easiest time or letter in your name, always a time of letting go, often of things deeply cherished. But always the seeds of the new are also gathering within, ready to emerge in only another moon’s time. For the Blackthorne moon is also when the major freedom impulse of the year to come is chosen, along with which deep desire of each individual will manifest at the end of the annual cycle. Blackthorne drawn from your Ogham bag signifies strong mystical magic that reaches into your deepest levels and pulls out a long-forgotten gift or hope within that will manifest after one year’s growth, a major fear moved out of the way, often opening with some loss that is really a call to freedom. These letters are the abbreviation for saint, and repeated will bring forward the sense of what must be given up to release some deeply held desire of the self.
And then come the intercessory days, New Year in the Celtic calendar. This holiday was when the Celts held their thankfulness celebration to the Goddess, November 24th to 28th, when all who have passed to the Otherworld during the closing year are also honored and remembered. And these spirits do, indeed, walk closely with the living during this phase. There is no Ogham symbol, letter, sound, or tree for these intercessory days, though. And it is overlit by the Goddess Herself, who also assists in breaking down the energies of the passing cycle to add to Her pregnant sea, waiting for the new light seeds of Midwinter.
And finally comes the Elder moon, Ruis, the letter R, November 29th to December 22nd. It is overlit by Bran, grandfather of the Circle of Eight, Samhein’s consort. He’s the one who consolidates the year’s lessons learned into small light structures that he builds into the permanent light body of each individual, remember? And this is the meaning of this letter, too, wisdom embodied, the forever truths of the universe. And in your name, R will signify a period of learning wisdom and carrying it ever into the future. But from your Ogham bag, this symbol means you are going through a major passage of the spirit, which can bring temporary constrictions in life that always open into expansion into a whole new way of life and great easing of the spirit. Lovely again!
There are ten more letters in the sacred alphabet, the vowels, but they belong to another whole cycle, the movement of the annual light impulse, or divine child, through the seven sheaths of light within each person’s aura through each year (sheaths that match the seven heavens, inner to outer as the year progresses). This cycle is overlit by the regents of the White Pentagram in the seventh heaven, and it would be confusing to add all that here. But it’s easy to simplify. Capital A is the push through the core sheath (matching the seventh heaven), moving through old, old core fears, with small a meaning the full birth of the yearly divine child out of this one sheath on Imbolc. Then comes capital O, the push through the centerpoint (of the father) and the cherub (or little boy and girl) sheaths (matching the sixth and fifth heavens), difficult mental confusions and harshness or sacrifice of some kind to the inner child, with small o signifying the birth at the end of this phase on Easter morning. This is followed by capital U, the birth pushing force that moves through the logos sheath of the virgin girl (the fourth heaven), with the small u meaning the full birth out of this logos sheath on Lughnasa. Then comes capital E, the push through the spirit sheath, the third heaven (of the virgin male), into the lower levels, a rushing overwork phase, but with real flow and manifestation at the end. Lower e means the final birth out of this spirit sheath and the revelation of this new part of the self in the outer world. And finally, comes capital I, movement through the soul sheath, the second heaven (of the mother). Small i is the final birth of the year’s divine child into the last sheath, the sensate, fully embodied into physical form and completely freed from fear, which always happens on Midwinter’s Eve. In your name, these letters will signify the same, issues of these inner spirit aspects appearing in your life with some final completion at the end. But the vowels have no Ogham symbols attached to them, only repeating the sounds that will bring these goddesses of the White Pentagram with their powerful birth-pushing forces up around you. If you are stuck in some way in your life, sound out the appropriate vowel for that part of your spirit. It will move you through!
The Celtic year is a rich and powerful cycle that affects virtually everyone on earth, through emotions, the real driver of life and change. And if you tune into the druid year, you can soon learn to feel the subtle shifts these moons and holy days bring. It has opened my awareness greatly over the past twenty years and connected me to; trees, nature, the seasonal growth impulses, the gentle cosmic consciousness and its flow of emotion especially, and the oneness of all these things far more deeply than before. How I love the old ways and knowings that have so enriched my days and understanding. May this article bring the same gifts and more to every reader. Blessed be, every one!
About the Author:
Jill Rose Frew, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, energy healer, workshop leader, and author. She is hoping to found an intentional community in southern Scotland in the near future. For information, please see www.thehomestarcommunity.org
She is author of Guardians of the Celtic Way (her name was Jill Kelly then), and Alba Reborn, Volume One Revised, and Volumes Two and Three.
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