I would have thought there was enough information and literature on the Wheel of the Year to render this entry superfluous, but an online discussion about Beltane in the Southern Hemisphere has made me think that it’s not the case.
The Wheel of the Year is made up of 4 Fire Festivals, 2 Solstices and 2 Equinoxes. They are connected to the seasons of the year and agriculture, thus what is happening above the equator (Northern Hemisphere, NH) is the opposite to what is happening below the equator (Southern Hemisphere, SH). The Fire Festivals are stagnant dates and the Solstices and Equinoxes move according to the actual day of occurrence. Solstices are the longest and shortest day, Equinoxes are when the day and night are equal in length.
I’m not here to talk about the Equinoxes and Solstices though, I want to talk about the Fire Festivals, and particularly why some practitioners feel like they can break from tradition and shift the dates according to “astronomical correctness”. Firstly, these events are connected to the Earth, not the sun, moon and stars. These are firstly agricultural festivals. Secondly, some of the dates coincide with other days of cultural significance. And example of this is 31st of October (Samhain NH/Beltane SH), which happens to fall in step with the Day of The Dead (not the same as Halloween), All Saints Day (Catholicism, Voudou & Hoodoo) and Reformation Day (Slovenia, Germany, Chile and Protestant Churches).
In Particular connection to Day of the Dead and All Saints Day, which are days where the dead are honoured, I am firmly against moving the date. The reasoning is that both Beltane and Samhain are days where the veil between the worlds in thinnest. Cool, what does that even mean? Let me tell you, Gentle Reader, it means that communicating with the dead is easier, that the dead (and other entities) may even walk among us. The dead are thought to “come home”. Given that this is a date that is shared amongst cultures, why the f*%k would we moved the date? Collective celebration creates energy, that energy feeds us as practitioners, for magical workings, mediumship and various other things. Also, if we can imagine the veil as a real thing, if the spirits are all pushing from one side twice a year, this contributes to the thinning of the veil, but it does snap back very quickly. A late celebration does not take advantage of this thinning, in fact, it misses the boat completely.
May 1st, (Beltane NH/Samhain SH) also parallels other Christian feast days, Lei Day, Calan Mai, and various other May Day festivals across Europe. Again I ask, why move the date?
When you understand celebration and practice as a global and inter-cultural phenomenon, moving the dates is defeating the purpose of the celebrations. You’re taking the magic out of it and as someone pointed out to me, “simply to ‘out witch’ others”. In fact, moving the dates underscores an essential lack of understanding of what we are celebrating and why, it shows ignorance not esotericism.
If you have thoughts, or disagree, please share!