My personal journey with the Wheel of the Year began in 1988, with my soul's first deep longing cry for the voice of the Divine Feminine. That August I had just moved from Los Angeles back to the land of rain, trees, and family on the outskirts of Atlanta where I grew up. All of my early childhood church study and later metaphysical training up to that point had only a Divine Masculine voice, and I ached for the balance that could only be found when the richness of the feminine was included.

As I searched for the Goddess, I grew frustrated with celebrating religious holidays that I no longer connected with. Books began to cross my path that spoke of the Wheel of the Year and I began working with those magical times. Eventually, a friend and I gathered a group of women together and we created a ceremony for each of the Wheel points: Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lughnasad, Autumnal Equinox, and Samhain. Honoring the wheel in this way for the first time actively opened me to a greater connection with nature and deeply anchored the wheel in my psyche, enlivening it in my life. I began understanding the fluidity of holding a circular/wheel understanding of time rather than a strictly linear one, and the more I worked with the Wheel, the more those revelations continued to show themselves to me.

One of the most potent inner transformations came as I began decorating my tree for Winter Solstice with a magical theme, instead of modeling it after the décor matching trees of my youth. I brought in a living evergreen tree, which I would later plant in my yard, as a symbol of the everlasting nature of the Goddess. I then connected each aspect of decorating my tree to what I wanted to create in the growing year. I hung gold balls to represent the sun, long strands of silver tinsel to represent rain, and pinecones and nuts to symbolize fertility in all my endeavors. I created ornaments with words such as love, creativity, and happiness and I tied little sparkly bundles of money to the branches. My tree became a place of gratitude for the blessings found in my life both at that moment and for the year ahead.

My magic tree helped me to integrate my family of origin's celebration of Christmas into a time of year that we all could celebrate with more authenticity. I started honoring the entire period from Winter Solstice through Christmas. I hosted a ceremony for Winter Solstice and then enjoyed some of the traditions of Christmas with my family. A few years later, I began holding Wheel of the Year ceremonies and celebrations in my community. The first year, six people attended Winter Solstice. Now, 15 years later, this ceremony averages well over a hundred attendees.

In the years that followed, on Imbolc, the cross quarter day between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, a group of friends and I conducted a networking ceremony. At this seasonal time we traditionally chose additional 'seeds' we wanted to plant in our lives for the growing season, and we applied that to our professional lives. In our ceremony, each of us spoke about our professions and shared business cards, with the intention of sowing a more abundant work season through networking for the upcoming growing cycle.

One of the most memorable Spring Equinox celebrations I co-created and participated in happened with my first women's group. We focused our ceremony on honoring our child within. We brought pictures of ourselves as children, made a bunny cake, ate candy, blew bubbles, sang children's songs, and laughed all evening. The upliftment we generated from that ceremony lasted for weeks.

In a large Summer Solstice celebration one year, I created a ceremony around abundance to honor one of the primary teachings of that season. One of the key elements I included in the ceremony was a fun dance called an "a-bun-dance" to call abundance into our lives. We danced all night, activating abundance, and came away revitalized.

The Wheel gradually took deep root in my life, and as I worked with it personally I also began facilitating it in workshops. Then a couple of years ago, when I was doing research for another subject, I made a key discovery. I found out that in ancient China, people interested in observing nature placed a pole approximately 8-feet tall in the ground and measured the amount of shadow and light created by the sun over the course of a year. The resulting pattern from these measurements became one of their most sacred symbols - the yin/yang. The sun actually creates the symbol in shadow and light over the course of a year. While I knew the patterns of light and dark changed, I had never seen it as so balanced. You can see on the symbol the movement of the sun as its most extreme dark time in the Northern Hemisphere, Winter Solstice, brings forth the light cycle and as the most extreme light time, Summer Solstice, subtly gives birth to the dark part of the cycle once again. Also, the yin/yang shows the two places where the light and the dark fall into complete balance when the equinoxes occur.

Understanding where this powerful symbol of balance came from assisted me in more deeply understanding the Wheel of the Year and how energies flow throughout the life cycle as well. The cycle of the Wheel and the cycle of life take the same journey-- starting with the dark, fallow time in winter as the earth rests and rejuvenates, moving to the gradual warming of the soil with the light of the sun until it heats enough for planting in the spring, then moving into the full brightness of light during the summer growing time. Then, the light gradually recedes to the fall harvest, and finally diminishes until the crops die and the earth settles in for its period of dark winter rejuvenation once again. For most of us, the cycle of life follows this same pattern as we gestate in the womb's darkness, are born and grow from childhood into adulthood and then into our elder years, moving on to our death and our next expression.

The energy of the great wheel has shown me that too much light and outer world activity leaves little time for rest or quiet and burns out my system. A busy external life requires balance found during the darkness, the peaceful rest times. That quiet inner time creates the place where I am receptive to inner voice of Spirit, and where the seeds of my desires are planted, developed, and grown. Working with the Wheel, l have learned to appreciate the light and bright times of life that bring me into the outer world for growth, joy, and creativity, as well as those times that take me deep into my inner darkness for rejuvenation, and physical and emotional healing. I've connected to my to my own yin and yang cycles, my inner balance and wholeness.

The light balances itself fully over the course of a year, with time for outer world growing activity, harvest energy, and then time for deep reflection. As Earth's seasons turn and change, I learned from nature that my life follows this same rhythm of constant transformation. Sometimes the shift from one thing to another expresses in a subtle and gradual change and sometimes it is quick and impactful. Yet the undercurrent of motion keeps the energy turning.

©Lisa A. Michaels 2009

Author's Bio: 

Nature's creation coach and author Lisa Michaels helps heart-centered entrepreneurs manifest, create and grow dynamically thriving businesses. Through products, workshops, and trainings, Lisa guides clients using nature’s elemental tools as the path to authentic purpose and leadership. As a celebrated elemental wisdom teacher and author, Lisa was chosen by the leading publisher Hay House as one of their 2010 Movers and Shakers. Lisa’s current products include her new books Prosperous Priestess Handbook, and Natural Rhythms, and the Elemental Forces of Creation Oracle and Elemental Forces of Creation Audio Book. Her products, workshops, and trainings have helped thousands of people discover their life purpose and successfully propel their personal and business lives forward.

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Lisa lives in the greater Atlanta, GA area, and is available to facilitate workshops worldwide.