The octaves of the Wheel of the Year are the map of our life. Just like the world, we pass through eight seasons, only instead of each being 5-7 weeks long, each is about 13 years long. Like the Wheel of the Year, each season of the Wheel of Life has its own flavor, tasks, and rewards.
Spring Equinox to Beltane: Beginning—Birth to Age 13
We are born with the spring. Each child, like each sprouting seed, is filled with potential, reaching upward toward the sun. Better! Stronger! Faster than last time! The need is to grow and stretch.
Beltane to Midsummer: Becoming—Age 13 to 26
Now is the time for passion and trial, for the intense emotions of the teen years and the passage of fire that is young adulthood. Who are you and what do you want? Can you become a responsible person, able to care for yourself and contribute to the world?
Midsummer to Lammas: Responsibility—Age 26 to 39
It matters what you do. Practice time is over. Now you’re the person who needs to act, to be the person who gets it done. This octave is about taking responsibility for others now that you have taken responsibility for yourself.
Lammas to Fall Equinox: Maturity—Age 39 to 52
You are beginning to reap life’s harvests, but the work is correspondingly heavy, even perhaps overwhelming. You are the middle, the thing upon which all else rests. And yet now is the time when you begin to see the rewards, whether that is professional or personal success.
Fall Equinox to Samhain: Power—Age 52 to 65
You’re the boss, the mentor, the leader. You’re the one who makes the big decisions and carries the big responsibilities. It finally is up to you. What will you do? How will you wield your power well?
Samhain to Midwinter: Wisdom—Age 65 to 78
Now is the time to step back, to become the elder and advise those who act rather than taking action yourself. Now is the time to become the wizard or the crone, dispensers of knowledge, and to toast to a life well lived.
Midwinter to Imbolc: Death—Age 78-91
Winter has come, and it’s time to let go. Most people will pass during this period, a season like any other when the time has come to go on. Who will mourn you and what will your legacy be?
Imbolc to Spring Equinox: The Need to Be
A century or so has passed since your birth, and wherever you are, what dream you wait in, you feel a stirring like the sun on the earth above reaching down to deeply buried seeds. You need to be again. Somewhere, another body is waiting for you.
Spring Equinox: A baby opens their eyes, and you begin the wheel again.
Read more about the Wheel of Life and explore it through meditations, journaling, and exercises in my book, The Great Wheel.
Our thanks to Jo for her guest post! For more from Jo Graham, read her article “Things We Know About Our Current Season of Crisis.”