Friday, 18 September 2015

The Dilemma of a Pagan in the Southern Hemisphere

When you have Pagan beliefs and live in the Southern Hemisphere, following the Pagan calendar can be a little confusing.  

Before I explain why, lets start with the basics. 

What are the Pagan Sabbats?

They are:

  • Yule / Winter Solstice : This marks the shortest day of the year and the longest night. It also marks the re birth of the sun as the days begin to grow longer from this point. 
  • Imbolc / Festival of Light / Brighid's Day / Groundhog Day : The fire festival of Imbolc brings the first thaw of winter. It is a time of rebirth, fertility and nurturing under the auspices of the Virgin Goddess.  
  • Ostara / Easter / Spring Equinox: The Spring Equinox is the traditional celebration of the new life that bursts forth with Spring. It has given us the modern celebration of Easter with it's fertility symbols of Rabbits, Eggs, Chickens and Flowers. 
  • Beltane / May Day : Beltane, the basis of May Day is the traditional celebration that marks the beginning of summer and the abundance associated with warmer months. The tradition of the May Pole dancing originated here.
  • Litha / Summer Solstice: The Summer Solstice, known as Midsommers Day, marks the longest day of Summer, the point at which the life giving sun is at its strongest over the powers of darkness.
  • Lammas : Lammas is also know as Lughnasadh. It is the First Harvest Festival and heralds the coming of Autumn.  
  • Mabon / Autumn Equinox : Occurs when the day and night are equal in length, the Autumn Equinox and falls between the first and third harvest. 
  • Samhain / All Hallows Eve / Halloween : Literally means end of summer. It is believed that at this time the veil between worlds is at it's thinnest. It is a time to honor your ancestors (similar to the Day of the Dead celebrations in parts of the world). It marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.

What is the Pagan 'Wheel of the Year' or Calendar of Sabbats?

Why is there a dilemma when you are living in the Southern Hemisphere? 

You see technically, the calendar should be the opposite here as it is in the traditional north so that it runs in sync with our seasons. So when it is spring time here in the Southern Hemisphere we should celebrate Ostara or Easter - but everyone else in our country celebrate Easter in Autumn at the same time as the Northern Hemisphere.

Confused yet? 

There are two opinions when it comes to when those in the Southern Hemisphere should observe the Sabbats of the Pagan Wheel of the Year.

Opinion/Option 1: Regardless of where you live in the world, you should follow the dates of the Sabbats as they originated in the Northern Hemisphere. So Samhain/Halloween is 31st October regardless of the season in the hemisphere you live in.  
This means that your celebration meals would consist of foods not in season and your decorations and symbols don't reflect the landscape around you.

Northern Hemisphere Wheel of the Year

Opinion/Option 2: Is to follow the seasons of the year and celebrate the seasons as they happen in the hemisphere you live in. So when it's Yule (Winter Solstice) in the Northern Hemisphere, then you are celebrating Litha (Summer Solstice) instead in the Southern Hemisphere.  
It's seasonally correct but can prove equally problematic. 
It means going against the mainstream populations celebration timeline. While everyone is having Christmas and holidays you would not. This can prove difficult when family members are not Pagan and they wish to celebrate Christmas in December (like the majority of your country) and include you. Children want to celebrate Christmas at this time too as they 'see' it all around them. The shops are all covered in Christmas cheer and decorations, Santa is there to visit, etc.  Following Option 2 means you give this up and instead have a Summer Solstice celebration in December and have your Yultide/Christmas in June. 

Southern Hemisphere Wheel of the Year

Arguments between which is right and wrong will probably continue forever with both opinions having validity, but at the end of the day, it's a personal choice.

Comparison Table (with 2013 dates) 

What do we do in our house? 

Well for us, it's a little of both. Just to be different LOL.  

My son knows what seasonally we 'should' be celebrating here in the Southern Hemisphere and we do something to honor that. For us it's usually a family dinner with the seasonal foods.

 However when you have family and friends celebrating the mainstream calendar of events over the year, and you wish to celebrate with them, It makes sense to follow the traditional dates from the North.  You will find our house, in our Summer in December, covered with Winter Yuletide cheer and resembling the explosion of a Christmas store.  Snowmen decorate table tops rather than a vase of Sunflowers. 

Maybe that makes us 'Opinion/Option 3' aka do what works for you! 

1 comment:

  1. We do both! My kids get the tradtional santa christmas and trad halloween but Yule, samhain and the rest are celebrated but different. If that makes sense. Lol we do both! ��