The Wheel of the Year is one of the most popular new age systems of calendars but it’s not the only one out there. Hellenics and Heathens, for example, often follow a calendar of festival and holidays of historical relevance and reverence to their practice.
But what about everyone else?
The Wheel of the Year is a fairly modern creation cobbled from historical (and in some cases still practiced) festivals and holidays, notably with Western European origins. But the world is not comprised with entirely Western European practices. Even if you don’t have a specific culture you work within, the Wheel of the Year might not appeal to you for many reasons. It feels weird to me to have a harvest festival when I don’t have a crop to harvest and it feels odd to celebrate the coming of spring when winter will go on for another six weeks in my neck of the woods. The Wheel of the Year works well for a select group of people and in a select climate and everything else is somewhat forced.
If you love the Wheel of the Year and want to use it, for whatever reason, that’s totally up to you. But if you want something different, stick around.
The first thing you really have to consider is selecting what days are important to you and how you’re going to incorporating your calendar with everyone else’s. Your family and fellow practitioners probably has certain holidays they consider important so that’s worth tracking as well. But what’s key is to pick out the events that you want to be most important to you.
You might start off with just a single day for now but give it time and thought and often you’ll find that the calendar fills up. Maybe you need a day of rest and meditation after each college semester or you want to hold a ritual to pray for family and friends on the third of every month. Do you want to mark down the times with the best waves as an ocean witch? Maybe gardening practitioners want to hold their spring festivals on the days the frost is over for the year. There’s so many places you can go with this!
Don’t forget to look at historical holidays too. Are there special holidays or days associated with deities, gods, or spirits you worship or work with? Are there heroes you want to honor? Is there some pop culture being you wish to emulate? Dates and seasons relevant to these entities can all be marked on your calendar. Maybe you just raise a glass in their name or maybe you devise a ritual for them. How you denote what to do on those days is up to you.
You may also want to consider what’s a cornerstone festival and what’s more secondary. Do you need to add something to your calendar as an obligation? Or maybe something holds a more personal significance to you. It may not be spiritual or religious but it’s still time you want to spend doing something personally important to you. Figuring this out can save your sanity and let you focus on what’s really important and what’s nice to do when you have the time.
For example, the first week of September I spend rereading the entire Harry Potter series. It’s not spiritually important but it has personal importance to me. For another example, I hold seer’s vigils for spirits and the dead to clear the crossroads every couple of months. This isn’t a witchcraft or spiritual thing. It’s more of being a friendly neighbor duty to me. If I ever moved away from the Crossroads house, I probably wouldn’t need to hold those vigils anymore. Both these events aren’t nearly as important as my Demon Festivals however so if it came down to only paying attention to one holiday, the Demon Festivals would win out for me.
You can have as many or as few holidays and festivals as you like and they can serve whatever purpose you want. Do you want a three day event where you spend as much time as possible having sex and conducting fertility rites with a consenting lover? Have fun! Do you want to dedicate five days of rituals and rites to an honored goddess? Go for it. Want to include birthdays, a cleaning schedule, or your family TV shows schedules? You can add that too. It might not be religious but it’s still important to mark down and is good for mental health. Plus, having everything in one place is usually a good idea.
Start with days and events that are important to you and go from there. My calendar is a mix of religious and spiritual events with practical events (like the vigils) and personal events like Harry Potter Week. They all have some sort of significance to me but they serve different purposes.
You can physically design your calendar any way you want. I have my calendar copied in full on Google Calendar (as shown above) but I also write down major events in my business planner. I don’t bother copying it, however, on a hanging calendar as I feel like it’s not necessary. I really adore using a calendar like Moon Planner which is set up by the phases of the moon. (The English version is available under “For Foreigners” and only as a PDF right now.) This could be a great option if you’re very into moon-based rituals.
And that’s how you design a holiday calendar personalized to your practice and you! A calendar is meant to keep track of days and events that you consider important. You can add or subtract to that calendar at any given time so there’s no reason to not give it a try. It’ll take time so don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works for you. You can always add days in addition to the Wheel of the Year as well, so you can be as flexible as you want.