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Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at


                      The Wheel of The Year, A Guided Visualization:
                             Julia Phillips & Rufus Harrington

               Make sure you are seated comfortably, and spend a few moments
          quietly, allowing your mind and body to relax.  Now, close your
          eyes, and allow these images to build in your imagination:

               It is dark, and a chill wind is blowing.  You are standing
          within a mighty forest, and can feel the ground hard and cold
          beneath your feet.  You look up, and see the stars, but there is no
          Moon.  Patiently, you wait.  You hear a sound behind you, and turn
          and look over your shoulder.  You realize that you are standing
          upon the edge of a clearing; at its center burns a fire, with an
          old man seated before it.  He is wearing tattered animal skins, and
          has long ragged hair which blows about in the wind.  On the far
          side of the clearing you see the mouth of a cave, and standing
          before it is the mighty figure of the Horned God.

               You turn back and look through the trees, looking towards the
          eastern horizon.  For tonight is the longest night:  the dark time
          before the Sun is reborn at the Winter Solstice, and you wait
          patiently for the first rays of the new born Sun.  At last you see
          a faint glimmer of light upon the eastern horizon, and as the rays
          of the new born Sun rise in the morning sky, you hear the sound of
          a new born babe crying.  You turn and look back across the clearing
          as an old woman walks out of the cave carrying a new born child in
          her arms.  The Horned God reaches forwards and caresses the child's
          cheek, and then the old woman takes the child, and sits by the side
          of the old man at the camp fire.

               As the Sun continues to rise in the sky, you know that you
          have witnessed a very great mystery - the mystery of birth - the
          birth of the Sun, and of the Son.  You leave the clearing, and walk
          back through the forest to your own cottage, where you warm
          yourself at the fire, for you are chilled through after your long
          vigil throughout the darkest night.

               Days pass, and although the ground is still hard and cold, and
          the nights long and dark, you are aware of a change in the season,
          and know that winter is drawing to its close.  One night as you are
          about to go to bed, you hear a tinkling of bells from deep within
          the forest, and are strangely drawn towards their sound.  As you
          make your way through the night, a waxing Moon lights your path,
          and at last you find yourself once more in the clearing.  You look
          towards the cave, and see that a great red veil hangs across the
          mouth, and that the old Crone, and another woman stand before it. 
          The other woman is younger than the Crone, but obviously not a
          youth, and you instinctively realize that this is the Crone's own

               As you stand and watch you realize that the bells are being
          shaken by the Crone, and that she and her daughter are softly
          singing an ancient song:  a song which calls to the Virgin to
          awaken, and to come forth as the herald of winter's end, and
          spring's beginning.  The two women reach up, and with a single
          movement, rend the veil, tearing it away, revealing the Virgin
          standing poised upon the threshold.  She is purity and innocence: 
          a young figure - blindfolded, dressed in white, and carrying in her
          hands a posy of bright yellow flowers, symbolic of the growing
          powers of the Sun.


               The Mother and Crone reach forward, and linking their hands
          behind the Virgin, they pull her out of the cave.  They lead her
          towards the fire, and then the Mother speaks quietly to her.  You
          see the Virgin nod.  The Crone then seems to ask her a question,
          and although you cannot hear the answer, it seems she has spoken
          truly, for the Crone nods, and reaches up to remove the blindfold. 
          The Virgin blinks her eyes, and stretches.  She begins to dance
          slowly around the fire at the center of the clearing, full of the
          joy of her awakening, and in the knowledge of her power and
          potential as a woman.

               Self-contained, she dances the dance of life; of blood and
          waters flowing freely, no long frozen and still.  You turn and
          leave the clearing, taking one last look at the Virgin dancing
          joyfully around the fire.  As you walk back through the forest, you
          feel an answering power moving through the land, and you are aware
          that the Earth is beginning to come alive beneath your feet, and on
          the trees you see the yellow blooms which are the promise of
          spring, and the end of winter.

               Day by day the Sun now grows visibly stronger:  the land has
          awakened from its sleep with the fire dance of the Virgin, and now
          the Sun itself approaches the magical time of the Equinox:  the
          time when day and night are equal, but when light is in the
          ascendant.  The day of the Equinox dawns bright and clear.  The
          wind is fresh, and all around you are signs of spring.  From deep
          within the forest you hear the sound of a horn, and deep within
          your innermost self you are aware of a stirring response to its
          call.  You make your way quickly through the forest; as you
          approach the clearing, you realize that you are not alone, for all
          the creatures of the forest are gathered upon the edge of the
          clearing.  They too have answered the summons of the horn.

               At the center of the clearing stands a naked young man, his
          skin shining with reflected sunlight.  He is blindfold:  before him
          stands the old man, and behind him, the mighty figure of the Horned
          God.  It was he who blew the horn.  The old man dances around the
          youth - slowly, a shambling kind of dance - shaking a rattle and
          chanting softly.  He stops.  The Horned God whispers to the youth,
          who nods his head in reply.  The old man then asks the youth a
          question, and after listening to the reply, nods, and reaches up
          and removes the blindfold.  The youth blinks, and stretches.  The
          Horned God hands him the horn.  He puts this to his lips, and a
          single blast echoes through the forest.  With a laugh the youth
          leaps away into the forest, followed by all the birds and animals,
          for he is Lord of the Forest.  You feel a stirring in your own
          blood, and before you realize what has happened, you find yourself
          chasing the figure of the youth on his mad dash through the forest. 
          It is a wild and carefree dance, and you feel the answering echo
          from the trees, and from the Earth, as they are warmed by the
          growing Sun.  The Land and the Youth both awaken to their fertile


               As you run through the trees, out of the corner of your eye
          you see a flicker of white; you turn, and there hidden in the trees
          you see the Virgin, watching and waiting.  She is looking curiously
          at the Lord of the Forest, intrigued by his strength and drawn by
          his beauty.  He sees her watching, but on this day, he is too full
          with the joy of being in control of his own creative power to cease
          his headlong chase through the forest.  Gradually you tire, and at
          last you find yourself walking back through the forest to your own
          cottage, where you find rest.

               All through the growing spring the Virgin and the Young Lord
          watch each other through the forest.  Each aware of the other, but
          both self-fulfilled with their own potential and power.  But the
          Sun keeps getting stronger, and at last we come to that moment
          where the Young Lord and the Virgin realize that they have a
          greater destiny to fulfil, and driven by their natural desires, and
          the signs of the burgeoning world all around them, they seek each
          other out, and in celebration of the great mystery of the Land
          Marriage, they join as one.

               It is the height of spring, and the signs of fertility are all
          around.  As you make your own way towards the clearing, you feel
          the warm Sun upon your face, and feel the life in the Earth beneath
          your feet.  In the center of the clearing stands a great tree
          trunk, crowned with a garland of spring flowers, with many red and
          white ribbons fluttering in the breeze.  From far and wide people
          have travelled to the clearing, for today is the day of celebrating
          the growing Sun, and the fertile Earth.  Men and women take hold of
          the ribbons, and enact their own celebration of Life as they dance
          the pattern of the sacred spiral of creation around the tree.  You
          hold your ribbon firmly, and watch the spiral form as you dance the
          ancient steps that have been danced since first Man and Woman were
          joined as one.

               You hear cheering and shouts of laughter, and there, walking
          through the crowd hand in hand come the Young Lord and his wife -
          Virgin no longer.  Together they have celebrated the sacred mystery
          in accordance with the Old Laws:  for they have joined in love, and
          so have become the King and Queen of the Land.

               And the weeks pass, and the Sun grows ever stronger in the
          sky, and the King grows in strength and majesty.  The Queen begins
          to show signs of her pregnancy, the mirror of the crops and fruits
          that the Land begins to produce, for the Queen represents the Land,
          and is at one with it.

               At last the day arrives when the Sun reaches its most powerful
          time:  the Midsummer Solstice.  The King and Queen are at their
          peak too, reflected in the majesty of the King, and the growing
          life in the womb of the Queen.  To mark this day, the King and
          Queen host a great celebration in the forest clearing:  a feast to
          mark the Solstice day, and their own creative powers which have
          brought many good things to the Land.  All day the feast and games
          continue, with the King and Queen bestowing their blessings upon


               At long last the Sun begins to sink slowly towards the west;
          as it falls you hear a disturbance upon the edge of the clearing. 
          You see people running, and hear their screams.  And then into the
          clearing stalks a dark figure, his black cloak swirling around him,
          wearing a helmet which obscures his face from view - shadow of
          darkness in the forest.  He strides towards the King, and in a loud
          clear voice, challenges him for the right to rule the kingdom, and
          for the Queen as his consort.

               The King must protect what he has striven so hard to create,
          and must protect his wife and unborn child.  He accepts the
          challenge, and a great battle ensues as the Sun slowly sinks in the
          west.  The challenger lays the King's thigh open with a sweep of
          his sword, but is unbalanced, and despite his wound, the King
          manages to throw the challenger to the ground and disarm him.  The
          challenger begs for mercy, but the King fears this dark and
          threatening figure, and so ignoring his cries for mercy, he plunges
          his sword deep into the challenger's heart.  And so in order to
          protect, the King destroys, and a shadow of darkness is cast upon
          the Land.  The challenger's blood soaks into the Earth, and the Sun
          finally sinks beyond the western horizon.

               You make your way back to your cottage, as the King is carried
          away to have his wound attended to.  The next day the Sun rises as
          before, and seems as strong as it ever was, but you have seen and
          felt the shadow of the dark, and now sense a change in the Land. 
          Instead of growing, things are ripening; the heat of the summer Sun
          brings the crops and fruit to ripeness, but the growth is now over. 
          And just as the Land gives forth its fruits, so now does the Queen
          give birth to her son.  The wheat is harvested; the barley made
          into ale; and a great feast is held to give thanks for all the good
          things of the Earth, and for the safe birth of the King and Queen's

               But in giving birth, the Queen is no longer simply a wife; she
          becomes the Mother.  She knows that her son is the hope for the
          Land, for the King's wound, taken at the Midsummer battle, is a
          wasting wound, and will not heal.  He grows weaker by the day, a
          reflection of the waning powers of the Sun.  The Queen knows this,
          and as her son grows, she trains him in the ways of sovereignty. 
          The King sees only that his son grows stronger, as he grows weaker. 
          He watches the Sun wane day by day as summer slips towards the time
          of the Equinox, when once again day and night are equal; but this
          time, the dark is in the ascendant.

               At last the night of the Equinox arrives.  The King feels
          drawn towards the clearing in the forest, and under a waning Moon,
          he makes his way along the track.  He remembers his initiation at
          the Spring Equinox; his love for the Virgin, and their joyful
          celebration of the Land Marriage at Beltane; he remembers how proud
          he was of his creative powers at the Midsummer Solstice, and with
          a pang of sadness, he remembers how he had to face the dark
          challenger who threatened his Kingdom and his Queen.  And finally,
          he remembers the birth of his son - a joy now turned to sorrow, as
          the King finds himself once more in the clearing, where waiting at
          the center is his son, armed with a spear.


               Out of the corner of his eye, the King sees a movement in the
          shadows, and remembers how he first saw his beloved wife, when she
          was newly awakened, a young Virgin, and he was the Lord of the
          Forest.  Now his wife hides in the shadows - she wears a black
          cloak, and covers her face with its hood.  The King and his son
          face each other, and then without a word being spoken, the King
          draws his sword and they begin to fight.  Sword against spear, a
          mighty battle rages in the clearing.  The powers of light and dark
          are equal, but the powers of darkness are now in the ascendant, and
          as the night grows on, the King begins to tire.  The wasting wound
          he suffered at the Summer Solstice has never healed, and his powers
          - like those of the Sun - are waning.

               There is a brief pause in the fight:  the King and his son
          look deep into each others eyes.  There flashes between them
          recognition of the mystery that light and dark are equal:  that
          they are not fighting each other, but that each is fighting
          himself.  For the light and the dark are one and the same, as are
          the King and his son, and with this realization, the King joyfully
          lifts his guard, and is impaled upon the spear as he drives his
          sword deep into his son's heart.  Together they fall dead to the
          ground, and their blood pours out upon the Earth.

               At the edge of the clearing the Queen watches, and as she sees
          her husband/son die, she sends a great wail echoing through the
          forest.  There, standing in the cave mouth is the Lord of Death and
          Resurrection, but she cannot see him.  For her husband/son/lover
          has now become the Lord of the Otherworld, and she is still of this
          world.  The waning Moon watches as she tears her hair, and as one
          possessed, runs through the forest in an agony of grief.  For she
          too saw the mystery, and now she understands that the light and
          dark are but the same.  She knows that her husband/lover/son has
          passed beyond the veil, and that her creative time is passed.  For
          the Queen is now a Witch:  the ancient Hag Crone who knows the
          mysteries of life and death and has walked the path of initiation. 
          In making her journey she has truly found the gods, and knows that
          behind the wheel of the seasons there is an ancient power.  By
          walking the wheel she has joined with the mystery.  She has been a
          Virgin, a Wife, the Queen, the Mother and the Crone.  She has
          walked the way of the seasons.  She has seen the spring, the
          summer, autumn and winter, and she understands that an ancient
          truth lies hidden within it all.

               At last the time of the dark Moon arrives, when the Sun's
          powers are low, and the veil between the worlds is thin.  Standing
          alone in the forest she makes her way to the clearing.  She stands
          alone for she is feared by those who have yet to walk the wheel. 
          For now she must perform the supreme act of magic.  She kindles the
          ancient Samhain fire, with woods of all the sacred trees.  One for
          each season, one for each way, one for the night and one for the
          day, one for her lover and one for her son, one for the serpent and
          one for her song.


               As she raises her arms in invocation a great storm gathers. 
          With a final act of understanding she opens the veil between
          herself and the gods.  She opens the veil of the Otherworld and
          calls back the spirits of the dead.  For she knows now to fulfil
          the mystery she must join with the Lord of the Otherworld; they
          must love and join as one.  The storm breaks:  lightning and
          thunder tear and crack at the ancient night as the trees creak and
          bend in the wind.  For the wild hunt is now upon us as the spirits
          of the dead are led from the Otherworld by the Horned God.  Chaos
          now reigns in the world for the Mystery is upon us.

               But to join with this mystery the Crone must embrace the Lord
          of Flame, the Lord of Death and Resurrection, and go with him back
          into the Otherworld.  To join with him she must become the Goddess. 
          So of her own free will, she dies the death of true initiation and
          enters into the cave, and passes with the Horned Lord back into the
          depths of the Otherworld.  There they join in love as one:  the
          supreme moment of the true Great Rite in which all the mysteries of
          the male and female; all the mysteries of the light and dark are
          married together as one.  For love has always been the key.  It is
          love that conquers our fear and shows the way to union.  For true
          love is true death, as the individual sense of self is transcended
          by a vision of the One.  As the gods fulfil the mystery of love,
          the seed of new life is planted deep within the womb of the Great

               And the land sleeps, for the dark time is upon us once again,
          and the God and Goddess lay in each others arms, deep within the
          Land, hidden from sight.  The Sun quickly wanes day by day, the
          nights growing longer, the days shorter.  Winter grips the land as
          a cold wind blows through the forest.  The darkness seems complete,
          but those of the Wicca are wise and weep not for they know that the
          Sun will be reborn through the love of the God and Goddess.  Life
          will not fail - the Sun will return again.  And at last the night
          of the Midwinter Solstice arrives:  the longest night of the year,
          but we know now it is only the darkness that comes before the dawn.

               As you stand upon the edge of the forest, you see the first
          signs of the new born Sun rising upon the eastern horizon, and hear
          the sound of a new born babe.  But this time, you walk away from
          the clearing towards the rising Sun, and as you leave the forest,
          you turn and see that it is no more than a shadow behind you. 
          Before you is a world which you know well; it is the world in which
          you live, and now it is time to return.  The Otherworld is real,
          and you may return at any time, for the mysteries of the gods are
          there for all to understand, if you have but eyes to see.  You
          continue to walk into the everyday world, and become aware of the
          sounds around you, and of the place in which you sit.  Spend a few
          moments quietly re-attuning yourself to your normal state, and then
          open your eyes and stretch.  (End of Guided Visualization)

               If you want to make any notes do, but please remember that the
          Wheel of the Year is an emotional experience, not an academic

               And finally, always have something to eat and drink after any
          activity which uses an altered state of consciousness.  This is the
          most effective and efficient way to "ground," and is vital if
          participants are travelling home after the working.


Next: Coven at Pooh Corner (D. Wadsworth)