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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.

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