I think, after reading both of these books (Book One covers Samhain to Ostara), the author sums up the Wheel of the Year and it's approach to our spirituality very nicely with these words:
"The more things change, the more things stay the same." Have you heard that before? Sure you have. I think that turning it around makes it even more true from Wicca's perspective: "The more things stay the same, the more they change." This is certainly true in the way Wicca celebrates the season of life. Even when we conduct our Sabbats with the same script every years, whether we read it or memorize it, even when we meet in the same place at the same time and bring to our feasts the same foods, we are not reliving old moments, we are living new ones."
Ashleen O'Gaea presents in her second book on the "Seasons of Life" her perspectives and her connections of Beltane to Mabon. The book is laid out as her previous one, with the Sabbats listed, and each having four "chapters" each on Lore, Rituals, Activities and Symbols.
Each holiday is explored not so much from the history and origins, but from the present day aspects of the holiday; how it is celebrated today. She examines some background to the holiday and how that has become part of the celebrations we have today. She examines the Sabbat in it's connection to the previous Sabbat and the next. The main purpose here is to look at and explore the interconnectedness of each of these holidays, how they relate with each other; you can not separate each from the other.
Again, too, Ms. O'Gaea explores modern rituals. We have traditional rituals, like the Maypole dance, and we have children's rituals, such as the Morning Ritual for Two Year Olds (and inner children). There are rituals for Covens and for Solitaries and even a notation on working with non-pagans in ritual. And then there is my favorite, the "Consecration for Sunscreen" which will prevent "burnt offerings" during summer rituals.
Activities looks at those things we do which connect us with these holidays. Fairy flags at Beltane, Sun Wheels for Litha, recipies for blueberry corn muffins for Lammas and mushroom and barley soup for Mabon. There are many more activities and recipes, and each is appropriate to the season.
There is also the symbolism within the "big three" pagan religions (Druid, Asatru and Wicca) and these Sabbast and Ms. Ogaea presents some interesting connections. We have Fairy Rings at Beltane, Druid Fire for Litha, Wiccan Bread for Lammas and Runes at Mabon.
The two books together present an interesting and sometimes challenging look at the seasonal Wheel of the Year, and life, and give some food for thought about how we celebrate, live, embrace and discover the seasons each year. We are given a wide open look at who we are now, rather than were we came from. We see how we have adapted from many sources, and how we have incorporated those things which help us to connect to the earth, the seasons and our chosen spiritualities both as individuals and as groups.
This is a lovely set of books, easy to read and providing many chances to consider, ponder and discover what our spirituality is and what we mean when we say "Celebrating the Seasons of Life". boudica
I had been looking forward to the two Wheel of the Year books by Ashleen O'Gaea and am extremely disappointed with them. The author is not working with the traditional Wheel of the Year as celebrated in the United States. Lughnasadh is referred to as the beginning of Autumn (instead of the Equinox), Beltane is the beginning of Summer, etc. It was surprising/confusing when she stated that that Mabon is mid-Autumn rather than the beginning of Autumn. This is the only place I have *ever* read that - and I read a lot of books! Her calendar is definitely not standard to traditional Wiccan Wheel of the Year rites. Maybe they are standard for Astatru but it should be clearly noted that Nordic seasons are different so their seasonal calendar is different. However, what really turned me off was when the author stated that she is troubled with words like "sacrifice" (too closely related to B movies) and "offerings" (the reason why is not clear). Let's just sugar-coat all pagan verbage! I know that she writes family-friendly books but this is not the Victorian period where we rewrite stories to make them more acceptable. I have not decided whether to keep or sell the books. I am so bummed!