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The Sun-Wheel and the Pentacle

By Ian Elliott

The two most prominent symbols in modern Witchcraft are the Sun-Wheel and the Pentacle. The Sun-Wheel is the quartered circle, while the Pentacle is the circled pentagram or five-pointed star. I want to consider the relationship between them.

The Sun-Wheel stands for many things. As the Wheel of the Year, it maps out the Sabbats. The four quarter-points of East, South, West and North stand for the minor Sabbats of Ostara, Litha, Mabon and Yule, respectively. These are the names used most widely in the Craft for the spring equinox, the summer solstice, the autumn equinox, and the winter solstice. The major Sabbats fall on the cross-quarter points: Imbolc on the northeastern point, Beltane on the southeastern point, Lammas or Lughnasadh on the southwestern point, and Samhain on the northwestern point.

Why are the major Sabbats aligned with the cross-quarters? The importance of these points can be seen when the Sun-Wheel is looked at as a dynamic symbol, mapping out cumulative processes that occur in cycles, such as learning and spiritual evolution. The quarters stand for the phases in any development: east for knowledge, south for will, west for daring, and north for silence. In the east we formulate our aim, in the south we put it into practice, in the west we carry it to fruition, and in the north we let it continue on an unconscious level. This being so, the cross-quarters are the points of transition between one phase and the next.

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