The whole essence of traditional British Old Craft is closely bound to the natural tides that govern our planet. When we organise our own coven activities, these are focussed on drawing down an elemental power to synchronise with the traditional Sabbats/Esbats, thus ensuring the coven develops a ‘group mind’ of its own that nonetheless periodically needs to be recharged via group ritual. This also explains why Old Crafters synchronise those rituals to coincide with the Old Julian Calendar that links us directly to the power of the Ancestors. Kindred calls to kindred, blood calls to blood’. The modern Gregorian calendar is now fourteen days out of alignment and had been thirteen days apart since March 1900 – but magically as miss is as good as a mile!
A witch needs to be on familiar, operational-terms with the times and tides of the witch’s year – not just the solar and lunar tides but the oceanic, earth and atmospheric tides that can also enhance our magical workings. We must also understand that some tides are more beneficial than others for recharging the ‘group mind’ of the coven so that we as individuals can draw upon the currents of elemental power to energise our spells at any time. This elemental power is marked in the charting of the stars, and while the stars are not generally used as sources of power they can act as a celestial barometer for the calendaric ebb and flow. This is the witch-power we channel when we work magic – either singly or as a group – and it makes sense to take these various different tides into consideration and utilise them to our best advantage whenever we can. There’s nothing to stop us from working against the tide but this is self-defeating when it is easier to go with the flow.
Four great fire festivals are marked by the Equinoxes and Solstices of the solar year, with the four traditional lunar celebrations of Beltaine, Lammas, Hallowe’en and Candlemas making up the eight Sabbats/Esbats of the witch’s year. Fire festivals also mark the beginning of each quarter of the solar-tide cycle with Candlemas marking the end of the reign of the Holly King and the first stirrings of the bright tide of summer. At the turbulent tide of the Vernal Equinox, the bright and dark tides are equally balanced with the bright tide on the increase; Beltaine marks the beginning of summer, which reaches its height around the Midsummer Solstice. From here it begins to wane.
Philip Wright and Carrie West