Why these cross-quarter days are significant, whether you are in the Southern or Northern Hemisphere and what you can use the energy of these seasonal turning points for.
Cross quarter days occur when the Sun is in 15 degrees of the fixed signs of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius when the Earth is truly at its mid-point between a solstice and equinox. Quarter days occur when the Sun is in 0 degrees of the cardinal signs of Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn.
Typically, nowadays many of us use fixed dates to honour the natural cycles of the waxing and waning Sun. It is up to you to practice what feels right for you. The energies overlap for 3 – 7 days so you can still connect with the appropriate energies whenever you choose to.
The February cross quarter occurs when the Sun is at 15° Aquarius (around February 2 – 7)
The May cross quarter occurs when the Sun is at 15° Taurus (around May 4 – 10)
The August cross quarter occurs when the Sun is at 15° Leo (around August 3 – 10)
The November cross quarter occurs when the Sun is at 15° Scorpio (around November 5 – 10)
As the mid-points, cross quarter days represent the peak of energy before its descent, similar to the culmination of full moon after which it wanes. As such, we associate Quarter days with solar energy and cross-quarter days with lunar energy.
Cross quarter days are Beltaine & Winter Night and Lughnasadh & Imbolc
Why This Is Significant
All things are flowing and in motion. Our bodies sense the subtle influence of the gentle turn of the Earth’s axis and with the shifting seasons there is a time to plant and a time to harvest… literally and figuratively because your life experiences are cyclical and mirror seasonal cycles.
The energy stream is prevalent because it is held in the collective unconscious and has been built up over centuries of recognition and ritual by our ancestors. What it boils down to, is leaning into what time suits your purpose best and fits in with your lifestyle.
If you wish to simply honour the seasonal tides you will likely reap benefit from taking a few days (3 – 7) to attune and reflect, projecting constructive thoughts for personal and collective transformation and expansion, contributing to a loving, compassionate and magical world.
How you can consciously engage this energy
Lughnasadh (often pronounced differently due to Gaelic dialects, one way is sounding like “loo-na-sa”).
• In the Southern Hemisphere Lughnasadh is traditionally celebrated from sunset 1 February to midnight 2 February. (Exact astrological point around February 2 – 7).
• In the Northern Hemisphere Lughnasadh is traditionally celebrated from sunset 1 August to midnight 2 August. (Exact astrological point around August 3 – 10).
Lughnasadh is also called First Harvest, Elembiuos, Ceresalia and the Christianised names of Lammas or Loaf Mass. The festival’s name is derived from a Celtic word which can be translated as “bright or shining one”. It is the harvest of grains. This cross quarter day marks the beginning of the last quarter of the solar year and falls between the summer solstice and autumnal equinox.
The first crops have ripened for harvesting (barley, maize/corn, millet, oats, rye and wheat), the days shorten and the intensity of the Sun’s rays weaken, but you can still feel the summer heat as it transfers the remaining light energy to the Earth for a plentiful harvest.
Fruits are ripening and we can still feel the summer heat as it transfers the remaining light and warmth to the Earth for the continued growth of current crops. Yet, the days subtly shorten and the might of the Sun weakens.
This Sabbat prompts us to celebrate and acknowledge the Earth’s abundance and the spirit alive within our physical bodies, enjoying life on Earth. Fruitfulness and fertility are still favoured at this festival since there are still crops in the field continuing to grow.
The sun metaphorically merges with the Earth via a voluntary sacrifice in order for the harvests to be plentiful. The Earth metaphorically sacrifices the grain, giving us life by providing Earth’s inhabitants with food during the winter months.
This is a time where we begin to reap prosperity, generosity, continued success and promotion from our efforts analogous to the harvest’s yield and continued growth of some crops which are still ripening. It is a period for manifesting career advancement and stabilising personal finances.
First Harvest (Lughnasadh) is the beginning of the cycle of harvest which continues until Third Harvest (Samhain). In the past, our ancestors would be packing, storing, cooking, salting and preserving the produce for the winter. It was a matter of getting as much of the harvest in as possible to sustain them during the cold, barren months.
There is a lot of work to do before winter but we are able to access and utilise the energy of strength and determination to assist us in our deeds. We receive, harvest, gather and give thanks for our bounty then plan and prepare for the next season.
We acknowledge the Sun energy for providing us with the means to grow our crops and we acknowledge the Earth energy for providing us with an abundance of food which sustains us.
Traditional means of celebration include baking of breads and cakes from harvest grains and making offerings of bread to the spirits of the land and/or agricultural deities. It is an ideal time to go on picnics with friends and family, bringing and sharing foods from baskets that are brimful.
It is an ideal time to renew promises and fidelity, practise prosperity magick and plan for the changing season. Honour all that you already have in your life, the spirit alive in your body and the abundance all around you. Meditate on what actions you need to continue to take in your life in order to produce an abundant harvest in the cycle ahead. Consider what you can simplify or let go of to streamline future success.
Suggested Plant Allies: fenugreek, frankincense, heather, alder, oats, sunflowers, ash, camphor, caraway, fern, geranium, juniper, mandrake, marjoram, nutmeg, thyme, crabapples, carnation, rosemary, eucalyptus, corn, safflower
Suggested Crystal Helpers: yellow diamond, peridot, citrine, obsidian, amethyst, amber, fossilised wood, rutile quartz, tiger’s eye, jasper, brown stones.
Imbolc (often pronounced differently due to Gaelic dialects, one way is with the “b” as silent, sounding like “im-olc”).
• In the Southern Hemisphere Imbolc is traditionally celebrated from sunset 1 August to midnight 2 August. (Exact astrological point around August 3 – 10).
• In the Northern Hemisphere Imbolc is traditionally celebrated from sunset 1 February to midnight 2 February. (Exact astrological point around February 2 – 7).
Imbolc is also called Imbolg, Oimelc, Disting-tid, Anagantios, and by the Christianised names of St. Bridget’s Day, Candlemas and Candlelaria. The festival’s name is derived from a Celtic word which can be translated as “in the womb”.
This cross quarter day falls between the winter solstice and vernal equinox and marks the return of Mother Earth from her slumber as she slowly stirs from her sleep. It is a fire festival celebrating the beginning of the return of light.
Although this time of year is considered the dead of winter, the seeds that lie beneath the earth are already preparing to push their way through to the sun. It is a time when the dark half of the year (waning sun) begins to give way to the light half (waxing sun). Candles are often lit to portray this.
Subtly longer days indicate the increasing warmth and power of the sun metaphorically fertilising the earth for the earliest beginnings of spring to occur. The seeds begin sprouting underground due to the assurance of more warmth to come. We celebrate the strengthening of the sunlight and welcome new life as animals start coming out of hibernation and new life stirs within the earth. Can you sense the subtle undertones of the season shifting?
Imbolc is a time to examine and clear away any fears you may harbour about moving forward, nurture your spirit as you unfurl from winter repose and personal hibernation. It reveals to us that the winter (stagnation) in your life will end just as the seasons transform. The energy of this festival is one of conception, initiation and creative inspiration.
Traditionally this an ideal time to bless ritual/spell candles for the year ahead and any seeds you will be planting (literal and figurative). Some celebrants place lit candles throughout the home especially on windowsills to welcome the light. Weather permitting, take a walk in nature to look for the first signs of spring to re-awaken the body, mind and spirit. What have you felt a renewed urge to do? What powerful creative surge have you felt stirring within?
It is a favourable time for rites of spiritual cleansing, self-purification and re-affirming spiritual commitments. Clear your home of clutter to symbolically make space for new growth in your life. Make a bonfire if it is safe to do so where you live.
If you have green thumbs, plant seeds while making a wish as you plant each one, as you nurture the seeds’ growth, you nurture your wishes. Alternatively, engage in pathworkings and journalling to spark, nourish and fuel your vision for any creative projects you want to take to the next level in the growing season.
Suggested Plant Allies: rosemary, clover, dill, angelica, bay, basil, benzoin, myrrh, jasmine, neroli, olive.
Suggested Crystal Helpers: turquoise, amethyst, blue celestite, garnet, bloodstone, rose quartz, moonstone