(A portion of this article is reprinted from an earlier post)
In ancient Celtic times, the wheel of the year was honored as the turning of the seasons. In the northern hemispheres, the winter solstice was the shortest day of the year and represented the return of the light, and the summer solstice, being the longest day of the year, was the Celtic fire festival. The equinoxes represented the points of balance when day and night were of equal length: the vernal equinox represented planting and fertility, and the autumnal equinox was the time of harvest. (Southern hemisphere civilizations had their own traditions of marking the seasons which obviously were very different than in the north.)
Halfway between these solar events are the “cross-quarter” days, the times of magic. Still celebrated today for their imaginal power, these were the periods when the Sun was at the midpoint of the fixed signs: Taurus, Scorpio, Leo and Aquarius. In the astrological wheel, the cardinal signs of initiation are followed by the fixed signs of stability, which are followed in turn by the mutable signs of adaptation. So we have cardinal Aries at the Vernal equinox (in tropical astrology), followed by fixed Taurus at the cross-quarter, which precedes mutable Gemini. Cancer begins the summer solstice, followed by Leo at the cross-quarter, which precedes Virgo, and so it goes around the wheel.
Each of these “triplicities” as they are called has a different energy. The cardinal signs demonstrate leadership, they initiate action, each in its own way according to its element (fire, water, earth and air). The fixed signs are stable, rooted, grounded. In many ways they are the most powerful because they don’t blow off steam like the cardinal signs, […]