The Sabbats


Lady of the Lake 

Lady of the Lake

About Gemstones

An Herbal Grimoire

Herbs for Health

About the Moon

Runes

Samhain
Halloween
October 31

"Samhain" pronounced SOW-in, means "End of Summer". Its historical origin is The Feast of the Dead in Celtic lands. Samhain, popularly known as Halloween, is the Witches' New Year.

It is said to be the time when the veil between the worlds is very thin, when souls that are leaving this physical plane can pass out and souls that are reincarnating can pass in.

Darkness increases and the Goddess reigns as the Crone, part of the three-in-one that also includes the Maiden and Mother. The God, the Dark Lord, passes into the underworld to become the seed of his own rebirth (which will occur again at Yule). Many Pagans prepare a Feast for the Dead on Samhain night, where they leave offerings of food and drink for the spirits.  The popular children's custom of trick-or-treat stems from an Old English practice in which children went door to door begging "soul cakes" to feed the wandering spirits.

Divination is heightened this night.  This is the time of year for getting rid of weaknesses.  A common ritual practice calls for each Wiccan to write down his or her weaknesses on a peice of paper or parchment and toss it into the Cauldron fire.  Jack-o-lanterns, gourds, cider, fall foliage can be used as altar decorations.

 
 

Yule

Winter Solstice

Around Dec. 21


This Sabbat represents the rebirth of light. Here, on the longest night of the year, the Goddess gives birth to the Sun God and hope for new light is reborn.

Yule is a time of awakening to new goals and leaving old regrets behind. Yule coincides closely with the Christian Christmas celebration. Christmas was once a movable feast celebrated many different times during the year. The choice of December 25 was made by the Pope Julius I in the fourth century AD because this coincided with the pagan rituals of Winter Solstice, or Return of the Sun. The intent was to replace the pagan celebration with the Christian one.

The Christian tradition of a Christmas tree has its origins in the Pagan Yule celebration. Pagan families would bring a live tree into the home so the wood spirits would have a place to keep warm during the cold winter months. Bells were hung in the limbs so you could tell when a spirit was present.

Food and treats were hung on the branches for the spirits to eat and a five-pointed star, the pentagram, symbol of the five elements, was placed atop the tree.
The colors of the season, red and green, also are of Pagan origin, as is the custom of exchanging gifts.

A solar festival, The reindeer stag is also a reminder of the Horned God. You will find that many traditional Christmas decorations have some type of Pagan ancestry or significance that can be added to your Yule holiday. Yule is celebrated by fire and the use of a Yule log. Many enjoy the practice of lighting the Yule Log. If you choose to burn one, select a proper log of oak or pine (never Elder). Carve or chalk upon it a figure of the Sun (a rayed disc) or the Horned God (a horned circle). Set it alight in the fireplace at dusk, on Yule. This is a graphic representation of the rebirth of the God within the sacred fire of the Mother Goddess. As the log burns, visualize the Sun shining within it and think of the coming warmer days. Traditionally, a portion of the Yule Log is saved to be used in lighting next year's log. This piece is kept throughout the year to protect the home.

 

Imbolc

Candlemas

February 2

 

'Candlemas' is the Christianized name for the holiday, of course. The older Pagan names were Imbolc and Oimelc. 'Imbolc' means, literally, 'in the belly' (of the Mother), for in the womb of Mother Earth, hidden from our mundane sight but sensed by a keener vision, there are stirrings. The seed that was planted in her womb at the solstice is quickening as the new year grows.
At the time of Candlemas, the newborn Sun God is seen as a small child nursing from his Mother.

The holiday is also called 'Brigit's Day', in honor of the great Irish Goddess Brigit. She was considered a goddess of fire, patroness of smithcraft, poetry, and healing. The Roman Catholic Church could not very easily call the Great Goddess of Ireland a demon, so they canonized her instead. Henceforth, she would be 'Saint' Brigit, patron SAINT of smithcraft, poetry, and healing. They explained this by telling the Irish peasants that Brigit was 'really' an early Christian missionary sent to the Emerald Isle.

Today, this holiday is chiefly connected to weather lore. Even our American folk calendar keeps the tradition of 'Groundhog's Day' a day to predict the coming weather, telling us that if the Groundhog sees his shadow, there will be 'six more weeks' of bad weather. This custom is ancient. An old British rhyme tells us that 'If Candlemas Day be bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year.' Actually, all of the cross-quarter days can be used as 'inverse' weather predictors, whereas the quarter-days are used as 'direct' weather predictors. Imbolic involves celebrations of banishing the winter and welcoming the spring. At this phase of the cycle, winter is swept away and new beginnings are nurtured. Some Wiccan groups favor this time of year for initiations into the Craft.

It is traditional at Candlemas to light every lamp in the house for a few minutes in honor of the Sun's rebirth.

 

 Ostara

Spring Equinox

Around March 21


The Spring Equinox is the point of equilibrium, and it celebrates the arrival of Spring, when light and darkness are in balance but the light is growing stronger. The forces of male and female are also in balance. The Easter Bunny also is of Pagan origin, as are baskets of flowers.

A traditional Vernal Equinox pastime: go to a field and randomly collect wildflowers (thank the flowers for their sacrifice before picking them), or buy some from a florist, taking one or two of those that appeal to you. Then bring them home and divine their Magical meanings by the use of books, your own intuition, a pendulum, or by other means. The flowers you've chosen reveal your inner thoughts and emotions. Cultivating herb gardens is also a fine Ostara project .

This is the time to free yourself from anything in the past that is holding you back.

 

Beltane

Mayday
May 1
 

Beltane is one of the Greater Wiccan Sabbats and is usually celebrated on May 1st, but can be on the night of April 30th, depending on your tradition. Beltane is the time of the sacred marriage which honors the fertility of the Earth; it represents the divine union of the Lord and Lady.

This Sabbat is primarily a fertility festival with Nature enchantments and offerings to wildlings and Elementals. The powers of elves and fairies are growing and will reach their height at Summer Solstice.

A time of great Magic, it is good for all divinations and for establishing a woodland or garden shrine. The house guardians should be honored at this time.

Celebrants sometimes jump over broomsticks or weave a web of life around the Maypole, both as symbols of fertility. Bonfire leaping and horn blowing are other forms of traditional celebration.

Weaving and plaiting are traditional arts at this time of year, for the joining together of two substances to form a third is in the spirit of Beltane.

Wiccan handfastings are common at this festival.

This is a time of self-discovery, love, union and developing your potential for personal growth.

 

Midsummer

Litha

Summer Solstice
Around June 21


The Summer Solstice, the longest day, is a time of triumph for the light. This holiday represents the Sun King in all his glory. 

In many Wiccan celebrations, this is when the Oak King, who represents the waxing year, is triumphed over by the Holly King, who represents the waning year. The two are one; the Oak King is the growing youth while the Holly King is the mature man.

On Midsummer night, elves and fairies abound in great numbers. Symbols to represent the Litha Sabbat are such things as Fire, the Sun, blades, mistletoe, oak trees, balefire, Sun wheels, and faeries. Nurturing and love are key actions related to Midsummer.

Ritual actions for Litha may include placing a flower-ringed cauldron upon your altar, plunging of the sword (or athame) into the Cauldron, bonfire leaping (outdoors), and the gathering and drying of herbs. Herbs can be dried over the ritual fire if you're celebrating outdoors. Leap the bonfire for purification and renewed energy. Ritually, use mirrors to capture the light of the Sun or the flames of the fire.

Some things that are considered taboo on this Holiday are giving away Fire, sleeping away from home, and neglecting animals.

Altar decorations might include Summertime flowers, love amulets, seashells, aromatic potpourri, and Summer fruits. Healings and love magic are especially suitable at this time.

Midsummer Night's Eve is supposed to be a good time to commune with field and forest sprites and faeries.

 

Lammas
Lughnassadh

August 2

 (Lughnassadh, the Celtic festival in honor of the Sun God, is held on the 7th)

Lughnassadh (pronounced Loo-NAHS-ah) (Celtic), is the celebration of the first fruits of the harvest. The Sun King, now Dark Lord, gives his energy to the crops to ensure life while the Mother prepares to give way to her aspect as the Crone.

Now is the time to teach what you have learned, to share the fruits of your achievements with the world. It is considered a time of Thanksgiving and the first of three Pagan Harvest Festivals, when the plants of Spring wither and drop their fruits or seeds for our use as well as to ensure future crops. Also, first grains and fruits of the Earth are cut and stored for the dark Winter months.

Key actions associated with Lammas are receiving and harvesting, honoring the Parent Deities, honoring the Sun Gods, and celebrating the First Harvest. Wheat weaving, such as the making of corn dollies, is traditional. You can create a Solar Wheel or a Corn Man Wheel using a wire coat hanger, cardboard, and several ears of Indian corn complete with the husks. Bend the wire hanger into a circle keeping the hook to hang it by. Cut out a small cardboard circle to glue the tips of the ears of corn onto. You may want to create your Corn Man Wheel as a pentagram using five ears, or a Solar Wheel using eight ears to represent one ear for each Sabbat. Attach the ears of Indian corn around the perimeter of the wire circle. Wrap the husks around and glue where necessary. Leave some of the husks hanging loose to fray out from the edges and make it more decorative. Where the ears of corn meet in the center, glue them together. This is where the cardboard circle comes in to use. Bread is baked and the altar is decorated with fruits and vegetables of the harvest. It is also appropriate to plant the seeds from the fruit consumed in ritual. If the seeds sprout, grow the plant with love and as a symbol of your connection to the Divine. A cake is sometimes baked, and cider is used in place of wine.

 

Mabon
Autumn Equinox

Around Sept. 21

During Autumn,we begin to see the waning of the Sun more obviously now as the days continue to grow shorter until the Wheel of the Year spins around again to Yule. At the Autumn Equinox, the days and nights are equal. It is a time of balance, but light gives way to increased darkness.

It is the second harvest, and the Goddess mourns her fallen consort, but the emphasis is on the message of rebirth that can be found in the harvest seeds. The Autumn Equinox is a wonderful time to stop and relax and be happy. While we may not have toiled the fields from sunrise to sunset every day since Lammas, as our ancestors did, most of us do work hard at what we do.

At this time of year, we should stop and survey the harvest each of us has brought in over the season. For us, like our ancestors, this becomes a time of giving thanks for the success of what we have worked at. 

Spellwork for protection, wealth and prosperity, security, and spells to bring a feeling of self-confidence are appropriate for Mabon. Since this is a time for balance, you might include spells that will bring into balance and harmony the energies either in a room, home, or situation.

Ritual actions might include the praising or honoring of fruit as proof of the love of the Goddess and God, and a ritual sprinkling of Autumn leaves. It is a good time to walk the forests, gathering dried plants for use as altar decorations or herbal magic.

Symbols to represent the Mabon Sabbat are such things as grapes, wine, vines, garland, gourds, pine cones, acorns, wheat, dried leaves, burial cairns, rattles, Indian corn, Sun wheels, and horns of plenty. Altar decorations might include autumn leaves, acorns, pine cones, a pomegranate to symbolize Persephone's descent into the Underworld, and a small statue or figure to represent the Triple Goddess in Her Mother aspect. Cornbread and cider are good additions to festivities.