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The Sabbats


Eight festivals

Wiccans, and some other Neopagan groups, observe eight festivals which they call "sabbats".[1] Four of these fall on the solstices and equinoxes and are known as "quarter days" or "Lesser Sabbats". The other four fall (approximately) midway between these and are commonly known as "cross-quarter days," "fire festivals," or "Greater Sabbats". The "quarter days" are loosely based on or named after the Germanic festivals, and the "cross-quarter days" are similarly inspired by the Gaelic fire festivals. However, modern interpretations vary widely, so Pagan groups may celebrate and conceptualize these festivals in very different ways, often having little in common with the cultural festivals outside of the adopted name.[2]

The full system of eight yearly festivals held on these dates is unknown in older pagan calendars, and originated in the modern Wiccan religion.[3]

The eight major festivals (or "sabbats") are distinct from the Wiccan "esbats", which are additional meetings, usually smaller celebrations or coven meetings, held on full or new moons.

Festival name Date Sun's position
North South North South
Samhain, All Hallow's Eve, Last/Blood Harvest, Ancestor Night, Feast of the Dead, Nos Galan Gaeaf (Welsh) 31 Oct – 2 Nov (alt 5–10 Nov) 1 May (alt 4–10 May) ≈ 15° Scorpio ≈ 15° Taurus
Midwinter, Yule, Cuidle, Alban Arthan, Winter Rite, Mothers Night, Gŵyl Galan Gaeaf (Welsh) 19–23 Dec (winter solstice) 19–23 June (winter solstice) Capricorn Cancer
Candlemas, Imbolc, Oimelc, Brigit, Brigid's Day, Bride's Day, Brigantia, Gŵyl y Canhwyllau (Welsh) 1–2 Feb (alt 2–7 Feb) 1–2 Aug (alt 3–10 Aug) ≈ 15° Aquarius ≈ 15° Leo
Vernal Equinox, Ostara, Lady Day, Earrach, Alban Eilir, Festival of Trees, Gŵyl Ganol y Gwanwyn (Welsh) 19–23 Mar (spring equinox) 19–23 Sept (spring equinox) Aries Libra
Beltane, Beltaine, May Day, Gŵyl Galan Mai (Welsh) 1 May (alt 4–10 May) 31 Oct – 2 Nov (alt 5–10 Nov) ≈ 15° Taurus ≈ 15° Scorpio
Midsummer, Litha, Samradh, Alban Hefin, Aerra Litha, Gŵyl Ganol yr Haf (Welsh) 19–23 June (summer solstice) 19–23 Dec (summer solstice) Cancer Capricorn
Lammas, Lughnasadh (English pronunciation: /ˈluːnəsə/), 1st Harvest, Bread Harvest, Festival of First Fruits, Gŵyl Galan Awst (Welsh) 1–2 Aug (alt 3–10 Aug) 1–2 Feb (alt 2–7 Feb) ≈ 15° Leo ≈ 15° Aquarius
Autumnal Equinox, Mabon, Foghar, Alban Elfed, Harvest Home, 2nd Harvest, Fruit Harvest, Wine Harvest, Gŵyl Ganol yr Hydref (Welsh) 19–23 Sept (autumn equinox) 20–23 Mar (autumn equinox) Libra Aries



Samhain

Samhain (pronounced Sow-ain) is considered by most Wiccans to be the most important of the four 'greater Sabbats'. It is generally observed on October 31 in the Northern Hemisphere, starting at sundown. Samhain is considered by some Wiccans as a time to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on, and it often involves paying respect to ancestors, family members, elders of the faith, friends, pets and other loved ones who have died. In some rituals the spirits of the departed are invited to attend the festivities. It is seen as a festival of darkness, which is balanced at the opposite point of the wheel by the spring festival of Beltane, which Wiccans celebrate as a festival of light and fertility.

The Wiccan Samhain doesn't attempt to reconstruct a historical Celtic festival, in actuality it was also widely believed that on october 31st, the guard between this world and the afterlife is at it's thinnest point of the whole year, at which parents would only allow their children to walk at night alone if they were disguised as demons.

It is because of that belief, children in most countries in the common era wear "outfits" to "scare" parents into giving them candy, this had originated by the celebratory donation of sweet foods to the main wiccan god and goddess as well as the demons that would try to break into their world. Also as mentioned before; it is a time of rememberance: some food would also be given to the dead as a sign of great respect (and often honour).

Alternate Names and Spellings: Samuin, Hallowe’en, All Hallows’ Eve, Nutcrack Night, Dia de los Muertos, Mischief Night, Martinmas, Shadowfest.

History: "Samhain" means "end of summer," dividing the year into a light half and a dark half. All crops had to be harvested by Samhain. At this time the Celts would slaughter most of their livestock and bring the rest inside for the winter. Masked "soulers" representing the Ancestors would go from door to door demanding tribute and threatening pranks if no tribute was forthcoming. While some cultures tried to bribe or frighten away the spirits of the dead, others invited them in for a "Dumb Feast" or shared meal. The hearth fires would be extinguished and then relit from a communal bonfire. Samhain is the Witches’ New Year.

Mythology: The Veil thins, allowing the dead to return. Herne leads the Wild Hunt, and the Faery Folk also ride forth. In Celtic and Norse tales, many kings and heroes meet their death on Samhain, often by burning or drowning. In Wiccan lore, the King of the Waning Year reaches the shore of the Shining Isle, where He becomes the Lord of Death and also the seed of His own rebirth, so that the Sun Child is conceived in the womb of the Goddess. In Egypt, people mourn the death of Osiris as the Nile’s water level drops. Chaos reigns, normal order steps aside, and all manner of strange things. All lore agrees that this is no time to wander alone, especially through the wilderness and/or after dark.

Ritual Activities: Divination is popular; singles seek clues about their future spouse, and anyone may scry about the coming year. People light bonfires for protection, purification, offerings, and celebration. In contemporary rituals, Pagans may meditate on death and the afterlife, burn symbols of something they wish to give up, explore their past lives, practice divination, dress in costumes meaningful to them, give children candy to sweeten the future, perform services for elders to make peace with the past, honor those who have recently passed into the next world, or send messages to their beloved dead.

 


Deities: Herne, Osiris, Cailleach, Moingfhinne, Carridwen, Hecate.

Colors: Orange, black, purple.

Incenses and Herbs: Copal, myrrh, mugwort, rosemary, hazelwood.

Traditional Motifs: Black cats, broomsticks, pumpkins, dead leaves, nuts, candy, bones, apples, pomegranates, costumes, tricks, ghosts, bonfires.



Other Names:
celtic ~ Summer’s End, pronounced “sow” (rhymes with now) “en” (Ireland), sow-een (Wales) – “mh” in the middle is a “w” sound – Greater Sabbat(High Holiday) – Fire Festival Oct 31-Nov 1(North Hemisphere) – Apr 30-May 1 – The Great Sabbat, Samhiunn, Samana, Samhuin, Sam-fuin, Samonios, Halloween, Hallomas, All Hallows Eve, All Saints/All Souls Day(Catholic), Day of the Dead (Mexican), Witches New Year, Trinoux Samonia, Celtic/ Druid New Year, Shadowfest (Strega), Martinmas or Old Hallowmas (Scotttish/Celtic) Lá Samhna (Modern Irish), Festival of the Dead, Feile Moingfinne (Snow Goddess), Hallowtide (Scottish Gaelis Dictionary), Feast of All Souls, Nos Galen-gae-of Night of the Winter Calends (Welsh), La Houney or Hollantide Day, Sauin or Souney ( Manx), oidhche na h-aimiléise-the night of mischief or confusion(Ireland), Oidhche Shamna (Scotland)

Rituals:
End of summer, honoring of the dead,scrying, divination, last harvest, meat harvest

Incense:
Copal, sandalwood, mastic resin, benzoin, sweetgrass, wormwood, mugwort, sage, myrrh or patchouli

Tools:
Besom, cauldron, tarot, obsidian ball, pendulum, runes, oghams, Ouija boards, black cauldron or bowl filled with black ink or water, or magick mirror

Stones/Gems:
Black obsidian, jasper, carnelian, onyx, smoky quartz, jet, bloodstone

Colors:
Black, orange, red

Symbols & Decorations:
Apples, autumn flowers, acorns, bat, black cat, bones, corn stalks, colored leaves, crows, death/dying, divination and the tools associated with it, ghosts, gourds, Indian corn, jack-o-lantern, nuts , oak leaves, pomegranates, pumpkins, scarecrows, scythes, waning moon

Foods:
Apples, apple dishes, cider, meat (traditionally this is the meat harvest) especially pork, mulled cider with spices, nuts-representing resurrection and rebirth, nuts, pomegranates, potatoes, pumpkins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds, roasted pumpkin seeds, squash.

Goddesses:
The Crone, Hecate(Greek), Cerridwen(Welsh-Scottish), Arianrhod(Welsh), Caillech (Irish-Scottish), Baba Yaga (Russian), Al-Ilat(persian), Bast (Egyptian), Persephone (Greek), Hel(Norse), Kali(Hindu), all Death & Otherworld Goddesses

Gods:
Horned Hunter(European), Cernnunos(Greco-Celtic), Osiris(Egyptian), Hades (Greek), Gwynn ap Nudd (British), Anubis(Egyptian), Coyote Brother (Native American), Loki (Norse), Dis (Roman), Arawn (Welsh), acrificial/Dying/Aging
Gods, Death and Otherworld Gods

Herbs and Flowers:
Almond, apple leaf , autumn joy sedum, bay leaf, calendula, Cinnamon, Cloves cosmos, garlic, ginger , hazelnut, hemlock cones, mandrake root, marigold, mums, mugwort (to aid in divination), mullein seeds, nettle, passionflower, pine needles, pumpkin seeds, rosemary (for remembrance of our ancestors), rue, sage, sunflower petals and seeds, tarragon, wild ginseng, wormwood

Animals:
Stag, cat, bat, owl, jackal, elephant, ram, scorpion, heron, crow, robin

Mythical Beings:
Pooka, goblin,medusa, beansidhe, harpies

Essence:
Magick, plenty; knowledge, the night, death & rebirth, success, protection; rest, new beginning; ancestors; lifting of the veil, mundane laws in abeyance, return, change

Dynamics/Meaning:
Death & transformation, Wiccan new year,wisdom of the Crone, end of summer, honoring, thinning of the veil between worlds, death of the year, time outside of time, night of the Wild Hunt, begin new projects, end old projects

Work:
Sex magick, release of bad habits, banishing, fairy magick, divination of any kind, candle magick, astral projection, past life work, dark moon mysteries, mirror spells (reflection), casting protection , inner work, propitiation, clearing obstacles, uncrossing, inspiration, workings of transition or culmination, manifesting transformation,creative visualization, contacting those who have departed this plane

Purpose:
Honoring the dead, especially departed ancestors, knowing we will not be forgotten; clear knowledge of our path; guidance, protection, celebrating reincarnation

Rituals/Magicks:
Foreseeing future, honoring/consulting ancestors, releasing the old, power, understanding death and rebirth, entering the underworld, divination, dance of the dead, fire calling, past life recall

Customs:
Ancestor altar, costumes, divination, carving jack-o-lanterns, spirit plate, the Feast of the Dead, feasting, paying debts, fairs, drying winter herbs, masks, bonfires, apple games, tricks, washing clothes

Element:
Water

Gender:
Male

Threshold:
Midnight


 Midwinter

Further information: Yule

In most Wiccan traditions, Yule is celebrated as the rebirth of the Great God, who is viewed as the newborn solstice sun. The method of gathering for this sabbat varies by group or individual practitioner. Some have private ceremonies at home, while others hold coven celebrations.

Also it has recently been discovered (and perheps known by someone for quite a while) that the celebration "Christmas" actually came from the pagan holiday: Yule. It was marked that the judeo-christian god "Jesus Christ" to be born under three kings; it was also marked (and rarely known) that (assuming he was born unto Earth) he was infact born in the summer time (infact around the summer solstice) and not the winter time. this can be proven by the fact that in the northern hemisphere there are three stars that line-up nearly perfectly, these stars are known as the three kings, and a fourth star to make a triangle shape, when "Christmas" approaches "The star will lead the three kings to the birthplace of the SUN of god" in ancient religions outdating chrsitianity, the sun Earth revolves around was greatly worshipped, and it is widely known that said sun will descend through the middle star, and the adjacent star. "And there, the SUN will rise after three days" both in mythology and science the sun does 'rise' after three days.

Noting that Bethleham (the apparent birthplace of the son of god) is in the SOUTHERN hemisphere, which means "The sun/son will die then after three days will rise again" in the summer. therefore the year should either way start on june 1st, not january 1st.

Alternate Names and Spellings: Jul, Yule, Yuletide, Midwinter, Feill Fionnain, Alban Arthan.

History: "Yule" comes from the Old Norse "iul" meaning "wheel" and it marks the Norse New Year. People burned a sacred Yule Log all night long, saving a piece to light the next year’s fire and scattering the ashes over the fields. Druids gathered the sacred mistletoe. In Britain, the "Horn Dance" drives out winter. Another custom, ranging as far as Britain to Greece, involves the hunting and killing of the wren, symbol of winter. In China the emperor performed sacrifices; in Swaziland the king withdrew for several days before emerging to celebrate the sun’s return. Early Christians adapted Winter Solstice motifs to create Christmas, in which the birth of Christ resonates with other Sun/Son Gods born at this time. Also the figure Nik, another guise of Woden, became the gift-distributing St. Nicholas … and then modern Santa Claus.

Mythology: Numerous cultures feature a Goddess giving birth to a Sun God: Isis and Horus in Egypt, Leto and Apollo in Greece, etc. The Hopi kachinas emerge from their underground home to join the tribe. In Italy, the good witch Befana flies down chimneys to bring presents. In England and Germany, this is also the time of the Wild Hunt, led by Herne or Woden respectively. In Japan, the Sun Goddess Amaterasu emerges from Her cave. In Wicca, the Great Mother brings forth the Sun Child. Alternatively the Oak King, God of the Waxing Year, vanquishes the Holly King, God of the Waning Year. The Goddess shows Her aspect of Life-in-Death.

Ritual Activities: Folk customs ensure the sun’s return. The Yule Log burns. "Wassailing" and "caroling" remain popular. Contemporary Pagan rituals most often take the form of a sacred play, enacting the battle of the Holly King and the Oak King, or celebrating the birth of the Sun Child. They may also exchange gifts, meditate on themes of rebirth and restoration, decorate an evergreen tree, or hold festive dances like the traditional "Horn Dance." Some stay up all through this longest night to greet the sunrise with much rejoicing.

 

Deities: Lucina, Frey, Nerthus, Woden, Herne, Oak King, Holly King, Atthar, Sunna, Sul, Amaterasu, Isis, Osiris, Apollo.

Colors: Red, green, silver, gold, white, and icy blues.

Incense: Pine, cedar, frankincense & myrrh, cinnamon, orange, bayberry.

Traditional Motifs: Evergreens, mistletoe, ivy, icicles, snowflakes, Yule Log (both the fireplace kind and the cake kind), gifts, reindeer, cookies, bells, solar disks, candles, wren, goose, wassail, eggnog.

Lesser Sabbat – Winter Solstice, circa Dec 21

Other Names:
Jul (“wheel”, Old Norse), Saturnalia(Rome ~December 17 & 18), Yuletide(Teutonic), Midwinter, Fionn’s Day, Alban huan, Christmas (Christian~December 25), Xmas, Festival of Sol, Solar/Secular/Pagan New Year

Animals/Mythical beings:
yule goat (nordic), reindeer stag, squirrels, yule cat, Sacred White Buffalo, Kallikantzaroi-ugly chaos monsters(greek), trolls, phoenix, yule elf, jule gnome, squirrels, wren/robin

Gemstones:

cat’s eye, ruby, diamond, garnet, bloodstone

Incense/Oils:
bayberry, cedar, ginger, cinnamon, pine, rosemary, frankincense, myrrh, nutmeg, wintergreen, saffron

Colors:
gold, silver, red, green, white

Tools,Symbols, & Decorations:
bayberry candles, evergreens, holly, mistletoe, poinsettia,mistletoe, lights, gifts, Yule log, Yule tree. spinning wheels, wreaths, bells, mother & child images

Goddesses:
Great Mother, Befana (strega), Holda (teutonic), Isis(egyptian), Triple Goddess, Mary(christian), Tonazin(mexican), Lucina(roman), St. Lucy (swedish),Bona Dea (roman), Mother Earth, Eve(Hebrew), Ops(roman Holy Mother), the Snow Queen, Hertha (German), Frey (Norse)

Gods:
Sun Child, Saturn(rome), Cronos (Greek), Horus/Ra(egyptian), Jesus(christian-gnostic), Mithras(persian), Balder(Norse), Santa Claus/Odin(teutonic), Holly King, Sol Invicta, Janus(God of Beginnings), Marduk (Babylonian)Old Man Winter

Essence:
honor, rebirth, transformation, light out of darkness, creative inspiration, the mysteries, new life, regeneration, inner renewal, reflection/introspection

Dynamics/Meaning:
death of the Holly (winter) King; reign of the Oak (summer) King), begin the ordeal of the Green Man, death & rebirth of the Sun God; night of greatest lunar imbalance; sun’s rebirth; shortest day of year

Purpose:
honor the Triple Goddess, welcome the Sun Child

Rituals/Magicks:
personal renewal, world peace, honoring family & friends, Festival of light, meditation

Customs:
lights, gift-exchanging, singing, feasting, resolutions, new fires kindled, strengthening family & friend bonds, generosity, yule log, hanging mistletoe, apple wassailing, burning candles, Yule tree decorating; kissing under mistletoe; needfire at dawn vigil; bell ringing/sleigh-bells; father yule

Foods:
nuts, apple, pear, caraway cakes soaked with cider, pork, orange, hibiscus or ginger tea, roasted turkey, nuts, fruitcake, dried fruit, cookies, eggnog, mulled wine

Herbs:
blessed thistle, evergreen, moss, oak, sage, bay, bayberry, cedar, pine, frankincense, ginger, holly, ivy, juniper, mistletoe, myrrh, pinecones, rosemary, chamomile, cinnamon, valarion, yarrow

Element:
earth

Threshold:
dawn


 Imbolc

Main article: Imbolc

Wiccans celebrate Imbolc (or Candlemas) as one of four "fire festivals" of the Wheel of the Year. Among Dianic Wiccans, Imbolc is the traditional time for initiations.

Among Reclaiming-style Wiccans, Imbolc is considered a traditional time for rededication and pledges for the coming year.

Alternate Names and Spellings: Oimelc, Brigantia, Brigide’en, Bride’s Day, Lupercus, Candlemas, Candelaria.

History: "Imbolc" means "ewe’s milk" and refers to the start of lambing season. Countryfolk looked for the first signs of spring: swelling buds on trees, animals stirring from hibernation. Germany’s "Badger Day" became America’s "Groundhog Day," an example of weather divination, popular in many cultures. In Rome the Luperci, or priests of Pan, ran through the streets carrying goatskin thongs, with which to flog women to make them fertile; some women ran naked to give the priests a better target!

Mythology: The goddess Brigid has three spheres of influence – inspiration, healing, and smithcraft – which She shares with Her followers on this holiday. A footprint in the hearth signifies that the God has come to Bride’s bed, promising a fertile year. Demeter searches through the darkness for Her lost daughter, the journey lit only by a single candle; Persephone sees the light and they reunite. In Wicca, the Child Sun begins to grow strong and show His promise. The Oak King unites with the Goddess, increasing His power as the days lengthen; the Holly King retreats to the Underworld where He rests until the Summer Solstice. Yule decorations such as evergreen boughs must be taken down and burnt, and the house should be cleaned, to make way for the new season’s growth.

Ritual Activities: Folk rituals customarily feature the making of crosses or other shapes from straw or rushes, with last year’s crosses being burned. They may also involve dressing a corn dolly to represent the goddess Bride, who is then placed in a special bed along with a phallic wand. A young girl may wear a crown of lights to stand for the Maiden Goddess. Contemporary Pagan rituals may focus on blessing a cauldron of seeds, composing or reciting poetry, prayers for healing, lighting candles to symbolize wishes or plans for the coming year, scrying, or spring cleaning. Initiations are traditionally held on this holiday.

 

Deities: Brigid, Persephone, Demeter, Hagia Sophia, Juno Februata.

Colors: Red, white, pink, silver.

Incense: Red sandalwood, frankincense, lemon, lavender, birch, willow.

Traditional Motifs: Candles, bread, alfalfa sprouts, Bride dollies, earliest spring flowers like snowbells, inspiration, quickening, prophecy and purification, seeds, poetry.

Other Names: Imbolg (im-molc)(em-bowl’g) (Celtic), Candlemas (Christian), Brigantia (Caledonii), Oimelc, Festival of Light, Brigid’s (Brid, Bride) Day, La Fheill, An Fheille Bride, Candelaria (Mexico), Chinese New Year, Disting-tid (Feb 14th, Teutonic), DisaBlot, Anagantios, Lupercalia/Lupercus (Strega), Groundhog Day, Valentines Day.

Animals & Mythical Beings: Firebird, dragon, groundhog, deer, burrowing animals, ewes, robin, sheep, lamb, other creatures waking from hibernation.

Gemstones: Amethyst, garnet, onyx, turquoise.
Incense/Oil: Jasmine, rosemary, frankincense, cinnamon, neroli, musk, olive, sweet pea, basil, myrrh, and wisteria, apricot, carnation.
Colors/Candles: Brown, pink, red, orange, white, lavender, pale yellow, silver.
Tools,Symbols, & Decorations: White flowers, marigolds, plum blossoms, daffodils, Brigid wheel, Brigid’s cross, candles, grain/seed for blessing, red candle in a cauldron full of earth, doll, Bride’s Bed; the Bride, broom, milk, birchwood, snowflakes, snow in a crystal container,evergreens, homemade besom of dried broom, orange candle annointed in oil (see above)can be used to sybolize the renewing energy of the Sun’s rebirth.
Goddesses: Virgin Goddess, Venus, Diana, Februa, Maiden, Child Goddess, Aradia, Athena, Inanna, Vesta, Gaia, Brigid, Selene(Greek), Branwen(Manx-Welsh).
Gods: Young Sun Gods, Pan, Cupid/Eros(Greco-Roman), Dumuzi(Sumerian).
Essence: Conception, initiation, insight, inspiration, creativity, mirth, renewal, dedication, breath of life, life-path, wise counsel, plan, prepare.
Meaning: First stirring of Mother Earth, lambing, growth of the Sun God, the middle of winter.
Purpose: Honoring the Virgin Goddess, festival of the Maiden/Light.
Rituals & Magicks: Cleansing; purification, renewal, creative inspiration, purification, initiation, candle work, house & temple blessings, welcoming Brigid, feast of milk & bread.
Customs: Lighting candles, seeking omens of Spring, storytelling, cleaning house, bonfires, indoor planting, stone collecting, candle kept burning dusk till dawn; hearth re-lighting.
Foods: Dairy, spicy foods, raisins, pumpkin, sesame & sunflower seeds, poppyseed bread/cake, honey cake, pancakes, waffles, herbal tea.
Herbs: Angelica, basil, bay, benzoin, celandine, clover, heather, myrrh, all yellow flowers, willow.
Element: Earth
Gender: Female
Threshold: Midnight



 Vernal Equinox

The vernal equinox, sometimes called Ostara, is celebrated in the Northern hemisphere around March 21 and in the Southern hemisphere around September 23, depending upon the specific timing of the equinox. Among the Wiccan sabbats, it is preceded by Candlemas and followed by Beltane.

The name Ostara is from ôstarâ, the Old High German for "Easter". It has been connected to the putative Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre by Jacob Grimm in his Deutsche Mythologie.

In terms of Wiccan ditheism, this festival is characterized by the rejoining of the Mother Goddess and her lover-consort-son, who spent the winter months in death. Other variations include the young God regaining strength in his youth after being born at Yule, and the Goddess returning to her Maiden aspect.

Alternate Names and Spellings: Vernal Equinox, Eostre, Ostara, Alban Eiler, Lady Day.

History: "Eostre" comes from the same root word as "east." Northern farmers began to hire help for spring planting at this time, while Mediterranean farmers celebrated the sprouting. In Germany, villagers lit bonfires with a spark obtained from a priest. In Persia, people exchanged red eggs for luck; in Greece, people tapped eggs together, with the uncracked egg bringing the luck. Faberge eggs, invented in 1880, bring decoration to its pinnacle of beauty.

Mythology: A "Cosmic Egg" appears in tales around the world, including India, Indonesia, Africa, Greece, South and Central America, Estonia, Finland, and Polynesia. The Germanic/Saxon goddess Eostre counts among Her symbols the hare, the egg, and the color red. Persephone returns from Hades to Earth, and paints the spring flowers. In the Stations of the Goddess, the Spring Equinox represents initiation. In Wicca, the Prince of the Sun courts the Maiden Goddess. The Oak King flourishes; the forest puts forth new leaves. Light and dark stand in balance, with light ascending.

Ritual Activities: People everywhere enjoy decorating, hunting, or balancing eggs. Some fill baskets with eggs, candy, and flowers. Contemporary Pagan rituals may incorporate such elements as breaking free of past hindrances, celebrating the new season, planting, fertility, and courting. Pagans often meditate on balance at this time of year, and seek to overcome their "shadow" side. They make charms for prosperity, protection, health, etc. This is a traditional time for replacing a worn broom or staff.

Deities: Cybele, Attis, Mithras, Tammuz, Adonis, Eostre, Mielikki, Tapio, Ishtar, Venus, Koroleva, Persephone.

Colors: Spring green, pink, pale yellow, turquoise, lavender, peach, white.

Incense: Violet, narcissus, honeysuckle, lemongrass, spearmint, ash.

Traditional Motifs: Rabbits, chicks and ducklings, lambs, eggs (especially decorated), ribbons, baskets, spring flowers like tulips, solar fire-wheel, chocolate, treasure hunts.


(Oh-star-ah) – Lesser Sabbat – Spring/Vernal Equinox, March 20-21st – when the Sun enters Ares

Other Names: Ostre, Oestre, Eostre, Rites of Spring, Eostra’s Day, Lady Day, First Day of Spring, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Alban Eiler, Bacchanalia, Mean Earraigh, Pasch, Caisg, Pess

Date: Spring Equinox (March 20-22 in Northern Hemisphere) or when the Sun is 1 degree Aries.

Symbolism: The beginning of spring, new life and rebirth, the God and Goddess in Their youth, balance, fertility

Goddesses: all love, virgin, and fertility Goddesses; Anna Perenna (Roman), Aphrodite (Greek), Astarte (Canaanite, Persia, GrecoRoman), Athena (Greek), Cybele (Greco-Roman), Blodeuwedd, Eostre (Saxon Goddess of Fertility), Flidais (Irish), Gaia (Greek), Hera, Ishtar (Assyro-Babylonian), Isis (Egyptian), Libera (Roman), Minerva (Roman), The Muses (Greek), Persephone (Greek), Renpet (Egyptian), Venus (Roman), Ostara (the German Goddess of Fertility), Kore, Maiden, Isis, Youthful Goddesses. Faerie Queen, Lady of the Lake(Welsh-Cornish), the Green Goddess

Gods: all love, song & dance, and fertility Gods; Adonis (Greek), Attis (Greco-Roman), Cernunnos (Celtic), The Great Horned God (European), Liber (Roman), Mars (Roman), Mithras (Persian), Odin (Norse), Osiris (Egyptian), Thoth, Pan (Greek), the Green Man, Hare, Youthful Gods, Warrior Gods, Taliesin, Lord of the Greenwood (English), Dagda(Irish),Adonis (Greek)

Symbols: Eggs, rabbits, similar to easter symbols.

Purpose: Plant and animal fertility, sowing

Meaning: The God comes of age, sexual union of the Lord & Lady, sprouting, greening, balance of light and dark

Essence: Strength, birthing, completion, power, love, sexuality, embodiment of spirit, fertility, opening, beginning

Customs: Wearing green, new clothes, celtic bird festival, egg baskets coloring eggs, collecting birds eggs, bird watching, egg hunts, starting new projects, spring planting

Foods: Hard-boiled eggs, honey cakes, fresh seasonal fruits, milk punch, leafy green vegetables, dairy foods, apples, nuts, flower dishes, sprouts, fish, maple sugar candies, hot cross buns, sweet breads, milk, punch, egg drinks

Plants & Herbs: Acorn, celandine, cinquefoil, crocus, daffodil, dogwood, Easter lily, Irish Moss, ginger, hyssop, linden, strawberry, gorse, honeysuckle, iris, jasmine, jonquils, narcissus, olive, peony, rose, tansy, violets, woodruff and all spring flowers

Incense and oils: African violet, jasmine, rose, strawberry, lotus, magnolia, ginger, sage lavender, narcissus, broom

Colors: Light green, lemon yellow, pale pink, pastels, gold, grass green, robin’s egg blue, lemon yellow.

Stones: Amethyst, aquamarine, rose quartz, moonstone, bloodstone, red jasper

Animals and Mythical Beasts: Rabbits/Easter bunny, snakes, pegasus, unicorns, chicks, swallows, merpeople

Decorations: Daffodils, tulips, violet, iris, narcissus, any spring flowers, eggs, butterflies, cocoons

Spell/Ritual Work: Garden/plant blessings, seed blessing, spellcrafting, balance, growth, communication, invention, new growth, new projects

Planetary Ruler: Mars

Element: Air

Gender: Male

Threshold: Dawn



Beltane

Beltane is one of the four "fire festivals" or "greater sabbats". Although the holiday may use features of the Gaelic Bealtaine, such as the bonfire, it bears more relation to the Germanic May Day festival, both in its significance (focusing on fertility) and its rituals (such as maypole dancing). Some Wiccans celebrate 'High Beltaine' by enacting a ritual union of the May Lord and Lady.

Alternate Names and Spellings: Bealtaine, Walpurgisnacht, Walburga, Rudemas, Floralia, Mayday, May Eve.

History: "Beltane" means "Bel’s fire" and ties the holiday to the Celtic god of light. These sacred fires were kindled by drilling into an oak plank. Ancient Celts drove their cattle between the balefires to ensure protection and fertility, at this time they also moved their herds to the summer pastures. The Harvest Bride, the last sheaf of grain from last year’s harvest, was ritually burned. Many cultures observed the Great Rite, making love in the fields to encourage the crops to grow. Villagers would decorate their doors with May flowers, carry flower crowns, and wear outlandish costumes in festive processions.

Mythology: Jack-in-the-Green appears at folk festivals, representing the Forest God in His prime; another popular figure is the "Oss" or "Hobby Horse." The Goddess transforms from Maiden to Mother and Queen. In the love-chase, the God pursues the Goddess as She flees playfully. Many stories describe a woman "neither clothed nor unclothed, neither walking nor riding" amidst many other riddles, an allusion to the coquettish Beltane aspect. In Wicca, the God and Goddess marry. The Faery Folk ride on May Eve, as does the Wild Hunt, so travelers – and young people abroad on the season’s business – should take care. However, this is also the one time when it is safe to cut hawthorn, the "Flowering May."

Ritual Activities: Young women spend the night in the woods, weaving flower crowns, and in the morning they wash their faces in the fresh dew for beauty. Young men make the May Pole and decorate it with ribbons. People draw lots to elect a May Queen and King. Then everyone dances around the May Pole, weaving the ribbons together. Couples may jump over a broomstick or the bonfire’s coals. Contemporary Pagans usually observe the Great Rite symbolically, with a chalice and athame, but sometimes couples use the old-fashioned method in private. In ritual, Pagans may meditate on desire, cast spells to attract a suitable partner, light fires, burn symbols of things they wish to abandon, make flower art, or play whimsical games.

Deities: Flora, Walpurga, Maia, Demeter, Danu, Bel, Balor, Pan, Cernunnos, Jack-in-the-Green.

Colors: Gold, green, purple, red, white.

Incense: Musk, vanilla, rose, patchouli, woodruff, galangal, oak.

Traditional Motifs: Ribbons, early summer flowers like hawthorn, May Pole, dancing, courting, baskets, round breads, figs, apples, nuts, May Wine, cattle, goats, bonfires, the Tree of Life.


Also known as: May Day, Bealtaine, Beltane, Bhealtainn, Bealtinne, Festival of Tana (Strega), Giamonios, Rudemass, and Walburga (Teutonic), Cetsamhain (opposite Samhain),Fairy Day ,Sacred Thorn Day, Rood Day, Roodmas (the Christian term for Rood Day, Old Beltane, Beltain, Baltane, Walpurgis Night, Floriala (Roman feast of flowers from April 29 to May 1), Walpurgisnacht (Germanic-feast of St. Walpurga), Thrimilce (Anglo-saxon), Bloumaand (Old Dutch)

Date: May 1

Animals: Swallow, dove, swan, Cats, lynx, leopard

Deities: Flower Goddesses, Divine Couples, Deities of the Hunt, Aphrodite,

artemis, Bast, Diana, Faunus, Flora, Maia, Pan, the Horned God, Venus, and all Gods and Goddesses who preside over fertility.Tools: broom, May Pole, cauldron

Stones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz

Colors: green, soft pink, blue, yellow, red, brown

Herbs and Flowers: almond tree/shrub, ash, broom, cinquefoil, clover, Dittany of Crete, elder, foxglove, frankincense, honeysuckle, rowan, sorrel, hawthorn, ivy, lily of the valley, marigold, meadowsweet, mint, mugwort, thyme, woodruff may be burned; angelica, bluebells, daisy, hawthorn, ivy, lilac, primrose, and rose may be decorations, st. john’s wort, yarrow, basically all flowers.

Incense: frankincense, lilac, rose.

Symbols and Decorations: maypole, strings of beads or flowers, ribbons, spring flowers, fires, fertility, growing things, ploughs, cauldrons of flowers, butterchurn, baskets, eggs

Food: dairy, bread, cereals, oatmeal cakes, cherries, strawberries, wine, green salads.

Activities and Rituals: fertilize, nurture and boost existing goals, games, activities of pleasure, leaping bonfires, making garlands, May Pole dance, planting seeds, walking one’s property, feasting

Wiccan mythology: sexual union and/or marriage of the Goddess and God

It’s association with fire also makes Beltaine a holiday of purification.

Wiccan weddings are frequently held on or around Beltaine.



 Midsummer / Summer Solstice

Midsummer is one of the four solar holidays, and is considered the turning point at which summer reaches its height and the sun shines longest. Among the Wiccan sabbats, Midsummer is preceded by Beltane, and followed by Lammas or Lughnasadh.

Some traditions call the festival "Litha", a name occurring in Bede's "Reckoning of Time" (De Temporum Ratione, 7th century), which preserves a list of the (then-obsolete) Anglo-Saxon names for the twelve months. Ærra Liða ('first' or 'preceding' Liða) roughly corresponds to June in our calendar, and Æfterra Liða ('following' Liða) to July. Bede writes that "Litha means 'gentle' or 'navigable', because in both these months the calm breezes are gentle and they were wont to sail upon the smooth sea."



Deities: Apollo, Balder, Oak King, Holly King, Sul, Isis, Al-llat, Hestia, Carridwen.

Colors: Sea green, red, gold, brown.

Incense: Frangipani, violet, tangerine, cedar, St. John’s wort, basil, fir.

Traditional Motifs: Oak leaves, acorns, antlers, straw wheels, sows and boars, bees, honey, mead, destiny cakes, floating candles, cauldrons, marigolds, sunflowers, ivy.

Purpose

Rededication to the Lord and Lady, beginning of the harvest, honoring the Sun God, honoring the pregnant Godddess

Dynamics/Meaning
Crowning of the Sun God, death of the Oak King, assumption of the Holly King, end the ordeal of the Green Man

Tools, Symbols & Decorations
The sun, oak, birch & fir branches, sun flowers, lilies, red/maize/yellow or gold flower, love amulets, seashells, summer fruits & flowers, feather/flower door wreath, sun wheel, fire, circles of stone, sun dials and swords/blades, bird feathers, Witches’ ladder.

Colors
Blue, green, gold, yellow and red.

Customs
Bonfires, processions, all night vigil, singing, feasting, celebrating with others, cutting
divining rods, dowsing rods & wands, herb gathering, handfastings, weddings, Druidic
gathering of mistletoe in oak groves, needfires, leaping between two fires, mistletoe
(without berries, use as a protection amulet), women walking naked through gardens
to ensure continued fertility, enjoying the seasonal fruits & vegetables, honor the
Mother’s fullness, richness and abundance, put garlands of St. John’s Wort placed
over doors/ windows & a sprig in the car for protection.

Goddesses
Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Venus, Aphrodite, Yemaya, Astarte, Freya, Hathor,
Ishtar, all Goddesses of love, passion, beauty and the Sea, and Pregnant,
lusty Goddesses, Green Forest Mother; Great One of the Stars, Goddess of the Wells

Gods
Father Sun/Sky, Oak King, Holly King, hur, Gods at peak power and strength.

Animals/Mythical Beings
Wren, robin, horses, cattle, satyrs, faeries, firebird, dragon, thunderbird

Gemstones
Lapis lazuli, diamond, tiger’s eye, all green gemstones, especially emerald and jade

Herbs
Anise, mugwort, chamomile, rose, wild rose, oak blossoms, lily, cinquefoil, lavender,
fennel, elder, mistletoe, hemp, thyme, larkspur, nettle, wisteria, vervain ( verbena),
St. John’s wort, heartsease, rue, fern, wormwood, pine,heather, yarrow,
oak & holly trees

Incense/Oil
Heliotrope, saffron, orange, frankincense & myrrh, wisteria, cinnamon, mint, rose, lemon, lavender, sandalwood, pine

Rituals/Magicks
Nature spirit/fey communion, planet healing, divination, love & protection magicks.
The battle between Oak King, God of the waxing year & Holly King, God of the waning
year (can be a ritual play), or act out scenes from the Bard’s (an incarnation of Merlin)
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, rededication of faith, rites of inspiration.

Foods
Honey, fresh vegetables, lemons, oranges, summer fruits, summer squash,
pumpernickel bread, ale, carrot drinks, mead.



 Lammas

Lammas or Lughnasadh (pronounced luna-sta) is the first of the three autumn harvest festivals, the other two being the Autumn equinox (or Mabon) and Samhain. Some Wiccans mark the holiday by baking a figure of the god in bread, and then symbolically sacrificing and eating it. These celebrations are not based on Celtic culture, despite common use of a Celtic name Lughnasadh. This name seems to have been a late adoption among Wiccans, since in early versions of Wiccan literature the festival is merely referred to as "August Eve".

The name Lammas implies it is an agrarian-based festival and feast of thanksgiving for grain and bread, which symbolizes the first fruits of the harvest. Wiccan and other eclectic Neopagan rituals may incorporate elements from either festival.

Alternate Names and Spellings: Lughnasadh, Cornucopia, Thingtide.

History: The word "Lammas" means "loaf mass" and refers to the primary focus of this holiday. Traditional cultures marked their first harvests at this time, celebrating grains and grain products like bread and beer, and they began to preserve foods for winter use. Bread represented prosperity, hospitality, and survival itself. In Europe, the last sheaf harvested became the "Harvest Bride" and was honored in dances, processions, and other celebrations. The Celts held tribal gatherings at this time, an opportunity for young people to mingle. This is also a traditional time of sacrifice, as with the bulls that represented the Sacred King.

Mythology: In many stories, a god or godlike figure meets his death now; often a younger god wresting power from an older god, or a god brought down by female power. The overall motif is sacrifice. Betrayed by his wife, Lugh dies at the hand of her lover. Several Native American tribes welcome a Corn Goddess at this time. In Wicca, the Mother Goddess becomes the Reaper and slays the Corn God. The Oak King journeys to the Underworld where He will rest until the Winter Solstice; the Holly King strengthens His power over the season as the days grow ever shorter.

Ritual Activities: These usually revolve around the harvest and sacrifice. Folk rituals involve reaping the grain and binding the last sheaf into the Harvest Bride, with attendant festivities. Contemporary Pagan rituals usually enact the death of the Corn God at the hands of the Goddess; some celebrate the ripeness of fields and projects instead. Pagans may mediate on such things as sacrifice, the way death feeds life, ripening, bountiful harvests, reaping what they have sown, and so forth. They bake bread into God-shaped loaves and share it during the ceremony.

Deities: Apollo, Balder, Oak King, Holly King, Sul, Isis, Al-llat, Hestia, Carridwen.

Colors: Sea green, red, gold, brown.

Incense: Frangipani, violet, tangerine, cedar, St. John’s wort, basil, fir.

Traditional Motifs: Oak leaves, acorns, antlers, straw wheels, sows and boars, bees, honey, mead, destiny cakes, floating candles, cauldrons, marigolds, sunflowers, ivy.




 Autumnal Equinox

The holiday of Autumn Equinox, Harvest Home, Mabon, the Feast of the Ingathering, Meán Fómhair or Alban Elfed (in Neo-Druidic traditions), is a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and God during the winter months. The name Mabon was coined by Aidan Kelly around 1970 as a reference to Mabon ap Modron, a character from Welsh mythology. In the northern hemisphere this equinox occurs anywhere from September 21 to 24. In the southern hemisphere, the autumn equinox occurs anywhere from March 18–22. Among the sabbats, it is the second of the three harvest festivals, preceded by Lammas/Lughnasadh and followed by Samhain.

Alternate Names and Spellings: Mabon, Modron, Michaelmas, Alban Elfed, Winter Finding, Harvest Home.


History: "Mabon" means "son." In some agricultural communities, this festival marked the end of harvest, and the start of winter preparations. The second harvest was the fruit harvest, bringing in such things as apples that would keep all winter. Farmers would settle accounts, paying rents and other fees to landowners; they also gathered seed for next year’s crops. A feast celebrated healers and justice bringers. People reaped what they had sown earlier. In the sky, light and dark hang in balance, but dark is ascending. The Greeks observed the Eleusinian Rites at this time.

Mythology: Mabon is an ancient Celtic god; Modron is his mother, an aspect of the Great Goddess. In the Welsh tale "Culhwch and Olwen," Mabon appears as the Great Prisoner, stolen in infancy from his mother. Some sources suggest this holiday celebrates his release and return to her. In India, the harvest maiden is represented by an unmarried girl and a bunch of balsam plants; she stands for the seeds that promise next year’s crop. In the Mediterranean, Persephone descends into the Underworld. In the Stations of the Goddess, the Fall Equinox represents repose. In Wicca, the Sun King has become the Lord of the Shadows, sailing west to the Shining Isle.

Ritual Activities: The overall theme is of rebalancing and setting things aright. Summer decorations come down, autumn decorations go up. Folk rituals typically give thanks for a successful harvest. Contemporary Pagans may enact myths like the reunion of Mabon and Modron, celebrate the autumn storms, seek reconciliation, meditate on how their projects have matured, salute the retreating sun, and honor the Elders who have "gone to seed" and are ready to share their wisdom. One widespread custom is the offering of grain in baskets; a modern version is gathering donations for a local food pantry.


Deities: Modron, Mabon, Maponus, Herne, Cernunnos, Mannanan Mac Ler, Lord of Shadows, Ishtar, Isis, Demeter, Persephone, Grain Mother, Rhiannon.

Colors: Orange, red, yellow, russet, gold, chocolate.

Incense: Clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, myrrh, sage, juniper, pine, cedar.

Traditional Motifs: Cornucopia, autumn leaves, pine cones, gourds, corncobs, mushrooms, grapes, apples, geese, chrysanthemums.

MAY-bon, MAY-bun, MAY-bone, MAH-boon or MAH-bawn, – Lesser Sabbat – Fall/Autumn Equinox, September 21-23

Michaelmas (September 25th, Christian), Second Harvest Festival, Witches’ Thanksgiving, Harvest Home (Anglo-Celtic), Feast of Avalon, Wine Harvest, Festival of Dionysus, Cornucopia, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), Chung Chiu (China), Night of the Hunter, Alban Elfed “The Light of the Water”(Caledonii/ Druidic-celebrates Lord of the Mysteries), Winter Finding (Teutonic, from Equinox ’til Winter Night or Nordic New Year, Oct 15th.)

Mabon is considered a time of the Mysteries. It is a time to honor Aging Deities and the Spirit World. Considered a time of balance, it is when we stop and relax and enjoy the fruits of our personal harvests, whether they be from toiling in our gardens, working at our jobs, raising our families, or just coping with the hussle-bussle of everyday life. May your Mabon be memorable, and your hearts and spirits be filled to overflowing!

Purpose:
Second harvest festival, new wine pressing/making preparation for winter and Samhain, rest after labor, Pagan day of Thanksgiving, honoring the spirit world, celebration of wine.

Dynamics/Meaning:
death of the God, assumption of the Crone, balance of light and dark; increase of darkness, grape harvest, completion of the harvest.

Essence:
Beauty, joy; fullness of life, harvest of the year’s desires, strength; laughter; power; prosperity, equality, balance, appreciation, harvest, protection, wealth,
security, self-confidence, reincarnation.

Symbolism of Mabon:
Second Harvest, the Mysteries, Equality and Balance.

Symbols of Mabon:
wine, gourds, pine cones, acorns, grains, corn, apples, pomegranates, vines such as ivy, dried seeds, and horns of plenty.

Tools, Symbols & Decorations:
Indian corn, red fruits, autumn flowers, red poppies, hazelnuts, garlands, grains especially wheat stalks, and colorful, fallen leaves, acorns, pine & cypress cones, oak sprigs, pomegranate, statue/or figure to represent the Mother Goddess, mabon wreath, vine, grapes, gourd, cornucopia/horns of plenty, burial cairns, apples, marigolds, harvested crops, burial cairns, rattles, the Mysteries, sun wheel, all harvest symbols.

Herbs & Plants of Maybon:
Acorn, aster, benzoin, cedar, ferns, grains, hazel, honeysuckle, hops, ivy, marigold, milkweed, mums, myrrh, oak leaf, passionflower, pine, rose, sage, solomon’s seal, tobacco, thistle, and vegetables.

Foods of Mabon:
Breads, nuts, apples, pomegranates, cornbread, wheat products, grains, berries, grapes, acorns, seeds, dried fruits, corn, beans, squash, roots (ie onions, carrots, potatoes, etc), hops, sasssafras, roast goose or mutton, wine, ale, & cider.

Incense & Oils of Mabon:
Pine, sweetgrass, apple blossom, benzoin, myrrh, frankincense, jasmine, sage wood aloes, black pepper, patchouly, cinnamon, clove, oak moss, & sage.

Colors/Candles of Mabon:
Red, orange, russet, maroon, brown, gold, deep gold, green, orange, scarlet, all autumn colors, purple, blue, violet, & indigo.

Stones of Mabon:
Sapphire, lapis lazuli, yellow agates, carnelian, yellow topaz, & amethyst.

Customs:
Offerings to land, preparing for cold weather, bringing in harvest, cutting willow wands (Druidic), eating seasonal fruit, leaving apples upon burial cairns & graves as a token of honor, walk wild places & forests, gather seed pods & dried plants, fermenting grapes to make wine,picking ripe produce, stalk bundling; fishing,. on the closest full moon (Harvest Moon) harvesting corps by moonlight.

Activities of Mabon:
Making wine, gathering dried herbs, plants, seeds and seed pods, walking in the woods, scattering offerings in harvested fields, offering libations to trees, adorning burial sites with leaves, acorns, and pine cones to honor those who have passed over.

Spellworkings and Rituals of Mabon:
Protection, security, and self-confidence. Also those of harmony and balance. Celtic Festival of the Vine, prosperity rituals, introspection, rituals which enact the elderly aspects of both Goddess & God, past life recall.

Animals/Mythical beings:
Dogs, wolves, stag, blackbird, owl, eagle, birds of prey, salmon & goat, Gnomes, Sphinx, Minotaur, Cyclops, Andamans and Gulons.

Goddesses:
Modron (Welsh), Bona Dea, Land Mother, Aging & Harvest Dieties: the Triple Goddess-Mother aspect, Persephone, Demeter/Ceres, Morgan (Welsh- Cornish), Snake Woman (aboriginal), Epona (Celtic-Gaulish), Pamona (roman), the Muses (greek)

Gods:
Mabon ap Modron (Welsh), Sky Father, The Green Man, Wine Gods, Aging Gods, John Barley Corn , the Wicker-Man, the Corn Man, Thoth (Egyptian), Hermes, Hotei (Japanese), Thor, Dionysus (Roman), Bacchus (Greek) & all wine Deities

Element/Gender:
Water

Threshold:
Evening


The waning Moon supports culling, releasing, and letting go. We all face
loss: a pet dies, a relationship changes, a job ends, or a cherished friend
is gone. We also experience sadness as the seasons shift. Summer’s gone,
and with it the expansive, fertile energy of the Mother goddess. In autumn,
the energy of the Crone is upon us—goddess of decay, death, and rebirth.
Acknowledging death and decay opens you to the powerful energy of rebirth. Get
a leaf that has fallen to the ground. Say:

I knew you maiden, young and shining,
Saw you ripen, mother of all,
Now you age and return to the earth,
Nourishes as you compost,
Matter of rebirth.

As the leaf falls from your hand to the ground, know it will compost,
producing matter to nourish and sustain spring’s new life. Be at peace with the
ancient cycle: Birth, life, death, rebirth.

by Dallas Jennifer Cobb







 Dates

Dates for the festivals vary widely. There are many forms of Wicca and Neopaganism, all of which may have somewhat different traditions associated with the festivals. Therefore there is no definitive or universal tradition observed by all the groups. Most Pagans are somewhat flexible about dates, tending to celebrate at the nearest weekend for convenience.

 Hemispheres

As the Wheel originates in the Northern Hemisphere, in the Southern Hemisphere many Neopagans advance these dates six months so as to coincide with the natural seasons as they occur in their local climates, which oppose and complement those of the Northern Hemisphere. For instance, a Wiccan from southern Australia may celebrate Beltane on the 1st of November, when a Canadian Wiccan is celebrating Samhain. The appropriate set of festivals for an Equatorial Wiccan is problematic.

 Quarter Days

While the cross-quarter days traditionally fall on the Kalends of the month, some Neopagans consider them to fall on the midpoint of the two surrounding quarter days. These modern calculations tend to result in celebrations held a few days after the traditional dates (see above table).

 Sun Sabbats and Moon Sabbats

See also: Esbat

"Sun sabbats" refer to the quarter days, which are based on the astronomical position of the sun. The remaining four, Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain are sometimes called "moon sabbats", and observed on full moons or - especially Samhain - on a dark moon. Typically the full moon closest to the traditional festival date or the 2nd full moon after the preceding sun sabbat is chosen. This would place the moon sabbat anywhere from 29–59 days after the preceding solstice or equinox.

 Origins

Kołomir - the Slavic example of Wheel of the Year indicating seasons of the year.

Most of the holidays of the Wheel of the Year are named after Pre-Christian Celtic and Pre-Christian Germanic religious festivals, but depart largely in form and meaning from the traditional observances of those festivals. Historian Ronald Hutton ascribes this to the influence of turn of the century romanticism as well as the eclectic elements introduced by Wicca. The similarities between these holidays generally end at the shared names, as Wicca makes no effort to reconstruct the ancient practices. Hutton has described the merging of culturally diverse festivals into a unified set of eight as a form of universalism not corroborated by any historical continuity.

There appears to be no surviving evidence that the eight festivals described in this article were formally observed as a 'set', and the complete eightfold Wheel of the Year was unknown under that name prior to modern Wicca, as far as we know.In early forms of Wicca only the cross-quarter days were observed. However, in 1958 the members of Bricket Wood Coven added the solstices and equinoxes to their original calendar, as they desired more frequent celebrations. Their High Priest, Gerald Gardner, was away visiting the Isle of Man at the time, but he did not object when he returned, since they were now more in line with the Neo-druidism of Ross Nichols, a friend of Gardner's and founder of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.

Some elements on this page were taken from the following site: http://www.pangaia.com/sabbats_explored.htm

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