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Sabbats

Samhain -October 31, Yule -December 21, Imbolc -February 2, Eostar -Between March 20-22, Beltane(Mayday) -May 1, Litha-June 22, Lammas -August 2, Mabon -September 21
 


Samhain

Samhain (SAH-win) is more commonly known as Halloween. It is one of the two greatest holiday of the year, the other being Mayday which sits opposite on the wheel of the year. It marks the Pagan New Year. It is the day that the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest. A time when our "beloved dead" can visit us and give us advice. In ancient times, people would set lights inside hollowed-out turnips, replaced today by the carved pumkin, to guide the spirits of the dead, and offerings of food were also left out. Rituals to honour the dead are performed on this night. It is also an ideal night for communicating with spirits, divining and recalling your past lives. Some people will set a feast with an extra place for their "beloved dead", and/or set black candles in the windows for protection against evil spirits. On this night the Crone aspect of the Goddess is worshipped and the dying God is mourned. It is a time to reflect on our own death not as an ending but as the continuation of a neverending cycle.(top)


Yule

Yule comes for a Nordic word meaning "wheel" and occurs around the same time as Christmas. It is the winter solstice and the darkest day of the year, but as soon as it is over the days begin to grow longer. It is the day the Goddess, in her mother aspect, gives birth to the Sun God symbolizing the return of daylight. During this day, many people try to strengthen the light by lighting candles and logs in their homes, or putting lights on a tree. On this night, many pagans stay up all night to keep the Goddess company while she gives birth. There is singing and feasting all night long as we await the God's rebirth. Traditionally a Yule log (which should light on the first try) would be burned for twelve hours, for protection and good luck. Alternately, many witches will drill three holes in the log and place three candles in them, white, red and black, to symbolize the three parts of the Goddess, and decorate the log with ivy and evergreens. This symbolizes the reunion of the God and Goddess. Some people prefer to decorate a Yule tree with images of what they wish to receive during the year, (charms for love, coins for wealth, the limit is your imagination) and place lit candles on it. (however electric lights are a much safer way to go). You should cut your Yule tree yourself, rather than buying one. It should be taken down by the twelfth day (after Yule), and burned as is proper for a sacred object. Holly, ivy and mistletoe are also part of the Yuletide celebration. Kissing under the mistletoe IS a part of the pagan tradition! You can also burn bayberry candles to ensure wealth and happiness in the coming year. When celebrating Yule, one should keep in mind that most of the customs used today by Christians are based on old pagan traditions, but have slightly different interpretations. So take part in Christmas with your friends!(top)


Imbolc

Imbolc is also known as Candlemas and Brigid's Day. It marks the coming springtime and the strengthening of the light. The Goddess is recovering from the birth of the God. In Ireland this day was known as Oimelc, which means "ewe's milk", because it was at this time that the cattle were being born and the mothers began giving milk. This is a time of beginning and a good time to perform dedication rituals. We pick seeds from catalogs, tools and rocks for our rituals. Imbolc is also a Festival of Lights. Some people will light candles in every room of the house and allow them to burn until sunrise (you should be very careful when burning candles and should never leave them unattended, try leaving a small lamp on instead). This is a good time to do weather magick and divination. It is also said that the spirits of the dead walk among us this night.(top)


Eostar

Eostar is the Spring Equinox. It is the time when day and night are the same length and Spring officially begins. It is a time of balance and fertility. Many of the myths that are associated with this holiday center around the return of a certain deity from the underworld and their struggle to return to the land of the living: Demeter and Persephone. Eostar is the Goddess for whom Easter is named and story of the Easter bunny comes from a legend of a little bunny and his dealings with Eostar. The little bunny wanted to please Eostar so much that he laid eggs in her honour then painted them all kinds of beautiful colours. When she received her gift, Eostar was so pleased that she asked the bunny to give an egg to everyone so that all humans could share the wonderful gift. Today eggs are painted and placed on altars as decorations to honour the Goddess and God, and also as a sign of fertility. This is the day of the Great Rite, or sexual union between the God and Goddess. (top)
 
 


Beltane(Mayday)

Mayday marks the coming summertime and is the second of two great holidays. It is a time of joy, merriment, feasting and celebration. We are looking forward to the warm summer days ahead. It is a time of love and union, and is another fertility sabbat. Dancing around a Maypole may be part of the celebration. Traditionally a pine tree that had been previously used at Yule would be stripped of it's top branches, forming a phallic symbol. It was then strung with white ribbons to symbolize the Goddess, and red ribbons to symbolize the God. A Beltane fire is usually lit and a smoldering peice of the bonfire would be brought home to bring blessings into your house for the summer months. The smoke from a Beltane fire is believed to be best used for ritual purification of tools, jewelery, talismans, etc. In some traditions, witches would jump through the fire skyclad, and cattle would also be sent through. In ancient traditions Mayday was a day of '...unashamed human sexuality and fertility.'(top)


Litha

Litha, better known as the Summer Solstice, occurs on the longest day of the year. It is a day to remind us that nothing lasts forever, and the days will begin growing shorter. 'Because the things we love don't last forever, we love them all the more while they are here':Circle Round. Today is a good day to give something away, but make sure it isn't something that doesn't mean anything to you. By letting go of something, we allow ourselfs to change. The Sun God is at his strongest point, and the Goddess is heavy with child. It is a good time for making protective amulets, since it is a Sabbat glorifying the God, and animal blessings, especially of familiars are done at this time. The Solstice is a fire festival. People all over Europe used to light huge bonfires and stay up all night. Ashes from the Midsummer Night's fire were spread over the fields to ensure fertility. On this night, it was said you could see the fairy folk by gathering some fern seed at midnight and rubbing it on your eyes. You should also keep some Rue on you, or turn your jacket inside out to keep you out of harm's way. You can also cross a stream of running water. One custom was to deck the house (the front door in particular) with birch, fennel, St. John's wort, orpin and white lilies. Rue, roses, St. John's wort, vervain and trefoil, were all said to have special properties on this night. St. John's wort was used by young maidens in hopes of divining their future lover. Midsummer is a favorite holiday amongs many witches because of the hospitable temperature.(top)


Lammas

Lammas is the first of three Wiccan harvests. It is a grain harvest and is sometimes called the Sabbat of the First Fruits. 'The first fruits to ripen and the the first grain that was ready to reap were considered especially sacred, as if they carried with them the spirit of the Goddess herself.' Lammas is a good time to think about hopes and fears. We hope to enjoy an abundant harvest, but there is the fear of storms or dry weather that could ruin the crops. This day marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall, and the days are now growing visibly shorter. Lammas was a time of crafts, and was a market day, where different people would show off their wares. The decorated themselves and their shops with bright ribbons and perform for the people. It was a declared a day of sacred peace and no one was allowed to disturb the holiday peace by fighting, theiving or making war.(top)


Mabon

Mabon or Fall Equinox, is the harvest celbration. Again we see the balance of night and day, but this time we are moving towards darkness. We gather the harvest and prepare for the winter months ahead. It is our Thanksgiving day, as we thank the Goddess for the gifts of the harvest. On this night Druids honored the willow tree, which is associated with the Goddess, and would cut their wands from the branches just before Mabon. Both God and Goddess have taken on their Elderly aspects. The God is preparing for his death at Samhain and the Goddess is entering her Crone aspect. However, the seed of the God still lives in her maiden aspect, awaiting it's rebirth at Yule. (top)

And so the wheel of the year turns...
 


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