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Pagan Information: Sabbats

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  • Sabbats: Wheel of the Year

    The Wheel of the Year is a name given to the eight major sabbats we celebrate each year. The sabbats are solar celebrations that are held at the changing of the seasons and mid-season.


    YULE

    Date: Around December 21 (on the winter solstice)

    Alternate Names: Winter Solstice,Midwinter

    Yule is a celebration of peace, hope for the future, and of Life. It's a celebration that counteracts the gloomy cold of the dark half of the year.The Goddess gives birth to the God.The Sun's light begins to grow.Even though days are still cold,the Sun is returning to us. Yule is a time when the Sun turns from its plunge into darkness; a time of rebirth and renewal.It is a time to reach out to friends and family and those in need; A time to let go of this year past and embrace the New Year's change.

    Traditions:
    Yule Log: (usually of oak) The log is either lighted (with candles stuck into drilled holes) or decorated. It's a symbol of the Sun God reborn.

    Mistletoe: It's possibly an old Druid custom to kiss someone you care for beneath the mistletoe.

    Evergreen Tree: (or Yule Tree) this tree is decorated at Yuletime and is a symbol of the Tree of Life or the World Tree.

    Gift-giving: Since Yule is a time of appreciation,family,and love... gift-giving is a common tradition.


    IMBOLC

    Date: February 2

    Alternate Names: Candlemas,Brighid's Day,Festival of the Waxing Light,Oimelc, Lady Day

    Imbolc is from a Gaelic word immolg which means 'in milk'. Another translation is 'first milk'. It refers to the time of year when the ewes and cattle are giving birth and are feeding their young. There is also "imbolg" which translates to 'in the belly'.

    Imbolc marks the Earth's reawakening. We celebrate the first stirrings of Spring in the womb of the Goddess.The days are growing longer by this time. Symbolically,the Goddess is presented as the bride of the sun.

    This is the time of year to pay attention to creativity,projects that you've begun,healing arts and productivity in general.

    Traditions:
    Corn Dolls ( or Brighid's Bed ): a basket lined with white cloth. Inside it is placed a doll made from grain or corn and dressed in white. The dollis then set in her bride's bed or basket.

    Lighted Candles: candles are lit right after sunset to welcome the Star Child (son of the Goddess).


    OSTARA

    Date: Around March 21 (Spring Equinox)

    Alternate Names: Eostar,Spring Equinox

    Spring begins on this day. It's a day of equal Light and Dark and there is a balance of male and female energies in nature. Spring is the season of rebirth and renewal. The Goddess is a young vibrant maiden. The young God is maturing. At this time the earth reawakens from its wintry sleep. Ostara is a festival of Light,Fertility,and New Beginnings. Traditions:
    Egg Colouring: In the past eggs were eaten to promote fertility and prosperity. Now,children paint them and then hide then for the "Easter Egg Hunt". Spring Flowers: Used in most decorations at this time.


    BELTANE

    Date: May 1

    Alternate Spelling: Bealtane,Bealtaine,Beltaine

    Alternate Name: May Day

    Beltane is Spring at it's peak. It's a celebration of Love and Joy. Symbolically,this is the union of the Goddess and God. The sabbat name likely came from an ancient Celtic God,Belenus. He was the god of Light, Healing,the sun,and one of the eldest gods recognized in that culture. May 1 marks the beginning of the warm season and it is the last stop on the road to summer.

    Traditions:
    Bonfire: Also called "balefires". Bonfires are a common tradition at Beltane.

    May Pole: Witches dance around the May Pole,weaving their ribbons around it during the celebration.

    May Queen: One is usually crowned during the festivities.


    LITHA

    Date: Around June 21 (Summer Solstice)

    Alternate Name: Summer Solstice,Midsummer

    Litha is the climax of solar light and is a very passionate festival. Litha is when the sun is at its greatest power before it begins to wane. At During this festival, the daytime last longer than the night. It marks the beginning of summer.

    Traditions:
    Weddings: (Not that all weddings take place on this day) June is considered the best month in which to get married.

    Herb-Gathering: this is another popular tradition for Litha.The flowers, like the rose are used in decorations.


    LAMMAS

    Date: August 1

    Alternate names: Lughnasadh (pronounced "loo-nah-suh")

    Lammas is the first of the Harvest festivals. The name Lughnasadh was given to the festival because it is in honor of the celtic god,Lugh. Lugh is the god of light, the Corn King. This is a time of joy and sadness; we reap in the harvest's bounty,yet we know that solar light is beginning to fade with the coming winter. This is the time when,symbolically,the God begins to die.

    Traditions:
    Corn and Corn Bread: These harvest foods are often eaten at this time in honor of the first harvest. Corn dollies were made in honor of the goddess of grain. Corn bread is baked in the shape of the god in honor of his sacrifice.


    MABON

    Date: Around September 21 (Fall Equinox)

    Alternate Name: Fall Equinox

    Mabon is the witch's Thanksgiving celebration. It is the second harvest festival; fruit for wine is harvested at this time.
    Mabon is directly across from Ostara on the wheel of the Year and is also a time of balance. It's also the beginning of the 'family' season, when everything is calming down and families are coming together.
    It's possible that this sabbat's name came from the Welsh god of youth,Mabon.

    Traditions:
    Decorations: Mabon decorations include: pumpkins,cornstalks,gourds,and Indian corn.

    Gathering: roots and herbs were gathered at this time for medicines. Now,families gather together during this season.


    SAMHAIN

    Date: October 31

    Alternate Names: Halloween, Hallowmas, All Hallow's Eve, Ancestress Night, Festival of the Dead

    This is often viewed as the witch's New Year and is a time of reflection. Autumn is at its peak during Samhain (pronounced "sow-en"). The Earth is gathering up it's energy to prepare for winter.
    Samhain is in honor of thpse we loved who have passed on (human and animal) as well as in honor of our ancestors. This is the third and final harvest. The veil between all worlds is at its thinnest now,so don't be surprised if you see and unusual creature or two. The God dies at Samhain and awaits rebirth at Yule.

    Traditions:
    Divination: this is a popular practice during this powerful time of year.

    Honoring: Our ancestors and dead loved ones are honored at Samhain.