14 Oct 2014

THE EIGHT SABBATS ~ THE WHEEL OF THE YEAR

The eight Sabbats shown on the above wheel are the main festivals that are celebrated in the Witches' year. Seasons are celebrated, agriculture, the cycles of nature and animals and the Goddess and God.


Some Witches' will celebrate alone if they are a solitary worker, or as part of their coven, and various activities and rituals will be carried out to mark each Sabbat. As a solitary Witch myself, I often carry out my rituals alone, but then will celebrate at a later time with my (non-Witch) partner, usually by taking a walk and then preparing a nice meal when we return home.

This post will briefly explain the meaning of each Sabbat.



SAMHAIN  ~ 31 OCTOBER (Also known as; All Souls, All Hallows Eve, Hallowe'en)

Samhain is one of the major Sabbats and is considered that of the greatest importance being that it is the Witches' New Year. This marks a time for reflection and taking stock of what has occurred in the year gone by, and what you intend to do in the coming year. It is said that at Samhain, the veil between the spirit world and the human world is at its' thinnest, and the spirits of our loved ones that have already passed over have the chance to be close to us at this time. This is a perfect opportunity to ask them for guidance and protection. It is also a time to start preparing for the onset of winter. In days gone by, villagers would have done this by gathering and storing their harvest, storing away strong livestock and slaughtering the weaker ones for meat, and ensuring their would be enough fuel to keep the fires burning. Perhaps in these more modern times we can prepare by ensuring our houses are draught-proof, our cars have anti-freeze in them, our pets have a warm cozy bed to lie in, and we are equipped to deal with the most adverse of weather conditions. Perhaps we can also spend a Sunday making soups and stews in bulk and freezing them, in case there is ever a time when we might be stranded in the house!


YULE ~ 21 DECEMBER (Also known as; The Winter Solstice, Christmas)

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day and the longest night. This Sabbat celebrates the re-birth of the sun, which now begins to increase in strength and there is a promise of the cycle of life beginning again.Witches of the past would bring evergreen decorations into their home as a reminder of the coming Spring and to encourage its return - the origin of the Christmas Tree!


IMBOLG ~ 2 FEBRUARY (Also known as; The Festival of Bridgit, Candlemas)

The first signs of Spring! The land is pregnant with new life and the promise of a plentiful harvest to come! In past times, the evergreen decorations from Yule where held onto until the onset of Imbolg and then burned in the cleansing fires. A 'recycling' if you will! Few of us these will keep our Christmas Trees around that long, and so as part of my Imbolg celebrations I will make gift tags of the Christmas cards I have been sent and recycle the remainder of the card. This is also a good time to start of some little seedlings indoors, and plant them out a month or two later, when the last of the frosts have disappeared.


OESTARA ~ 21 MARCH (Also known as; Easter, The Spring Equinox)

Easter! Named after the Anglo-Saxon Dawn Goddess Ostara, whose symbol is the egg and the Hare! At this time of year we can see the beginnings of the harvest and the new baby animals being born. Day and Night is equal and in balance, and therefore, this is a good time to seek balance within ourselves. Cast of the old - that which no longer serves you - whether it be possessions, attitudes, habits, thoughts - and try to adopt a new way of thinking! Spring clean both you and your home!


BELTANE ~ 1 MAY (Also known as; May Day)

The second most important Sabbat in the Witches' calendar after Samhain, Beltane is another time in the Wheel of the Year when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is thin. A word of caution, however! Unlike Samhain, where we celebrate the lives of loves ones passed on, Beltane is a time where mischievous spirits can take advantage if given the opportunity! This is also a major fertility festival, the search for a mate and the celebration of the union of male and female - a perfect time for Witches' to 'Hand Fast' (Witches' Wedding).


 LITHA ~ 21 JUNE (Also known as; The Summer Solstice)

The Summer Solstice is the longest day and the shortest night of the year, after which, the hours of day light begin to decrease. Some Witches will rise before dawn on the day of the Solstice, so that they may greet the Sun on the day that it is at its most powerful. At this time, we reflect on the passage of the year, observing how many of the plants and flower of the season have already peaked, and are dying off to make way for new and different ones, and thinking about how we can apply this to our own lives. What has run its course and how can you make room for new adventures?


LAMMAS ~ 1 AUGUST (Also known as; Lughnasadh, Loaf-Mass)

Lammas is the festival of death and re-birth. At this time we are concerned with ensuring that we have given enough in return for what we have been blessed with, and in days gone by, the last sheaf of the first field that was cut would be 'sacrificed' to the land, as a repayment for a plentiful harvest, and to hopefully ensure that the land would remain fertile in years to come! This is a really good time to count your blessings. Be thankful for what you have, as oppose to fretting about what you don't have!


MADRON ~ 21 SEPTEMBER (Also known as; Autumn Equinox, Harvest Festival)

A time of year when day and night is equally in balance, and thus a perfect time to strive for balance within ourselves! This is also an occasion when we can look towards casting out the old and welcoming in the new. Release old grudges, regrets and sorrows. It is now time to make amends with people you have had grievances with. Let the healing process begin! Forgive others but also remember to forgive yourself!



The above eight Sabbats form the Wheel of the Year - a never ending cycle of life, death and re-birth. There is a ton of information to be found to further expand on these festivals, either on the Internet or in book form, and you can discover a little more about the history, legends and traditions behind them, and some of the ones that still linger to this day!