Sabbats


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The Eight Sabbats form a never ending circle which is known as the 'Wheel of the Year'. These are the major festivals of the Witch's year. At these times, witches celebrate not only the changes in the Goddess: from maiden to mother, then crone and finally back to maiden again - but also the many faces of the God.

The names of the Sabbats can vary slightly from coven to coven and city to city, as they come from a time when spelling wasn't an issue. So, if you are a solitary witch at home, use the names that feel most comfortable to you.

Samhain 31st October/Halloween
Pronounced [sow-ain], Samhain is the most important festival of the witch’s year, it is the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. At this time, the Goddess takes her role as crone or wise woman, and now we look to her for guidance. On this night, the wise woman bestows her wisdom in many forms - for example in divination methods such as tarot cards, runes, dark mirrors and other forms of scrying.

Samhain is the only one of the eight Sabbats that deals with death, and in history, this would have been a time for people to let their loved ones go, to finish jobs, pay debts and start to get everything ready for the winter months ahead. So now is a good time to put aside any differences you may have with someone, ready to move into the New Year.

We remember loved ones who have passed, and we place an extra setting at the dinner table to honour them. A time to remember, and also a time to look to the future. Known to the rest of the world as Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, this is a truly magical time.

Yule 21st December/Winter Solstice
This is the winter solstice celebration of rebirth. Of the year, it is the shortest day and longest night, which brings an end to darkness as the days will now start to get longer. An excellent way to celebrate is to go out just before dawn to watch the sun rise and welcome the returning Sun King.

You can create your own Yule log in the same way that our ancestors did. Take a log with a flat bottom, as it needs to hold candles. Every person at your Yule celebration must place a candle onto the log and light it whilst making a wish. Keep this log safe for the rest of the year, and burn it in your fireplace on the following Yule. A chocolate Yule log with candles is another excellent (not to mention tasty!), idea.

Exchange hand made gifts of good will with your friends, and drink plenty of mead and warm mulled wine. This is a time to rejoice, and to look forward to lighter days.

Imbolic Feb 2nd/Candlemass
Pronounced [im-bolk] meaning “in the Belly”, this is the time when the crone removes her winter cloak to become once again the maiden. The earth is ready to give birth to new things, and we see with the first arrival of lambs in the fields. Now is a time to kick bad habits and look to the up and coming year with fresh thoughts. Pay off any debts, or bring to an end anything that you feel will help you to make a better start to your year.

Spring clean this month, and get ready to receive all the things you have hoped for and thought about all winter. Clean out your wardrobes and give to charity all that you know you’ll never wear again. You can also ask your children to ‘spring clean’ their toys, as they will have received so many over the Christmas period and by now will know which ones they have outgrown.

We celebrate the goddess Bridget by making a basket bed with a corn dolly dressed as a bride to represent the maiden, and place this with a symbol of masculinity to ensure the fertility of the earth in the months ahead.

Ostara 21st March/Spring Equinox
This is pronounced [o-star’-a] and is a time to rejoice the spring and natures’ beauty, to just get out and walk with the earth. We celebrate being alive at this time and that the days and nights are now equal, so this is an excellent time to balance out the things in your life that may not seem very even at this moment.

Ostara gets its name from the free spirited goddess Eostre and the story is that while entertaining some children, she turned a chicken into a rabbit and it preceded to lay coloured eggs, and so we get the basis for the Easter Bunny and its colourful eggs. This is also a time when the maiden truly embodies the spirit of spring, wraps herself in a cloak of new flowers, and sees the adolescent sun god in a very new light. A time to celebrate being alive and truly look forward to what the year has to offer you with an open mind.

Share with the earth what you have at the moment, bury one egg in each corner of your garden and your house will be fruitful all year round. If you don’t have a recycle bin or a compost heap, now is the time to get one. Witchcraft isn’t just about spells and magic, it’s also about the earth and how we can protect it. More... >

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