wheel of the year: the eight sabbats

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Samhain

October 31st

“Halloween”, “All Hallow’s Eve”, “Hallowmas”, “Feast of the Dead”

From dusk to dawn, the veil between this world and the Otherworld is thinnest, allowing the spirits of the dead to walk the earth. Offerings of food and drink are left out and candles lit in windows to guide these spirits home. This night for honoring the dead is the third and final Harvest, and marks the beginning of the Witches’ New Year.


Yule

Approx. December 21st

“Winter Solstice”, “Midwinter”, “Christmas”

The shortest day and longest night of the year, celebrating the rebirth of the Sun. From this day until Midsummer, the sun grows ever stronger, and is therefore a festival of light to encourage its return. Homes are filled with candlelight, Yule logs, and winter greenery.


Imbolc

February 1st

“Imbolg”, “Candlemas”

The festival marking the reawakening of the earth and a celebration of renewal. It is a time of cleansing and new beginnings. Mother Earth has transformed back into a Maiden and the Old Crone is in retreat. This promising day is celebrated by candleburning, relighting the hearth, and a feast of milk and cheese.


Ostara

Approx. March 21st

“Spring Equinox”, “Vernal Equinox”, “Lady Day”, “Easter”

The celebration of the official beginning of spring. There is balance of light and dark, and the time for sowing has begun. Many creatures also give birth at this time, so symbols of fertility, such as eggs, are traditionally collected and eaten on this day.


Beltane

May 1st

“May Day”, “May Eve”

The celebration of the arriving summer and honoring life in all its many forms. It is primarily a fertility festival with nature enchantments and offerings to wildlings and Elementals. The powers of elves and faeries are growing and will reach their height at the Summer Solstice. It is a time of great magick, and guardians of your home should be honored on this day by building a woodland shrine.


Litha

Approx. June 21st

“Midsummer”, “Summer Solstice”, “Mother Night”

On this longest day of the year, with the earth lush and green, the waxing sun reaches its highest point before beginning its slide into darkness. Midsummer marks the turning of the Wheel from the light half to the dark half of the year, and traditional bonfires are used to encourage and strengthen the power of the Sun. Decorating homes and altars with flowers, particularly yellow ones, also honors its power, as well as the gathering faeries and elves.


Lughnasadh

August 1st

“Lammas”, “Festival of the Grain”

The first of the Harvest festivals, celebrating great bounty and prosperity. The earth is honored for her richness through games, storytelling, contests of strength and skill, and feasts of bread, fruits and wine. It is also the turning point in the lifecycle of the Great Mother, as she begins to age and wither, ceasing to bring forth new life.


Mabon

Approx. September 21st

“Autumn Equinox”, “Feast of Avalon”, “Wine Harvest”

The arrival of autumn and the second of the great Harvest festivals. Traditionally associated with wild game, the apple harvest, and a celebration of grapes and wine, it is a rest after labor and a chance to give thanks to the earth. Once again the day and night are equal, but the sun is weakening in strength, and preparations for the dark end of the year should be made at this time.

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