|Wiccans and other Neopagans celebrate
festivals based on nature and the changing of seasons. The
Neopagan seasonal cycle, called the Wheel of the Year,
consists of eight major Sabbats. The Sabbats are joyous
occasions of celebration and festivity.
Like Jewish Shabbats, Neopagan Sabbats begin at sunset the
day before the holiday. Four of the Sabbats, known as
cross-quarter days, have Celtic origins and are called by
their Celtic names. The other four mark important points on
the solar calendar.
The eight Sabbats
February 2 - Imbolc
March 21 - Ostara (Spring Equinox)
May 1 - Beltane
June 22 - Midsummer (Summer Solstice)
August 2 - Lughnasadh
September 21 - Mabon (Autumn Equinox)
November 1 - Samhain
December 21 - Yule (Winter Solstice)
Samhain (pronounced "Sow-hen or Sow-in") is the Wiccan New
Year. At this time, the God passes into the otherworld to be
reborn to the Goddess at Yule. The division between the
worlds is thin, and it is a time to remember one's ancestors
and to reflect on the past year. In the past, it was at this
time that animals were slaughtered for food during the
winter and the tribal chief took part in the ritual as the
Yule (Winter Solstice)
Yule is a time of rebirth and renewal. At Yule, the Goddess
gives birth to her son, the God who is symbolized by the
sun. His birth brings hope and the promise of the coming
summer. Yule is a remnant of older rituals which hurried the
end of winter and the coming of spring.
Imbolc (Brigid, Candlemas)
Imbolc marks the growth of the God into a strong boy, as the
days grow longer and the sun gets stronger. It also marks
the recovery of the Goddess from giving birth to the God. It
is a time of initiation, a beginning, as the seeds begin to
wake from their winter sleep. Traditionally many initiation
rituals and self-dedication rituals are done at this time.
Ostara (Eostar, The Spring Equinox)
The Spring Equinox marks the first day of spring. It is the
time when the God grows to maturity. The night and day are
equal, therefore it is a time of balance when our lives can
be brought into harmony. It is a time of beginnings of
Beltane (May Eve)
Beltane is the emergence of the God into manhood. He falls
in love with the Goddess, and their union results in the
Goddess being with child. Beltane is a celebration of their
coupling and the fertility of the Earth Goddess and all
living things. Beltane marks the return of vitality and
Litha (Summer Solstice, Midsummer)
Midsummer falls on the longest day of the year. On this day
the God begins his journey towards death as the days begin
to get shorter. In the past, bonfires were leapt to
encourage fertility, health, and love.
Lammas is the celebration of the successful growing season.
The grain is ripe, but is just beginning to be harvested.
The God loses strength as the days grow shorter. It is a
time to address and overcome fears and anxiety.
Mabon (Autumn Equinox)
Mabon is the celebration of a successful harvest. Once
again, night and day are equal. It is a time to address the
balance in our lives and to be thankful for our success. The
God continues to fade with the sun, while the Goddess mourns
his loss but rejoices in her pregnancy.
There are also thirteen full moons in every year. These are
referred to as Esbats, and are usually considered the best
time to work magic.