The wheel of the year is essentially a visual representation of the pagan year. It shows how the seasons are a continuous circle of repetition. When one season ends and another follows it is in a constant loop. So, too, is life. We are born, we grow, we age, we pass, and then we are reborn to begin again. The seasons represent the constant birth, death, and rebirth cycles of both the Goddess and God.
"Four times the Major Sabbats mark in the light and in the dark.
As the old year starts to wane the new begins, it's now Samhain.
When the time for Imbolc shows watch for flowers through the snows.
When the wheel begins to turn soon the Beltane fires will burn.
As the wheel turns to Lammas night power is brought to magic rite.
Four times the Minor Sabbats fall use the Sun to mark them all.
When the wheel has turned to Yule light the log the Horned One rules.
In the spring, when night equals day time for Ostara to come our way.
When the Sun has reached it's height time for Oak and Holly to fight.
Harvesting comes to one and all when the Autumn Equinox does fall.
Heed the flower, bush, and tree by the Lady blessed you'll be."
The Major Sabbats
Samhain is the pagan new year. In some traditions it is celebrated from October 31 to November 2. This celebration traditionally holds the lifting of the veil between worlds to allow the world of the spirit and the world of the living to cross. It is a night to celebrate the lives of loved ones passed. Usually in some traditions, October31 is a night of adult loved ones and the night of November 1 is a night to celebrate lost children. This is the night those loved ones can return to be with us. This is not the same day as the Mexican Day of the Dead. My family loves to celebrate with a dumb supper. We eat in silence (well as silent as kids can be), and we start with dessert and work our way to an appetizer. We set a place at our table for my son who passed away. Doing this makes sure that he is not forgotten. My oldest son will tell the younger ones what he can remember about his brother. This is also my anniversary. I chose the date because for us it would be a new year with a new start. Samhain is the feast of the last harvest.
Imbolc celebrates the Goddess's rebirth and the God reaching puberty. It is especially sacred to Brigit the fire Goddess. This is the time of year to to begin preparing the land for planting crops for the coming spring. This is the time of year when most live stock are getting close to the spring births and are large. It is celebrated from February 1 to the 2.
Beltane is also known as May Day. The most recognized part of Beltane is the Maypole dance. The Maypole dance is a fertility dance. It represents the combining of the Goddess and the God! I'll let you figure out what is what and how! Obviously it is celebrated from April 30 to May 1!It is a celebration that involves large bon fires. This is a major celebration of fertility. It marks a return of fiery passion. Decorations of flowers are worn. The Maiden Goddess becomes pregnant of the God and moves to the Mother Goddess!
Lammas/Lughnasadh is the first harvest of the year. It is July 31 to August 1. It is a time to celebrate and recognize that the hot summer days of the year will soon come to an end! Right now living in the southern United States it's HOT! Lughnasadh means the funeral games of Lugh, the sun god. These games were held to honor his foster mother.The Sun God enters into the last phase of his life as days become shorter and nights longer. At my house we celebrate this time by canning and freezing things we grow and get from friends with gardens and share with our loved ones.
The Minor Sabbats
Yule is in my opinion a major sabbat in this household! It is celebrated around December 20 to the 23. Yule is the winter solstice. With my family being a mix of Christian and Pagan we celebrate both Yule and Christmas. Over time I have come to realize that's not as hard as it sounds! Many Christmas traditions are taken from Yule celebrations! Yule is a celebration of the longest night of the year and is when the Mother Goddess gives birth to the Infant God! The nights become a little shorter and the days a bit longer after this night! In my home we celebrate by baking Yule Cakes (which can be either cakes or cookies depending) and then deliver them to our neighbors to remind them that we are here for them!
Ostara is again for my family (being the mix) another major celebration. It is usually celebrated around March 21. This was adopted by early Christians as Easter. It is a celebration of the spring equinox. This celebrates the marriage of the Maiden Goddess and the young Sun God! This is the time for planting summer vegetables here in the south! My children love that things are in perfect balance as is seen by constantly bumping into the my broom being left standing all around my house!
Litha is the exact opposite of Yule! It is the summer solstice, which is usually around June 21. This is the longest day of the year and the nights get longer and the days become shorter. Gardeners should take care around this time of year that their gardens do not become parched by the sun, as well as taking care to keep themselves, children, elders, and animals safe from the heat and well hydrated! The first early vegetables of the season begin to be harvested around this time. The Sun God is at his strongest at this time. Giving life sustaining light to the fields!
Mabon is the autumn equinox. It is celebrated around September 21 (My favorite father's birthday I might add!) and is the second harvest of the season! Again things are at perfect balance this time of year and again you will find my broom standing around!!! The Goddess moves from Mother to the Crone during this time and the God prepares for his death and rebirth.
These are the Sabbats celebrated in Witchcraft, their dates change demographically based on where you are. Since I am in the state of Georgia these are around the dates we celebrate. The southern hemisphere has them reversed to reflect their seasons. I also have more detailed decriptions and rituals listed at these links: Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas, Yule, Ostara, Litha, and Mabon.
Being a witch to me is a celebration of being a woman and celebrating nature, the Earth, the Moon, the Sun, the stars, The goddess, the God, and life and it's mysteries in general!!! I've always joked about the best thing about being a witch is that I have both a mother and a father, but that is just what witchcraft is, wonder and mystery and BALANCE!