Written By: Rain Lily
Yule: Also known as the winter solstice, celebrated on December 21. It is a festival of joy and light, at this time we gather for song, feasting, and gift giving. Yule celebrates the birth/return of the Sun God. This is the time of year when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky The symbolism behind this Sabbat is that it is the renewal and rebirth during winter. The waning or diminishing sun is overtaken by the waxing or increasing sun, thus the days become longer after the victory of The Oak King over his twin The Holly King. It is at Yule that the Goddess gives birth to the sun. In this aspect, the God represents hope in the coming cold of Winter it the is promise that spring lies ahead. Some Symbols, specialized tools, and colors associated with this Sabbat are:
- Magickal Activities: Light fires within cauldrons; carry candles around the circle; one may honor trees or potted evergreens as symbols of continuing fertility of the earth, and a yule log may be lit if there is a fire physically within the circle.
- Colors: Green and red.
- Symbols: A wheel, evergreens, yule logs, and small potted tree.
- Herbs: Holly, mistletoe, ivy, cedar, bay, juniper, rosemary, pine.
- Offerings: Apples, oranges, nutmegs, lemons, and whole cinnamon sticks on the Yule tree. Most bring holly and evergreen boughs into the house to encourage the growth of the lie and return of warmth.
- Decorations for the altar: Holly, mistletoe, pine cones, candles, sun symbols, evergreens such as pine, rosemary, bay, juniper, and ceder, this can also be laid to mark the circle of stones. Dried leaves can also be placed on the altar. This is celebrated with lots of candles and focused on light and fire.
- Goddess’s: All Spinning Goddesses. The Dagda, Brighid, Angeronam, Eve, Pandora, Zvezda, Metzli, Yachimato-Hime, Tiamat, NuKua, Isis, Demeter, Gaea, Diana, The Great Mother.
- Gods: All Re-Born Sun Gods. Apollo, Balder, Oak/Holly King, Ra , Saturn, Helios, Ukko, Odin, Lugh, The Horned One, The Green Man, The Divine Child, Mabon, Frey
- Stones: Rubies, bloodstones, garnets, emeralds, cat’s eye, diamonds.
- Animals: Stags, wolf, hawk, squirrels, wren/robin, phoenix, trolls, memecolion.
- Magickal Properties: Peace, harmony, love, divination, a healthier planet, and increased happiness.
- Foods: Roasted turkey, mulled wine, dried fruit, eggnog, pork, beans, gingerbread people, Cookies and caraway cakes soaked in cider, fruits such as apples and pears, nuts, pork dishes, hibiscus or ginger tea, spiced cider, wassail, or lamb’s wool (ale, sugar, nutmeg, roasted apples).
- Incense and Oils: Rosemary, frankinsence, myrrh, nutmeg, saffron, cedar/pine, wintergreen, ginger, bayberry, cinnamon.
Imbolc: Also known as Candlemas, is usually celebrated on February 2. The goddess begins to manifest the maiden aspects, with the first few flowers pushing up through the melting snow. It is known as the light festival and is meant to encourage the suns return. It is the time of Blessing of the seeds and consecration of agricultural tools. It marks the center point of the dark half of the year. It is the festival of the Maiden, for from this day to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth and renewal. Brighid’s snake emerges from the womb of the Earth Mother to test the weather, and in many places the first Crocus flowers began to spring forth from the frozen earth. During this Sabbat one lights candles or torches and holds them in the circle, are usually carried around the altar at some point, symbols of the wheel are placed on the altar, ritual blessing and planting seeds in pots in the circle with requests to the God and Goddess. Some symbols, specialized tools, colors that are associated with this Sabbat are:
- Colors: White, green and white, or blue; a dish of snow; evergreens; candles.
- Herbs: Snowdrop, rowan, the first flowers of the year.
- Magickal Workings: It is the when there is the first stirrings of life under the blanket of winter. This is the time of the recovery of the Goddess after giving birth to the God Some themes are fertility, fire, purification, and initiation or spiritual rebirth. This holiday includes lots of candles to encourage the light and warmth to grow. Many at this time honor Bride.
- Decorations for the Altar: may include bulbs, seeds, and lots of candles.
Ostara: Also known as the spring equinox, and is usually celebrated on March 21st. This is the first true day of spring, a time when there are hours of equal light and darkness, from now until Mabon, the new sun god will rule in strength. The Sun God begins his seminal journey across the sky. His light and warmth overtake the darkness of winter until his power peaks at the Summer Solstice in June. Ostara is a time of new fire. The light and dark are in perfect balance, but the light is growing and the Sun is about to burst forth with new energy. It is a season of fertility and growth. During this Sabbat one may light a fire in the circle during the rite itself but not before. Some symbols colors and tools associated with this Sabbat are:
- Color: White
- Symbols: Potted plant.
- Tools: Cauldron or bonfire.
- Decorations: It is common to have an abundance of flowers at the circle.
- Altar decorations: Flowers, eggs, seeds, and images of rabbits.
- Magickal Properties: This is a time of beginnings, action, future gains, and to tend to ritual gardens.
- Magickal Activities: Flowers should be laid on the altar, placed around the circle and strewn on the ground.
- Herbs: Lily of the valley, tansy, lavender, marjoram, thyme, tarragon, lovage, lilac, violets, lemon balm, dogwood, honeysuckle, oakmoss, orrisroot, sunflower seeds, rose hips, oak, elder, willow, crocus, daffodil, jonquil, tulip, broom (Scotch or Iris), meadowsweet, acorn, trefoil (purple clover), vervain. Daffodil, woodruff, violet, gorse, olive peony, iris, narcissus, all spring flowers.
- Stones: Clear quartz crystal, rose quartz, agate, lapis lazuli, amazonite, garnet.
Beltane: Also known as May Day, is usually celebrated on May 1. It is a time for celebration of life renewed with as much intensity as Samhain marked with honored death and rebirth. It is with joy and hope and desire and passion for the fertility of the world and for ourselves that we dance laughingly around the maypole. Seasonal symbolism: It is the return of full-blown fertility. We celebrate the union between the Great Mother and her young Horned God. Their coupling brings fresh new life on Earth. During this Sabbat one may weave ribbons (solitary version of creating and dancing the may pole), bonfire leaping, and the blowing of horns. Some symbols, colors, specialized tools associated with this Sabbat are:
- Colors: White
- Tools: Fresh flowers. cauldron filled with flowers. Mirrors are also appropriate.
- Herbs: Hawthorn, honeysuckle, st. john’s wort, woodruff, all flowers, blessed thistle, broom, curry, daffodil, dogwood, coriander, dragon’s blood reed, fern, fireweed, nettle, flaxseed, marjoram, paprika, radish, rue, snapdragon, mushroom, almond, meadowsweet, rose, tansy, elder leaves.
- Incense: Rose, jasmine, ylang, ylang, peach, musk, or vanilla.
- Stones: Malachite, garnet, rose quartz, emerald, beryl, tourmaline.
- Magickal Activities: Many leave out cake or milk to honor the “fairy folk” and appease them so that they don’t play tricks on them. Often there is a lot of feasting at this holiday.
- Decorations: Flowers, greenery, ribbons, and phallic symbols.
- Magickal Properties: This is the time the young God emerges into manhood, and the Goddess becomes pregnant. Marks the return of vitality, passion, and hopes.
Summer Solstice: Also known as Middsummer or Litha is usually celebrated on June 21. The energies of nature have reached their highest point. Midsummer is the time when the sun reaches the peak of its power, the earth is green and holds the promise of a bountiful harvest. The Mother Goddess is viewed as heavily pregnant, and the God is at the apex of his manhood and is honored in his guise as the supreme sun.
- Symbols: Solar Disk, mistletoe, feathers, blades, mirrors to capture the sun(or the flames of the fire)
- Colors: Green, gold, yellow, white
- Herbs: Chamomile, cinquefoil, elder flower, fennel, lavender, mugwort, thyme, and vervain may be burned; hemp, larkspur, pine, rose, St John’s Wort, lily, oak, ivy,daisy, carnation, and wisteria.
- Magickal Activities: Cauldron, ringed with flowers(or filled with fresh water and flowers), sword plunged into the cauldron, bonfire leaping, and drying herbs over the bale fire. This holiday usually has bonfires within its mists.
- Decorations: Oak leaves, symbols of the sun, and flowers(especially roses, and sunflowers.).
- Magickal Properties: This is the time for all kinds of magic.
Lammas/Lughnassadh: Celebrated on August 1, it is the first of the harvest festivals, In the ancient world this was indeed a time of celebration. A successful harvest would mean survival in the harsh winter months. In the northern countries this was, in particular, a celebration of the first harvest of wheat, thus bread is featured in the celebration of Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh. As the modern day Pagans celebrate this festival they will build roaring bonfires, feed each other a mouthful of bread, and with wine they will toast each other…”May you eat the bread of life.”
- Herbs: Frankincense, wheat, cornstalks, heather.
- Altar Flowers/Herbs: Corn ears, hollyhock, myrtle, oak leaves, wheat.
- Feast Foods: Apples/apple pie, cornbread, sweet potatoes/sweet potato pie, grapes, blackberries.
- Animals: Calves, roosters, deer. Incense: chamomile, rose, rosemary, allspice, sandalwood, carnation.
- Rituals/Spells: Maternal magick, prosperity spells, purification spells, thanksgiving rituals, career spells.
Mabon: Also known as the Fall Equinox, is usually celebrated on September 21. This Sabbat represents the division of the day and night equally, and we all take a moment to pay our respects to the impending dark. We give thanks to the waning sunlight, as we store our harvest of this year’s crops and we celebrate the aging Goddess as she passes from Mother to Crone, and her consort the God as he prepares for death and re-birth. It is the second harvest, a time of rest after hard work. Some items associated with this Sabbat are:
- Color: Red and brown, orange, russet, maroon, gold.
- Herbs: Hazel, wheat stalks, corn, aspen, acorns, oak sprigs, autumn leaves, cypress, cones, pine cones, harvest gleanings benzoin, ferns, grains, honeysuckle, marigold, milkweed, myrrh, passionflower, rose, sage, Solomon’s seal, tobacco, thistle, and vegetables.
- Foods: Breads, nuts, apples, pomegranates, and vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and onions.
- Incense: Autumn Blend-benzoin, myrrh, and sage.
- Stones: Sapphire, lapis lazuli, and yellow agates.
- Symbols: Many include pomegranates in their festivities.
- Decorations: Pomegranates, grapes, fall leaves, antlers, and cornstalks.
- Decorate the altar: acorns, oak sprigs, pine and cypress cones, ears of corn, wheat stalks, and other fruits and nuts.
Samhain: Celebrated on October 31. It is also known as All Hallows Eve or Halloween. It is pronounced Sowen. It marks the Pagan New Year. The word Samhain means ‘end of summer’. At this time, the veil between the worlds is said to be the thinnest on this night. It is a time of reflection, looking back over the last year. Coming to terms with death, and honoring ancestors. Last Harvest Sabbat. Jack O’ lanterns, gourds, cider, and other fares of the season can be used in the ritual. A time to get rid of weaknesses. A common ritual calls for writing down weaknesses on a piece of paper and tossing it into a fire.
- Herbs: Acorn, oak, apple, corn, dittany of crete, hazel, nightshade, mugwort, allspice, sage, gourds, catnip, apple trees, broom, fern, flax, heather, mandrake, mint, mullein, nutmeg, oak, patchouli, pumpkins, straw, woody sage, wormwood, angelica, rue, burdock, penny royal, rosemary, sunflower, thyme, wild ginseng, tarragon, calendula, cosmos, marigold.
- Colors: Orange, black and brown. However, red gold and yellow are also appropriate colors for this Sabbat. Altar candles should be black, orange, white, silver and-or gold.
- Offerings: Apples, pumpkin pie, beets, turnips, hazelnuts, corn, gingerbread, pomegranates, cider, herbal teas, pork dishes.
- Symbols: Jack-O-Lanterns, bale fires, masks, the besom, magickal broom, the cauldron, and the waning moon.
- Altar Decorations: Small jack-o-lanterns, Indian corn, foods from the harvest, and photographs of your loved ones who have departed from this world.
- Deities: All Crone Goddesses, and the Dying God or the Dead God.
- Stones: Obsidian, onyx, carnelian, amber, beryl, blood stone, clear quartz, diamond, garnet, gold, granite, hematite, jasper, jet, marble, opal, pyrite, sapphire, ruby, sandstone, smoky quartz, steel, tourmaline, turquoise.
- Animals: Bats, cats, and dogs.
- Foods: Beets, turnips, squash, apples, corn, nuts, gingerbread, cider, pomegranates, mulled wines and pumpkin dishes. These are all appropriate as well as meat- especially pork dishes, if you are a vegetarian use tofu, poultry, Irish bairin breac which is fruit cake, colcannon, bonfire toffee, apple cider, anything with apples, doughnuts, popcorn, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, roasted pumpkin seeds, sweet potatoes, squash, mead, late autumn fruits.
- Magickal Properties: Banishing’s, protection spells, clearing of obstacles and astral projection are particularly favored. Scrying, tarot reading, rune casting and any other form of divination you practice will bring you very clear results, as well as possibly a visit from an ancestor or spirit guide. Be open to doing inner work as well—reflecting on what you’d like to let go of and what you’d like to improve in yourself over the coming year.