Moon Phase


Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Wheel Of The Year *Sabbats*

The Wheel of the Year is the cycle of seasons continuously turning from birth to rebirth again and again. With our spiritual awakening and growth we learn about these cyclic paths start to see the patterns in life itself. Sabbats mark actual events in Nature which are associated with the changes of the seasons. These natural energies of the Earth help keep us in tune with those cyclic changes.

The Goddess and God travel the Wheel of the Year repeating the God’s cyclic story of His birth, life, and death. The following is a quick tour:

*Yule - The Goddess gives birth to the God and rests from Her labor

*Imbolc – The Goddess recovers from giving birth and the God is a small boy

*Ostara - The God is seen as a growing youth

*Beltainne - The God has reached manhood, falls in love with the Goddess, they unite helping the earth to burst forth with life and new growth producing Nature’s bounty. The Goddess is impregnated by the God

*Litha - Both the God and Goddess are at the peak of their strength and powers

*Lughnassadh - The first harvest and the God begins to weaken

*Mabon - The second harvest, and the God is coming to his end

*Samhain - The God dies, only to be reborn again at Yule There are Eight Sabbats in a year; each represented by their own meanings, associations, and celebrations. They are divided into two categories: The Minor or Lesser Sabbats and the Major or Greater Sabbats, with them alternating approximately 45 days apart from each other, making up the Wheel of the Year as you will see in the diagram on the next page.

Quartering the Year: The Greater & Lesser Sabbats

The Lesser or Minor Sabbats occur at the Quarters of the Year:

* Yule / Winter Solstice

* Ostara / Spring Equinox

* Litha / Summer Solstice

* Mabon / Autumn Equinox

The Greater or Major Sabbats - occur at the Cross Quarters of the Year, the midpoints between Solstice and Equinox. They mark the turning of seasons and are considered very powerful days in and of themselves. Midpoints are times of great power just as in Nature most creatures reach their peak of strength in the middle of their lives.





We will begin with Yule because it is the first seasonal holiday that falls after Samhain (the Witch’s New Year).

Yule [pronounced YOOL] or Winter Solstice (c. December 21)
Is a Lesser Sabbat and the shortest day of the year and celebrates the passing of the longest night and the return of the Sun’s Power. The Goddess gives birth to her Son, the God who is reborn once again and symbolizes the Sun. Wiccans light fires, candles, Yule logs to celebrate the return journey and welcoming the Sun’s returning light, warmth, and the life it will bring. Yule is a reminder that death is followed by rebirth.

Imbolc [pronounced IM-bolk] or Candlemas (February 2)
Is a Greater Sabbat and celebrates the early stirrings of Spring awakening the Goddess with the lengthening of daylight as the child-like God’s strength is increasing. The Sun’s warmth fertilizes the Earth (the Goddess) causing seeds to sprout. It is a time that welcomes the change from old to new, of purification, inspiration, and creativity. Wiccans traditionally used this time for initiations and dedications along with celebrating the festival of Brigid with bonfires, candles and blazing cauldrons.

Ostara [pronounced oh-STAR-ah] or Spring Equinox (c. March 21)
Is a Lesser Sabbat and marks the first day of Spring. It represents the warrior aspect of the god in the Caledonii Tradition. A festival of fertility and a celebration of the sacred balance between the day and night. Regaining her strength fully the Goddess envelops the Earth with fertility and the young God continues to mature with the daylight overtaking the nights darkness. Eggs are colored and placed on altars as magickal talismans. Ostara begins the journey of stored energy bursting into fruition with the focus of renewal, expansion, planting opportunities for the future, and the return of the Sun’s life-giving warmth.

Beltainne [pronounced BEL-tayne] or Mayday (May 1)
Is a Greater Sabbat and a time when the cares and fears of Winter are shed giving way to youthful lustiness, playfulness, and sexuality. It is the celebration of the Earth’s awakening as fires were lit on hilltops in order to bring the Sun’s light down to the Earth, the walking between two bonfires to ensure fertility. People dancing around maypoles which symbolically represents the union between the Goddess and the God creating a sacred circle of abundance. The young God is stirred by the exuberant energy and emerges into manhood. He desires the Goddess, they unite in a handfasting and once again in love the Goddess becomes pregnant ensuring life after the harvest.

Litha [pronounced LEE-tha] or Summer Solstice (c. June 21)
Is a Lesser Sabbat and marks the longest day of the year. The God and Goddess are at their peak of power, as is all of nature's bounty with all that is green and growing. The Earth is awash in the fertility of the Goddess and God. It is the high time of the Sun King in all his glory and is marked with festivals of fire. In the past, bonfires were leapt to encourage fertility, purification, health, and love. Litha is a classic time to perform love and healing magick..

Lughnassadh [pronounced LOO-nas-ah] or Lammas (August 1)
A Greater Sabbat which is the beginning of the first fall harvest, the day the first grains are cut. This Sabbat gets its name from the Celtic God Lugh, who is associated with the nighttime hours lengthen, the God begins to lose his strength and becomes the God of sacrifice. The Goddess watches with sorrow as he is dying but with joy knowing she has her child inside her, who will be reborn at Yule. Lughnassadh is a time of giving thanks for what we have and making offerings of gratitude.

Mabon [pronounced MAY-bon] or Autumn Equinox (c. September 21)
One of the Lesser Sabbats and where once again day and night are of equal duration. It is the second harvest festival and is associated with the taking of corn and other last fruits of the year. The God prepares to take His journey into the unseen, towards his death at Samhain, and the Goddess is beginning to mourn his loss. Yet She feels the presence of the God burning within her womb as she watches his weakening. This is the completion of the harvest begun at Lughnassadh, as the fields are cleared of their bounty and Nature draws back, readying for winter and its time of rest.

Samhain [pronounced SOW-wen or sah-VEEN] (October 31)
Is a Greater Sabbat and considered the Witches’ New Year, representing one full turn of the seasonal year. Samhain literally means “summer’s end” and is the last of the three harvest Sabbats. It marks the death of the God and the starting of a new year. This celebration honors those that have died and crossed over. A “dumb” supper is often celebrated to honor the dead in which a place at the table is set in honor for those who have passed over and the meal is eaten in total silence. The veil between the worlds of life and death is said to be thin on this night. It was believed the worlds of the living and the dead merged on this day and it was in order to maintain peace between the two worlds that most of our Halloween traditions evolved such as trick or treat. Samhain is a religious time of fasting, reflection, meditation and prayer, looking back over the last year, coming to terms with death, and honoring ancestors.

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