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Holidays & Rituals

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Sabbats

 

It should be noted that some of the Sabbats have various names or spellings; listed are the versions that we use. Also, the Sabbats are listed in chronological order according to the Celtic traditions - others may view the order differently if practicing from a different culture.

 

  Samhain Celebrated October 31, pronounced "SAH-win". This is the Celtic New Year's Eve and is the opposite of Beltane on the Wheel of the Year. It is a time for reflection, divination, and honoring the dead. The veil between the worlds is thinnest on this night.

  Yule Celebrated on the Winter Solstice, pronounced "YOOL". Christian symbols, such as a Christmas tree, a star, holly, even the song "Deck the Halls" are all Pagan in origin and stem from this holiday. The longest night of the year, it is the rebirth of the Sun God and therefore a time of reflection and new beginnings.

  Imbolc Celebrated February 2, pronounced "IM-bolc", meaning literally "in the belly". This is because Imbolc is a time for birth and transformations. However, it is also sacred to the Celtic goddess Brigid - goddess of healing & inspiration.

  Ostara Celebrated on the Spring Equinox, pronounced "o-STAR-ah". Like Yule, this is another Pagan holiday that has been "changed" through the years to suit Christianity. (Jesus, historically, did not rise at this time, yet Easter is celebrated here nonetheless). Ostara marks the return of spring and the fertility of animals (hence, the use of eggs in many rituals).

  Beltane Celebrated April 30, pronounced "BEL-tayne". Celebrating the waxing of life, balefires symbolize the passion of this day. Maypoles were used in ancient times as a symbol of impregnating Mother Earth, and it is a night of great revelry. Since it does represent life, the Great Rite or Marriage would be re-enacted through intercourse - no longer, but this is another misconception.

  Litha Celebrated on the Summer Solstice, pronounced "LEE-tha". The longest day and the shortest night, Litha is a festival of joy and sadness - joy for the sun's brilliance and sadness because we know it will fade through the waning summer. The Lady, or Goddess, rules the "warm" half of the year and is most strong on this day.

  Lughnassad Celebrated August 1, pronounced "LOO-nus-uh". Named after the Celtic sun God Lugh, it is a very old Celtic fire ceremony that heralds the coming of winter. This is a more sober time to sacrifice fears and to complete projects. It is also a good time to honor the harvest that the Sun God (or Lugh) has blessed.

  Mabon Celebrated on the Fall Equinox, pronounced "MAY-bon". This is the second harvest and a time of balance between summer & winter, lightness & darkness. It is sacred to the Greek goddess, Demeter, and is usually represented through the Lady (the Goddess) of Life and the Lord (the God) of Death. Again, Death is not negative, merely another aspect of one's life, for following Death will come Resurrection.

                                                       Rituals

 

  Handfasting The name for a "marriage" for Wiccans. As with any other joining of couples, a handfasting is something personal. The only things usually in all handfastings are: a story of a god and/or goddess that pertains to marriage or the couple, drinking wine to the Ancient Ones, a circle (as with normal magick), and the ribbon. The ribbon is the most important part of a handfasting; a High Priest or Priestess performing the ceremony will wrap a ribbon around one hand of each spouse-to-be, then pull the ribbon upwards until it forms a knot, saying, "The knot is tied". This symbolic gesture of joining the couple is where the phrase "tying the knot" comes from.