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CELTIC SABBATS


The Eight Sabbats known to Western pagans are represented by the 4 fire festivals and the 2 equinoxes and 2 solstice. They represent the time when the greatest change and energy occur in the Earth.

Celtic Wheel of the Year

Yule

Yule is the first Sabbat of the year and is also known as Winter Solstice. The date of Yule is ranges from December 20th to the 23rd, depending on the year. The meaning of the word Yule comes from the Norse word "wheel".

At Yule the God is reborn from the virgin aspect of the Goddess. The God represents the Sun which "returns" after this night, to bring fertility to the land. The Oak king (representing the waxing year) kills the Holly King (representing the waning year) at Yule. The Oak king reigns until Midsummer when the two battle again with the Holly king as victor. Yule altars throughout the world show Irelands influence, and that of the Druids. The use of holly, pine and mistletoe as decorations.Pine trees where decorated with such things as, fruits for successful harvest, love charms,nuts for fertility, and coins for wealth. Pine trees were sacred to the Goddess, since they do not die from year to year they show the eternal aspect of the Goddess. Another element is the Yule log. The log is an oak that is a piece of the May pole from the Beltaine sabbat. The log has three holes to represent the triple goddess and are impregnated with three candle.The candles can be all white or red, white and black, the tri-aspects of the goddess.

Imbolc

Imbolc (em-bowl-c) also known as Imbolg, Candlemas, or St.Bridgets day appears sundown on February 1 and continuing through the day of February 2. The meaning of the word Imbolc is literally "in the belly" (of the Mother). This sabbat is a special day to honor the Great Goddess Mother Brigid. The Goddess is in her maiden form now and the newly reborn God at Yule is now an adolescent. The making of grain dollies, often called corn dollies and that of the unilateral cross called Brigid's cross were traditions in Ireland and continue to this day

. This sabbat is also a night when the spirits of the dead walk among the living and can be seen safely at a crossroad. The crossroad represents balance and protection. Which is reenacted in the making of Brigid's cross which represents the safe crossroads. Imbolc is also the festival of lights. Candles are lit throughout the house in profusion. The light acts as sympathetic magick of the sun and warmth,emphasizing that Spring is not far away. Imbolc is the start of the lambing season, the first signs of returning life, the quickening of the year.

At Imbolc it is a customary ritual to pour milk (or cream) onto the earth. This is done in thanksgiving, as an offering of nurturing, and to assist in the return of fertility and generosity of the earth to its people (the return of Spring).

Ostara

The Spring Equinox, is celebrated around March 21,also known as the Rites of Spring. It marks the first day of true spring. The Goddess blankets the Earth with green fertility as she bursts forth from her slumber. The Gods growing to maturity, walks through the fertile feilds and delights in nature. On Ostra the hours of the day and night are equal. This is a time of beginnings, of action, of planting spells for future gains, and tending ritual gardens.

Beltane

Falls on April 30 This marks the emergence of the young God into manhood. He desires the Goddess, and they fall in love,lie among the grasses and blossons and unite. The Goddess becomes pregnant of the God. Wiccans celebrate the symbol of Her firtility in ritual. Beltane has long been marked with feasts and rituals. May poles were used in old English village rituals. Many people rose at dawn to gather flowers and greenery. The May pole was just to represent the God and the flowers of the Goddess. Beltane marks the return of vitality and passion.

Midsummer

The Summer Sosltice: around June 21, marks Midsummer, also known as Litha, arrives when the powers of nature are at their highest point. The Earth is bursting with fertility of the Goddess and Gods. In the past, bonfires were lit to encourage firtility, purification, health and love. The fire represents the Sun, and the God, and was used to celebrate the longest day of the year. Midsummer is an excellent time for magic of all kinds.

Lughnasadh

August 1 is the time of the first harvest, when the plants of spring wither and drop their fruits of seeps for use as well as to ensure furture crops. The God is also loosing his strength as the days get shorter. The Goddess watches in sorrow, but also in joy, as She realises the God is dying but still lives on inside Her and Her child. As summer passes, always remember its warmth and bounty in the food we eat. We are reminded that nothing in the universe is constant.

Mabon

Around September 21 is Mabon. It is the Autumn Equinox, is the completion of the harvest begun at Lughnasadh. Once again day and night are equal, as the God prepares to leave His physical body and begin his journey towards rebirth of the Goddess. Nature declines, draws back it's bounty, readying for winter and its time to rest. The Goddess nods in the weakening Sun, and feels the presence of the God as He wanes and awaits his rebirth.

Samhain

Samhain (pronounced sow-en) is another important holiday, it starts the God Season. Alternate names are Hallows Eve, All Hallows Eve, November Eve, and of course Halloween. This sabbat occurs on October 31st, or actually begins at sundown October 30th to sundown October 31st.This starts off the "dark half of the year" because the God has diminished greatly and is now dead. He now awaits his resurrection at Yule, and the cycle will start all over again.

The veil between the worlds is thinnest on this night, and is considered an excellent time for divination, and strengthening of karmic ties with those you wish to be with throughout another lifetime. Along with good spirits the belief that a few bad ones could also be out made the Celtic people take some caution. This is were the idea of a jack-o-lantern came from. The first ones in Ireland were carved out of Turnips.

A Celtic tradition is to place candles in the windows,and leave plates of food for the visiting spirits. This tradition is carried on today. Faery mounds are open to the world of humans on this night and one must be careful to not fall under a faery spell.

In the spiritual aspect this is the time when the God dies and awaits rebirth by the Goddess at Yule. The Goddess is in her Crone aspect at this time. The death and rebirth represents the primal melting pot where life begins, ends and is reborn. Just as us, when we grow and learn old ways fall as new one emrges within us.

NEMASTE