The Eight Sabbats
Wiccans celebrate eight holidays around the year called Sabbats, which follow the changes of the season and are divided into Greater and Lesser Sabbats. The Greater sabbats are the cross-quarter days: Imbolc, Beltane, Lugnasadh, and Samhain, and are very powerful days. The Lesser Sabbats are the equinoxes and solistices, Yule, Spring, Midsummer and Autumn. Each Sabbat represents a different part of life and the turning of the Wheel.
Yule: (On or about December 22) Yule is the time of greatest darkness and the longest night of the year. The Winter Solstice had been associated with the birth of a "Divine King" long before the rise of Christianity. Since the Sun is considered to represent the Male Divinity in many Pagan Traditions, this time is celebrated as the "return of the Sun God" where He is reborn of the Goddess.
Imbolc: (February 2) The earliest whisperings of Springtide are heard now as the Goddess nurtures Her Young Son. As a time of the year associated with beginning growth, Imbolc is an initiatory period for many. Here we plant the "seeds" of our hopes and dreams for the coming summer months.
Ostara: (on or about March 21) The first true day of Springtide. The days and nights are now equal in length as the Young God continues to mature and grow. We begin to see shoots of new growth and swelling buds on the trees. Energy is building as the days become warmer with promise.
Beltaine: April 30-May 1) The Land represented by the Goddess is now ripe and fertile and the Young God expresses His Love for Her. This is a time of joyous reveling as the first flowers of Summer are gathered in Their Honor.
Midsummer: (on or about June 21) The days of the first harvesting of herbs as the Earth now begins to share her bounty. This time of the longest days is celebrated as a fire festival. The season between the planting and the harvest, June is also the "traditional" month for handfastings and weddings.
Lammas/Lughnasadh: (August 1) The First Harvest. Plants are 'setting their seed" already for the next year as the cycle of Nature continues. The Sun (Son) still burns brightly, but already the passing of the days begins to herald the coming of Autumn. The young animals are now almost full grown and our plans-planted with high expectations in the spring- are beginning to come to fruition.
Mabon: (on or about September 21) The Second or Continuing Harvest. Now, as at Ostara, the days and nights are equal once again. gardens are in full bloom and heavy with nature's bounty. There is a slight nip in the air already and preparations begin to prepare for the long cold months which are to come.
Samhain: (October 31-Nov 1) The Last Harvest. The Earth nods a sad farewell to the God. We know that He will once again be reborn of the Goddess and the cycle will continue. This is the time of reflection, the time to honor the Ancients who have gone on before us and the time of 'Seeing"(divination). As we contemplate the Wheel of the Year, we come to recognize our own part in the eternal cycle of Life.
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