Samhain Lore (October 31st)
Samhain, (pronounced SOW-in,
SAH-vin, or SAM-hayne) means "End of Summer", and is the third and final
Harvest. The dark winter half of the year commences on this Sabbat.
It is generally celebrated on October 31st, but some traditions prefer November
1st. It is one of the two "spirit-nights" each year, the other being Beltane. It
is a magical interval when the mundane laws of time and space are temporarily
suspended, and the Thin Veil between the worlds is lifted. Communicating with
ancestors and departed loved ones is easy at this time, for they journey through
this world on their way to the Summerlands. It is a time to study the Dark
Mysteries and honor the Dark Mother and the Dark Father, symbolized by the Crone
and her aged Consort.
Various other names for this Greater
Sabbat are Third Harvest, Samana, Day of the Dead, Old Hallowmas
(Scottish/Celtic), Vigil of Saman, Shadowfest (Strega), and Samhuinn. Also known
as All Hallow's Eve, (that day actually falls on November 7th), and Martinmas
(that is celebrated November 11th), Samhain is now generally considered the
Witch's New Year.
Yule Lore (December 21st)
EWE-elle) is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half.
Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and
stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the
longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors
awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed
the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the
fall and winter in her womb. Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and
trees were "wassailed" with toasts of spiced cider.
Deities of Yule are all Newborn Gods,
Sun Gods, Mother Goddesses, and Triple Goddesses. The best known would be the
Dagda, and Brighid, the daughter of the Dagda. Brighid taught the smiths the
arts of fire tending and the secrets of metal work. Brighid's flame, like the
flame of the new light, pierces the darkness of the spirit and mind, while the
Dagda's cauldron assures that Nature will always provide for all the children.
Imbolc Lore (February 2nd)
"IM-bulk" or "EM-bowlk"), also called Oimealg, ("IM-mol'g), by the Druids, is
the festival of the lactating sheep. It is derived from the Gaelic word "oimelc"
which means "ewes milk". Herd animals have either given birth to the first
offspring of the year or their wombs are swollen and the milk of life is flowing
into their teats and udders. 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, (the origin of Ground Hog
Day), and in many places the first Crocus flowers began to spring forth from the
Various other names for this Greater
Sabbat are Imbolgc Brigantia (Caledonni), Imbolic (Celtic), Disting (Teutonic,
Feb 14th), Lupercus (Strega), St. Bridget's Day (Christian), Candlemas,
Candlelaria (Mexican), the Snowdrop Festival. The Festival of Lights, or the
Feast of the Virgin. All Virgin and Maiden Goddesses are honored at this time.
March 21 -- Ostara -- Spring or
The Vernal Equinox
Also known as: Lady Day or Alban Eiler (Druidic)
As Spring reaches its midpoint, night and day stand in perfect balance, with
light on the increase. The young Sun God now celebrates a hierogamy (sacred
marriage) with the young Maiden Goddess, who conceives. In nine months, she will
again become the Great Mother. It is a time of great fertility, new growth, and
The next full moon (a time of increased births) is called the Ostara and is
sacred to Eostre the Saxon Lunar Goddess of fertility (from whence we get the
word estrogen, whose two symbols were the egg and the rabbit.
April 30th -- Beltane
Also known as Roodmas or May Day
Beltane has long been celebrated with feasts and rituals. Beltane means fire of
Bel; Belinos being one name for the Sun God, whose coronation feast we now
celebrate. As summer begins, weather becomes warmer, and the plant world
blossoms, an exuberant mood prevails. In old Celtic traditions it was a time of
unabashed sexuality and promiscuity where marriages of a year and a day could be
undertaken but it is rarely observed in that manner in modern times.
June 21 -- Summer Solstice --
Also known as: Alban Heruin (Druidic)
name Litha is not well attested, it may come from Saxon tradition -- the
opposite of Yule. On this longest day of the year, light and life are abundant.
At mid-summer, the Sun God has reached the moment of his greatest strength.
Seated on his greenwood throne, he is also lord of the forests, and his face is
seen in church architecture peering from countless foliate masks.
The Christian religion converted this day of Jack-in-the-Green to the Feast of
St. John the Baptist, often portraying him in rustic attire, sometimes with
horns and cloven feet (like the Greek Demi-God Pan)
Midsummer Night's Eve is also special for adherents of the Faerie faith. The
alternative fixed calendar date of June 25 (Old Litha) is sometimes employed by
Covens. The name Beltane is sometimes incorrectly assigned to this holiday by
some modern traditions of Wicca, even though Beltane is the Gaelic word for May.
July 31st Lughnasadh / Lammas
Lughnasadh means the
funeral games of Lugh (pronounced Loo), referring to Lugh, the Irish sun god.
However, the funeral is not his own, but the funeral games he hosts in honor of
his foster-mother Tailte. For that reason, the traditional Tailtean craft fairs
and Tailtean marriages (which last for a year and a day) are celebrated at this
This day originally coincided with the first reapings of the harvest. It was
known as the time when the plants of spring wither and drop their fruits or
seeds for our use as well as to ensure future crops.
As autumn begins, the Sun God enters his old age, but is not yet dead. The God
symbolically loses some of his strength as the Sun rises farther in the South
each day and the nights grow longer.
Autumn Equinox, 2nd Harvest, September 21st
Mabon, (pronounced MAY-bun, MAY-bone, MAH-boon, or MAH-bawn) is the Autumn
Equinox. The Autumn Equinox divides the day and night equally, and we all take a
moment to pay our respects to the impending dark. We also give thanks to the
waning sunlight, as we store our harvest of this year's crops. The Druids call
this celebration, Mea'n Fo'mhair, and honor the The Green Man, the God of the
Forest, by offering libations to trees. Offerings of ciders, wines, herbs and
fertilizer are appropriate at this time. Wiccans celebrate the aging Goddess as
she passes from Mother to Crone, and her consort the God as he prepares for
death and re-birth.
Various other names for this Lesser Wiccan Sabbat are The Second Harvest
Festival, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), Alben
Elfed (Caledonii), or Cornucopia. The Teutonic name, Winter Finding, spans a
period of time from the Sabbat to Oct. 15th, Winter's Night, which is the Norse
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