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solstices and equinoxes, solar festivals, cross quarters, seasonal festivals

The Sacred Wheel: The Sabbats

Author: The Pagan Community Church

Copyright © 2000, 2001 by The Pagan Community Church.Permission given to reprint, copy and circulate for personal use so long as nothing whatsoever is changed. Church address and URL must remain on the copy. If this article is included as part of a book, magazine or newsletter which is intended for resale, 5 cents per word is asked to be donated to the Pagan Community Church.

Contact: PaganComCh@aol.com write to us at
Pagan Community Church, P.O. Box 5622, Bridgeport, CT 06610
www.pagancommunitychurch.org

Thanks for Rev. Alicia Folberth/HalfWolf for submitting to RealMagick.


The Wheel of the Year honors the never
ending cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
It
expresses the belief which Pagan religions hold that time is circular, not linear. The Sabbats are derived from the rich traditions of  seasonal festivals as celebrated by European cultures.



The word Sabbat is derived from
the Greek word "sabbatu," meaning, "to rest."  This
word is used to apply to any of the eight solar festivals of the Neo-Pagan
and Wiccan year. These are divided into the Greater and Lesser Sabbats
known
respectively as the Cross Quarter and Quarter Holidays.
Quarter holidays are those which fall in the wheel
as a clock in the 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00 positions for the Solstices
and Equinoxes, and the Cross Quarters are those holidays which fall between. 



The following is a brief
introduction to these holy days for those who are new to or not familiar
with the older religions.




SAMHAIN

October 31st

GREATER SABBAT


Other names include:

Halloween, Hallowmas, Samana, Samhuinn, Samonios, ShadowFest, Martinmas.

Symbols Include: 

Cauldron, jack o'lanterns, masks, bonfire.



Pronounced "sow-in" or
"sow-een."  This has been
Christianized as "All Hallow's Eve" and is known today as
Halloween. This is the ancient new year of the Celts, a time when the veil
between the world of the living and dead is the thinnest. Most see this as a
day to honor loved ones who have passed on.  In Wiccan and some
European traditions, the old God dies at this time to be reborn at Yule and
the Goddess goes into mourning leaving the world in darkness.


YULE

Winter Solstice, December 21st or 22nd

LESSER SABBAT


Other names include:

Midwinter, Sun Return, Fionn's Day, Yuletide, Alban Arthan.

Symbols Include: 

Evergreens, wreath, Yule logs, holly and mistletoe.


This sabbat has been Christianized as
"Christmas."  It is the Winter Solstice and marks the longest
night of the year. Fires and candles are lit to ensure the Sun's return on
this night. Pagan traditions of the wreath, the tree and the Yule Log are a
part of this sabbat.  Mistletoe and holly were both sacred plants to
the ancient Druids. The Sun God is reborn as an infant and has since become
the "Baby New Year." It also honors the Mother Goddess from who
the god is reborn.


IMBOLC

February 1st

GREATER SABBAT


Other names include:

Oimelc, Brid's Day, Bride's Day, Candlemas, Imbolg, Imbolgc brigantia, Lupercus,
Disting.

Symbols Include: 

Candles, grain dollies, equilateral cross (Breid's cross), ewes. 


Pronounced "em-bowl/c." 
Christianized as "Candlemas" and is also known as "Bride's
Day" and "St. Brigid's Day."  Imbolc is a Gaelic word
meaning " in the belly" as a time when the first stirrings of Spring begin in the
womb of the Earth Goddess. Imbolc is also known as Oimelc, which means "milk
of ewes" and was so named since the lambing season also occurs at this
time.  This sabbat honors the Celtic triple
goddess Breid, patroness of healing, poetry and smithcraft. Candles are lit
to honor her element, which is fire, and to welcome back the young Sun
God.  It is traditionally a night of women's mysteries.


OSTARA

Vernal Equinox, March 20th, 21st or 22nd

LESSER SABBAT


Other names include:

Eostre, Lady Day, Alban Eiler, Esther

Symbols Include: 

Eggs, hares and rabbits, the first flowers of the year.


Pronounced "oh-star-ah." Ostara is
also known as Lady day, and has been Christianized as
"Easter."  It is the Vernal Equinox, when day has power over
night and the earth awakens.  This day is named Eostre, the Teutonic
goddess of spring and the moon.  It is the first planting festival of
the year and welcomes the return of new life. Traditional fertility symbols
such as the egg and Eostre's sacred hare are a part of this sabbat. It is
a celebration of birth and rebirth.


BELTAINE

May 1st

GREATER SABBAT


Other names include:

Beltane, Bealtinne, Bealtaine, May Day, Rudemas, Giamonios, Bhealltainn, Walburga, Walpurgis,
Walpurgisnacht.

Symbols Include: 

May Pole, flowers, and garlands.


Pronounced "bell-tayn" or
"beel-teen."  This has been Christianized as "St.Walpurga's
Eve," and is still know in Canada and Europe as "May Day."
The sun god Beli was traditionally honored on this day, and beltaine
literally means "bright fire." It is a day best known as one of
fertility and healing using sympathetic magick. The Uniting of the feminine
and masculine forces represents the sacred marriage of the Goddess and
God.  It is reenacted symbolically in both the Maypole Dance and the
Great Rite.


LITHA

Summer Solstice, June 21st or 22nd

LESSER SABBAT


Other names include:

Midsummer, Gathering Day, Feill-Sheathain , Alban Hefin, Whitsuntide.

Symbols Include: 

Fire, solar disk or wheel.


This sabbat has been Christianized as
"Whitsuntide" and "St. John's Day" and is commonly known
as "Midsummer."  It is the Summer Solstice and the longest
day of the year. The power of the sun is at its peak and the Earth Goddess
is pregnant. This is also the time when the Oak and Holly King battle, with
the Holly King the victor over the remaining half of the year, battling
again at Yule. Bonfires are a part of this sabbat offering both protection
from spirits and honoring the sun.


LUGHNASADH

August 1st

GREATER SABBAT



Other names include: 

Lammas, August Eve, Elembiuos, Cornucopia, First Fruits, Feast of St. Catherine.

Symbols Include: 

Grains, breads, and threshing tools. 


Pronounced "loo-nahs-ah." 
This has been Christianized as "Lammas," meaning loaf mass, since bread made from the first grain was eaten on this day. It is the first harvest festival of the year, a celebration of the "first fruits." It honors the Celtic god Lugh, a solar
deity who is married to the land. He dies annually with the reaping of the crops, but in some traditions it is his foster mother Taillte who sacrifices herself and funeral games were held in her honor. Lughnasadh not only a day of thanksgiving, but one also of ensuring the remaining harvest will be plentiful by ritually giving back to the land.


MABON

Autumnal Equinox, September21st or 22nd

LESSER SABBAT



Other names include:

Harvest Home, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, John Barleycorn, Alban Elfed, Winter Finding, St. Michael's Day.

Symbols Include:

 
Apple, wine, vine, grapes, gourd, and the cornucopia.


Pronounced "may-bone." 
This sabbat has been Christianized as "St. Michael's Day." Mabon is the Welsh god of harvest and fertility, and also known as the Son of Light. The Autumnal Equinox is known as Harvest Home, the second harvest festival of the year, and also coincides with the grape harvest. Traditionally it is a day of thanksgiving and feasting with wine included as part of the fair. Day and Night become equal and all things are in balance. The sun crosses the equator and begins its descent south, and the Sun God passes with it into the final days of His reign, ending at Samhain.



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