celebrations & sabbats
Choosing how you will mark cycles of the seasons or when you will focus on your craft is significant. Everyone approaches it differently, but there are some general similarities in the times of the year that are viewed with significance by most witches. Sabbats can be a time of high ceremonial magic for those who approach their witchcraft as organized religion. Sabbats can be just as spiritually significant to solitary practitioners who are not religious at all. Some non-theistic witches see the marking of seasons or the lunar phases as a way to work with natural energy, to meditate on the larger universe beyond what we know. Whether you use the seasonal markers of the wheel as tools or as sacred calls to commune with your chosen deity or energy, however you choose to celebrate, you are acknowledging an ancient connection to the universe. The information here is basic, so feel free to use it as a stepping stone for further research.
In addition to the Everyday witchcraft also offers us something special. It's easy sometimes to lose sight of the smaller movements of our lives. Moments, the passing of a single day—even a single breath, can be magical if we take time to notice. While it is never my intention to tell anyone how to be a witch, it is my most sincere hope that you will focus on the micro as well as the macro in your journey. Don't miss the small things along the way. Don't get too caught up in the trappings. Let yourself enjoy the truly lovely simplicity of being a witch. That's where you will find incredible energy and magic that is easy to overlook. When you can enjoy the big picture of witchcraft but also focus on the smaller working parts of it with the same wonder and enthusiasm, it is then that you will be on your way to figuring out what it is you are truly celebrating.
The Wheel of the Year
The Wheel of the Year is a quick way to keep track of the cycle of several important events each year. Some witches observe these events as Sabbats with ceremonies and gatherings. The wheel consists of the solstices, the equinoxes, and the midpoints between them. Wiccans sometimes distinguish between these events as Major and Minor Sabbats. Modern pagans generally recognize most of the celebrations marked by the wheel, though some groups will use different names or have diverse traditions regarding their observance.
It is important to remember that dates on the wheel shift according to whether you are in the Northern or Southern hemisphere. When you look at the origins of the wheel of the year, you will find various explanations but the tradition of celebrating during these times are rooted in many ancient cultures all over the world.
For 2021, in the Northern hemisphere, the dates are:
Yule: December 19-23 (SOLSTICE December 21)
Imbolc: February 1-2
Ostara: March 19-23 (EQUINOX March 20)
Beltane: April 30 – May 1
Litha/Midsummer: June 19-23 (SOLSTICE June 20)
Lughnasadh: August 1-2
Mabon: September 20-24 (EQUINOX September 22)
Samhain: October 31 – November 1
OBSERVING THE MOON
Lunar phases have played an inportant part in the human experience from our beginning. The actual science of the moon is quite interesting and there is a lot of helpful information out there for intrepid astronomy buffs. While it may seem complicated at first, the moon phases that we see from Earth are actually the sunrise and sunset on the moon.
The line between the light and dark side of the moon is called the terminator. It shifts in the same way the line of sunrise and sunset on Earth is constantly moving. The moon does not come out at night. It is always out there, day or night.
The moon phases (new, waxing, full, waning) are determined by where the sun is hitting the moon and from what angle we’re viewing it. We all see the same moon phase, more or less, on the same day. Northern and Southern hemispheres will see the moon oriented differently with respect to the horizon.
The various phases of the moon have associations with different types of magical workings that can be consulted when you are looking for ways to enhance your spell work or spiritual meditations.
Many witches use the phases of the moon to assist in their practices. The moon's connection to so many facets of life make it important for pagans throughout history. Time has not diminished the moon's pull on those who are called to magical paths. Whether you follow a formal path that recognizes the different phases of the moon with religious ceremonies or you simply use the moon to guide your own witchcraft, it offers a powerful influence.