The 8 Sabbats
Samhain/Halloween October 31 or first full Moon in Scorpio. Ancestor night. Feast of the Dead. Halloween. Pronounced “sow-en” or “sow-un”. This is the last day of the Pagan year. The new year begins November 1. This is the day when the veil between this world and the spirit world is thinnest. Communication with the dead is easiest and spirits are most common. Also an excellent night for divination. Feasts and parties are held in remembrance of those who have died. This is a time for resolving problems.
Ways of celebrating Samhain can be the traditional giving of candy to trick-or-treaters, divining, or placing out cookies and cakes for the spirits. Leave doors and windows open as it is thought to allow the dead to pass through the house without getting confused and lost inside.
Samhain (pronounced SOW-EN) literally means “summer’s end.” Today, Samhain falls on October 31st and most know it as Halloween. Halloween, from “hallowed eve” (meaning “sacred night”) is one of the most important and sacred holidays of the pagan year. Traditionally, Samhain begins at sundown on October 31st and runs through a set of 2 days,: Oct 31st and November 1st. The days between Samhain and Yule are considered the “Time which is no time.” Depending on your traditions, the new year can begin at Samhain or at Yule. This time between the worlds has been considered very magickal and dangerous. it is a time when the veil that separates the world of the living and the world of the dead is at its thinnest. It is for this reason that many consider this to be a time that does not exist on our earthly realm. Samhain is also called the “Feast of the Dead.” During this time, the dead can return to visit their loved ones and the gates to faery kingdoms are opened. It is traditional to leave cakes, honey, milk and cider outside for the fey. If they are not given gifts of food, they will play tricks on those who are not generous. most pagans set a place at the dinner table for their dead ancestor. Samhain is also known as the “Last Harvest.” Originally celebrated when the Sun reached 15 degrees Scorpio, Samhain was the last day that crops were harvested. Animals were slaughtered on this day giving the name of the full moon in October the “blood moon” and much of the harvest and meat was dried and preserved and stored away for the coming winter months. Samhain is a time of feasting and of celebrating the harvest and the gifts of the earth. Samhain is also a time for divination. it is easier to commune with spirits, both human and non-human and it is a very powerful time for divination, especially for divining the outcome of the winter months to come. The tradition of trick-or-treating originated in and is unique to the United States. Children dress in costume and go from door to door asking for treats. This tradition may stem from an ancient tradition of traveling door-to-door asking donations of food for the Halloween town feast. It may also come from the tradition of leaving sweets on the porch for the faery folk to prevent them from doing harm during the year. Even jack-o-lanterns come from old Irish traditions. The word jack-o-lantern comes from the old Irish tale “Jack of the Lantern.” As the story goes, there was an evil old man named Jack who, upon death, was neither allowed into heaven or hell and was cursed to roam the earth with only a candle in a turnip to light his way through the night. Irish children carved and carried lanterns of turnips, a symbol of the harvest, over the moor sides on Samhain night. Pumpkins were not used until settlers arrived in America and discovered squashes along with other harvest symbols such as corn and turkey. Most importantly, Samhain is a time to spend with family, both living and deceased. It is a time to think about our own mortality. Altars are set up as shrines to the dead and are decorated with skulls, skeletons and other symbols of death flanking pictures and belongings of our deceased and candles. It is also traditional to light a special candle for the new year and allow it to burn throughout the night.
Yule/Winter Solstice December 21 or Winter Solstice. Alban Arthuan. Festival of lights. The first day of winter and the longest day of the year. This day is celebrated as the death and birth of the Sun God – the Divine Child. The full moon after Yule is considered the most powerful of the whole year. Yule is the celebration of the death of the Holly king and the rebirth and renewed reign of the Oak king.
We celebrate Yule nearly exactly as you would Christmas. When the pagans of old were taken over by Christian rule, the Christians found it impossible to convert the pagans. They eventually allowed the pagan peoples to keep their holidays as long as they did them in the name of their Lord, Jesus Christ. This is why Christians celebrate the birth of their lord on this night, even though (even stated in the bible for those bible thumpers out there) Christ was born in the spring with the lambs. The Yule log, made of oak, is burned as sacrifice of the old dead Holly king. This day is a light festival, with as many lights on the tree and altar as possible to celebrate the coming of the new child. Mistletoe is hung because in the ancient days couples would play out their trial marriages on this day. ceremonies were held beneath Oak trees strung with garlands of mistletoe.
Yule is known to Pagans as the “Time of Great Darkness.” The nights grow long and the days grow short and the Sun before Yule seems to wither and die. Yule marks the coldest, darkest and harshest part of the year. Yule is always celebrated on the Winter Solstice. The Christian holiday Christmas was adapted from the ancient pagan tradition of celebrating the coming of the newborn Sun/Son to light the world. In the Pagan traditions he is born unto the Mother Goddess and in the Christian religions he is born to the Mother Mary.
“The first written record for this holiday’s occurrence on December 25th was in 354 AD in Rome when one scholar wrote: ‘It was customary for Pagans to celebrate the birth of the Sun…when the doctors of the church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnized on that day.'” (From “You Call it Christmas, We Call it Yule” by Peg Aloi – Witches’ Voice writer)
Pagans celebrate Yule by blessing their crop plants and animals. A common Yule practice is Wassailing. Apples from the fall harvest are made into a cider known as wassail. To ensure the fertility of their apple trees for the coming years, bits of cider-soaked bread were placed in the branches of the trees and libations of cider were poured over their roots. Later in history, guns were fired up through the branches to ward off evil spirits. In the same way, cider was often poured on livestock to ensure their fertility and good health for the next year. Kissing under the mistletoe also stems from ancient Celtic traditions. The Winter Solstice was a time for marriage ceremonies. There was feasting and games and couples who wished to marry would come together at this time. Mistletoe was considered a very sacred plant and was thought to grow between the worlds symbolically because it grew on trees and not out of the ground. It was considered especially lucky when mistletoe grew on oaks because oaks have antibiotic properties which prevent fungi from growing on them. Mistletoe on oak was a symbol of harmony in unity and became an important symbol for marriage. Garlands of mistletoe were strung between trees and couples would dance or pass under the boughs and kiss, thus sealing their marriage for 1 year and 1 day. After this time if they no longer wished to be married, they could go their separate ways. This began the modern tradition of kissing under the mistletoe. Holly is used in Yule decorations to symbolize the Holly King who dies at Yule to make way for the Oak King. The Yule log stems from this tradition. Some say that the log should be oak, some say ash and others say holly. Burning the Yule log symbolizes the sacrificial death of the Holly King and the reign of the Oak King over the second half of the year. The Yule log is decorated with paper decorations and plants such as holly, mistletoe, and evergreen sprigs. Red ribbons and tinsel are tied to the top of the log before it is burned in the fire. The Yule log must be lit on the first try and must remain burning for 12 hours for good luck. a piece of the log is saved to use to light the next year’s fire. There are many ideas on where Christmas trees originally came from. Some say that the practice originated in ancient Egypt. Others say that it stems from ancient tree-worshiping practices. Today many Pagans refuse to cut down trees and use fake trees instead. Those who still cut down trees every year say that you must cut your own instead of buying one and afterward, the tree should be burned. During this night, the longest night of the year, Pagans light as many candles as can be found both to symbolically wait out the death of the Lord and to celebrate the coming of new light. At no other time of the year is light more sacred. Many believe that it is taboo to extinguish any flame or to travel at Yuletide. Feasting has always been a Yule tradition. These meals celebrate the harvest that was gathered in the autumn and to celebrate the passing of winter. It is the time when the days begin to grow longer as the Lord grows stronger and climbs further and further up the sky. Tables, altars, and Yule trees are covered in lights and candles. As many lights as possible lie strewn about in anticipation of the birth of the new child Sun King from the womb of the Mother.
Imbolc/Imbolg/Candlemas February 1 or the first full moon in Aquarius. Brigantia, Imbolc, Candlemas.
The time of cleansing and newborn lambs. The name is from “oimelc” or “sheep’s milk”. The word has also been know to mean “in the belly.” Festival of the maiden, in preparation of growth and renewal. Time of spring cleansing. Festival of the goddess Brigit, whose breath gave life to the dead.
Ostara/Spring Equinox March 21. Ostara, Aeostar, Easter. Spring Equinox. The first day of spring. Time when light and dark are in perfect balance, yet the light is growing stronger. Sowing time in the North. New beginnings.
Ways of celebrating are dying beautiful eggs and leaving them in the forests and the gardens for the spirits and little people. Leave dyed eggs in the fields to promote fertility of crops and abundance. You can also celebrate by allowing the children to find the eggs and then going back and leaving the most beautifully dyed eggs for the nature spirits. This is also another Pagan holiday turned Christian. One must wonder, after all, what dyed eggs and fertility bunnies have to do with Christ’s resurrection. This is also a time for lovers to get together. Celebration often involves lovemaking.
Beltane/Mayday May 1 or first full moon in Taurus. May Day. Lady Day. A fertility festival with nature enchantments. Powers of elves and fairies are growing and will peak at the Summer Solstice. A time of great magic, it is good for divination and for establishing a woodland or guardian shrine.
Ways of celebrating are building shrines to nature spirits. This is the time to honor the house guardians. Leave small gifts of honey cakes, wine and sweets for the little people.
Midsummer/Summer Solstice June 22. Alban Heruin. The first day of Summer. This is a time of dedication to your religion. The sun casts three rays to light the world.
Celebration includes dedication ceremonies, giving of thanks and the lighting of yellow candles.
Lughnassadh/Lammas August 1 or the first Full Moon of Leo. Lunasa. This is the turning point of the year. The waning God and waxing Goddess.
Celebration includes harvest festivals and spell work for good fortune and abundance.
Mabon/Autumnal Equinox September 21, Alban Elved. First day of autumn. The balance of light and dark. Time of long rest after labor and completion of the harvest. A time of thanksgiving.
Celebration includes quiet feasting, and meditation and reincarnation in preparation for Samhain.
The Esbats Esbats are the full and new moons of every month. Certain spell work is done during different phases of the moon.
-Spells for invoking or drawing things toward yourself are done on the Waxing (getting larger) moon. -Spells for banishing or repelling things away from you are done on the Waning (getting smaller) moon. -The full moon is the most powerful moon. Most spells are done during the full moon. Spell work is often for banishing unwanted influences, protection magic, and divination. Planning, releasing and working backwards in time are done on the full moon as well. –Spells for renewal and new beginnings are done during the new moon, as well as personal growth, healing, and the blessing of a new project or venture. -A blue moon is a month that contains more than one full moon.
There are thirteen full moons during the month:
January – Wolf Moon February – Storm Moon March – Chaste Moon April – Seed Moon May – Hare Moon June – Dyad (pair) Moon July – Mead Moon August – Wyrt (green plant) Moon September – Barley Moon October – Blood Moon November – Snow Moon December – Oak Moon (variable) – Blue Moon
The pentacle, or pentagram, is the most revered and most popular sign of the craft. It is similar to the Cross or Crucifix of the Christian religions. This symbol has nothing to do with the devil or with evil. Devil worshippers use this symbol inverted as a symbol of Satan, but it has nothing to do with the devil in our religion. Devil worshippers use this symbol because it was once a popular Christian symbol used to signify the five wounds of Christ. It was abandoned early in history but can still be found in much of the art and architecture of old churches and monasteries. This, for its protection and Christian meaning, was the symbol carried on sir Gawain’s shield.
In witchcraft the pentagram and pentacle represent the five elements and are symbols not only of the religion, but also as a sigil of protection and unification. The elements are Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. This is not to be confused with the Holy Spirit of the Christian religion. The spirit is the energy vibration attributed to each and every thing. People have them as well as animals, stones, trees, planets, moons, stars, even the universe. It is often used for protection and is included on most amulets and talismans. It can be drawn in certain ways to promote specific results in spell work.
The banishing (getting rid of something – i.e.: negativity, evil, etc.) pentagram is drawn starting at the bottom left-hand point going up to the top, down to the bottom right-hand corner and so on. This pentacle is drawn this way in all rituals involving banishing. It is also drawn over doors and windows to prevent evil from entering a space.
The invoking (bringing something toward you – i.e.: money, luck, etc.) pentagram is drawn starting at the top corner, down to the bottom left hand corner, up to the top right hand corner and so on. The invoking pentacle is drawn in this way when you want to draw something toward you or to gain something. This pentacle heightens power and aids in invocative spell work.
The pentacle is also representative of the five points on the human body. The circle is considered feminine and is indicative of the womb and the points represent the male member. Sometimes the inverted pentacle is used to signify the God and the upright pentacle is used to represent the goddess. This method is not often used, however, as it has very evil connotations in other religions. In many other pagan religions, the pentacle was the symbol of the earth or the earth-womb and is often used to signify the earth. It is also used to represent the God and Goddess at each point. The top three points represent the aspects of the goddess: Maiden, Mother and Crone. The bottom two are the aspects of the god: Oak King – light, and the Holly King – dark. It also represents the 5 stages of life: birth, Maiden, Mother, Crone, death. The Wiccan kiss, or the five-fold kiss is used in ritual and is represented by the pentacle: feet, knees, womb, heart and lips.
The All – Gods and Goddesses Witches do not worship any single God or Goddess. Witches believe in the balance and equality of all things. The All is sometimes referred to as the Wiccan deity. The All is just that. It represents everything of everything. It is all that is and is not. The All is divided into two “categories” which are masculine and feminine. All gods are of the masculine division and all Goddesses are of the feminine division. Think of it as the yin and the yang. Dark an light, good an evil, male and female. Though there are two parts, they are always together, always the same and yet different, and always co-existing in harmony.
The God and Goddess do not really play a part in my religion as I choose to work with spirits and elements. It is hard and rather unnerving for me to envision gods who look and act like people (which seems also highly unlikely to me). If you choose to incorporate them into your religion then you will wish to know the following:
The God: Lord of the underworld (not hell), the sun, life itself, passion, male aspects. Fire and Air elementals. He is worshipped in rituals for passion, fertility, meditation and all other fire and air rituals.
The Goddess: Mate and Mother of the lord. (yes, it sounds strange, doesn’t it?) She gives birth to the new lord in the winter and when the male aspect grows older in the spring, becomes her lover. She is motherhood, femininity, water, earth, the moon, the night, love and caring, nurturing, and also a warrioress and fierce protector.
List of Gods and Goddesses -by Silver Ravenwolf
Aphrodite: Greek; Goddess of passionate, sexual love. Aphrodite will assist you in pulling loving energy toward yourself.
Aradia: Italian; Queen of the Witches, daughter of Diana. Aradia is an extremely powerful entity and a protectress of Witches in general.
Arianrhod: Welsh; Goddess of the stars and reincarnation. Call on Arianrhod to help with past life memories and difficulties as well as for contacting the Star People.
Artemis: Greek; Goddess of the Moon.
Astarte: Greek; Fertility Goddess. Whether you wish to bear children or have a magnificent garden, Astarte will assist in your desire.
Athena: Greek; Warrior Goddess and Protectress and Goddess of wisdom. Someone giving you a rough time at work? Call on Athena to help you.
Atlas: holds the world up on his shoulders: symbol of strength
Atropos: Goddess of Death
Bast: Egyptian; Goddess of Protection and Cats. Bast is great for vehicle travel as well as walking down a dark alley. Call on her essence in the form of a giant panther to see you through to your destination.
Brigid: Celtic; Warrior Goddess and Protectress. Brigid is also a Triple Goddess. She is strong and wise. Call on her to help protect your children in a rough situation.
Ceres: Roman; Goddess of the Harvest.
Cerridwen: Welsh; Moon and Harvest Goddess, also associated with the Dark Mother aspect of the Crone.
Demeter: Greek; Earth Mother archetype. Excellent Goddess where birthing or small children are involved. Goddess of the harvest
Diana: Roman; Moon Goddess and Goddess of the Hunt. Diana is many faceted. She is a seductress (as she enchanted her brother Lucifer to beget Aradia in the form of a cat) as well as a mother figure for witches.
Dryads: Greek feminine spirits of the trees.
Flora: Roman; Goddess of Spring and Birth. For beautiful flower, babies and all bounties of Earth Mother.
Fortuna: Roman; Goddess of Fate.
Freya: Scandinavian; Moon Goddess and wife/lover of Odin. Also commander of the Valkyries.
Gaia: mother earth; goddess of the earth
Hades: God of the underworld
Hathor: Egyptian; Protectress of Women in business. A Hathor’s Mirror is very important for the Witch. Hathor was cunning as well as beautiful.
Hecate: Greek; Goddess as in Crone or Dark Mother.
Hera: Greek; Goddess of marriage and childbirth. If handfasting or some type of commitment is the issue, Hera is the Goddess to seek. Just remember that she has a vindictive side.
Hestia: Greek; Goddess of home and hearth. Building a house, remodeling or apartment hunting. Safety in the home and the family unit.
Inanna: Sumerian; Goddess representation of the Mother.
Isis: Egyptian; represents the Complete Goddess or the Triple Goddess connotation in one being.
Kali: Hindu; Creative/Destructive Goddess. Protectress of abused women. Kali-Ma should be called if a woman is in fear of physical danger. Her power is truly awesome.
Lilith: Hebrew; Adam’s first wife and said to be turned into a demoness; however, if ou have ever read any of Zecharia Sitchin’s work, you may change your mind. In my opinion, Lilith was a Star Woman bred with Adam. This would make her a goddess of Higher Intelligence o a representation of the Star People.
Maat: Egyptian; Goddess of Justice and Divine Order. Maat is the true balance of any situation. She plays no favorites and will dispense justice to all parties involved. Be sure your own slate is clean in the situation before you call her.
Morgan: Celtic; Goddess of Water and magic. Morgan was said to be married to Merlin. It was from him that she learned her magic. She was also doubled with the Lady of the Lake.
Muses: Greek; Goddesses of Inspiration who vary in number depending upon the pantheon used.
Nephtys: Egyptian; Goddess of Surprises, Sisters and Midwives.
Norns: Celtic; the three sisters of the Wyrd. Responsible for weaving fate – past, present and future.
Nuit: Egyptian; Sky Mother. Often seen depicted in a circular fashion cradling the stars.
Persephone: Greek; Goddess of the Underworld as well as Harvest. Daughter of Demeter.
Selene: Greek; Goddess of the Moon and Solutions. Appeal to Selene to bring a logical answer to any problem.
Valkyries: Scandinavian; women warriors who carried the souls of men slain in battle to heaven.
Venus: Roman; Goddess of Love and Romance.
Vesta: Roman; Goddess of Fire.
Achilles: Great warrior
Adonis: Greek; consort of Aphrodite. Also another name for “Lord.” In Phoenician his counterpart is Astarte. A vegetation god. Roman counterpart is Venus.
Anubis: Egyptian; guardian of Isis. Jackal-headed God of Protection, death and the underworld. Call on him to protect both home and person.
Apollo: Greek and Roman; twin brother of Artemis. God of the Sun, Light and the Arts.
Apsu: Babylonian; his mate is Tiamat.
Cernunnos: Celtic; Horned God and consort of the Lady. Also Kernunnos. Lord of the wild, spirit, animals and plants; nature in general.
Cronus: god of time
Erebus: personification of darkness
Eros: Greek; God of Romance and passionate love.
Hephestus: blacksmith of the Greek gods
Horus: Egyptian; Head of a Falcon and body of a man. God of the all-seeing eye and healing.
Hymen: Greek; God of Marriage and Commitment. His counterpart is Dionysus.
Lucifer: Italian; Soulmate and Brother of Diana. Father of Aradia. God of the Sun and Light.
Mithra: Persian; Sun God and bringer of Light. A soldier’s God.
Neptune: Poseidon: god of the sea
Nyx: god of night
Odin: Scandinavian; counterpart of Freya. This is the God who hung on the Tree of Yggdrasil to obtain second sight. His familiars are the Raven and the Wolf. In his youth he is depicted as a terrible God, in his old age as a God of Wisdom and psychic sight.
Osiris: Egyptian; counterpart of Isis. Over-all God form including vegetation and after-life.
Pan: Greek; God of Nature and the woods, laughter and passion. Also music and personal abandon.
Poseidon: Greek; God of the Sea. His familiars are dolphins and horses.
Ptah: Egyptian; Expert craftsman and designer. God of creative enterprise with the hands.
Shiva: Hindu; consort of Kali. God of the universal cycle of birth-death-rebirth. Shiva can be both kind and terrible.
Thor: Scandinavian; God of Sky and Thunder. A kindly God of the common people, including farmers and sailors.
Thoth: Egyptian; God of Reincarnation. Also a Moon God and favorable to science and wisdom.
Uranus: god of the sky
Zeus: supreme ruler and father of the gods
Magical Names There are many kinds of witches and many different beliefs on the Craft name. Some will tell you that you must be given your name by an accomplished witch after a year and a day of study. I believe, as do others, that you only need to choose a name that you like. It should be a name that you feel comfortable with. A Craft name can be changed at any time (because you change as well) and many witches will change their names a number of times before they settle on one for life. You do not have to choose a craft name, but many witches choose one for their working. It is a symbol of rebirth and using a craft name allows you to step out of your “real” self so that the pressures of daily life can be left behind you when you are performing magic and rituals. There is also a numerological method of determining if your name is right for you. Though I do not use this method, many will swear by it. Begin by adding the digits of your birth date:
May 10, 1980 = 5+1+0+1+9+8+0=24=2+4= 6
in the above case, your astrological number would be 6. Then you would take your name and refer it to a numerological chart as follows:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
A B C D E F G
J K L M N O P
S T U V W X Y
Take your craft name and determine the number of each letter. Then add them together as you did your birth date.
AmberSkyfire = 1+4+2+5+9+1+2+7+6+9+9+5 = 60 = 6+0 = 6
If both of the numbers from your name and your birth date match, then your name is said to be right for you.
Lady Pixie Moondrip’s Guide to Magickal Names – go ahead, have a laugh