Add essential oils of elemi, frankincense, and lemongrass to a bath to enhance power and potentiate the ability to use it.
Add essential oils of myrrh, opoponax and liquidambar to your bath to strengthen and balance psychic power.
Toss some anisette into the bath. Light some candles; pour yourself a drink and feel your power re-emerge.
Pour boiling water over bruised anise seeds to create an infusion. When the liquid cools, strain out the solids and add the infusion to your bathwater for enhanced psychic power and perception.
This bath utilizes the following herbs:
Melissa (lemon balm)
These may be used in varying forms:
- Make infusions of dried or fresh herbs and add in the bath
- Add essential oils to the bath
- Use a combination of fresh herbs and essential oils: although all are common garden plants, Melissa (lemon balm) is a notoriously rare and expensive essential oil.
Rosemary tea is also beneficial: it rejuvenates, invigorates and enhances psychic ability, especially in times of physical exhaustion.
Make a strong infusion by pouring boiling water over fresh or dried rosemary. Rosemary tastes better added to food than as a drink. To improve the taste and increase the power of the potion, add lemon balm and peppermint, and sweeten with honey, if desired.
Blend rosemary hydrosol with sparkling water to create a psychic energy potion.
It is traditional upon Imbolc, at sunset or just after ritual, to light every
lamp in the house – if only for a few moments. Or, light candles in each room in
honor of the Sun’s rebirth. Alternately, light a kerosene lamp with a red
chimney and place this in a prominent part of the home or in a window.
If snow lies on the ground outside, walk in it for a moment, recalling the
warmth of summer. With your projective hand, trace an image of the Sun on the
Foods appropriate to eat on this day include those from the dairy, since Imbolc
marks the festival of calving. Sour cream dishes are fine. Spicy and full-
bodied foods in honor of the Sun are equally attuned. Curries and all dishes
made with peppers, onions, leeks, shallots, garlic or chives are appropriate.
Spiced wines and dishes containing raisins – all foods symbolic of the Sun –
are also traditional.
Triskellion’s Celtic Imbolc Ritual
This is the 1994 Imbolc Ceremony of Triskellion Coven, based in Washington D.C.
It was written by Anne Cross. Cast: Maiden, Mother, Crone, quarter wardens,
Everyone stands in a ring. The Captain of the West sets the cauldron in the
middle of the ring. The three goddess-aspects enter the circle from the east
and circle deosil around the cauldron. The Maiden begins chanting:
Come to us from the Earth’s four quarters
Earth and Air and Fire and Water
Bring your minions to this home
Sylphs, Undines, Salamanders, Gnomes.
Ask your Captains, Nixsa, Djinn, Paralda, Ghob
To bring them in.
The first time, only the Maiden chants. After that it is done twice more, once
by the Mother and once by the Crone. Then everyone turns to the east to greet
Paralda, Captain of the Sylphs and Lord of the East.
Paralda: The Air is the element of the Spring,
The Maiden returns to bring forth her son
The Oak returns from his rest,
And the spiral turns anew.
Then everyone turns south to greet Djinn, Captain of the Salamanders and Lord
of the South. After Djinn, west for Nixsa, Captain of the Undines and Lord of
the West. Finally, we turn north for Ghob, Captain of the Gnomes and Lord of
Djinn: The Fire has the power of warmth
The sun returns to our lands.
The light wakes the plants from their slumber
And the spiral turns anew.
Nixsa: The Water douses the land
The thirsty land drinks and awakens
The streams and rivers fill with melting snow
And the spiral turns anew.
Ghob: The Earth gives up her treasures
The bear wakes from his slumbers
The Holly Lord retires in the face of spring
And the spiral turns anew.
All face the circle. The Mother and the Crone step into the outer circle,
leaving the Maiden alone in the center. The five people who ask the blessing
arrange themselves in a five-pointed star inside the circle. After each person
speaks, they salute the Maiden.
Person 1: On this day we remember the Goddess who left us as Crone at Samhain,
and is to return to us. Come back to us, Lady, and bring the spring.
Person 2: Lady, the snowdrops have pushed their way through the cold, wet
earth, and we dream of your return. Come back to us, Lady, and bring the spring.
Person 3: The birds return from their winter homes. Come back to us, Lady, and
bring the spring.
Person 4: The plants which went down into the earth with you are close to
renewal. Come back to us, Lady, and bring the spring.
Person 5: The trees are waiting to bring forth new leaves. Come back to us,
Lady, and bring the spring.
Person 1: Come back from the Caves of Annwn, where souls are purged of pain and
Person 2: Return from Hel, where souls are freed from grief and despair.
Person 3: Come to us from the Mists of Avalon, from the Apple Orchard.
Person 4: Come from Tir-nan-Og, the Land of Blessed Rest.
Person 5: Return from the land of Faerie, where you have dreamed long dreams of
All: Come back to us, Lady, and bring the spring!
The Maiden (saluting): Cold Winter is gone, the snow will thaw
The badger stirs within the Earth
I sing the Goddess back once more,
To give the land its own rebirth.
The snowdrop comes, the robin sings
I come now, the Maiden
And with one voice
In spring and love and Goddess we rejoice.
The simple feast now. Then the circle is reformed and the Crone passes a
necklace to the Maiden.
Crone: I pass this to you and with it I bring
From ancient cold winter to much younger spring,
From one who is done to one in her prime
So mote it be, in comes the springtime!
The Maiden and Crone bow to each other. The Maiden puts on the necklace and
breaks the circle in the east.
Maiden: So mote it be! Fiat!
All: So mote it be! Fiat!
[A word to the wise: The first time we did this ceremony, an ice storm hit
Washington three days later and froze the city for a solid week. Use with
Candlemas = Renewal
Each year, we celebrate February 2nd around the world. We call it Brigid,
Candlemas, Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day, and yes, of course, Groundhog’s Day. Why
do we celebrate on February 2nd? Is it like President’s Day – providing a nice
day for state and federal workers to stay at home? Not really… Brigid has
been celebrated for many thousands of years. It is the day on which we
recognize and honor the awakening of the maiden aspect of the Goddess.
Some of us celebrate the holiday as Brigid, in honor of Brigid who was a Celtic
Goddess of poetry, healing, fire and smithcraft. In years past, the people of
the British Isles would build a nice fire in their hearth, light torches and
candles, and celebrate Brigid. What were they celebrating? The Maiden aspect
of the Goddess awakes or returns from the underworld. At Winter Solstice she
was impregnated with Spring. She sleeps until Brigid and returns, bringing
Spring and renewal for the earth with her. The other names for this holiday
are just different names for the same celebration.
Some may ask what this really has to do with us? We see that some of the
animal kingdom hibernates through the dark time of the year. We tend to follow
the same cycle. During the dark time of the year we retreat within ourselves.
We focus internally. We stay inside our homes in the warmth and think about
what is upcoming for us. We may not even recognize it. We may not even think
about it consciously, but subconsciously we are very much aware of it. We are
very much a part of the spiral of birth, death, and rebirth throughout the
year. We are interconnected with the earth and all that is on it. You have
likely heard the old expression “Spring Fever” many times before. This is
simply our anticipation of Spring’s return, when we can go out and live a full
life upon the earth once more.
Often if we look at our ancestors and the His/Herstory, we can find the answers
to many of our questions. I hope that everyone has a beautiful Brigid and
remember… Spring is just around the corner.
C A N D L E M A S
-by Gwydion Cinhil Kirontin
It seems quite impossible that the holiday of Candlemas should be considered the
beginning of Spring. Here in the heartland, February 2nd may see a blanket of
snow mantling the Mother. Or, if the snows have gone, you may be sure the days
are filled with drizzle, slush, and steel-gray skies — the dreariest weather of
the year. In short, the perfect time for a Pagan Festival of Lights. And as for
Spring, although this may seem a tenuous beginning, all the little buds, flowers
and leaves will have arrived on schedule before Spring runs its course to
“Candlemas” is the Christianized name for the holiday, of course. The older
Pagan names were Imbolc and Oimelc. “Imbolc” means, literally, “in the belly”
(of the Mother). For in the womb of Mother Earth, hidden from our mundane sight
but sensed by a keener vision, there are stirrings. The seed that was planted in
her womb at the solstice is quickening and the new year grows. “Oimelc” means
“milk of ewes”, for it is also lambing season.
The holiday is also called “Brigit’s Day”, in honor of the great Irish Goddess
Brigit. At her shrine, the ancient Irish capital of Kildare, a group of 19
priestesses (no men allowed) kept a perpetual flame burning in her honor. She
was considered a goddess of fire, patroness of smithcraft, poetry and healing
(especially the healing touch of midwifery). This tripartite symbolism was
occasionally expressed by saying that Brigit had two sisters, also named Brigit.
(Incidentally, another form of the name Brigit is Bride, and it is thus She
bestows her special patronage on any woman about to be married or handfasted,
the woman being called “bride” in her honor.)
The Roman Catholic Church could not very easily call the Great Goddess of
Ireland a demon, so they canonized her instead. Henceforth, she would be “Saint”
Brigit, patron saint of smithcraft, poetry, and healing. They “explained” this
by telling the Irish peasants that Brigit was “really” an early Christian
missionary sent to the Emerald Isle, and that the miracles she performed there
“misled” the common people into believing that she was a goddess. For some
reason, the Irish swallowed this. (There is no limit to what the Irish
imagination can convince itself of. For example, they also came to believe that
Brigit was the “foster-mother” of Jesus, giving no thought to the implausibility
of Jesus having spent his boyhood in Ireland!)
Brigit’s holiday was chiefly marked by the kindling of sacred fires, since she
symbolized the fire of birth and healing, the fire of the forge, and the fire of
poetic inspiration. Bonfires were lighted on the beacon tors, and chandlers
celebrated their special holiday. The Roman Church was quick to confiscate this
symbolism as well, using “Candlemas” as the day to bless all the church candles
that would be used for the coming liturgical year. (Catholics will be reminded
that the following day, St. Blaise’s Day, is remembered for using the newly-
blessed candles to bless the throats of parishioners, keeping them from colds,
flu, sore throats, etc.)
The Catholic Church, never one to refrain from piling holiday upon holiday, also
called it the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (It is
surprising how many of the old Pagan holidays were converted to Maryan Feasts.)
The symbol of the Purification may seem a little obscure to modern readers, but
it has to do with the old custom of “churching women”. It was believed that
women were impure for six weeks after giving birth. And since Mary gave birth at
the winter solstice, she wouldn’t be purified until February 2nd. In Pagan
symbolism, this might be re-translated as when the Great Mother once again
becomes the Young Maiden Goddess.
Today, this holiday is chiefly connected to weather lore. Even our American
folk-calendar keeps the tradition of “Groundhog’s Day”, a day to predict the
coming weather, telling us that if the Groundhog sees his shadow, there will be
“six more weeks” of bad weather (i.e., until the next old holiday, Lady Day).
This custom is ancient. An old British rhyme tells us that “If Candlemas Day be
bright and clear, there’ll be two winters in the year.” Actually, all of the
cross-quarter days can be used as “inverse” weather predictors, whereas the
quarter-days are used as “direct” weather predictors.
Like the other High Holidays or Great Sabbats of the Witches’ year, Candlemas is
sometimes celebrated on it’s alternate date, astrologically determined by the
sun’s reaching 15-degrees Aquarius, or Candlemas Old Style (this year, February
Another holiday that gets mixed up in this is Valentine’s Day. Ozark folklorist
Vance Randolf makes this quite clear by noting that the old-timers used to
celebrate Groundhog’s Day on February 14th. Once again, this shows the
resultant confusion of calendar changes and “lost days” that have accumulated
down the centuries.
For modern Witches, Candlemas O.S. may be seen as the Pagan version of
Valentine’s Day, with a de-emphasis of “hearts and flowers” and an appropriate
re-emphasis of Pagan carnal frivolity. This also re-aligns the holiday with the
ancient Roman Lupercalia, a fertility festival held at this time, in which the
priests of Pan ran through the streets of Rome whacking young women with
goatskin thongs to make them fertile. The women seemed to enjoy the attention
and often stripped in order to afford better targets.
One of the nicest folk-customs still practiced in many countries, and especially
by Witches in the British Isles and parts of the U.S., is to place a lighted
candle in each and every window of the house, beginning at sundown on Candlemas
Eve (February 1), allowing them to continue burning until sunrise. Make sure
that such candles are well seated against tipping and guarded from nearby
curtains, etc. What a cheery sight it is on this cold, bleak and dreary night to
see house after house with candle-lit windows! And, of course, if you are your
Coven’s chandler, or if you just happen to like making candles, Candlemas Day is
the day for doing it. Some Covens hold candle-making parties and try to make
and bless all the candles they’ll be using for the whole year on this day.
Other customs of the holiday include weaving “Brigit’s crosses” from straw or
wheat to hang around the house for protection, performing rites of spiritual
cleansing and purification, making “Brigit’s beds” to ensure fertility of mind
and spirit (and body, if desired), and making Crowns of Light (i.e. of candles)
for the High Priestess to wear for the Candlemas Circle, similar to those worn
on St. Lucy’s Day in Scandinavian countries. All and all, this is certainly one
of the prettiest holidays celebrated in the Pagan seasonal calendar.
HOLIDAY FUN FACTS Winter Festivals From the Past and Present Celebrations during the mid-winter season were common, even before Christmas was celebrated on December 25. Christmas was once a moveable feast celebrated many different times during the year. The choice of December 25 was made by the Pope Julius I in the fourth century AD because this coincided with the pagan rituals of Winter Solstice, or Return of the Sun. The intent was to replace the pagan celebration with the Christian one. In 1752, 11 days were dropped from the year when the switch was from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. The December 25 date was effectively moved 11 days backwards. Some Christian church sects, called old calendarists, still celebrate Christmas on January 7 (previously Dec. 25 of the Julian calendar.) Many of the traditions associated with Christmas (giving gifts, lighting a Yule log, singing carols, decorating an evergreen) hark back to older religions. Some traditions described here are reminiscent of modern day customs, and others, like the Festival of the Radishes in Mexico, are bizarre and fascinating. You are invited to explore the rituals of past and present on these pages. Winter Solstice Winter Solstice celebrations are held on the eve of the shortest day of the year. During the first millennium in what is today Scotland, the Druids celebrated Winter Solstice honoring their Sun God and rejoicing his return as the days got longer, signaling the coming of spring. Also called Yule, this tradition still lives today in the Wiccan traditions and in many cultures around the world. A huge log -- the Yule Log -- is brought into an outdoor clearing and becomes part of a great bonfire. Everyone dances and sings around the fire. All the noise and great excitement is said to awaken the sun from its long winter sleep, hurrying spring on its way as the cycle begins once again and the days grow longer than the nights. Dosmoche -- Tibetan Celebration of the Dying Year Lasting five days, this festival centers around a magical pole covered with stars, crosses, and pentagrams made of string. Dancers dress up in hideous masks to frighten away the evil spirits for the coming year. Feasting and prayers fill the days and the finale is when the pole is torn down by the townsfolk. Feast of the Ass -- Middle Ages Christian At one time this was a solemn celebration reenacting the flight of the holy family into Egypt and ending with Mass in the church. The festival became very popular as it transformed into a humorous parody in which the ass was led into the church and treated as an honored guest while the priest and the congregation all brayed like asses. The Church suppressed it in the fifteenth century, although it remained popular and did not die out until years later. La Befana -- Italy's Santa Claus La Befana, a kindly witch, rides a broomstick down the chimney to deliver toys into the stockings of Italian children. The legends say that Befana was sweeping her floors when the three Wise Men stopped and asked her to come to see the Baby Jesus. "No," she said, "I am too busy." Later, she changed her mind but it was too late. So, to this day, she goes out on Christmas Eve searching for the Holy Child, leaving gifts for the "holy child" in each household. Butter Sculpture Festival -- Buddhist New Year To celebrate the New Year in Tibet, Buddhist monks create elaborate yak-butter sculptures depicting a different story or fable each year. The sculptures reach 30 feet high and are lit with special butter lamps. Awards are given for the best butter sculptures. Chaomos -- Pakistan Winter Solstice The ancient traditions of Pakistan pre-date the Christian era. During winter solstice, an ancient demigod returns to collect prayers and deliver them to Dezao, the supreme being. During this celebrations women and girls are purified by taking ritual baths. The men pour water over their heads while they hold up bread. Then the men and boys are purified with water and must not sit on chairs until evening when goat's blood is sprinkled on their faces. Following this purification, a great festival begins, with singing, dancing, bonfires, and feasting on goat tripe and other delicacies. Ganna -- Ethiopian Christmas Legend has it that the shepherds rejoiced when they learned of the birth of Christ and they waved their hooked staffs about and played Ganna. This is the origin of the game called Ganna that is traditionally played on Christmas Day (January 7 -- the older date of Christmas) by all the men and boys in Ethiopia. Wassailing the Apple Trees This humorous tradition was documented in 1851 in a London Newspaper. In Devonshire, England, on Twelfth Night (January 7), the farmers get their weapons and go to their apple orchard. Selecting the oldest tree, they form a circle and chant: Here's to thee, old apple tree Whence thou mayst bud and whence thou mayst blow And whence thou mayst bear apples enow: Hats full, caps full, Bushels, bushels, sacks full, And my pockets full too! Huzza! Huzza! The men drink cider, make merry, and fire their weapons (charged only with powder) at the tree. They return to the home and are denied entrance no matter what the weather by the women indoors. When one of the men guesses the name of the roast that is being prepared for them, all are let in. The one who guessed the roast is named "King for the Evening" and presides over the party until the wee hours. Snap Dragon -- A Christmas Game Here's a fun one to try at your next Christmas Party. It was popular in England during the 1800's. Set brandy on fire in a bowl. Throw raisins into the flames. The party guests then take turns snatching the flaming raisins and popping them into their mouths. The flames go out as soon as the mouth shuts, so speed and dexterity are essential. SNAP DRAGON Here he comes with flaming bowl, Don't he mean to take his toll, Snip! Snap! Dragon! Take care you don't take too much, Be not greedy in your clutch, Snip! Snap! Dragon! With his blue and lapping tongue Many of you will be stung, Snip! Snap! Dragon! For he snaps at all that comes Snatching at his feast of plums, Snip! Snap! Dragon! Night of the Radishes This unusual event takes place in Oaxaca, Mexico on December 23 each year. It dates to the mid-nineteenth century and commemorates the introduction of the radish by the Spanish colonists. Radishes in this region grow to the size of yams but are not the rounded shape we usually see. They are twisted and distorted by growing in the rocky soil. These unusual shapes are exploited as local artisans carve them into elaborate scenes from the Bible, from history, and from the Aztec legends. Cash prizes are awarded and the evening culminates with a spectacular fireworks display. Hari-Kuyo -- Japanese Festival of the Broken Needles This is a Buddhist celebration held on December 8 each year throughout Japan. It is a tradition that has been carried on since at least 400 AD. Once only observed by tailors and dressmakers, today anyone who sews participates. A special shrine is made for the needles containing offerings of food and scissors and thimbles. A pan of tofu (soybean curd) is the center of the shrine and all the broken and bent needles are inserted into it. As the needles go into the tofu, the sewer recites a special prayer in thanks for its fine service over the year. The needles find their final resting place at sea, as devotees everywhere wrap their tofu in paper and launch them out to sea.
Within the Pagan community there are many holidays and Sabbats celebrated for
various means, and not all celebrate each holiday/Sabbat in the same exact way
or for the same reasons. The following is a general list of the Holidays most
common between all the Sects within Neo-Paganism.
YULE (Winter Solstice, December 20-23 (varies according to the particular date
on the standard calendar according to when the Solstice will occur
astronomically)). Longest night of the year, the turning point when the days
shall afterwards grow longer as winter begins its passage into the coming
spring. It is, in the Goddess worship, the time when she gives forth again to
the birth of the Divine Sun child who shall be both child and eventually lover
and father of the next child in the cycle. Winter Solstice for pagans is a time
of feasting and the exchanging of gifts and is the original Holiday that the
Christian religions modified into their own Christmas, even up to the birth of
the child (Most theologians who have spent time studying the birth of Jesus
admit he was born in either March or April, not the celebrated Christmas date we
all know from the standard calendar – it was moved to this date to help induce
Pagans to give up their old ways yet allow them their holidays during the spread
of Christianity thru Europe and the British Isles). Traditional adornments are a
Yule Log, usually of oak, and a combination of mistletoe and holly (also all
later plagiarized into Christian ways).
CANDLEMAS (Brigid’s Day, February 2nd) Not common to all pagans, this is very
popular with Wiccans and various Celtic sects. Brigid is the Celtic goddess of
fire and inspiration (Poetry, smithcraft and healing) as well as yet another
representation of the Fertility of Femininity and Love. Brigid had such a
strong following among the Celtics that the Christian church decided it was
easier to assimilate her into their own system, and so there came about the
making of Saint Brigit and all the stories they created about her so that her
followers would leave their old beliefs enough so they would not side with the
Druids, who were known at that time as ‘the snakes’ because of their tendency to
have tamed snakes that were used to help produce various healing mixtures via
their venom, and who were violently opposing the Catholic church. In History, of
course, the druids lost against the overwhelming odds presented by the church,
led by a man who would then be himself sainted by the church, their Saint
Patrick (who was no clergyman but a warrior). Thus Christian rule of various
sorts came into Ireland. Handcrafts are often sacrificed to Brigid or dedicated
to her as they are started on this day. Its celebration is done with many
candles and as usual much feasting. The Christians also took, moved slightly and
used this date by creating St. Valentine and using the day for one of chaste
Eostar Ritual (Spring Equinox, March 20-23 dependent on actual astronomical
event) This is the start in the pagan year of spring, at least among Wiccans and
Celtics. The first flowers are praised and the Gods and Goddesses thanked for
the true return to happier times for all. Eostar is one of the more colorful
holidays, not one of the somber colors found in Yule and Candlemas. Feasting and
socializing are the important factors in this holiday as well as the celebration
of the return of color to the natural world. In the Christian calendar, again to
draw early worshipers, they marked this as the final days and rebirth of Jesus
(when according to history he died in June!)
Beltane (May Eve, April 30th-May 1st) Most important to pagans, save for
Samhain, I don’t know of any Pagan group that doesn’t celebrate this holiday in
some way. Beltane is the great Fertility rite of life, starting at dusk on the
30th and continuing until the dawn of the 1st. The union of the God and Goddess
to conceive the sun-child to be takes place upon this holiday, no matter which
tradition of paganism is involved. Beltane is the one holiday most discouraged
by the Christians, who didn’t even use it as a point for a holiday of their own
because the power and nature of the day involved. Still, even in Christianized
Ireland the May day dance of the Maypole remained, as did the giving of flowers
to those you loved or cared for as friends. The Maypole is a symbol of the union
of the God and Goddess to create life, the pole itself a phallic symbol while
the dancers and their streamers or vines of flowers represent the fertile womb
of the goddess as it takes in the Phallus of the god and takes in his seed.
Besides the Maypole often a bonfire is present, and members of the group are
encouraged to jump the flames for luck and their own fertility. Food, drink and
love are the order of the evening. In most sects the celebration of Beltane will
become one large orgy as the participants are encouraged to enact their own
unions of love. Beltane is the time of many marriages/ andfastings in the pagan
community (in some it is the point where one chooses to begin and end
relationships of a physical nature). Clothing is very optional in most get
togethers on this holiday, and mostly it is sensual and colorful. Even those
sects that are prudish about things tend to accept the rules of the holiday, as
it is the holiday of free love. It is said that a child conceived on this day
will grow up to wield great power and knowledge and to be healthier than upon
Litha (Summer Solstice, June 20-23, dependent on actual astronomical event) Held
on the longest day of the year, the Solstice is the celebration of lights
triumph over darkness and that of the bountiful beauty that light brings into
life. Flowers are common in the circle, roses and bright cheerful wildflowers
are upon the altar and usually worn by all. It is the changing point of the
year, and the celebration of the spiral dance of the year is common among
Wiccans. It a celebration with much joy, and much feasting. Many wiccans will
attire themselves in bright colors and equally bright adornments of flowers.
Litha’ usual food fare may include honeycakes or cornbread. Litha is not
celebrated by all sects nor in the same way.
Lughnasad (August 1st) The great corn ritual of Wiccan belief (in Celtic realms
this is the celebration of the wheat god, corn is an Americanization and it is
possible there is an American Indian traditional holiday near this date that was
borrowed by the American Neopagans). This is the big celebration of the harvest
(Sort of a Pagan Thanksgiving, but the time clock is different as is that of the
Celtics). Much feasting and dancing occur, thou it is a bit more somber than
many of the other holidays. Some Pagans celebrate this day as merely the day to
bake their bread and cakes for the coming winter and do no actual rituals save
that of blessing the foods prepared.
Mabon (Fall Equinox, Sept. 20-23, dependent on actual astronomical event) A
lesser holiday, this is not widely celebrated and is most come with pure wiccan
groups, especially those who are based in the works of Starhawk and other Dianic
sects. This is the weavers festival, and a braiding of cords are done in the
process of casting a spell to add to ones life from what it is, each person
weaving unto themselves what they wish and the coven as a whole weaving all the
cords together to unite the power and efforts symbolically.
SAMHAIN (Halloween Oct 31st) The year ends traditionally in Wiccan beliefs with
this holiday. Samhain is said to be the period of time when the gates between
the worlds are least guarded and the veils their thinnest. It is a time for
dimensional openings and workings, and also the celebration of the death of the
year king. It is a somber holiday, one of dark clothes and thoughts for the
dead, it is said to be the time when those of necromantic talents can speak with
the dead and it is certainly a time to remember ones dead. It is a time of
endings of relationships and bad situations and it is the time when one can see
the glimmer of hope in the future. There are as many concepts attached to this
holiday as any other.
THE DAYS OF POWER
In the past, when people lived with Nature, the turning of the seasons and the
monthly cycle of the Moon had a profound impact on religious ceremonies.
Because the Moon was seen as a symbol of the Goddess, ceremonies as adoration
and magick took place in its light. The coming of Winter, the first stirrings
of Spring, the warm Summer and the advent of Fall were also marked with rituals.
The Witches, heirs of the pre-Christian folk religions of Europe, still
celebrate the Full Moon and observe the changing of the seasons. The Pagan
religious calendar contains 13 Full Moon celebrations and eight Sabbats or days
Four of these days (or, more properly, nights) are determined by the Solstices
and Equinoxes, the astronomical beginnings of the seasons. The other four
ritual occasions are based on old folk festivals. The rituals give structure and
order to the Pagan year, and also remind us of the endless cycle that will
continue long after we’re gone.
Four of the Sabbats – perhaps those that have been observed for the longest time
– were probably associated with the agriculture and the bearing cycles of
animals. These are Imbolc (February 2), Beltane (April 30), Lughnasadh (August
1) and Samhain (October 31). These names are Celtic and are quite common
among Witches, though many others exist.
When careful observation of the skies led to common knowledge of the
astronomical year, the Solstices and Equinoxes (circa March 21, June 21,
September 21 and December 21; the actual dates vary from year to year) were
brought into this religious structure.
Who first began worshipping and raising energy at these times? That question
cannot be answered. However, these sacred days and nights are the origins of the
21 Craft ritual occasions.
Many of these survive today in both secular and religious forms. May Day
celebrations, Hallowe’en, Ground-hog Day and even Thanksgiving, to name some
popular North American holidays, are all connected with ancient Pagan worship.
Heavily Christianized versions of the Sabbats have also been preserved within
the Catholic Church.
The Sabbats are Solar rituals, marking the points of the Sun’s yearly cycle, and
are but half of the Pagan ritual year. The Esbats are the Pagan Full Moon
celebrations. At this time we gather to worship She Who Is. Not that Witches
omit the God at Esbats – both are usually revered on all ritual occasions.
There are 13 Full Moons yearly, or one every 28 1/4 days. The Moon is a symbol
of the Goddess as well as a source of energy. Thus, after the religious aspects
of the Esbats, Witches often practice magick, tapping into the larger amounts of
energy which are thought to exist at these times.
Some of the old Craft festivals, stripped of their once sacred qualities by the
dominance of Christianity, have degenerated. Samhain seems to have been taken
over by candy manufacturers in North America, while Yule has been transformed
from one of the most holy Pagan days to a time of gross commercialism. Even the
later echoes of a Christian savior’s birth are hardly audible above the
electronic hum of cash registers.
But the old magick remains on these days and nights, and the Craft celebrate
them. Rituals vary greatly, but all relate to the Goddess and God and to our
home, the Earth. Most rites are held at night for practical purposes as well as
to lend a sense of mystery. The Sabbats, being Solar-oriented, are more
naturally celebrated at noon or at dawn, but this is rare today