Imagine time as a wheel, going through the seasons, turning the wheel of life. Most modern Witches celebrate eight Sabbats that act as “spokes” on the wheel: Imbolc, Ostara (Vernal Equinox), Beltane, Litha (Midsummer, the Summer Solstice), Lughnassadh, Mabon (Autumnal Equinox), Samhain, and Yule (Winter Solstice). These markings of the seasons originate from farming festivals (plant, grow, harvest, rest), deity feast days, and cross-quarter days (equinoxes and solstices).
We follow the Wheel of the Year to sync with the natural rhythm of the planet and all her inhabitants, plant and animal alike.
🌲 Samhain Nature Walk: Take a meditative walk in a natural area. Observe and contemplate the colors, aromas, sounds, and other sensations of the season. Experience yourself as part of the Circle of Life and reflect on death and rebirth as being an important part of Nature. Ancestors Altar: Gather photographs, heirlooms, and other mementos of deceased family, friends, and companion familiars. Arrange them on a table, dresser, or other surface, along with several votive candles. Kindle the candles in their memory as you call out their names and express well wishes. Thank them for being part of your life.
🕯 Ancestor Stories: Learn about family history. Contact one or more older relatives and ask them to share memories of family members now dead. Record them in some way and later write accounts of what they share. Give thanks. Share what you learned and have written with another family member or friend. We also use food as an offering to the dead—to communicate fond memories, to pay our respects—and perhaps, to appease hungry ghosts. Some Witches set an extra plate at the Samhain table for spirit visitors.
🔥 Fire Magic: Kindle a bonfire outdoors or kindle flames in a small cauldron. Write down an outmoded habit that you wish to end and cast it into the Samhain flames as you imagine release. Imagine yourself adopting a new, healthier way of being as you move around the fire clockwise.
Around December 21st, we begin our descent into the underworld of winter, we are asked to learn to embrace the darkness of our shadow. On winter Solstice animals rest in hibernation and the plants and trees fall into their slumber. We too can use this time to journey into our most profound depths. What will we find when we not only acknowledge our shadow, but rest within this part of our spirit? What may come from this mirror? Contrast? Healing? Understanding? Learning to love all of our layers, dark, light and every one in between allows us to feel, see, act as a whole being. From this place of wholeness, a sparked light of truth and unconditional love can be ignited even in the darkest of places. Light is a gift, equal to darkness, for without each other, one would not exist. Gift yourself this season, your Darkness and your Light, so that you may walk this Earth and Dream with spirit as your whole, beautiful, powerful and truthful self.
In many traditions, this Sabbat represents the birth of Sun God. Traditionally, this is the time when the hearth fires were put out, and then restarted with the Yule Log. If you don’t have a fireplace, a candle works very well.
— or Candlemas means “in the belly” and is celebrated on February 2nd. At this time the Crone of winter transmutes into a young maid of spring. Often rites of initiation and dedication are performed at Imbolc, because the symbolism behind this Sabbat is the idea that something is gestating, forming, waiting to be born. It’s the cross quarter day between Winter and Spring. The time when seeds begin to germinate and crack open. At Imbolc seeds begin their long journey through the dark soil, only to break ground and be vulnerable, to reach towards the great light. We celebrate the return of the sun.
🌙 Imbolc is a time for spiritual dedication and re-dedication. Renewing your “vows” if you will. Some covens initiate new members at Imbolc. It is also a time to examine and refresh our practice. If we have become lax, Imbolc is an opportunity to purify our intentions and reconnect with spiritual guides.
🌙 As the world prepares for growth and renewal, all maiden witches but particularly, Brighid is honoured and celebrated. Since Brighid is the guardian of the sacred flame, candles are lit and placed in windows.
🌙 It is a time of preparation. We clean and bless our altars, and make sure that the tools of our practice are attuned to their intended use. This makes a good time to even wipe the slate clean and build a new altar.
— or the Spring Equinox is celebrated around March 20th-22nd. It is the midpoint of the year, and day and night are equal at this time. Ostara marks the move between the dark half of the year and the light. As life quickens with the warmth of the sun, the earth manifests her beauty in flower, herb and other pastel colors spring. It marks the start of the growing season, the planting of seeds and the beginnings of new life. This part of the cycle honors the process of constant renewal.
🌙 Ostara provides a perfect opportunity to work magick for love, prosperity, and gains of any kind. We harness the energy of the lengthening days to fuel our desires and bring projects to fruition. We honor the gifts of the earth Goddess, who is presently blessing the land with beauty and nourishment.
🌙 Witches also use Ostara as a time to reflect on the principle of balance. Everyone has goals and responsibilities—work, family, art, spirituality—that compete for our time and attention. At Ostara, we take a moment to notice things that may have shifted out of balance. We reset our priorities as the austerity of winter gives way to the exuberance of spring.
🌙 Decorated eggs were traditionally given as gifts at Ostara, a gift offering the blessing of prosperity and new beginnings to the recipient.
— is the ancient name for the May Day rite, held on May 1. The name comes from the sun god, Bel (“the bright one”) and means “Bel’s fire.” Beltane is opposite on the Wheel from Samhain, and so is known as a day when the veils between the words are again at their thinnest, or even lifted all together. It is a great time of feasting, celebration, and marks a renewal of creative and fertile energy.
Traditionally, Beltane is a festival dedicated to fertility and sex. It is the time when the Maiden Goddess takes a lover in the form of the young God. The ritual of marriage (Great Rite) of a High Priestess and High Priest, will bless the land. Ritual performed on beltane takes on the symbolism of a marriage feast and all the fun that comes with it. 😉
🌙 Beltane season abounds with bonfires, festivals, concerts, and campouts. Dance around a fire or grouping of candles to celebrate.
🌙 Celebrate by making an altar to the union of the young God and Goddess. Flowers, honey, sweets and wine on the altar echo the sweetness of the occasion.
🌙 Since Beltane celebrates the union of the God and Goddess, it is a popular time for proposals, handfastings, and renewing of vows. Magickally, the combined masculine and feminine energies lend a powerful alchemical surge to almost any type of spellwork.
The Midsummer festival honours the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and also acknowledges the Sun at the peak of his strength. Though it’s typically celebrated on June 21st, the exact moment of the Summer Solstice varies from year to year. It is an auspicious day, ruled by the Sun and the element of Fire. Traditionally the Sun is seen as a male entity and the Moon as female. So during this Sabbat we celebrate the divine masculine aspect. In the Midsummer, light has pushed back the darkness and Litha rejoices in a time of hope and positivity.Litha celebrates nature at its peak. The fertility of the earlier celebrations has been realized and pagans can now enjoy the bounties of the earth. The Midsummer reminds the modern pagan to look ahead. Just as our ancestors would have evaluated and anticipated the growing of their crops, ensuring they had the food to sustain themselves and their families through the winter, Litha is a good time to look ahead and make plans for sustenance through the dark half of the year. It is a good time to make changes that will bring positivity during the darker days ahead.Litha reminds the modern pagan to count their blessings and to be grateful for what they have. Carpe Diem witches!
🌙 This is a good time for magic related to masculine energies and any situation that needs to be “fired up” in your life. Keep at least one candle lit throughout the day to honor the Sun, and if possible hold your Litha rituals at noon, when the Sun is at its highest point in the sky.
🌙 Seek out an activity that will spark joy and interest for you at this time. Try a taking a class, workshop or finally going on that camping trip. Work is important, it’s how we grow. This is a time to enjoy life and explore all that earth has to offer.
— or Lugnassadh (pronounced loo-nassah) after the Celtic sun God, Lugh, falls on August 1st. This was traditionally a time when the wheat and other grains were beginning to be harvested for the long winter months ahead. A day of rest is taken, and bread is made with the first grains of the harvest. This is a day to take pause, to look back at the long journey, reap the rewards of seeds planted before. This is a time to gather your crop, and marinade in the feeling of abundance and gratitude.
🌙 Celebrate this Sabbat with a picnic in the woods. Make fresh-made bread to honor the harvest. You may choose to carve sigils, runes or any symbol that calls to you in the bread. Be sure to break bread with friends, family, co workers in honor of sharing our overflowing abundance.
🌙 Take care your plants! This is the beginning of the harvest season. Take extra care of your plants and maybe even give them a treat: new soil, a new pot, fresh water, or fertilizer. If it’s time to harvest some fruits or veggies, do so!
🌙 Lammas is a great time for crafting abundance rituals or spells. You can craft an altar, spell or simply do a visualization. You may choose to imagine gathering your harvest, focusing on how it feels to be in a state of being abundant.
— also known as the Autumnal Equinox, falls on September 21. It is a time where once again the night and day are divided equally. Thanks are given to the sunlight and respects are paid to the approaching darkness.This is a fundamental time of balance as we prepare for rest, reflection and the journey within. This is the transitory time for mother to grow into her state of crone.
Honor the autumnal bounty by hosting a feast, even if you’re not the one who harvested the ingredients ( everyone can partake by making it potluck style!) Celebrate in ritual outside, around a bonfire, or among the forest, giving joy and thanks to mother earth and blessing the food in her name before partaking.
Mabon foods are comfort foods, those that evoke fond memories and connect us through sharing. We bake and brew, pickle and can. Offerings of wine, cider, fruits, may adorn the Mabon table or altar.