Samhain 2018 Sabbat Box Theme Release • Witches' Sight 0
• 2018 SAMHAIN - HALLOWEEN SABBAT BOX THEME • WITCHES' SIGHT •
Boxes ship: 10/22 ~ As darkness begins to cast itself upon the land and the leaves fade to brown, we wait in anticipation for Samhain. The third and final harvest festival of the cycle which began in August with Lughnasadh. Samhain marks the end of summer and the time to begin preparation for the start of the dark half of the year. We recover our coats, jackets, and heavier clothes from the hidden parts of our closets and dressers. We begin to crave pumpkin spice lattes, apple pies, eggnog, and other warm filling foods. As the digression of daily warmth and light -that peaked months before during Litha- succumbs to the creeping presence of frigid darkness, winter’s glare looks on from the distant horizon...
As pagans and witches, we know what changes, advantages, and adventures await! This year, Samhain occurs on Wednesday, October 31st which is the planetary day of Mercury. The moon (in Leo) will be waning and nearing its last quarter phase before becoming New on November 7th where it enters Scorpio. Happening on a Wednesday during a waning moon, Samhain establishes the perfect magickal environment to ensure that personal reflection and introspection become the ideal focus for any witches’ gathering on this particular night. As Mercury is directly related to communication, the ability to send and receive of messages will be heightened. With the added waning moon -being related to introspection and self-knowledge- make soul searching and discovering those much needed answers to life dwelling in the realms beyond an even more accessible reality.
Despite popular culture, we witches know that the name Samhain is pronounced ‘SOW-inn’ or ‘SOW-win’ and is a Gaelic word and festival that historically occurred from sunset on October 31st to the sunset of November 1st also making it known as November Eve in some circles. The name Samhain itself is popularly understood to mean summer’s end, as according to some individuals this understanding is derived from the spelling Samfuin, which can be broken down into sam ('summer') and fuin ('end'). It should be no surprise to anyone who is even slightly familiar with it, that Samhain is the ancient festival to which we owe for the modern existence of Halloween. As the commonly held beliefs and cultural practices associated with Halloween have been derived from Samhain’s own history and lore. It is, after all, a testament to Samhain’s enduring legacy and presence in the world.
Ancient Irish Mythology reveals Samhain as being one of the four primary seasonal festivals where feasting, celebration, and games were common. It was also thought that during this time the veil -which existed between the worlds of the living and the dead- became thin and thus permitting spiritual crossover to happen between them. A concern that sparked the tradition of carving turnips -and later pumpkins- into jack-o-lanterns as well as mumming and guising to be utilized by the living to serve as protective measures while the dead and otherworldly beings roamed the haunted landscape to terrorize and visit the living.
A centuries old holiday, Samhain was historically observed throughout Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man with variations of this celebration being recognized in certain areas of what is now referred to as the United Kingdom. Similar festivities could also be found in other parts of Europe during the time. For example, the people of Salerno, Italy held a similar festival honoring the dead until the practice itself was banned by the church in the fifteenth century. Yet, despite the sentimentalities and policies of the church, the festival and the idea of honoring the dead during the waning months of the years continue to influence and be adapted by various cultures and regions of the world centuries later. Halloween, All Saints Day, and the variations of Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) found throughout Mexico as well as in Central and South America are additional testaments to the significance of this time old tradition and its varied practices.
As modern witches we understand Samhain as functioning as one of the Greater Sabbats, being the contemporary collective name for the four primary seasonal festivals observed in Ancient Ireland. During this time of the year, the final harvest symbolizes the final death. The giving of life in anticipation of the cold and harsh winter months ahead. It is also, as the name indicates, a time of endings where we reap what we have sown and reflect upon those events that have brought us to this moment, and those efforts which will carry us through the coming months beyond the distant winter.
So, upon this night of Samhain, as the dead return to the land to be among the living, we honor them and their memory through offerings of food and good drink, reverence, stories of who they once were, and tales of where they have been since their passing. We also embark on efforts of engagement with them through direct conversation and other means of contact. Communicating with the dead improves during this time because of the veil being thin. Therefore acts of divination such as scrying into a mirror or the light of a candle, or via ceromancy (interpreting the candle drippings dripped onto water) can be employed to seek answers from the beyond. As our own ancestors come forth, we welcome their return to offer their insights and blessings as we gaze between the worlds as only witches can. Happy Samhain and Blessed Be!
Mabon 2018 Sabbat Box Theme Release • Moon Magick II 1
• 2018 MABON - FALL EQUINOX SABBAT BOX THEME • MOON MAGICK •
The weather cools, a chill settling in the air. The leaves begin to turn to fiery colors: Yellow. Red. Orange. The spectrum creates a rainbow over the landscape as they fall to the ground, filling the air with an earthy scent. The autumn equinox is near.
The equinox itself is a scientifically observable event when the tilt of the earth is so that the sun passes over the earth’s equator. Because of this, the sun rises exactly east and sets exactly west rather than at a slight tilt towards the poles and we experience a near-equal day and night. This event occurs twice a year: Once at spring and once in the fall. In 2018, the Autumn Equinox will take place on September 22nd at 4:02 PM EDT.
For pagans and witches, the fall equinox is also known as Mabon, one of three harvest festivals on the Wheel of the Year. We owe the name "Mabon" itself to Aidan Kelly in the 1970s, a reference to characters, or perhaps gods, from Welsh lore. That being said, though the name is relatively new, the concept of a celebration occurring around the fall equinox is not. Oschophoria was a festival in ancient Greece that honored the grape harvest and wine. Eighteenth century Bavarians celebrated Oktoberfest in the last week of September, a festival that continues today. Even the US holiday Thanksgiving originally occurred on October 3rd, just a week and a half after the equinox. It wasn’t until 1863 that it was moved to November and 1941 before it settled on the date it is today. As such, the modern Autumn Equinox as a pagan festival is one of thanksgiving and gratitude.
Much of this thanksgiving tradition with Mabon is owed to its timing around the fall harvest. Customs of the holiday include this, creating themes of completion and goal achievement. This is a great time to reflect upon the past to see if you have reaped what you’ve sown from seeds planted in the spring. What goals did you want to achieve at the beginning of the year? Have they come to fruition? What do you need to do to find completion? This might even mean cutting your losses to move forward, much as a farmer might do with a dud crop.
In addition to thanksgiving and harvest, the autumn equinox is a time of balance. The word equinox itself comes from the Latin word aequinoctium- aequus meaning equal and nox, of course, meaning night. During both the spring and fall equinox, day and night are nearly-equal. Enforcing this equilibrium is the fact that the sun enters Libra, a sign of balanced scales, on the morning of the autumn equinox. Celebrating balance means appreciating the light and dark within your life. What does the light bring you? Think of the sun, the day, the progress you make during that timeframe and what you draw to you. And what does the dark do for you? Think of letting go, of cleansing, of the night and, especially, of the moon. After all, we’re entering her jurisdiction as we travel to the darker half of the year.
Mabon has always had a close association with the moon. The full moon near the fall equinox, the Harvest Moon, is probably the most well-known. This particular full moon derives its name from the farmers working late into the night, the crops illuminated by its brilliant light. The Harvest Moon is sometimes called the Wine Moon as well because it rises in a beautiful orange-red splendor, akin to the fiery colors of the autumn leaves below. Moreover, for those that believe in the goddess, Mabon is when she officially enters her “waning” phase – another emphasis on the connection of this equinox with the moon.
But this isn’t all. As stated earlier, the equinox isn’t exactly a perfect balance of night and day – it is only nearly equal. That perfect equality, called equilux rather than equinox, occurs a few days before the actual equinox itself. We owe this offset on the day the sun passes over the equator’s plane to atmospheric diffusion and, of course, our beloved moon. Earth’s satellite causes the planet’s orbit to vary from a perfect ellipse. It’s also why we have the tilt, and thus the equinoxes, in the first place. Thus the moon has a profound effect on this sabbat in particular!
Because of the fall equinox’s especially close connection to the moon, Sabbat Box would like to announce its Mabon box theme: Moon Magick II. Our first Moon Magick themed Sabbat Box was presented on Ostara of last year. It seems only appropriate to present the second of this theme on the mirror holiday to the first. Moon Magick deals with the darkness and the ways we attempt to illuminate it, much like a candle in the night. It is spiritual, cleansing, divinatory and divine. It’s also natural, emphasizing harvested herbs akin to the harvest of the fall.
This box will assist subscribers on working with not just the Harvest Moon in its full status but every phase during this time – and throughout the year! The items you’ll discover will be educational, interactive and fully integrated with the moon herself, and will include more exclusive items just for our members. We can’t wait for our subscribers to open up this magickal box and begin harnessing the full power of the many phases of the moon this equinox!
Lammas 2018 Sabbat Box Theme Release • Shamanic Connection 1
• 2018 LAMMAS - LUGHNASADH SABBAT BOX THEME • SHAMANIC CONNECTION •
“Shamanism has been defined as the first religion. It existed prior to the earliest civilizations, before our ancestors took the first steps down the long journey to the present. Prior to this time, the shamans were the medicine people, the power wielders, male and female. They wrought magick and spoke to the spirits of nature” — Scott Cunningham, Chapter 1: Wicca and Shamanism, from the book Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner.
Rolling storms and blazing, humid days. The sweat dripping from your temple and the distorted waves of heat rising from the scorched pavement. In the spring, the seeds were planted. Through the summer, we toiled over the crops. As the fields of corn and wheat glisten in the searing August sun, their stalks ripe with grain, they await their final goal: The first harvest of August Eve.
Also known as Lughnasadh or Lammas, this holiday is ripe with history. Lughnasadh is a Gaelic festival and feast said to have been started by the god Lugh. A celebration of the funeral of his mother Tailtiu who died clearing the Irish fields for crops, athletic games were competed in her honor. The festival would also include trial marriages of a year and a day, and massive dinners of the first harvest’s grains and berries would be enjoyed by all. Also associated with August Eve is the English and Scottish holiday of Lammas. Known as the Gule of August in medieval times, Lammas Day was a festival marking the annual wheat and corn harvest. Loaves were blessed and broken into four parts to protect harvested grain in barns while fresh stalks of wheat were gifted to landlords and friends.
Contemporary August Eve celebrations rely heavily on wheat and corn, crops pinnacle to modern civilization. Loaves of bread grace our holiday feasts while corn dolls are made from the husks of the first harvest. As a harvest holiday, we reap what we sow: Goals set in the beginning of the year are coming to realization. We take inventory of our lives and find gratitude in the path we’ve traveled, paved by our ancestors before us. In fact, the ancestral land, the earth, is a quintessential part of Lammas. Without it, we would have no agriculture, no crops and no harvest. Life as we know it would not exist. We owe everything to the earth and those who came before us.
For this year’s Lammas Sabbat Box, we wanted to highlight this reliance on the earth by focusing on the original human-spirit connection method: shamanism. While the most familiar picture of shamanism for many refers to the indigenous peoples of North America, shamans have existed under different titles and names in every part of the globe from the beginning of human history. These early practitioners were the medicine people, the advisors, the knowing members of their group or tribe who were revered and honored highly in those cultures. Shamanism at the core of its meaning generally refers to practicing higher states of consciousness as a means of connecting to the Otherworld or Divine. Shamans would enter altered states of consciousness through many trance inducing methods, reaching a state referred to as ecstasy, which would in turn help to divine messages for the shaman which further helped to provide guidance for their people. Dancing, singing, drumming, storytelling, and ritual reenactments of important events were just some of what ancient (and modern) shamans throughout the world have done in their practice, both in celebration or reverence of the earth and divine, and to also promote higher states of consciousness.
Shamans were also the first spiritual practitioners who incorporated ritual tools and objects from the earth into their practice, the drum for example (made of animal hide and wood) being one of the original, or herbs, which were dried and then burnt as offering being another. We at Sabbat Box are committed to introducing and providing inspiration to modern-day practitioners while revering and seeking to honor the traditions of those who came before us with this year’s Lammas Sabbat Box theme: Shamanic Connection.
The inspiration behind this year’s Lammas box theme was to curate a box of products that are physically “of or from the earth.” In essence, gifts provided to us that we could use and implement into our own practices…the same way a “Shaman” or any of the original “earth based spiritual practitioners” would have. We did this in a symbolic effort to tie in the connection between the “gifts” of the harvest, and to also tie in the connection of our general ancestral roots as well.
Much like the gifts of sustenance the earth provides us during harvest season, the earth alone can lend us all that we need to allow us to further strengthen our bond with it, to further nourish our spirit, and bring us closer the divine.
*NOTE: The items that are found within this year's Lammas box are not intended to teach anyone how to be a "shaman," nor are they intended to teach any specific spiritual practice that coincides with Indigenous tribes or cultures. We wish to provide items that are inspired by the original spiritual practitioners who would use these gifts of the earth and to incorporate these gifts into your own spiritual practices. At this time of year, with our focus on the gifts of the earth and our place in it, we hope that this year’s Lammas Sabbat Box might bring you a little closer to the earliest roots of spiritual practice and the Earth on which we live.
Midsummer 2018 Sabbat Box Theme Release • Herbal Witchery #2 0
• MIDSUMMER SABBAT BOX THEME • HERBAL WITCHERY #2 •
MIDSUMMER SABBAT BOXES ARE SCHEDULED TO SHIP: JUNE 8
The world grows warmer, the days longer and the trees greener. The sun rises high overhead towards the noon-hour as the Wheel of the Year turns once again. Here, we find ourselves nearing the Summer Solstice. But what’s in a word? “Solstice” comes from Latin root words “sol” and “sistere.”
Quite literally, “solstice” translates to “the day the sun stood still.” Looking back at what our ancestors must have thought, it’s no surprise as to why! On the solstice, the sun seems to simply stop at the height of the day, hanging in the summer sky.
Ancient Egyptians may have observed the solstice as it corresponded with the Nile’s rise, offering prediction for flooding. Some Greek calendars used the Summer Solstice to mark the start of their new year. Romans celebrated Vestalia, a holiday where married women could enter temples designated for virgins only in order to make offerings to the goddess of the home, Vesta. Ancient Europeans celebrated the solstice with bonfires to add to the sun’s growing energy, encouraging a bountiful harvest. And, of course, we have a number of ancient structures that align with the Summer Solstice, including the ever-popular Stonehenge.
Modern pagans celebrate the solstice as part of the Wheel of the Year, an adaptation of eight ancient pagan holidays of significance. Also known as Litha and Midsummer, the Summer Solstice is the beginning of summer and the longest day of the year as the sun reaches its apex in the astrological sign of cancer. Historically, it was the longest work day available, so we often associate this holiday with achievements, hard work and determination. We light bonfires, make music and celebrate success within our work, with all of the festivities being committed in the name of the sun.
The sun. The center of our solar system. Our life force. Without the sun, we wouldn’t be here. We rely on our star to light the way in the darkness of the universe, to provide warmth and comfort and to grow our food and, of course, our herbs. Historical pagans placed a great emphasis on the use of herbs for medicine and magic. From the use of bay leaves by the Greek oracles of Delphi to reach a trance state to the cunning woman living on the outskirts of a European town and providing herbal medicine to the sick townspeople, herbs are infused as part of our history. When focusing on such a historically significant holiday here at Sabbat Box, we wanted to use a theme that not only celebrated the sun’s hard work but also tied in historical beliefs. With its popularity last year, we couldn’t think of a theme more representative of this sabbat, or more beloved by our subscribers, than Herbal Witchery – Part Two!
At the time of the Summer Solstice, a number of herbs reach their peak. We see these herbs lining the pathways of the forest in the hot summer sun, dancing in the warm breeze of the fields and climbing their way down the rolling hills to reach the roads we tread. We grow them in our gardens, harvest them from our farms and keep them in small pots near our kitchen. They are available to us at every turn, reaching for our hands, encouraging us to seek their wisdom.
As pagans and witches, we use herbs in a variety of ways, from the simple seasoning of our food to the many magical applications they provide. We anoint our candles with them, grind them into incense, leave them as offerings on our altars and cleanse our homes with them. We store them in our herb cabinets and apothecaries carefully, honoring them and their wisdoms. Many of these herbs have correspondences with solar energy, ensuring success, happiness and fruitful rewards. Every herb is infused with the sun’s light, the warmth of the summer days required to for them to grow. They are, in a word, perfect for the Summer Solstice.
As an integral part of our practices from ancient times to modernity, herbs are often one of the first easily-accessible tools for the budding pagan or witch, and a reliable source of magic for the advanced practitioner. When we compiled this solstice box, we took particular care in curating items that would be of use for any level of practice. Continuing with our theme from last year, we wanted to place a particular focus on the herbs themselves, including items that would be both practically useful and magically inspirational. We can’t wait to send these your way!
• SEE PREVIOUS MIDSUMMER BOXES HERE •
Beltane 2018 Sabbat Box Theme Release • Celtic Tree Magick 0
• BELTANE SABBAT BOX THEME • CELTIC TREE MAGICK •
BELTANE SABBAT BOXES SCHEDULED TO SHIP: APRIL 21
It was from the wisemen, shamans, and lore keepers that so many of our modern neo-pagan and Wiccan traditions stem from. For this year's Beltane box we thought...what better way is there to further connect with our spiritual selves than to connect with our spiritual roots; the roots of those who laid down the foundation in which we use and tap into, in order to draw forth and bring about change, while also further providing spiritual nourishment and meaning into our lives. Many of these roots lay specifically with the Celts, and to further connect with their mysteries of the past, is to further connect with ourselves and our practices today.
The Celts had a special connection with nature, more specifically trees. The Celts believed that trees were harbingers of wisdom and information, with each tree offering practical, magickal, and healing attributes. To the Celts, to understand the magick of trees was to understand nature itself -- it was a way of connecting with and tapping into the raw elements in which we all stem from.
Beltane itself marks the halfway point between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, but the sabbat is so much more than just its astronomical and astrological significance. We celebrate Beltane--as well as the concept of the Wheel of the Year--thanks to the Celts, who marked this occasion as the one of the four fire festivals of the year.
One of the most recognized traditions of the Celts on Beltane was lighting a bonfire, which was meant to represent a celebration of the light and the sun as the days start to turn longer on the run up to Litha, (a.k.a. the summer solstice). Some traditions speak of the bonfire fueled by burning of the nine sacred woods, which come from the first nine trees of the Celtic tree calendar: birch, rowan, ash, alder, willow, hawthorne, oak, holly, and hazel.
Another more modern Celtic based tradition is to use these tree's woods in a bonfire as a form of divination; a way to allow the flames and movement of the fire to provide hints and clues of what is to come, especially in reference to foreseeing the coming summer and harvest season. Since Beltane sits opposite Samhain on the Wheel of the Year, some believe that the veil thins once again on this day, making Beltane an opportune time to practice divination and connect with the hidden and unknown.
Aside from using wood to divine fire, wood and trees have long held deep magickal significance to the ancient Celts. In fact, the Celts venereated certain trees, and from their profound adoration of trees emerged a sigil/symbol type of alphabet known as the Ogham (pronounced Oh-am), that historians believe was used for divination, communication, record keeping and more.
For this year's special 3 year anniversary Sabbat Box for Beltane, we will be diving deeper into the study of what the Celts as a people practiced and held sacred. Inside this box you will discover a variety of tools that will further assist you on your path of discovering the past to aid in the present.
• SEE PREVIOUS BELTANE BOXES HERE •
Ostara 2018 Sabbat Box Theme Release • Elemental Magick 0
• OSTARA SABBAT BOX - ELEMENTAL MAGICK •
Are you ready for spring? ~ Boxes are scheduled to ship March 9
This point in the year starts to bring warmer temperatures, new flowers, and--for some--the last melting of this past winter’s snow. During this time, some of us think about planting a vegetable garden or trying some new landscaping, which can not only make our homes more beautiful, but give us a great excuse to get out of the house we were trapped in all winter and enjoy the warm air and sunshine.
Our ancestors, however, had a more practical reason to start working as the days started to lengthen: they understood the significance of this time as an indicator for how the rest of the year would go through the summer and into the fall. A successful crop planting during this window of time in the Wheel of the Year meant the difference between a bounty and a struggle. The basic building blocks of life (and survival) were re-emerging and it was up to them to recognize those elements and use them to reach their goals.
Ostara, which is all about growth, fertility, and increase, is a celebration of this time of life and its gifts. When we consider our own goals in life as the year goes on, we too must recognize this window of time as an opportunity to take the steps toward a year of increase and abundance.
For this year’s Ostara Sabbat Box, we are curating a box that brings together this important time in the life cycle of our environment and the basic elements that even our earliest ancestors recognized were important for survival. Earth for planting, water for irrigation, air for pollination, and fire (the sun) for growth and increase...while we have a more complex understanding of what constitutes scientific elements, these basic four cardinal elements are also part of the foundation behind our magick and our magickal pursuits. It is with the elements that we connect with and correspond to in order to draw up our power to manifest a specific outcome. Just like the nature of spring, the elements combine together to bring about life, and in magick, the elements combine together to bring about change and power.
We are very much looking forward to sharing with you this special box of elemental magick for Ostara, with hopes of you finding a deeper connection to the elements themselves, while further connecting with each of their specific properties on both a magickal and mundane level.