Yule 2016 Sabbat Box Theme Release • Manifesting Midwinter Magick 0
• MANIFESTING MIDWINTER MAGICK •
The winter solstice is the culmination of darkness. The sun rises late in the morning and leaves us early in the evening; it is the shortest day of the year. We can honor that darkness, even as we celebrate Yule as a festival of lights. Because what is worked in the dark can sometimes allow time for manifestation in the light of day.
Contrary to other spiritual paths, darkness doesn’t equal evil. For Pagans it is merely the “other side” of light. As creatures of balance we must strive to practice our craft amidst the darkness, just as the mouse may learn to move and protect herself under the cloak of night. The darkness, for her—like us—is not evil at all. In fact, the ability to use darkness for protection and accomplishing things without being seen ensures we will not catch the eye of those people or energies who might stand in our way.
The theme of this Yule’s Sabbat Box is manifesting midwinter magick. As you celebrate Yule this year, we hope that you will come to appreciate this shortest of days and see the power in manifesting your will with the help of falling night. We are curating a collection of items that will allow you to work unseen and gather the skill to make manifest your intent. We cherish the light—and will celebrate its soon return—at Yule, but witchcraft can sometimes work its greatest magic away from the hearth fires and lights. Sometimes the manifestation of magick works best unseen.
Mabon 2016 Sabbat Box Theme Release • Protection Magick For The Home 0
• PROTECTION MAGICK FOR THE HOME AND FOR THE EQINOX •
You move across the fields and hear things waking to the night: the owl’s low trill, the bat's swoops and circles, the wolf’s whine and howl, the nightingale’s call to arms. It reminds you of the shorter days ahead…the drain of blues and greens and reds under a purpling sky. A thousand stars start to twinkle overhead, its canvas turning blue-black, a cold reminder of how small—insignificant—you are on the moving earth.
The last signs of summer are moving behind us, and the darkness that approaches for winter reminds us that the plenty and abundance of greener times is leaving us for other seasons. Our ancestors would start to prepare well in advanced for the upcoming season, especially moreso for the darker half of the year, because where there was darkness, protection was required. Though Mabon may be commonly celebrated today somewhat as a "Pagan Thanksgiving," being that it is the Sabbat of the great harvest, or a time to honor balance (because the Sabbat falls on the equinox), we decided to focus our intent to finding products aimed at protecting the hearthside when curating this box for Mabon.
It is this spirit of protection, of our ancestors before us preparing and bracing themselves for the hardships of winter ahead, that we honor, celebrate and recognize this Mabon. This was a time to prepare food storages against the coming lack while keeping the hearth fires and bonfires lit for their warmth and light—the light that allows us to see into that darkness and spot any danger that may be around us. This was a time to prepare the home and the hearth, and to rid and banish all that was unwelcome and to make room for all that is.
This year’s Mabon Sabbat Box is a stop on the Wheel of the Year that reminds us to take those steps to protect ourselves and our homes, and to be vigilant against shortages and negative energies in our lives. We have curated a selection of items that hopefully will help prepare your mind and spirit, to enhance that vigilance against the darker days ahead, all while celebrating another turn of the Wheel, and what it has brought to us over the last months. We are grateful for our abundance as we celebrate the feasts of Mabon, but we also create potent magick to protect what is ours and that in which we dwell during the coming darker times.
• DISCOVER THE 2016 MABON SABBAT BOX - CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW •
Discover The Samhain Sabbat Box - The Witches' Sabbath 1
• SAMHAIN SABBAT BOX - SABBAT BOX BREAKDOWN •
Greetings Sabbat Box Members!
The end of the year is fast approaching. It’s getting dark a little earlier every day, and stays that way just a little longer every morning. While many have been raised to think this time of year is just about dressing in silly costumes, knocking on neighbors’ doors, and hauling in as much candy as our make-shift pillowcase/goody bag would hold, those who have headed down the spiritual path of Paganism realize there is so much more to experience, appreciate, and learn about All Hallows’ Eve.
As you will see from the list of items below, we’ve done our best to marry the festive enjoyment that our modern society has cultivated around the 31st of October, but also focus on the powerful work that our paths can conjure from this magical time of year. We worked hard to curate items inside this box that would help one appreciate the importance of this holiday as well as, maybe, offer a little smirk and a wink (incense from freshly-squeezed vampires, anyone?) and even threw in a little morsel that you may have found at the bottom of that pillowcase years ago on November 1st.
Wherever your traditions, your path, or your craft take you, this “Witches’ New Year” can be a wonderful time to reflect, assess, and honor the time that we have been given on this plane, and to honor those who came before us as the veil thins, inviting our ancestors to visit us once again. We sincerely hope you enjoy what we have put together inside the Samhain box and we hope you enjoy putting these magical items to use in your own special way.
• As some of you may know, as of now we are currently at our maximum membership capacity at Sabbat Box. We have implemented a waiting list for those interested in joining when membership positions become available. You can join the waiting list here.
• Do you or someone you know make a product that would appeal to the Pagan community? Are you looking to launch a product or get your product in front of a large audience? If so, lets talk! Sabbat Box is always looking for new vendors and suppliers that create unique items to feature inside an upcoming Sabbat Box. Sabbat Box is a great way for people to find out about you, your product or your company. Whether you are looking to advertise inside the box or wish to feature a product within a box, we would love to hear from you. Become a Sabbat Box Supplier/Advertiser today.
• SAMHAIN-RITUALS, RECIPES & LORE FOR HALLOWEEN •
• ITEM 1: SAMHAIN BOOK.........$11.99
• WHAT: Samhain-Rituals, Recipes and Lore for Halloween (part of Llewellyn's Sabbat Essentials series)
• WHO MAKES IT?: Llewellyn Worldwide & Authored By Diana Rajchel
• WHERE CAN I GET IT?: You can purchase copies via the Sabbat Box Store or via Llewellyn.
• WHY WOULD I WANT IT?: Llewellyn has been a trusted source for books on Paganism, Magick and New Age topics since 1901. This particular book features spells, recipes, lore, invocations, correspondences, crafts and rituals that will help to inspire you to celebrate Samhain in your own unique way.
Part of what we wish to do here at Sabbat Box is to provide further resources
for our members pertaining to paganism, witchcraft and the Sabbats. The Sabbat Essentials series are wonderful resource books and will truly help you find inspiration on how to celebrate the Sabbat in your own special way. Some may say that these books are geared more towards beginners, but you would be surprised to read how much information is packed within these books, which is helpful for both seasoned practitioners as well as a novice! We decided to feature Llewellyn's Sabbat Essentials books when we started Sabbat Box, as this line of books is brand new to Llewellyn, (making them first edition prints) and they correlate perfectly with what Sabbat Box is all about. In fact, these first edition printings come out only a few weeks before we ship each Sabbat Box, which makes our members some of the first people to actually own and read them. The book’s author, Diana Rajchel, has written other books on Paganism, including her most recent book, "Divorcing A Real Witch," and has also contributed to many other popular Llewellyn publications.
We believe that every Pagan can gain something from this collection of Samhain practices, or at least inspire you to try something new that you may not have thought to do before. You will find an array of fantastic information pertaining to Samhain/Halloween, including plenty of rituals, spells and inspiration for your Samhain celebrations.
An excerpt from "A Banishment of Ill Spirits" on page 163.
I sweep you out;
I turn you about,
Go to the gods!
Leave here for the rivers,
Depart the skies--
I bid you, fly!
I'll not have you linger,
With your venomous trouble.
I'll know if you hang on!
I pry you loose, claw by finger,
Command you with the charge:
Count every drop of water in every lake,
Ocean, river and sea;
Count each grain of rice that ever was,
Count each grain that shall ever be;
Count every leaf on every tree,
That will fall or that will be,
Never again return--
Don't come near me!
These books have been a great hit within the Sabbat Box community and we continue to plan on including the Sabbat Essentials series until Ostara of next year...by that point we will have included each book from the Sabbat Essentials series within each Sabbat Box for the first year.
• THE WITCHES' SABBATH - BLACK RITUAL PROTECTION TAPERS •
• ITEM 2: BLACK RITUAL TAPERS........$5.50
• WHAT: The Witches' Sabbath Protection Black Ritual Tapers
• WHO MAKES IT?: Sabbat Box (exclusive Sabbat Box item).
• WHERE CAN I GET IT?: The Sabbat Box store.
• WHY WOULD I WANT IT?: A nice set of spell candles can always come in handy for any practicing witch. One may want a decent set of black tapers for spells, to adorn your altar, or to work protective magick.
Since the veil is thin, we felt that our Witches’ Sabbath Protection Black Ritual Tapers would come in handy for Samhain. Whether you use them to illuminate your sacred space, perform a quick spell, or place them upon your window sill to guide the spirit of your ancestors home during Samhain, our black ritual tapers have a multitude of uses. Candles have always played an essential role in witchcraft, and every witch should have a pair of ritual tapers on hand at any given time. Each set comes with a simple chant to release your spell/magick as well.
By wax of candle,
By way of flame,
I conjure up my will,
By dark of night,
By witches' right,
I beseech my spell.
IDEAS FOR MAGICKAL USE
• Use on your altar as standard black altar candles, to match your Samhain decor
• Use for protective candle magick
• Use as guides for your ancestors on All Hallow's Eve
• Use for standard candle magick
• Write a petition on the back side of the parchment label and burn on the candles flame to release your magickal intent.
• SPIRIT OF SAMHAIN SABBAT OIL - BY MOONLIT HERBALS •
• ITEM 3: SABBAT OIL.........$7.50
• WHAT: The Spirit of Samhain Sabbat Oil
• WHO MAKES IT?: Moonlit Herbals
• WHERE CAN I GET IT?: The Sabbat Box Store or via Moonlit Herbals
• WHY WOULD I WANT IT?: Many Pagans utilize oil in their magical practice and ritual as a way to dedicate, protect, or consecrate people and items. This particular oil and its scent will invoke powerful imagery of Samhain and its long-standing traditions.
The Spirit of Samhain ritual sabbat oil will make a wonderful addition to your Samhain rites, rituals, and spells involving divination, honoring loved ones who have passed, and working between the shadows. Each oil is handcrafted with organic herbs and resins as well as high quality organic essential oils. Each vial of oil also contains black onyx and carnelian crystals to lend their corresponding energies. Moonlit Herbals is located in Olympia, Washington and has been serving the Pagan community since 2007. Check out Moonlit Herbals unique array of witchcraft supplies and spell supplies such as: spell candles, oils, herbs, and more by visiting their Etsy Shop at http://www.etsy.com/moonlitherbals.
STONE CORRESPONDENCES FOR SAMHAIN OIL
• Black Onyx: Protection, grounding, clearing, consecration
• Carnelian: Power, love, purification, magick
• GYPSY WITCH FORTUNE TELLING CARDS •
• ITEM 4: FORTUNE TELLING CARDS.........$7.00
• WHAT: Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling Playing Cards
• WHO MAKES IT?: U.S. GAMES
• WHERE CAN I GET IT?: You can purchase at the Sabbat Box Store.
• WHY WOULD I WANT IT? For many Pagans, divination is a integral part of their practice in the Craft. This beginner-style deck is a great introduction to reading cards as it uses tarot-style imagery in its art along with regular playing card imagery as well.
During Samhain, it is very common for witches to work divination. We wanted to include something unique inside your box that could allow you to do so while the veil is thin, and these novelty fortune telling cards fit the bill! U.S. Games has been serving the Pagan community for 45 plus years, making unique items such as fortune telling cards and more.
The Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling Cards where originated back in the 1930's and its imagery is based off of the early Lenormand tarot artwork, making for a beautiful display of both occult and pagan imagery. Each deck comes with instructions on how to use them and different spreads for the deck.
• TRADITIONAL CONSECRATED BLACK SALT •
• ITEM 5: BLACK SALT.........$7.00
• WHAT IS IT: Traditionally Made Black Salt - Sel Noir
• WHO MAKES IT?: Charm et Sortilege
• WHERE CAN I GET IT?: The Sabbat Box Store.
• WHY WOULD I WANT IT?: Salt has been used for millennia as a purifier and preserver of foods, and in spellwork or ritual, the role is very similar. Black salt, specially consecrated for the Craft, absorbs and protects against negativity or unwanted spiritual energies.
This traditionally made black salt is energetically charged and consecrated, making it a useful magickal component for protection and banishing. Sprinkle in an area you want to protect or within your circle to boost your magic. Black salt is especially beneficial to use during Samhain while the veil has parted to keep unwelcome spirits away.
IDEAS FOR MAGICKAL USE
• Use to cleanse and consecrate sacred space
• Imbue your intent within and sprinkle around outside of home
• Place beneath outside doormat for protection magick
• Use in conjunction with spell work
• Use to consecrate ritual tools or spell supplies
• Place inside a poppet, mojo bag/mojo hand or gris gris
• BLACK SAGE SMUDGE STICK - MUGWORT •
• ITEM 6: BLACK SAGE.........$3.50
• WHAT IS IT?: Black Sage Smudge Stick (Mugwort)
• WHO MAKES IT?: Mother Nature
• WHERE CAN I GET IT?: You can purchase at the Sabbat Box Store.
• WHY WOULD I WANT IT?: Fresh, wild harvest black sage smudge sticks are the perfect ritual smudge stick for the witch at heart. Black sage, also known as mugwort has many magical uses, especially during Samhain.
Black sage, also known as mugwort, is very closely related to divination, astral projection, and psychic power, making it a potent herb for witches to use during Samhain. Many Pagans will burn mugwort prior to working divination to protect themselves. Some may also take mugwort, rosemary, salt, and water to create a consecrated concoction for protection, as well as to spiritually cleanse the home and altar.
• FOLK NAMES: Artemis Herb, Sailor's Tobacco, Black Sage
• GENDER: Feminine
• PLANET: Venus
• ELEMENT: Earth
• DEITIES: Artemis, Diana
• MAGICAL USE: Psychic power, protection, strength, prophetic dreams, healing, astral projection.
• VAMPIRE BLOOD STICK INCENSE •
• ITEM 7: STICK INCENSE.........$3.00
• WHAT: Vampire Blood Incense
• WHO MAKES IT?: Devils Garden
• WHERE CAN I GET IT?: Via the Sabbat Box Store, or most metaphysical suppliers
• WHY WOULD I WANT IT?: Vampire Blood stick incense are a premium, hand rolled, organic stick incense with an amazing, intoxicating aroma, and will add a magical feel to your next rite.
The name may be slightly macabre, but Vampire Blood incense are some of the best quality stick incense you can find. Each incense is made from a unique blend of rare herbs, flowers, resins, and essential oils. There are hints of vanilla, musk, and sandalwood, as well as a little benzoin and dragon’s blood resin. They are on the stronger side, but oh so intoxicating. These incense are made using the “Masala” method, which means herbs, resins, and oils are mixed together to create a paste and that paste is then hand rolled onto the incense stick. This method makes for a better quality incense overall. All of the ingredients used to make these incense are organic, non-toxic, and ozone friendly.
We chose to feature Vampire Blood incense within the Samhain Sabbat Box because their scent does almost mimic the deep fall season. Each pack of Vampire Blood incense comes with 10 sticks, which is more then plenty to facilitate your magical sabbat workings.
• BLACK OBSIDIAN TUMBLED GEMSTONES •
• ITEM 8: OBSIDIAN STONE.........$2.00
• WHAT: Black Obsidian Tumbled Gemstone Sets
• WHO MAKES IT?: Mother Nature
• WHERE CAN I GET IT?: Via the Sabbat Box Store, or most metaphysical suppliers.
• WHY WOULD I WANT IT?: Black Obsidian gemstone set, perfect for the gemstone and crystal collector! Each Black Obsidian Gemstone Set comes with a bag, an info card & 1 black obsidian. Obsidian is a versatile gemstone with many metaphysical properties that can come in handy during samhain.
Black obsidian is naturally occurring volcanic glass, and is created when hot lava comes into contact with water and is rapidly cooled, forming a powerful stone with a deep dark color. Black obsidian is said to provide strong psychic protection and shields against negative energies. It is also a great stone for grounding. Obsidian is also said to aid with divination and channeling, making it a perfect stone for Samhain and the parting of the veil.
• PACKING & SHIPPING •
PACKING & SHIPPING: Part of the costs of your box include the box and the packing material itself. The items listed below account for a good portion of the overall costs for the Samhain Box. Each Samhain Sabbat Box is lined with paper padding and wrapping to add to the surprise of what we’ve curated for you. Shipping is included in the total price. The average cost to ship the Samhain Box was roughly $8.00. With that being said, we here at Sabbat Box wish to be as environmentally friendly that we can be and do our best to source packing supplies and material from companies that have the same beliefs we do, in that we want to make as little of an impact as possible on the environment.
BOXES: Your boxes where made from high quality corrugated paper and are 100% recyclable. Try to find another use for your box. They are 9x9x3 on the inside. You could decorate your box to hold some magical supplies or use it to again to ship something to someone or save it for another time when you may need it. If you dispose of it, try to recycle it.
BROCHURE & COUPONS: Your brochures are printed on 100% recyclable 16pt paper, which is sourced from sustainable forests. They are ECF (elemental chlorine free), helping to have less of an impact on the environment.
TISSUE PAPER & FILLING: The black tissue paper is made from 100% recycled paper and is recyclable. The filling is made from scraps of recycled "black" crinkle paper and is biodegradable.
STICKERS: The stickers found within your boxes where printed on vinyl with a gloss laminate.
• SABBAT BOX COUPONS •
SAVINGS & COUPONS:
Part of our goal is to provide a number of items to our members at a value far above what individuals can purchase on their own. When you add up all of the items inside your Samhain Sabbat Box, as well as costs for shipping and packaging, you are saving over $14.99 with your Samhain Sabbat Box. We believe this to be another good reason to be a member. Also, each box we create helps to support Pagan run businesses and their employees. Sabbat Box looks forward to continuing to stay within our mission to work with other Pagan businesses to supply products for each box.
Coupons are another great feature you will find within Sabbat Boxes. Coupons just add to the overall value of your box and are not included in the "total savings" specified on your information sheet/brochure. Check out the Pagan run businesses below and see the great discounts our members received inside the Samhain Box. Be sure to visit their online store and help support their businesses. They really do make some magickal, Pagan products.
SAMHAIN BOX PRICE BREAKDOWN
• Total MSRP of items inside: $46.99
• Total Savings on this box: $7.04
• Total Shipping Savings: $7.95
• Grand Total In Savings: $14.99
~Our members helped to support 6 Pagan run businesses with their Sabbat Box membership! Unlike some subscription boxes (that only use their own products inside each of their boxes), we work with other Pagans and Pagan owned businesses within the community to purchase and supply the items featured within our boxes. In the end, we want to help the community grow and share our business with companies that share our same values and standards
• RIVER SILVERWOLF NATURE & SPIRITUAL SHOPPE •
• EXCLUSIVE SABBAT BOX MEMBER COUPON
• COMPANY: River Silverwolf Nature and Spiritual Shoppe
• EXCLUSIVE MEMBER COUPON VALUE: 10% off next purchase
• WHAT THEY SELL: Discover unique pagan jewelry and spiritual items at the River Solverwolf Shoppe. All items found inside their shop are created and designed using gifts from nature.
• WEBSITE: https://www.etsy.com/shop/RiverSilverWolf
• FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/RiverSilverwolfEtsy
• MOONLIT HERBALS •
• EXCLUSIVE SABBAT BOX MEMBER COUPON
• COMPANY: Moonlit Herbals
• EXCLUSIVE MEMBER COUPON VALUE: 10% off next purchase
• WHAT THEY SELL: Moonlit Herbals offers a variety of spell supplies; from candles and incenses, to crystal mists, altar oils, ritual salts and witch bottle pendants, crafted by the light of the moon. Moonlit Herbals crafts each of their items with organic herbs and flowers, resins, crystals and oils associated with the intent of each item. The items they lovingly craft are created as focusing tools to help one focus their personal energy on their spells and rituals to bring about their desired change.
• WEBSITE: https://www.etsy.com/shop/moonlitherbals
• FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.Facebook.com/MoonlitHerbalsShop
• THE WITCHERY •
• EXCLUSIVE SABBAT BOX MEMBER COUPON
• COMPANY: The Witchery
• EXCLUSIVE MEMBER COUPON VALUE: 25% off next purchase
• WHAT THEY SELL: The Witchery, located in Alberta Canada, showcases and sells unique, witchcraft and pagan supplies such as, spell bottles, potions, crystals, gemstones, replenishments and other spell supplies. The owner is a practicing hedgewitch, with hoodoo influences, which you will see within her work.
• WEBSITE: http://www.thewitchery.ca
• FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/TheWitcheryCa
We take pride in assembling each and every Sabbat Box by hand, no matter the amount of time it takes. We don't just throw your items inside a flat rate priority mail box like some other subscription box companies out there. We want your Sabbat Box to be delivered to you as beautifully as it left us, and it takes a tremendous amount of time to complete this task.
This includes folding the boxes together, individually cutting each sheet of tissue paper by hand, weighing out the filler for each box, designing the flyers, coupons, stickers and brochures to be printed professionally by the printers, individually placing each candle within a bag, individually assembling the boxes, individually packing the tissue paper within each box by hand, taping each and every box by hand as well as individually printing each and every shipping label and sticking them to your boxes too. This timeframe doesn't even include the efforts made to manage the website, the back end billing system, social media management, customer service inquiries, accounting, marketing, purchasing, and so on.
We really do believe in what it is we are doing and we sincerely hope that each and every one of you can see that the purest of intent and utmost care goes into curating your Sabbat Box.
• OFFICIAL SAMHAIN SABBAT BOX UNBOXING VIDEO •
• OTHER RESOURCES, BLOGS AND PODCASTS •
• Cornish Witchcraft: For those out there that may lean more toward the practice of BTW (British Traditional Witchcraft), this website is filled with great resources, links and other information pertaining to Cornish and English country magick.
• Solitary Path: A great Pagan blog from the perspective of Yvonne Tyves, a shamanic healer, author, artist and OBOD Ovate, who walks an eclectic solitary path.
• The Desperate House Witches Podcast: A Hodgepodge of magickal chat, drinks, spells, tarot, guests and unadulterated fun with two sister witches. This is not a PG rated show. Raina is a beloved but inappropriate Pagan & Dorian is the owner of Cobaltraven's Magickal Notions. Both are self proclaimed kitchen witch extraordinaire and hope to bring you an enjoyable podcast. Website: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/desperatehousewitches
We thank each and every one of our suppliers, vendors, customers and MOST IMPORTANTLY our members for making this possible. This wouldn't even be happening if it wasn't for our members. We really do look forward to shipping out the next boxes for Yule. We also have so much more in the works here at Sabbat Box and continue to strive to make Sabbat Box the premier subscription box for Pagans. We look forward to continuing to serve the Pagan community at large. Blessed Samhain!
Llyfr & Hugh
Founders of Sabbat Box
What Is The Wheel of the Year? 2
Merry meet! My name is Leafer, and I’m one of the team here at Sabbat Box, hoping that you are excited as we are about this new adventure that we’re embarking upon!
As the Sabbat Box team endeavors to create a superlative service for the Pagan community around the Sabbats, I thought it would be beneficial to create a small summary to each Sabbat and how they all fit together.
The term “Sabbat” appears to—at least in modern usage—come from Wicca founder Gerald Gardner, who claimed the term was first used in the Middle Ages as propaganda against heretical non-Christians in Europe, linking it to the Jewish shabbats. While the source of this claim may be difficult to verify objectively, it’s clear that among Pagans today, this word has become universally recognized (although not necessarily universally adopted).
Maybe you call them Sabbats, festivals, holidays, or simply acknowledge them for their astronomical significance. After all, these eight days, known together as “The Wheel of the Year”, are based on our sun’s position over the hemisphere (Northern or Southern, depending where you are): the solstices and equinoxes (when the sun is either longest in view of where you live, shortest, or equal to the amount of night), also known as “quarter days”; or those days in between those points, known as “cross quarter days”.
As the Wheel of the Year is a circle, there is no “first” or “last” Sabbat, so I’m starting it the point many Pagans recognize as—for some—the “beginning” of the year:
• SAMHAIN •
• Samhain: (pronounced SAH-win or SOW-in; also referred to as
Samhuinn or Samhainn or Sauin in various Gaelic variances)
• When: October 31 - Halfway between the autumnal equinox
and the winter solstice
• Originally observed by: the Gaels
Historians have actually found written evidence that Samhain predates Christianity in Europe, and was a social festival marked as the end of the harvest season and the beginnings of preparation for winter. Cattle were brought back from their summer pastures and slaughtered so as to be stored up to survive the long, dark, cold months ahead. Another practice would be a gathering of families or clans to ensure that everyone had enough food to make it through winter. It was a time of bonfires, feasts (a side-benefit to slaughtering animals) and gathering of clans or families. Samhain has been referred to as a liminal time, meaning a time of the year when spirits or fairies could enter our world. Most observers today also recognize it as a time when loved ones who have passed on may commune and share in our celebration.
Here are just a few traditions that many Pagans practice for this Sabbat:
- Communion with ancestors. Many Pagans use this time to speak to their loved ones who have passed on, and divination (tarot, runes, crystal balls, etc.) may be employed to allow those loved ones to respond and counsel us. Some Pagans will even set a table for spirit at their Samhain dinner.
- Bonfires. Some Pagans enjoy a bonfire as a way to light their rituals and keep warm, but the ancient practice on Samhain may have been some form of sympathetic magic…a way to “light” against the coming dark of winter. Also, some may have used fire gazing as another form of divination.
- “Guising”. The tradition of “guising” (where the word “disguise” comes from) or “mumming” was the old tradition of wearing masks, face painting, or blackened faces (most likely blackened by the protective ashes of the bonfire), and going door to door threatening mischief if their demands for food were not met—a literal “trick or treat”.
• YULE •
• Yule: (also known as Yuletide, Yulefest, Midwinter, Winter Solstice, Alban Arthan)
• When: Winter Solstice (usually falling on December 20, 21, 22, or 23)
• Originally observed by: early Germanic peoples
Pagans today celebrate the festival of Yule as a celebration that winter is half over, and that the light of day will once again be longer than the darkness of night. Historically, Yule was a 12-day celebration (which most likely, later on, gave us the “12 Days of Christmas” and the 12 day observance in the Asatru tradition). Wiccans and other Pagan groups also witness this day as the birth of the “Horned One” or God.
- The Oak King and the Holly King. Recognition of the battle between the emerging “Oak King” and the diminishing “Holly King”. Many traditions see these two as reigning over the two halves of the year—the Oak King over the waxing year (warmer half), and the Holly King over the waning year (colder half). Some Pagans perform rituals to play this battle out between two men dressed as such, with the implication that the Oak King is triumphant, and warmer days will return soon enough.
- Gifts. For Germanic Pagans, this is a time of gift-giving (to each other, as well as the gods) and feasts, much like Christmas for Christians.
- Greenery. Some Pagans collect evergreens such as firs, pine, mistletoe, or holly, and bring them in the house or to their rituals—a form of sympathetic magical gesture that greener days are just around the corner. Some Pagans enjoy the tradition of a “Yule Tree”, much like Christians today.
- Astronomical “Timekeeping”. Stonehenge, a neolithic sacred site, was built by early Druids, and the solstice’s sunrise and sunset fall perfectly between its standing stones.
• IMBOLC •
• Imbolc: (pronounced i-MOLK or i-MOLG; also referred to as
Brigid’s Day, Candlemas, Oimelc)
• When: halfway point between Winter Solstice (Yule) and
Spring Equinox (Ostara); usually February 1st or 2nd
• Originally observed by: the Gaels
Imbolc, historically, was a Gaelic festival for the goddess Brigid (pronounced BREED) and has been mentioned in some of the earliest writings found in Europe. People would make a bed and leave her food and drink so that she would visit them and leave her blessing.
Here are just a few traditions, both ancient and modern, on Imbolc:
- Brigid’s Cross. Worshipers of Brigid would make what were known as “Brigid’s Cross” out of reeds or straw (see photo) and carry them from house to house. Brigid would also be invoked during ritual to protect livestock and homes.
- Divination. This was a time for practicing weather divination—i.e., using the signs to determine how much longer winter would be. Traditionally Gaelic people would look to the serpents or badgers would come out of their dens. Of course, this is what led to the modern observance of “Groundhog Day”.
- Some covens and witchcraft traditions view this festival as a “woman’s holiday”, and the women of the group are the only ones who partake in certain rites. Dianic Wiccans, for instance, will usually reserve this day for initiations.
• OSTARA •
• Ostara: (also referred to as the Spring Equinox,Vernal Equinox, Alban Eilir)
• When: Spring Equinox (usually around March 20)
• Originally observed by: Germanic Pagans who worshipped Oestre or
Eastre, the goddess of Spring and the dawn
The history of Ostara seems to be found within the Germanic traditions of Oestre, the goddess of Spring. The egg and the hare have been generally adopted as her symbols, as she is a fertility goddess. Pagans today also associate this turn in the Wheel of the Year to rebirth, as the light and dark are once again equal in a 24-hour period.
A few traditions celebrated by Pagans for Ostara:
- Egg decorating. Like many Christian Easter observers, painting or dyeing eggs is a Pagan tradition too! The egg’s shape is a powerful symbol of the circles that encompass our world and our lives, not to mention the promise of new life hidden inside.
- Sowing seeds. Some Pagans see this time for seed-sowing, both in the physical, literal sense, and in the metaphysical, or spiritual one. Rituals often incorporate sacrifice, or sowing something, with the hopes that harvest will come in due time.
- Getting pregnant. Many Pagans believe that if someone within their circle wants to have a baby, this is the most potent time to perform fertility spells or rituals.
- Eat your veggies. Some Pagans will enjoy a feast of early spring vegetables, such as in a soup, to acknowledge the return of greenery and life to the world.
• BELTANE •
• Beltane: (pronounced BEL-tayne; Beltine)
• When: May 1st
• Originally observed by: the Gaels
The ancient observance of Beltane was, like its opposite Sabbat on the other side of the Wheel, Samhain, a time for clans and families to gather together and celebrate the green of summer. This was a time when cattle would be moved to their summer pastures, and rituals performed to protect them.
A few traditions on Beltane:
- Bonfires. Like Samhain, bonfires are popular for Beltane, and seen as a celebration of the coming height of summer and the longest days of the year. Ancient historians believe that observers would have their livestock walk around (or perhaps even jump over!) the fire as a protective rite. This led to some Pagans performing a “fire jump” at their Beltane ritual.
- Maypoles. The symbolism of the maypole has been debated among historians, but most Pagans recognize its representation as a phallic or fertility symbol. As the sun (the God) is celebrated during this Sabbat, this would certainly fit in with the masculine aspect of the divine. Pagans dancing around the maypole, as well as wrapping colorful ribbons or streamers around it and then sacrificing the pole to the bonfire, could be a typical practice.
- Sex! Those Pagans who practice sex magic believe that Beltane is the optimal time of the year, and many Pagans also recognize the union between the God and the Goddess at this time (which will bring about the rebirth of the God at Yule).
• LITHA •
• Litha: (pronounced LITH-uh; also referred to as Midsummer, Summer Solstice, St. John’s Day, Alban Hefin)
• When: Summer Solstice (June 20, 21, or 22)
• Originally Observed By: Pretty Much Everybody (the term Litha itself comes from an Anglo-Saxon name for the month of June)
Litha is the point in the Wheel of the Year when the God’s (the Sun) reign peaks, as it is the solstice, and the longest day of the year. The day is recognized by almost all of the western world and has been recognized since neolithic times with festivals or gatherings.
A few traditions central to Litha:
- Bonfires. Surprise, surprise! The longest day has has also had a long tradition of using ritual fires, usually the night before or the night of the solstice. Of course, another bonus for these fires might have been the sacrifice (and eating) of some of the fattening livestock, thanks to the height of summer and the lush, green grasses growing in the sun.
- Oak King and Holly King. Like Yule, its astronomical opposite, many practitioners perform rituals displaying the never-ending dance/battle between the Oak King, who is at the peak of his power at Litha, and the Holly King, who will begin to grow strong again as the nights will start to get longer from this point in the year; the Holly King defeats the Oak King, and his reign begins along with the march toward Winter.
- Juno. Romans enjoyed a festival to celebrate Juno, the patroness of weddings (hence the long-adhered tradition of weddings in June!) and also her role in “blessing” women with menstruation (and, therefore, womanhood).
- Stonehenge. The site of ancient Paganism is designed so that if you stand in the center of the stone circle at sunrise on the Summer Solstice, you will see the sun rise directly behind (and above) the “Heel Stone”, a smaller stone that lies northeast of the main circle of stones.
• LAMMAS/LUGHNASADH •
• Lammas/Lughnasadh: (pronounced Lah-Mess or Lah-mas; LOO-nah-sah or LOON-eh-seh; also referred to as Lammas-Day, Loaf-Mass Day, or August’s Eve)
• When: August 1
• Originally Observed By: The Gaels (Lughnasadh) and the Anglo-Saxons (Lammas)
The first of the Pagan harvest festivals, Lammas is a time to celebrate the first fruits of the earth. Many Pagans celebrate by offerings of bread, wheat, corn, or some other local agriculture to ensure that there will be a bountiful surplus and a reminder to start preparations for the coming winter.
Traditions associated with Lammas/Lughnasadh:
- Feasts. Because “Loaf-Mass” Day is all about the year’s harvest and growth, it makes sense that many rituals and traditions for this Sabbat revolve around enjoying what’s coming out of the ground. Many Pagans bake bread or special treats as symbolic “first harvest” to share with their circle as well as the earth.
- Honoring Lugh. In Irish mythology, the festival is said to have actually started as a funeral feast and an athletic competition in honor of the god Lugh’s mother, Tailtiu. According to lore, Tailtiu cleared the plains of Ireland for agriculture and died from exhaustion. There also was the ceremonial first cutting of the corn, part of which would become an offering by bringing to a high place and burying it.
- Handfasting. This time is seen as an auspicious time for Pagans to marry, which hails back to the Celtic tradition of forming (or dissolving) marriages simply by placing the couples’ hands through a hole in a wooden door.
• MABON •
• Mabon: (pronounced MAY-bon; also called
Autumn Equinox, Harvest Home, or Alban Elfed)
• When: Autumnal Equinox (September 22 or 23)
• Originally Observed By: the Welsh and Druids,
as best as historians can tell
Mabon is the festival of balance, where the light and dark become equal, and night will begin once again to overtake the day. This is also the second harvest festival of the year, so all of the autumn-y harvest-y images and associations are celebrated at this time.
Some of the other associations with Mabon:
- The Dark Mother. This is a time associated with the Triple Goddess and entering the Crone aspect of the year—Hecate, Morrigan, and other “dark” aspects of femininity are highlighted in ritual. Mother Crone has come not with lights and flowers, but a scythe and sickle. She is ready to reap what she has sown. The death of summer and the fulness of light are reminders that we must prepare ourselves for the dark months ahead.
- Apples and Wine. This is a time to harvest apples, which have long been associated with the feminine divine. If you cut an apple open along its equator, you will find a perfect pentacle in the center filled with seeds, or, more literally, the promise of new growth after winter is over. Wine is quite often traditionally at this time, as many of the grapes harvested are now fermenting (or, decaying, if you prefer to keep the motif of this time) and creating something new that helps promote celebration and warmth through the cold months to come.
- Sacrifice for the Harvest. In Germanic Pagan lore, if a wheat season was particularly windy, it was said that Odin wanted some of the harvest for himself. To honor this, many Pagans would empty sacks of the harvested flour into the wind as an offering to him.
So what is your favorite Sabbat? How do you celebrate them? Some of you may even have a completely different view of these special days, and that’s understandable. Everyone who walks the Path has a different view of the forest. This little guide to the Wheel of the Year is just a sample of the lore and ritual that many Pagans participate in as the days go on.
Sabbat Box is about celebrating those milestones and helping you bring meaning and inspiration to your own particular practice or craft, whatever “flavor” of it you enjoy.
Heddwch i chi a chi (Peace to you and yours),
- Llyfr Glas
- Tags: Wheel of the Year