Sabbat Box Blog
Stoking The Fires of Beltane 0
BELTANE BOX • BOX SYNOPSIS
Greetings Sabbat Box members (and prospective members)! We here at Sabbat Box are excited about our very first Sabbat Box offering to the community for the upcoming celebration of Beltane. Here is a detailed synopsis of the Beltane Box for those interested in learning more about us.
Beltane Book: Rituals, Recipes, & Lore for May Day (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials by Melanie Marquis
• WHAT: Beltane: Rituals Recipes & Lore For Mayday, Llewellyn's Sabbat Essentials
• WHO MAKES IT?: Llewellyn Worldwide & Authored By Melanie Marquis
• WHERE CAN I GET IT?: You can purchase copies via the Sabbat Box Store or via llewellyn.com
• 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 Beltane in your own unique way.
This good-sized volume is a brand-new publication (first edition), gathering some more detail on Beltane with practices and traditions observed both past and present. We included this not to mainstream or homogenize Pagan practices, but merely to offer some inspiration and expose our members to some of the history and mythos surrounding humans’ celebrations for the return of growth and understand the basis for many traditions around the world, both Pagan and non-Pagan. The book’s author, Melanie Marquis, has written numerous books on Pagan lore and tradition, as well as contributing to many Llewellyn’s popular yearly publications like the Witches’ Datebook. We believe that every Pagan can gain something from this collection of Beltane practices, or at least plant some seeds for your own ideas! You will find an array of fantastic information pertaining to Beltane, including plenty of rituals, spells and inspiration for your May Day celebrations.
An excerpt from the Earth Goddess Invocation, page 141.
Lovely maiden, beautiful goddess of the earth, the fields, the flowers, the trees,
Lady of the oceans, ruler of rivers and seas,
Great mother of the beasts and the birds, I invoke you!
Great Lady of the wild wood, Great Lover of the world,
Great Danu, maiden of the stars and mother of earth,
I invoke you!
You are the Lover and the Beloved. You are the sun and the moon. You are the death and the life.
Great goddess, great Danu, lovely maiden, I invoke you!
There are plenty of recipes, spells, and invocations within this book that will surely continue to aid you upon your Beltane celebrations for times to come.
Would you like to discuss this book with other Sabbat Box members? Are you looking for more inspiration for Beltane? Stop on by the Sabbat Box community page to learn more and engage with other Pagans in reference to Beltane and Sabbat Box.
Beltane Tea - Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends
• WHAT: Beltane Tea
• WHO MAKES IT: Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends
• WHERE CAN I GET IT: You can purchase Beltane Tea & other Pagan teas via their website or the Sabbat Box Store
• WHY WOULD I WANT IT: Even if you aren't the biggest fan of tea, Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends may help change your mind about tea. This particular tea is very light and the caliber of quality of each batch of tea is way above par!
While much of the world enjoys tea simply as a beverage, there are a myriad of uses for tea going back thousands of years—as a medicine, a shaman’s tool, a poultice, and even an addition to ritual and healing baths. Amy Blackthorn’s company, Blackthorn Hoodoo Blends, was started from her desire to share her love of tea and her expertise in tea-making with others as a soothing “slow-down” escape to our busy, sped-up lives. The owner, Amy Blackthorn, uses only natural, safe ingredients in her teas, which she crafts by hand in small batches to share. Our choice from her various creations is, appropriately, Beltane Tea, a fragrant Jasmine Green Tea blend that we hope will stir the fires of Beltane for you. If you check out her website, you’ll also find that she is offering subscription services of her own. Shop Hoodoo Teas at her website today. Here is a nifty link to a list of youtube videos on how to brew a cup of loose leaf tea.
Jasmine, one of the two components of the tea has a feminine correspondence and the green tea associates with the masculine and we felt this was a great way to meld the coming together of the God and Goddess during the passionate and seductive energies that flow during Beltane. We also felt this was a nice way to add a bit of duality to the heavily masculine influenced box.
If you are not a huge tea drinker, remember, you can use your the herbs within to make a ritual bath for ritual cleansing, use the herbs to dress a spell candle, or one could use the herbs within the tea as casting herbs to your balefire as an offering to the divine.
You may wish to make a cup of Beltane tea prior to your Beltane celebration or ritual. One thing you could do is chant an invocation or visualize your intent of the tea whilst brewing a cup, charging it with your will. When ready, you can consume your magical brew to make it part of you and in essence "sealing" the intent of your tea ritual by drinking it. Depending on what your intent is for your Beltane ritual or magick (and if you wish to incorporate your Beltane tea as part of a ritual) you could stir your tea Deosil (clockwise) to manifest or Widdershins (counter-clockwise) to banish. One could also use the tea in the form of divination, also known as tasseomancy.
Do you have other ideas for how to use the tea inside your box? Feel free to share with us and other members of Sabbat Box by visiting the Sabbat Box Community.
Fire of Passion Oil, By Sun's Eye - Part of the "Mystic Blends" Collection
• WHAT: Anointing/Perfume Oil
• WHO MAKES IT: Sun's Eye
• WHERE CAN I GET IT: You can purchase this ritual oil via Sun's Eye website or via the Sabbat Box Store.
• WHY WOULD I WANT IT: Sun's Eye offers, by far, some of the highest quality oils that one can find to use within their magickal endeavors. Most of their oils will have corresponding herbs or stones added inside each bottle to further add both corresponding energies of the essential oils within as well as adding a layer magical detail to oil itself.
Part of Beltane’s significance is the natural inclination toward…shall we say, intimate contact? With that in mind, we chose this high-quality essential oil blend that actually contains some of the herbs used to create it right in the bottle! As Pagans ourselves, we understand the power of scent and touch to create and stimulate energy and intent; these oils, we believe, will do the trick! An added bonus to Sun’s Eye’s creations is their commitment to use of animal-free, natural ingredients. How you (safely) use this patchouli based oil is up to you—please don’t blame us for any unintended results nine months later ;-p (patchouli is commonly used herb of both sexuality and love as well as luck and prosperity).
Sun’s Eye is a Pagan-run business looking to cater to other Pagans in a responsible way, and that’s why we chose it to enhance your Sabbat Box. Also, within Wiccan and modern Paganism, a common formality in working magick (candle magick even more so) includes adding common apothecary products such as anointing oils, ritual oils and spell oils into your magical workings. When working candle magick, one may wish to dress or anoint their Energy and Will spell candle with their Fire of Passion Oil to add both the divine masculine and the divine feminine in union during your ritual or spell work (see more about the candle and its masculine correspondences below).
Have some more ideas on how to use this oil for magical use or are you looking for further inspiration on how to use oils in particular? Visit the Sabbat Box Community to engage with other members about this product.
Wheel of the Year Parchment - By Amber 'K' - Via Azure Green
• WHAT: Wheel of the Year Parchment
• WHO MAKES IT: Azure Green
• WHERE CAN I GET IT: You can purchase this parchment via Azure Green's website of via the Sabbat Box Store.
• WHY WOULD I WANT IT: Since most Pagans keep a magical grimoire or book of shadows, one may want this particular parchment as a reference page to be placed within your book of shadows.
While this particular box item is not specific to Beltane, it gives an elegant overview of each Sabbat around the Wheel of the Year, suitable for framing or hanging in your sacred space. Started as a small local Pagan shop, Azure Green has been supplying the majority of products for metaphysical shops for almost 30 years. We chose this particular poster for its unifying theme of the eight Pagan Sabbats to the annual cycle of the Earth as it travels around the Sun. Many Pagans who purchase these parchments like to place them in their book of shadows. There is a plethora of parchments available via Azure Green that may tickle your fancy.
Find more magical inspiration by visiting the Sabbat Box community.
Energy & Will Blessed Herbal Spell Candle - By Coventry Creations
• WHAT: Herbal Pillar Spell Candle
• WHO MAKES IT: Coventry Creations
• WHERE CAN I GET IT: You can purchase this spell candle via Coventry Creations or via the Sabbat Box store.
• WHY WOULD I WANT IT: It can be hard to find high quality candles, let alone candles made specifically for Pagans and magical use. Coventry Creations has been hand pouring candles for over 15 years and use only the finest waxes and ingredients to create their candle line. This particular candle lasts about 40 hours, which allows you to get your money's worth out of it for sure.
This blessed herbal spell candle is infused with sandalwood and ginger to invoke the fires of Beltane in your own home. Sandalwood is a feminine herb and is associated with the element of water. The feminine aspect of sandalwood balances out nicely with the masculine energies of the ginger essential oil found inside as well. Sandalwood is commonly used by witches for protection, healing and manifesting one's will. Ginger is a masculine herb with an elemental correspondence of Fire and is commonly used by witches for love, money, and power.
Since Beltane represents the coming together of male and female energies to manifest growth, the marriage of the two prime essential oils within this candle make it perfect to be used as a symbol of Beltane in general, on top of its intended corresponding purpose of manifesting energy and will. Duality plays a very important role within Wicca and Witchcraft, and the harmony in which this candle creates with its masculine and feminine associations parallels nicely with the sacred fire's of Beltane and the manifestation of new growth, prosperity and will.
This particular candle comes with a spell/chant on the label. Use the incantation on the label or modify it to make it your own when working magick.
The spell/incantation within the candle reads:
I call on forces higher than I,
To awaken the vitality that I hold inside,
To strengthen my will,
And bring energy to me,
Motion is what I need to be.
Passion & Fire to spur me on, send me,
These energies from far beyond,
I call on thee in perfect trust and perfect love,
Sending me guidance from above.
Harming none and helping all,
Is how it shall be,
This I make true 3x3x3.
One thing you may want add at the end to "seal the spell" per se is..."This I will it, so mote it be."
Check out the Sabbat Box community to engage with other members in reference to this candle, how to use it and to talk about candle magick in general.
Sun Stick Incense
• WHAT: "The Sun" Stick Incense
• WHO MAKES IT: HEM
• WHERE CAN I GET IT: You can find these incense within the Sabbat Box store or at Azure Green.
• WHY WOULD I WANT IT: These incense smell divine! You know you are getting top notch quality incense with HEM. All of their incense are hand rolled and contain only the highest quality components to create their incense.
We included Sun incense in the Beltane Sabbat Box to spotlight the masculine divine of this particular Sabbat: the Sun! This bright, sweet, musky scent is a popular one and adds a layer of sensuality and exoticism to your sacred space. HEM is world famous for their incense, created from choice woods, resins, florals, and fine essential oils, is imported from India. All incense are hand rolled, allowing a clean, even burning stick incense.
The word "Beltane" comes from the Scottish Gaelic word Bealltainn, which means "bright fire." Beltane is also commonly thought to have been connected to the worship of an ancient Celtic sun god called Belenus. With these two things in mind, we felt these incense made a great addition to the box by adding in that correspondence as well as the connection to the divine masculine.
There are many ways to incorporate incense into ritual or magick. Some magical practitioners will burn incense to purify a sacred space, with the smoke of the incense lending corresponding energies from the ingredients within the incense to the ritual space. Some may burn the incense while meditating, to help set a tranquil tone. One may also use the incense to cleanse ritual tools or spell supplies as well...in the same manner as burning sage.
How do you incorporate incense into your magical practice? Share your ideas with us on how you like to use incense with other Sabbat Box members within the Sabbat Box community.
Sun Ash Catcher
• WHAT: Hand Painted Ash Catcher
• WHO MAKES IT: This item is imported from India
• WHERE CAN I GET IT: Unfortunately, the supplier of these ash catchers do not sell to the public, but you can purchase these ash catchers within the Sabbat Box store.
• WHY WOULD I WANT IT: These ash catchers are a perfect to adorn your altar with. They are beautifully hand painted and pertain to Beltane beautifully.
What’s some incense without a holder to burn it? We’ve included these hand-painted incense holders from India as a simple, colorful way to safely burn incense on your altar or anywhere you want to create a mystical, sensual air. These burners come in various colors and designs to fit a myriad of Pagan paths.
Packaging & 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 Beltane Box. Each Beltane Sabbat Box is lined with paper padding and wrapping to add to the surprise of what we’ve curated for your box. Shipping is included in the total price—average cost to ship the Beltane Box: $8.00 alone. 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 must throw it away, we ask that you recycle it.
INFO SHEETS & COUPONS: Your info sheets are printed on 100% recyclable Mohawk 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 & CRINKLE FILLING: The red tissue paper and black crinkle filling is made from 100% recycled paper and is recyclable.
BELTANE STICKERS: The stickers found within your boxes where printed on vinyl with a gloss laminate.
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 as well as costs for shipping and packaging, you are saving over $17.83 with the Beltane Box. We believe this to be another good reason to be a member. Also, each box supports Pagan run businesses and their employees, and Sabbat Box looks forward to continuing to stay within the guidelines of our mission to help further inspire you to live a magical life.
It took us over 70 hours, from beginning to end, just to make the Beltane Boxes ready to ship. This included folding the boxes together, individually cutting each sheet of tissue paper by hand, weighing out the crinkle paper for each box, designing the flyers, coupons and stickers to be printed by the printers, individually placing each candle within a bag, individually placing your oil within a zip lock bag, individually rolling up each and every parchment and rubber banding them, individually assembling the boxes, individually taping 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 to your boxes as well. This timeframe doesn't even include the efforts made to manage the website, the back end billing system, social media, customer service enquiries, accounting, marketing, purchasing, and so on. We 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 has been placed within each and every box.
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 look forward to shipping out the next boxes for Litha, as we are hoping to make this next box EVEN BETTER. We also are look forward to continuing to serve the Pagan community at large via our unique subscription box service.
Llyfer & Hugh
Founders of Sabbat Box &
Eclectic Artisans LLC
Beltane Sabbat Box Theme Release and Ship Date 1
Greetings Fellow Cunning Folk,
It looks like the Beltane Sabbat Box ship date is still on track for April 17th. All members that joined or signed up by April 1, 2015 by 5:00pm EST will be receiving The Beltane Box. Each Sabbat Box will be shipped via USPS Priority Mail. Once boxes are shipped, you will receive a shipping confirmation e-mail with the tracking # for your box as well as a link to track your box as it is en route to you. You can also check the status of your order at any time by visiting the "check order status" page. Enter in the order # on your order receipt and the email address you used to sign up and click find. From there, you will be able to see all the details pertaining to your order and there will also be a tracking link where you can track your package.
We have some absolutely amazing products in store for the very first Sabbat Box including our very first Sabbat Box exclusive product, made by a small Pagan owned business (more information about this particular product will be found within your Sabbat Box info sheet in your box). We don't want to give to much away about it before the boxes go out, but lets just say we like to "tease." Some of you may get the hint, if you do, SHHHHH ;-)
Announcing the theme of the first Sabbat Box
"The Fires of Beltane." Being that Beltane is a Fire Festival and the general corresponding element is Fire, we felt it appropriate to connect the first box with the strong and masculine symbolism of fire.
Beltane is a time of growth, fertility, prosperity and manifestation. It is the time of year when the snow is all but gone and the fiery sun is ablaze, brining forth the new growth of nature. Our mother Earth is is waking from her slumber and spring has set the mark for renewal and life. The items you will be finding within your Beltane box coincide with these energies and each Beltane box will be filled with an abundance of information and Pagan products that will bring forth that magical spark within you to help jumpstart your Beltane festivities. Also, Sabbat Box members will be privy to some phenomenal exclusive items and features - just for being members. We don't want to give away too much before we ship the Beltane Boxes out, but we can promise you this, there will be products and magical inspiration in this box to last you a few more Beltanes!
We thank each and every one of you for taking part in this journey with us and look forward to the official unveiling on the April 20th!!!
Your Official Box Witch,
• A Beltane Declamation •"Let swing open the gates of summer!By leaping hare and serpent fire,By broom, by staff and cauldron pyre,We conjure thee, we conjure thee, we conjure thee,Oh white one, come!So shall it be."
Magic Works Because You Intend It To 0
“Tia Dalma handed Jack a glass jar filled with…dirt.
‘Davy Jones cannot make port,’ she said. ‘Cannot step on land but once every ten years. Land is where you are safe, Jack Sparrow, and so you will carry land with you.’
Jack held up the jar. ‘Dirt. This is a jar of dirt.’
‘Yes,’ the mysterious priestess purred.
‘Is the jar of dirt going to help?’ Jack asked, eyebrow cocked.
She held out her hand. ‘If you don't want it, give it back.’
‘No!’ Jack said, gripping the jar.
Tia Dalma smiled. ‘Then it helps.’"
Those who have walked the Path for any amount of time will ask questions—either to those who they see as their mentors or to themselves—about magic, the Craft, and spells: how does it work? How do I know it'll work? And what makes it work?
The answers to these questions, I believe, lie in the above exchange. The “jar of dirt” holds power for Tia Dalma, and now she has transferred that power to Captain Jack. Although it is just a movie, this scene always struck me as a good illustration of the mechanisms of spell working and the Craft by demonstrating a clear concept: magic works because you intend it to.
What do I mean “intend”? Well, before the candle is lit, circle cast, or sage waved, a magical work is about intent. What is your intention by practicing magic in a particular instance? What outcome are you looking for? Have you considered all the mundane aspects of your situation before you set flame to wick, blade to air?
We make a million little decisions every day, and most of them are probably without even any conscious thought. But when our intent is established over a certain thing, then all of our decisions surrounding that thing—both conscious and unconscious—will serve that intent.
And that intent can be, oddly enough, a negative thing, even against our conscious hopes. A jar of dirt is a form of protection in our example above, but maybe you’re holding onto something that isn’t good for you. For instance, I’m writing this on a Friday, and it also happens to be the 13th day of the month. Do you feel Friday the 13th is a day of good luck or bad? If you feel it is a day of bad luck, does something always seem to go haywire on this day for you? If you believe that something will go wrong on this particular day, chances are pretty good that it will. But maybe chance has nothing to do with it; maybe you’ve set your intent in that way.
Unfortunately, we can’t control all the aspects of situations; free will and other people’s intent also have a role. But each of us must look at the situations in our lives, set our intent, and find our “jar of dirt.”
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