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A Quick Reference & Guide to the Witch's Sabbats

Updated on March 4, 2017
kittythedreamer profile image

Kitty has been following a pagan spiritual path for seventeen years. Because of this she encourages others to follow their own paths.

Midsummer is just one of the beautiful sabbats we celebrate as the Wheel of the Year turns.
Midsummer is just one of the beautiful sabbats we celebrate as the Wheel of the Year turns. | Source
Fire is often used in sabbat traditions as it represents the sun's glow.
Fire is often used in sabbat traditions as it represents the sun's glow. | Source

What is a Sabbat?

A Sabbat is a major holiday based on ancient pagan traditions. These holidays are celebrated by various branches of Paganism, including Wicca and Witchcraft. There are eight major Sabbats. Witches believe these eight holy days to make up the Wheel of the Year.

Sabbats are based on ancient pagan holy days marking the changing of the seasons, specifically the earth's changing rotation around the sun. There are cross quarter days and quarter days. The cross quarter days are also known as the major fire festivals and include: Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain. The quarter days are the equinoxes (Spring and Autumn Equinoxes) and the Solstices (Summer and Winter Solstices). Some pagans celebrate only the equinoxes and solstices, while others celebrate all eight of the sabbats. Inevitably, the choice is yours what days you celebrate and what days you don't.

When I first began my journey into the natural world of Paganism, it was a daunting task to look up even the mere basics of each Sabbat, so I hope that this hub can be used as a quick guide to refer to in order to determine the foods, colors, magical workings, and the reasons why we celebrate each special Sabbat.

Source

Yule (Winter Solstice)

Yule / Winter Solstice / Jul

Date(s): Between December 20th and 22nd

What we celebrate: Winter solstice which is the longest night of the year; death of the Holly King and rebirth of the Oak King (giver of light); family and friends. Return of the sun's reign over the sky, as far here on out the days will once again become longer than the nights.

Gods/Goddesses: Oak and Holly Kings, Odin, Jesus, Cailleach, Mother Mary, Santa Claus

Foods: nuts, fruits, cider, wine, turkey, goose, ham, soups/stews, wassail, gingerbread, hot cocoa, spiced tea, cakes.

Decorations: holly, mistletoe, spruce, christmas trees, ivy, yule logs, pine cones, snowflakes, snowmen, oranges, suns, candles, Christmas lights, reindeer, elves

Colors: green, gold, red, white, silver, orange, and yellow.

Scents and incense: cinnamon, fireside, pine, bayberry, spruce, fir, peppermint

Magical Workings: fertility, rebirth, family, healing, reflection

Animals: Reindeer, Moose, Mice, Snowy owls, Snowy foxes, White animals

A bonfire is appropriate for all sabbat celebrations as it is sympathetic to the sun's light.
A bonfire is appropriate for all sabbat celebrations as it is sympathetic to the sun's light. | Source

Imbolc (St. Brigid's Day)

Imbolc / Oimelc / St. Brigid's Day

Date(s): February 2nd

What we celebrate: initial breaking of winter ground into spring (early stages); milking of the ewes; Saint Brigid and Goddess Brigid; warmer days to come.

Symbol of Season: snowflake, white flower, snow, crocuses, lambs, milk

Lore: light every lamp in the house or light candles in each room to represent the sun's rebirth. If snow is on the ground, or falling, walk around in it and draw a sun with your projective hand. Make Saint Brigid's crosses or dolls to celebrate Saint Brigid. A bonfire is appropriate.

Gods/Goddesses: Goddess and Saint Brigid

Foods: milk, sour cream dishes, dairy in general, spicy and full-bodied foods, peppers, onions, leeks, shallots, garlic, chives, wines & dishes containing raisins (all symbolic of the sun).

Decorations: candles, flowers (snowdrops, crocus, and daffodils), oil lamps, besoms, corn dollies, Brigid's crosses, wreaths, woolen yarn and stuffed sheep.

Colors: yellow, green, pink, white, and brown.

Scents: amber, bay, bayberry, pine, frankincense and myrrh.

Magical Workings: new life, success, new love, opportunity

Animals: lambs and birds

The Easter rabbit is an ancient pagan symbol for fertility and spring.
The Easter rabbit is an ancient pagan symbol for fertility and spring. | Source

Ostara (Spring Equinox)

Ostara / Eostre / Spring Equinox / Vernal Equinox

Date(s): approx. March 21st

What we celebrate: The changing of the season and the arrival of Spring. The earth's rebirth and awakening from a long, harsh winter. Fertility and motherhood.

Traditions / rituals: collect wildflowers from a field or at the very least a florist shop. Plan to walk in gardens, parks, forests, to celebrate nature. Plant seeds, do gardening and yard work. Do herb work. Make an Ostara wreath. Paint or dye eggs. Easter bunny and easter baskets. Feed birds with bird seed. Write your intentions for the Spring on an egg and bury it near your front doorstep.

Gods/Goddesses: Eostre, Persephone, Demeter, Jesus, Cybele, Zeus, Osiris, Horus, Freya, Mithras, Saraswati

Foods: seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, pine nuts), sprouts, leafy green vegetables. Flower dishes - stuffed nasturtiums or carnation cupcakes. Rose water used in baking.

Decorations: flowers, bunnies, buds and blossoms (can be worn too), spring water & flowers in cup/cauldron, bird nests, birds, robin's eggs, eggs of all kinds.

Colors: pink, purple, yellow, light blue, purple, green.

Scents: sunflower, rose, daffodil, daisies, heather, etc.

Magical Workings: success, blossoming love, passion, budding friendship, rebirth.

Animals: birds, baby chicks, rabbits, lambs, baby animals of all kinds.

Construct your own wicker man!
Construct your own wicker man! | Source

Beltane (May Day)

Beltane / Beltuinn / May Day

Date(s): May 1st

What we celebrate: fertility; abundant life; the union of the God and the Goddess to procreate.

Lore: celebrate in a forest or near a living tree; create a small token in honor of the wedding of the God and Goddess to hang on a tree. Weaving and planting are traditional. Erect a traditional maypole and dance around with ribbons. Light a bonfire.

Gods/Goddesses: Druantia, Horned God, Fertility Deities, Flora, Cybele

Foods: dairy, marigold custard, vanilla ice cream, eggs, avocado, banana, fruit.

Decorations: maypole, ribbons in trees, candles, fire, bags of flowers, strings of beads, garland, carvings, phallic symbols, cups, cauldrons, wicker man, symbols of love and fertility.

Colors: yellow, pink, blue, green, red.

Scents: floral, sandalwood, lavender.

Magical Workings: fertility, success, abundance, love, passion, education, healing.

Animals: deer, goat, ram

The fae come out in multitudes on Midsummer.
The fae come out in multitudes on Midsummer. | Source
Leave offerings for the fae on Midsummer's.
Leave offerings for the fae on Midsummer's. | Source
The fay live in tree trunks like this one.
The fay live in tree trunks like this one. | Source

Midsummer (Summer Solstice)

Midsummer / Summer Solstice / Litha

Date(s): June 21st

What we celebrate: Summer solstice is the longest day of the year; wedding of heaven and earth; the sun in all its powerful glory.

Lore: leap fire for purification and renewed energy. Make cloth pouch of herbs such as lavender, chamomile, St. John's Wort, Vervain, or others. Mentally pour all troubles into this petition as constructing it. Burn in balefire and visualize troubles burning and blowing away for good. Put out offerings of cake and milk or mead for the faeries.

Gods/Goddesses: Sun Gods, Mother Goddesses, Fertility Gods, the Fay

Foods: berries, fresh fruits, vegetables.

Decorations: candles, fairies, strawberries, suns, plant life, trees, ribbons.

Colors: yellow, gold, orange, red, blue.

Scents: floral scents, jasmine, lavender, chamomile, bonfire.

Magical Workings: healing, love, weddings, energy, and protection magic

Lugnasadh (Lammas)

Lughnasadh / Lammas / Loaf-Mass

Date(s): August 1st

What we celebrate: the first of three harvest festivals. Height of Summer. Focuses on the story of Lugh, a Celtic god. Fruitfulness, abundance are key themes. Plants are yielding bounty. Sun's high in the sky.

Lore: plant the seed of a fruit. Wheat weaving - making of corn dollies, etc. Visit lakes, orchards, fields, and wells. Picking blackberries and raspberries. Baking of breads from wheat or other bountiful crops.

Gods/Goddesses: Lugh, Tuatha de Danann, Mother Goddesses

Foods: fruit and breads (bread shaped like the sun or a man to represent the God); corn dollies may be present to represent the harvest Goddess. Blackberries, all berries, acorns, crab apples, all grains, locally ripe produce.

Decorations: sheaves of wheat on altar, barley, oats, fruits, berries, the sun, the god.

Colors: brown, gold, autumnal reds, dark oranges, dark purple.

Scents: berries, apple, harvest and summer scents.

Magical Workings: fruitfulness, endurance, enduring love, strength and skill, handfastings.

Animals: woodland animals, birds, deer

Baking bread is a tradition of Lughnasadh.
Baking bread is a tradition of Lughnasadh. | Source
Apples are a key symbol for Mabon.
Apples are a key symbol for Mabon. | Source

Mabon (Autumn Equinox)

Mabon / Autumn Equinox

Date(s): September 21st

What we celebrate: second of three harvest festivals; autumnal equinox. Season changes from Summer to Fall. Divides day and night equally; to give respects to impending night. Druids celebrate Green Man; Wiccans celebrate the aging Goddess who is turning from Mother into the Crone and the God preparing for death and rebirth.

Gods/Goddesses: Mabon, Green Man, Demeter, Mother Goddesses

Foods: ciders, wines, herbs, grains, fruits and vegetables, especially corn, beans, and baked squash.

Decorations: acorns, oak sprigs, pine or cypress cones, wheat stalks, fruits and nuts, basket of dried leaves.

Colors: autumnal colors - maroon, gold, yellow, orange, brown.

Scents: pumpkin, spices especially cinnamon.

Magical Workings: reaping success, abundance, protection, hearth and home

Samhain Pics

Samhain (All Hallows' Eve)

Samhain / All Hallows' Eve / Hallowe'en / All Souls Night

Date(s): October 31st

What we celebrate: pagan new year; night of the dead when the spiritual world has its thinnest veil; third of three harvest festivals. Last festival of the Holly King. Last harvest - anything harvested after Samhain belongs to the fay and is not to be eaten by humans.

Gods/Goddesses: Hades, Hel, Demeter, Hecate, Lilith, Baba Yaga, The Morrigan, Maeve, Kali, Crone Goddesses

Foods: squash, apple cider, candied apples, spiced rum, candy, breads, fall fruits.

Decorations: jack o' lanterns, witches, werewolves, moons, gourds, costumes, brooms, pumpkins, squash, bails of hay, dried leaves, bats, lanterns, cobwebs, apples, corn husks, candles.

Colors: black, orange, purple, dark blue, gold.

Scents: pumpkin, cinnamon, apples, spices.

Magical Workings: spiritual awakening, communion with the dead, psychic abilities, success and bounty, pregnancy.

Old Spell for fun (For All Hallows Eve)

When the white dog is out and trots all about
Under the clouds that are over the moon,
and the hag with her broom rides high on the wind,
And the cat on the fence spits even at friends,
Then it is right to conjure light against
every spirit that shadows the night.
Thus day:

Let the pumpkin's candle glare
into darkness everywhere,
Burn all evil from the air!

When it is dark and the black trees roar; set Jack O' Lantern to watch by the door.

A bonfire is perfect for the colder sabbats such as Samhain and Yule but is also traditional at Beltane.
A bonfire is perfect for the colder sabbats such as Samhain and Yule but is also traditional at Beltane. | Source

What's your favorite Sabbat?

See results

© 2011 Nicole Canfield

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  • Cleo Burch profile image

    Cleo Burch 2 months ago from Hollywood, Florida

    This is a wonderful article for those new to the craft. Excellent work!

  • WiccanSage profile image

    Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

    Great overview, beginners would find this very helpful. Nice work.

  • profile image

    harmony 5 years ago

    Thank you for this hub, very helpful :)

  • kittythedreamer profile image
    Author

    Nicole Canfield 5 years ago from the Ether

    Daniella - No worries, glad you liked it! Happy Samhain!

  • Daniella Lopez profile image

    Danielle Lopez Newcomb 5 years ago from Arkansas

    For some reason I missed this hub of yours. Awesome and informative, as always. :)

    Voted up!

  • kittythedreamer profile image
    Author

    Nicole Canfield 5 years ago from the Ether

    Eiddwen - Brilliant? You think so? Thanks, that's an awesome compliment.

  • Eiddwen profile image

    Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

    This is what I love about Hubpages

    This one is brilliant.

    Take care

    Eiddwen.

  • kittythedreamer profile image
    Author

    Nicole Canfield 5 years ago from the Ether

    Karkadin - Good for you! They are beautiful celebrations, truly. Thanks for reading and voting so much! :)

  • Karkadin profile image

    Karkadin 5 years ago from Middle of Nowhere, USA

    I've always been curious about pagan holidays. Maybe I'll celebrate one soon. Thanks for sharing. Voted up, useful, awesome, beautiful and interesting. :)

  • kittythedreamer profile image
    Author

    Nicole Canfield 5 years ago from the Ether

    Mentalist acer - Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Mentalist acer profile image

    Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

    Thanks for sharing this interesting piece kittythedreamer.;)

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