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What are the 8 Wiccan Sabbats?

What are the 8 Wiccan Sabbats?


@jointhecovn bring back the sabbats #wiccan #sabbath #daystillhalloween #history #midsummer #midsommar #calendar #blacksabbath #historytime #historytiktok #halloweenhistory ♬ original sound - Covn | Days Til Halloween 🎃


Today we will be discussing the 8 Wiccan Sabbats. 

Wiccans, witches and pagans follow the 8 holidays known as sabbats throughout the year. You might notice that many of our modern holidays fall alongside these festivals. This is because as Christianity spread, their holidays were aligned with those of the pagan calendar. 

The 8 Sabbats are made up of four solar festivals and four seasonal festivals. Their dates vary slightly year-to-year due to astronomical events. 

A good reference is the Wheel of the Year. Starting with the end of the year, the festivals are. 

  • Yule: December 19-23 (Winter solstice)
  • Imbolc: February 1-2
  • Ostara: March 19-23 (Spring equinox) (Easter)
  • Beltane: April 30 – May 1 (May Day) 
  • Litha/Midsummer: June 19-23 (Summer solstice - Still celebrated in countries today, especially in Sweden)
  • Lughnasadh: August 1-2
  • Mabon: September 20-24 (Fall equinox) 
  • Samhain: October 31 – November 1 (Modern version of this is Halloween, we did a whole video and blog post on this!) 

Now to run through each one in a little more detail. 

1. Yule (December 19th-23rd)

In Wiccan tradition, the Goddess (in her Mother aspect) gives birth to the God on the longest night of the year (the winter solstice) and then, like the Earth during winter, rests.

In wider pagan traditions, Yule celebrates the coming of longer days and the return of the sun. Trees are decorated, and Yule logs are burned in the fireplace to protect the home and bring good luck.

2. Imbolc (February 1st-2nd)

Occuring halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Imbolc is the holiday during which some pagans give thanks to Brigid as well as to the increasing daylight. The word Imbolc means 'the belly of the mother', which comes with hope for an abundant spring as the seeds begin to stir in the 'belly of mother Earth'. This time of year is abundant with animal births, resulting in milk production. The term "Oimelc" means 'ewe's milk', and is symbolic for spring. It is also a traditional holiday for rededications or for witch initiations.

3. Ostara (March 19th-23rd)

The spring equinox (Ostara) is a holiday of renewal and abundance. Coinciding with the start of Aries, Ostara is also the beginning of the zodiac year. For Wiccans, this is when the Goddess represents her Maiden aspect and when the god has become a young man. It’s a great time for planting seeds and celebrating the fertile spring. Easter, Passover, and Nowruz are all celebrated during this time. Christianity borrowed some Pagan traditions for this holiday, including decorating eggs and hunting for them. Rain falling during Ostara is thought to have cleansing powers with Pagans, as they would collect this water to cleanse ruins, crystals and other objects. April showers anyone?

4. Beltane/May Day (April 30th – May 1st)

Translates to 'bright fire', but is also celebrated as a water festival. Sometimes known as the holiday in which you lit a bonfire and made love in the woods, as the Earth's sexual powers are at its peak. May Day is also celebrated by decorating and dancing around the maypole (representing the male aspect). A May Queen is crowned and May Wine is drank (white wine infused with woodruff). And, it’s believed that, like at Samhain, the veil between the living and the spirit world is thinner. For Wiccans, this Sabbat is also a holiday of love and romance and when the God and Goddess come together.

5. Litha/Midsummer (June 20th-23rd).

Still celebrated in lots of countries, particularly Sweden, Litha celebrates the longest day of the year. It is dedicated to fire, water and botancial magic. Harvesting herbs around this time is advised, due to the belief that their powers are heightened, due to rain in this season having supposed healing powers. 

6. Lughnasadh (August 1st).

Lughnasadh is an ancient fire festival referencing a popular Celtic deity (at least 14 European cities are named after this deity, eg Lyon in France). It used to be celebrated for a number of weeks with festivals and bonfires. This holiday is also associated with love and romance. 

7. Mabon (September 20th-23rd).

Somewhat of a Pagan Thanksgiving, Mabon celebrates the Autumnal Equinox. It is a time to share gratitude amongst loved ones, as well as Earth's blessings. 

8. Samhain (October 31st). 

If you've been reading/watching our other Halloween content, you should recognise this one. This is the new year in Christianity, also known as 'All Hallows Eve' (Halloween). At this time the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest point.  

Will you incorporate any of these holidays into your annual traditions?

Further Reading:

The Magical Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year

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