Wiccan Sabbats on the Wheel of the Year

Welcome to this fast overview of the Wheel of the 12 months, which serves as the inspiration of the Wiccan calendar. You can too be taught extra about every Sabbat by clicking on the hyperlinks under.

Wicca is typically known as an unorganized faith. In spite of everything, in Wicca, there isn’t any central sacred scripture or designated website of worship, and there are not any set ceremonial procedures to comply with. Particular person traditions, covens, and solitary practitioners are free to make their very own choices on all of those issues.

Regardless of this flexibility, there’s one essential side of Wicca that serves as a structural heart for the faith: the Wheel of the 12 months. The eight Wiccan holidays, generally generally known as the Sabbats, present frequent alternatives for practitioners to collect, whether or not for coven rituals or extra casual circle festivities.

As solitary practitioners, they perceive that by doing Sabbat rituals, they join their power with the power of hundreds of thousands of different Wiccans all through the world who commemorate these distinctive days.

Wiccan Sabbats on the Wheel of the Year - wheel of the year - Wheel of the Year

The Sabbats are made up of 4 “photo voltaic holidays,” the 2 Solstices and two Equinoxes that mark the Earth’s annual voyage across the solar, in addition to 4 “Earth feasts,” which happen in February, Could, August, and October. The “cross-quarter days” between the photo voltaic positions are marked by this second set of Sabbats. Beltane, for instance, which is historically noticed on Could 1st, comes practically midway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer season Solstice.

Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain are all cross-quarter Wiccan celebrations impressed by the standard folks festivals held in Western Europe previous to the delivery of Christianity. (Relying on the type of Wicca practiced, a few of these holidays are recognized by totally different names.)

Those that interact with Celtic traditions, for instance, seek advice from Lammas as Lughnasa.) The cross-quarter days are known as the “higher Sabbats” by many Wiccans, whereas the photo voltaic days are known as the “lesser Sabbats,” because the Earth competition days are regarded as intervals of upper vitality. Nevertheless, this language is meant to differentiate between the 2 sorts and doesn’t indicate that photo voltaic days (often known as “Solar Sabbats”) are any much less necessary.

The origins of the Wheel of the 12 months

The Wheel of the 12 months’s mystical origins must be emphasised that these eight holidays are usually not restricted to Wicca; many fashionable Pagan traditions observe any or all the Sabbats. The metaphorical mythology surrounding the God and Goddess and every Sabbat’s share of the overarching story distinguishes the Wiccan model. This celestial couple is accountable for all creation in Nature, and every has necessary duties to carry out within the plant and animal life cycles all through the 12 months. As a result of God represents the Solar and the Goddess represents the Earth, their relationship may be seen in two methods: as mom and little one or as procreating lovers.

The presence and absence of heat and daylight over the course of the seasons is defined on this manner: the God is born, grows up, and reaches the head of his energy, after which ages and dies, solely to be reincarnated as the expansion cycle is resumed. The Goddess, who’s the Earth, is each God’s mom and his co-creative accomplice, being secure and current all through the 12 months, even when there isn’t any heat or mild. She is the fixed, which can clarify why her Sabbats, or Earth feasts, are thought to have extra efficiency. Nevertheless, the overall imaginative and prescient of the infinite delivery/demise/rebirth cycle is considered one of steadiness between the female and Common masculine forces, with every Sabbat representing a unique stage of the cycle.


Wiccan Sabbats on the Wheel of the Year - wheel of the year - Wheel of the Year

Sabbats are ritual excessive factors within the Wiccan calendar. So, what actually occurs throughout a Sabbath celebration? As with a lot in Wicca, the intricacies will range enormously, however generally, there might be a ritual concentrating on some side of the God and Goddess relationship and/or the time of 12 months. Spring and Summer season Sabbats, for instance, are involved with fertility and abundance, whereas Autumnal Sabbats are involved with harvesting.

Some type of feast ceaselessly follows the ceremonial ceremony. These rituals may be easy or refined, and so they may contain a single practitioner, a coven, or an off-the-cuff Wiccan circle. Some covens and circles and different Pagan organizations even maintain Sabbat rituals in public in order that members of the neighborhood who’re can come and see and be taught. Others comply with a stringent secrecy custom and have fun in personal.

The Sabbat will probably decide the specifics of the ritual and the décor and meals.

Witches could commit their rituals to totally different facets of the God and Goddess at varied factors all through the Wheel of the 12 months, go away seasonal choices, and adorn the altar with seasonal motifs.

Maintaining the Wiccan Wheel of the 12 months is usually a deeply spiritually satisfying train. Having a Sabbat each six weeks permits us to remain extra in tune with Nature and be extra cognizant of the altering of the seasons. Certainly, many Wiccans seek advice from Sabbat ritual involvement as “Turning the Wheel” as an acknowledgment of their co-creative relationship with Nature. In fact, there are alternatives to commune with the Goddess and the God every single day. But it surely’s at all times good to know that one other Witchy occasion is only a few weeks away!

In line with historic and archaeological proof, historical pagan and polytheist peoples had many cultural observations.

The Anglo-Saxons honored the solstices and equinoxes, whereas the Celts celebrated the seasonal divisions with quite a few fireplace festivals.

Cormac Mac Cárthaigh wrote within the tenth century about “4 monumental fires…lighted upon the 4 nice Druid festivals…in February, Could, August, and November.” Earlier than being generally known as the Wheel of the 12 months, writings resembling The Golden Bough influenced the up to date Neopagan competition cycle. James Frazer, George Western Europe’s Witch-Cult Margaret Murray is a girl. In line with Frazer, Beltane (the beginning of summer season) and Samhain (the beginning of winter) have been crucial of the 4 Gaelic feasts listed by Cormac.

Murray tried to find out the festivals celebrated by a reportedly widespread underground pagan faith that had lasted into the early fashionable interval by utilizing paperwork from early fashionable witch trials in addition to folklore surrounding European witchcraft. Murray cites a trial file from Forfar, Scotland, from 1661, by which the alleged witch (Issobell Smyth) is linked to gatherings held “each quarter at Candlemas Rudday Lambemas Hallowmas.”

The White Girl Regardless of Christianization, Robert Graves claimed that the significance of agricultural and social cycles had preserved the “continuity of the traditional British festal system” of eight holidays: “English social life was primarily based on agriculture, grazing, and looking” implicit in “the favored celebration of the festivals now generally known as Candlemas, Girl Day, Could Day, Midsummer Day, Michaelmas, All-Hallowe’en, and Christmas; it was additionally secretly preserved as non secular doctrine.” The Bricket Wooden coven’s sabbats have been held on the Witches’ Cottage (2006).

With a purpose to carry out extra common celebrations, the Bricket Wooden coven Gerald Gardner and the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids Ross Nichols had each adopted eightfold ritual calendars by the late Fifties. In line with well-liked legend, Gardner and Nichols created the calendar throughout a naturist retreat, the place Gardner advocated for celebrating the solstices and equinoxes whereas Nichols most popular celebrating the 4 Celtic fireplace festivals; finally, the 2 approaches have been mixed right into a single competition cycle.

This collaboration later resulted in additional carefully aligned celebrations between the 2 early Neopagan organizations. Gardner’s first printed works exclude any point out of the solstices and equinoxes as an alternative of focusing solely on the fireplace festivals. Gardner initially known as these “Could eve, August eve, November eve (Hallowe’en), and February eve.” Gardner linked the present witch celebrations to the Gaelic fireplace festivals Beltane, Lughnasadh, Samhain, and Brigid.

The time period “Wheel of the 12 months” was coined within the mid-Nineteen Sixties to characterize the common cycle of witches’ feasts.

Wiccan Sabbats on the Wheel of the Year - wheel of the year - Wheel of the Year
picture by johannapolle.com

Aidan Kelly named the Wiccan summer season solstice (Litha), and equinox feasts (Ostara and Mabon) in 1974, which have been later adopted by Timothy Zell. Inexperienced Eggs and Ham The names’ reputation grew progressively. In her 1978 ebook Witchcraft For Tomorrow, well-known Wiccan creator Doreen Valiente didn’t undertake Kelly’s vacation titles, as an alternative of naming the solstices and equinoxes (“Lesser Sabbats”) by their seasons.

Valiente known as the 4 “Higher Sabbats,” or fireplace holidays, Candlemas, Could Eve, Lammas, and Hallowe’en, although she additionally known as their Irish counterparts Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnassadh, and Samhain.

Valiente known as the 4 “Higher Sabbats,” or fireplace holidays, Candlemas, Could Eve, Lammas, and Hallowe’en, although she additionally known as their Irish counterparts Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnassadh, and Samhain.

As a result of affect of early Wicca on Fashionable Paganism and the syncretic adoption of Anglo-Saxon and Celtic motifs, essentially the most generally used English competition names for the Wheel of the 12 months are usually the Celtic ones. Launched by Gardner and the principally Germanic-derived names launched by Kelly, even when the celebrations are usually not primarily based on these cultures.

Over time, the American Satr motion has established a calendar by which the Heathen main feasts coexist with varied Days of Remembrance honoring heroes from the Edda Sagas, people from Germanic historical past, and the Viking Leif Ericson, who found and settled Vinland (North America). These holidays, nevertheless, are usually not as uniformly dispersed as in Wicca and different Heathen denominations.


The Neopagan Wheel of the 12 months is ceaselessly represented as a photo voltaic cross.

Many traditions of contemporary Pagan cosmology regard all issues as cyclical, with time as a continuous cycle of improvement and retreat linked to demise and rebirth. This cycle can also be seen as a microcosm and macrocosm of different life cycles in an infinite sequence of cycles that comprise the Universe. The times that fall on the yearly milestones have historically marked the beginnings and middles of the 4 seasons. They’re held in excessive regard and maintain giant communal celebrations. These are the eight most common instances for neighborhood festivities.

The Winter Solstice (Yuletide)

Midwinter, often known as Yuletide or Alban Arthan in present Druidic traditions, has been acknowledged as an important turning level within the yearly cycle because the late Stone Age. That is exemplified by the traditional megalithic Newgrange Stonehenge, which was meticulously aligned with the solstice daybreak and sundown.

The reversal of the’s waning prominence within the sky represents the rebirth of the photo voltaic god and the restoration of productive seasons. That is crucial time of festivity, in response to Germanic and Roman traditions.

Though customs differ, sacrificial choices, feasting, and gift-giving are all frequent components of Midwinter celebrations. Bringing sprigs and wreaths of ever greenery (holly, ivy, mistletoe, yew pine) into the house, in addition to tree adorning, are well-liked throughout this season.

Extra festivities are held in Roman customs in the course of the six days previous Midwinter.

The Spring Equinox (Ostara)

The northern hemisphere’s annual cycle of insolation (Solar power, represented in blue), together with vital factors for seasons (center), quarter days (prime), and cross-quarter days (backside), in addition to months (decrease) and Zodiac homes (higher). Seasonal lag causes the temperature cycle (seen in pink) to be delayed. Ostara, derived from linguist Jacob Grimm’s derivation of an Outdated Excessive German variant of the Outdated English goddess title Eostre, symbolizes the vernal equinox in varied fashionable Pagan traditions.

This feast, generally known as Alban Eilir in present Druidic traditions, is the second of three spring celebrations (the midpoint between Imbolc and Beltane), throughout which mild and darkness are as soon as once more in steadiness, with the sunshine on the rise. It’s a interval of recent beginnings and vitality rising from the depths of winter.

Beltane (Could Eve)

Historically the primary day of summer season in Eire, the earliest celebrations appeared in pre-Christian instances in Rome with the competition of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgisnacht celebrations of the Germanic Christianisation of Europe. A extra secular model of the competition has continued in Europe and America, generally generally known as Could Day. It’s effectively acknowledged on this type for maypole dancing and the coronation of the Queen of Could. Many pagan traditions have fun this occasion, and amongst fashionable Druids, it acknowledges the facility of life in all its completeness, the greening of the world, youthfulness, and prosperity.

The Summer season Solstice (Litha)

Midsummer is likely one of the 4 photo voltaic festivals, and it’s considered the purpose at which summer season reaches its zenith, and the solar shines the brightest.

Midsummer is preceded by Beltane and adopted by Lughnasadh Lughnasadh Lughnasadh Lughnasadh Lughnasadh Lughnasadh Lughnasadh Lughnasadh Lughna Some Wiccan traditions seek advice from the occasion as Litha, a time period present in Bede’s The Reckoning of Time (De Temporum Ratione, eighth century), which has a listing of (then-obsolete) Anglo-Saxon names for the twelve months.

Terra Lia (first or previous Lia) roughly corresponds to June within the Gregorian calendar, whereas terra Lia (following Lia) roughly corresponds to July. In line with Bede, “Litha implies gentle or navigable, for the calm breezes are mushy in each these months, and so they have been wont to sail upon the sleek sea.”

Alban Hefin is the title given by fashionable Druids to this celebration. At this competition, the solar is welcomed and celebrated at its peak. Whereas it’s the strongest time of the 12 months for the photo voltaic present, it additionally represents a turning level because the solar begins its descent because the Wheel of the 12 months revolves. As a result of emphasis on the solar and its mild as an indication of heavenly inspiration is arguably crucial celebration of the Druid traditions. Druid organizations at Stonehenge sometimes have fun this occasion.

Lughnasadh (Lammas)

Lammas, often known as Lughnasadh, is the primary of three Wiccan harvest celebrations. The opposite two are the autumnal equinox (or Mabon) and Samhain. Wiccans have fun the occasion by baking and consuming a determine of God to represent the sanctity and worth of the harvest. As a result of not all Pagans are Wiccans, celebrations range. In some traditions, this vacation is known as Lughnasadh in Irish. Wiccan celebrations of this event are usually not primarily based on Celtic tradition and are usually not centered on the Celtic deity Lugh. This title seems to have been adopted late amongst Wiccans. August Eve is the title given to the celebration in early types of Wiccan literature.

Lammas (contraction of loaf mass) denotes that it’s an agrarian vacation and feast of thankfulness for grain and bread, which represents the primary merchandise of the harvest. Pagan rituals could also be integrated into Christian festivities.

Autumnal Equinoxes (Mabon)

Harvest Residence, Mabon, the Feast of the Ingathering, Meán Fómhair, An Clabhsr, or Alban Elfed (in Neo-Druid traditions), is a contemporary Pagan ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the Earth and a recognition of the necessity to share them with a purpose to safe the Goddess and Gods’ blessings in the course of the coming winter months. Aidan Kelly coined the title Mabon within the Seventies as a tribute to Mabon ap Modron, a personality from Welsh mythology.


Imbolc is well known on February 1st. Imbolc commemorates the arrival of spring. It is likely one of the 4 cross-quarter days (or “fireplace feasts”) and one of many 4 “higher sabbats” on the Wheel. Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain are the opposite cross-quarter days.

The etymology of the title ‘Imbolc’ is unknown. Nevertheless, it’s doubtless derived from the Outdated Irish phrase for ‘within the stomach’ or ‘within the womb,’ alluding to pregnant sheep and heralding the lambing season.

The Youngster of Promise brings mild and power to the nascent 12 months at Imbolc. The primary indicators of spring are showing, and for pagans, it is a time for private development and renewed vigor. Imbolc is a time for spring cleansing and handicrafts.

Imbolc, which has profound Celtic roots, was historically celebrated to welcome a affluent farming season and was dedicated to Brigid, the goddess of therapeutic, smithing, and poetry.


The summer season solstice, or Litha, is likely one of the 4 ‘lesser sabbats’ and the photo voltaic 12 months’s excessive level. God has attained the head of his energy (the summer season solstice is the longest day of the 12 months), and the dawn of June twenty first (or something near that) is his crowning glory.

The God assuming energy because the Solar King and the tip of his younger days working within the greenwood mirror the solar’s energy and energy all through the summer season months, whereas pagans additionally do not forget that God’s journey is now downward (the shortening of days till Yuletide).

Stonehenge is the focal location of the summer season solstice celebration (which Druids name Alban Heruin, ‘mild of the ocean’) for a lot of fashionable Druids and plenty of different teams. The Stonehenge website is designed to be aligned with the winter and summer season solstices.


Every Sabbat corresponded to the Earth’s pure cycles and seasons, and Samhain was seen as probably the most necessary of those observances. Samhain, or New 12 months’s Day, marks the start of the 12 months’s cycle.

Wiccan Sabbats on the Wheel of the Year - wheel of the year - Wheel of the Year
Prague, Czech republic – 09.10.2020: Fashionable Botanica Espresso Truck cafe in Prague metropolis, Czech republic

Samhain merely means “summer season’s finish,” and it commemorates the conclusion of the sunshine season and the start of the darkish season. Nevertheless, on this context, ‘darkness’ shouldn’t be related to evil or melancholy, however somewhat as a pure side of the human situation. There should be regenerating darkness to ensure that there to be mild.

At Samhain, one provided thanks for what had been supplied within the earlier 12 months and mirrored on what had been misplaced, notably ancestors and family members who had moved on to the opposite aspect. In historical instances, bodily proof of Samhain celebrations may be discovered at varied historical websites in Eire, Scotland, Britain, and Wales. Many traditions arose round Samhain that has come to be related to the modern-day competition of Halloween in america and are nonetheless practiced abroad.

Halloween bonfires and mischief evening’ actions may be traced again to Samhain.

Samhain was noticed as a interval when the veil between the dwelling and the lifeless was thinnest. This was generally known as an ‘in-between,’ a interval throughout which the deceased could extra simply transition into the realm of the dwelling. Removed from being a terrifying idea, it was believed that one’s family members and family members who had died may go to round this time, and it was widespread to make a favourite meal and format deal with for the spirits of the lifeless. Nevertheless, if one had mistreated somebody who had died, that ghost may return demanding restitution. Thus one wore a masks to keep away from being acknowledged.

As a result of the spirit world was populated by entities aside from the souls of the lifeless, resembling fairies and sprites, who may lure and seize mortals, one needed to be cautious when touring at evening, when their talents have been only. Disguising oneself with a masks and costume additionally helps to maintain these spirits at bay.

Halloween bonfires and mischief evening’ actions can be traced again to Samhain. As a result of it was believed that the Universe started in dysfunction and was later ordered by heavenly forces, it made sense that the world would slip again into chaos on an evening when the veil between the spirit world and that of mortals was thinnest. Pranks dedicated the evening earlier than the Samhain celebration represented dysfunction, however resolving these pranks the following day represented the restoration of order.

Equally, bonfires (initially bone fires by which the offal and bones of killed animals have been burned) represented the triumph of sunshine and order over darkness. On Samhain, bonfires are nonetheless lit all through Eire, Scotland, Britain, and the Hebrides and Orkney to commemorate this comparable idea. The subsequent Yuletide Sabbat strengthened this worldview.


After Christianity gained over Celtic pagan beliefs, the yearly holy days have been Christianized.

  • Samhain turned All Souls’ Eve;
  • Yuletide, in fact, turned Christmas;
  • Imbolc turned Candlemas and Saint Brigid’s Day;
  • Ostara turned Easter;
  • Beltane turned the Feast of the Cross, and
  • Litha turned the Feast of St. John;
  • Lughnasadh turned Lammas, “Loaf Mass,” celebrating grains; and
  • the Autumn Equinox turned related to varied saints resembling Adamnan.

Though the Wheel of 12 months is a latest invention as we all know it, the worldview it displays is centuries outdated. Many historical civilizations’ literature, artwork, and structure all depict life and time as a continually repeating cycle. The Sabbats highlighted by the Wheel, by no matter title they have been recognized up to now, helped individuals keep balanced in an unsure world and, for individuals who nonetheless imagine within the outdated concepts, proceed to take action within the current.

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