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Wiccan Seasons And Holidays
Samhain: Pronounced SOW-in, SAH-vin, or SAM-hayne. Shadowfest (Strega), Martinmas (Celtic/Scottish) Samhain means "End of Summer". Its historical origin is The Feast of the Dead in Celtic lands. Samhain, popularly known as Halloween, is the Witches' New Year. It is said to be the time when the veil between the worlds is very thin, when souls that are leaving this physical plane can pass out and souls that are reincarnating can pass in.
Darkness increases and the Goddess reigns as the Crone, part of the three-in-one that also includes the Maiden and Mother.
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Yule: the Winter Solstice, Yuletide (Teutonic), Alban Arthan (Caledonii) This sabbath represents the rebirth of light. Here, on the longest night of the year, the Goddess gives birth to the Sun God and hope for new light is reborn. Yule is a time of awakening to new goals and leaving old regrets behind. Yule coincides closely with the Christian Christmas celebration. Christmas was once a movable feast celebrated many different times during the year. The choice of December 25 was made by the Pope Julius I in the fourth century AD because this coincided with the pagan rituals of Winter Solstice, or Return of the Sun. The intent was to replace the pagan celebration with the Christian one.
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Imbolic (Celtic): Oimelc, Festival of Bride (pronounced 'Breed'), Festival of Bridgit, Candlemas, Imbollgc Brigantia (Caledonii), Lupercus (Strega) Candlemas is the Christianized name for the holiday, of course. The older Pagan names were Imbolc and Oimelc. 'Imbolc' means, literally, 'in the belly' (of the Mother). For in the womb of Mother Earth, hidden from our mundane sight but sensed by a keener vision, there are stirrings. The seed that was planted in her womb at the solstice is quickening and the new year grows.
At the time of Candlemas, the newborn Sun God is seen as a small child nursing from his Mother.
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Ostara: Oestre, Easter, the Spring Equinox, Vernal (Spring) Equinox, Alban Eiler (Caledonii). Traditionally March 21stThe Spring Equinox
is the point of equilibrium - and it celebrates the arrival of Spring, when light and darkness are in balance but the light is growing stronger. The forces of male and female are also in balance.
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Beltane is one of the Greater Wiccan Sabbats and is usually celebrated on May 1st, but can be on the night of April 30th, depending on your tradition. Beltane is the time of the sacred marriage which honors the fertility of the Earth; it represents the divine union of the Lord and Lady.This sabbath is primarily a fertility festival with Nature enchantments and offerings to wildlings and Elementals. The powers of elves and fairies are growing and will reach their height at Summer Solstice. A time of great Magic, it is good for all divinations and for establishing a woodland or garden shrine. The house guardians should be honored at this time.
Beltane is the second most important sabbath in the Witches' calendar after Samhain
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Midsummer: Summer Solstice, Alban Hefin (Caledonii), Litha.
The Summer Solstice, the longest day, is a time of triumph for the light. This holiday represents the Sun King in all his glory. In many Wiccan celebrations, this is when the Oak King, who represents the waxing year, is triumphed over by the Holly King, who represents the waning year. The two are one: the Oak King is the growing youth while the Holly King is the mature man. On Midsummer night, elves and fairies abound in great numbers. Symbols to represent the Litha sabbath are such things as Fire, the Sun, blades, mistletoe, oak trees, balefire, Sun wheels and faeries.Nurturing and love are key actions related to Midsummer.
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This is the celebration of the first fruits of the harvest. The Sun King, now Dark Lord, gives his energy to the crops to ensure life while the Mother prepares to give way to her aspect as the Crone. Now is the time to teach what you have learned, to share the fruits of your achievements with the world. It is considered a time of Thanksgiving and the first of three Pagan Harvest Festivals, when the plants of Spring wither and drop their fruits or seeds for our use as well as to ensure future crops. Also, first grains and fruits of the Earth are cut and stored for the dark Winter months.
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Mabon: (Celtic): Autumn Equinox, Winter Finding (Teutonic), Alban Elfed (Caledonii). During Autumn,we begin to see the waning of the Sun more obviously now as the days continue to grow shorter until the Wheel of the Year spins around again to Yule. At the Autumn Equinox, the days and nights are equal. It is a time of balance, but light gives way to increased darkness. It is the second harvest, and the Goddess mourns her fallen consort, but the emphasis is on the message of rebirth that can be found in the harvest seeds. The Autumn Equinox is a wonderful time to stop and relax and be happy.
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The function of the esbats is held to perform magickal workings and communing with the Moon's energies. Esbats are not sabbaths but are used more to carry out magical spells. During esbats, these magickal workings use a cirrcle to achieve magic. The circle also represents the cyclical nature of magical reality; the rituals that take place within the circle are not seen as isolated historical events, but as recurring mythical themes, representing general types of experience and interaction that are common to the human condition. These working celebrations are used to honour the Goddess.
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