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The Eight Pagan Sabbats

The Pagan Wheel of the Year

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The eight sabbats form the foundation of many modern Pagan traditions. Let's look at when the sabbats fall, how they are celebrated, and the rich history behind each of them.

1. Samhain

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The fields are bare, the leaves have fallen from the trees, and the skies are going gray and cold. It is the time of year when the earth has died and gone dormant. Every year on October 31 (or May 1, if you're in the Southern Hemisphere) the Sabbat we call Samhain presents us with the opportunity to once more celebrate the cycle of death and rebirth. For many Pagan and Wiccan traditions, Samhain is a time to reconnect with our ancestors, and honor those who have died. This is the time when the veil between our world and the spirit realm is thin, so it's the perfect time of year to make contact with the dead. All About Samhain

2. Yule, the Winter Solstice

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For people of nearly any religious background, the time of the winter solstice is a time when we gather with family and loved ones. For Pagans and Wiccans, it's often celebrated as Yule, but there are literally dozens of ways you can enjoy the season. Celebrate with family and friends, welcome light and warmth into your home, and embrace the fallow season of the earth. The Yule season is full of magic, much of it focusing on rebirth and renewal, as the sun makes its way back to the earth. Focus on this time of new beginnings with your magical workings. All About Yule, the Winter Solstice

3. Imbolc

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By February, most of us are tired of the cold, snowy season. Imbolc reminds us that spring is coming soon, and that we only have a few more weeks of winter to go. The sun gets a little brighter, the earth gets a little warmer, and we know that life is quickening within the soil. Depending on your particular tradition, there are many different ways you can celebrate Imbolc. Some people focus on the Celtic goddess Brighid, in her many aspects as a deity of fire and fertility. Others aim their rituals more towards the cycles of the season, and agricultural markers. Imbolc is a time of magical energy related to the feminine aspect of the goddess, of new beginnings, and of fire. It's also a good time to focus on divination and increasing your own magical gifts and abilities. All About Imbolc

4. Ostara, the Spring Equinox

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Spring has finally arrived! March has roared in like a lion, and if we're really lucky, it will roll out like a lamb. Meanwhile, on or around the 21st of the month, we have Ostara to celebrate. It's the time of the vernal equinox of you live in the Northern Hemisphere, and it's a true marker that Spring has come. Depending on your particular tradition, there are many different ways you can celebrate Ostara, but typically it is observed as a time to mark the coming of Spring and the fertility of the land. By watching agricultural changes -- such as the ground becoming warmer, and the emergence of plants from the ground -- you'll know exactly how you should welcome the season. All About Ostara, the Spring Equinox

5. Beltane

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April's showers have given way to rich and fertile earth, and as the land greens, there are few celebrations as representative of fertility as Beltane. Observed on May 1st, festivities typically begin the evening before, on the last night of April. It's a time to welcome the abundance of the fertile earth, and a day that has a long (and sometimes scandalous) history. Depending on your particular tradition, there are many different ways you can celebrate Beltane, but the focus is nearly always on fertility. It's the time when the earth mother opens up to the fertility god, and their union brings about healthy livestock, strong crops, and new life all around. Beltane is a season of fertility and fire, and we often find this reflected in the magic of the season. All About Beltane

6. Litha, the Summer Solstice

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The gardens are blooming, and summer is in full swing. Fire up the barbeque, turn on the sprinkler, and enjoy the celebrations of Midsummer! Also called Litha, this summer solstice Sabbat honors the longest day of the year. Take advantage of the extra hours of daylight and spend as much time as you can outdoors. There are many different ways you can celebrate Litha, but the focus is nearly always on celebrating the power of the sun. It's the time of year when the crops are growing heartily and the earth has warmed up. we can spend long sunny afternoons enjoying the outdoors, and getting back to nature under the long daylight hours. All About Litha, the Summer Solstice

7. Lammas/Lughnasadh

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It's the dog days of summer, the gardens are full of goodies, the fields are full of grain, and the harvest is approaching. Take a moment to relax in the heat, and reflect on the upcoming abundance of the fall months. At Lammas, sometimes called Lughnasadh, it's time to begin reaping what we have sown throughout the past few months, and recognize that the bright summer days will soon come to an end. Typically the focus is on either the early harvest aspect, or the celebration of the Celtic god Lugh. It's the season when the first grains are ready to be harvested and threshed, when the apples and grapes are ripe for the plucking, and we're grateful for the food we have on our tables. All About Lammas/Lughnasadh

8. Mabon, the Autumn Equinox

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It is the time of the autumn equinox, and the harvest is winding down. The fields are nearly empty, because the crops have been plucked and stored for the coming winter. Mabon is the mid-harvest festival, and it is when we take a few moments to honor the changing seasons, and celebrate the second harvest. On or around September 21, for many Pagan and Wiccan traditions it is a time of giving thanks for the things we have, whether it is abundant crops or other blessings. This is the time when there is an equal amount of day and night. While we celebrate the gifts of the earth, we also accept that the soil is dying. We have food to eat, but the crops are brown and going dormant. Warmth is behind us, cold lies ahead. All About Mabon

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