When I began working with my first coven, there was a heavy emphasis on marking every Sabbat. Regardless of what day the holiday fell on, we would rearrange our schedule, sometimes even skipping other important events in order to gather and celebrate. Even so, I always felt connected to the Earth and always looked forward to gathering with my spiritual family inside a Circle to mark the turning of the wheel.
When I became more focused on my career, I made the choice to leave my coven. It’s not that I didn’t want to continue with them, but I felt like I wasn’t carrying my weight. Covens rely on the commitment of all its members to be successful and honestly, I was holding them back. In the years that followed, I let holidays go by without a second thought. However, recently, I’ve began to make marking the turning of the wheel in some fashion a priority. What follows is what the Sabbats mean to me and ways I have commemorated them.
Yule, or the Winter Solstice occurs around December 21st. Yule marks the longest night of the year and for marks a time of renewal. Since it coincides with Christmas, I also tend to exchange gifts with my friends and family to express gratitude and appreciation for them. Because of the themes of renewal, I tend to work magick to clear the path for the coming year. Often times, any ritual or magick work take place in the early hours of the morning the day after the solstice. This way, I can end my ritual at sunrise and welcoming the strengthening Sun.
Imbolc falls on the first few days of February and like Yule, honors the returning Sun. However, Imbolc focuses on the coming of spring and the magick of the Goddess. I tend to celebrate by metaphysically planting the seeds of what I want to manifest by Ostara. As a holiday that celebrates the transformative power of fire, I tend to celebrate by lighting candles. If there is still snow on the ground, and since I live in Ohio there usually is, I melt a bowl of snow and keep the bottled water to use in transformative magick.
Ostara or the Spring Equinox falls around March 21st marks the first day of spring. For me, this is a time of purification and fertility. As such, I do a round of spring cleaning. Afterwards, I smudge my home and recharge my magickal tools. This also marks the time that I begin to plant my garden. Also, with the warm weather I also tend to find a nice patio on which to enjoy a few cocktails with friends.
Beltane is celebrated on May 1st and marks the transition from spring to summer. It also is a celebration of life, love, lust, and magick. To be honest, due to these themes, I have a habit of becoming seasonally slutty during this time if I am single. More seriously, I mark this time by enjoying the warm weather with friends and practicing magick to bring love and happiness into my life, as well as giving the first crop from my garden to friends and family.
Litha falls on the Summer Solstice on or around June 20th. This falls opposite on the wheel from Yule, and marks the longest day of the year. After today, the days will grow shorter as the sun wanes. I tend to spend time outside with my friends and family on this day and reflect that, like summer, nothing lasts forever. It’s a reminder to enjoy what we have in the moment.
Lammas falls on August 1 and the themes revolve around reaping what summer has given us. Mundanely, I use this as time to reap the last of my garden before it is destroyed by the August heat. I also use this time to reflect on the magick I have put into the Universe so far this year in order to evaluate my next steps or to work magick to amplify or nullify what I have worked for previously.
Mabon falls on the Autumnal Equinox around September 21st. Mabon’s themes parallel that of Thanksgiving. For me, it’s a time of gratitude and reminding ourselves what truly matters. This also marks when I begin baking bread and making stews due to the cooler temperatures. Instead of working magick, I tend to hold a small ritual of gratitude where I thank the God and Goddess for the life they have given me.
Samhain falls on October 31st. It marks the passing of the old year and is a time to remember those who have gone before us. I create an altar to my beloved dead and leave offerings for them. I visit gravesites of those close by and leave flowers. On Samhain, I cast a circle and call forth my beloved dead to come back and visit with me. Keeping with Halloween tradition, I also tend to dress up and celebrate life with my friends to remind myself that someday I won’t be here.
The idea here is that there is no wrong way to celebrate the Sabbats. What’s important is that, as Witches, we are setting aside time to commune with the Earth and celebrate the turning of the wheel. Imbolc is coming up on Tuesday. It’s unseasonably warm here in Ohio, so my friends and I are taking the day off to have a few cocktails on a patio. At some point, I’m sure we’ll cheers to the coming spring and say farewell to the cold of winter.