Michelle Lewis – The Blessings Butterfly
If you are just getting started on your witches path, you’ve probably begun hearing about the Wheel of the Year. You might even be familiar with some of the names of the different sabbats such as Samhain or Yule that make up the points on the Wheel. This article is designed as an introduction, and gives you some quick insights to help you along the way. It’s not by any means an in depth look, but a helpful beginner’s guide.
The Wheel of the Year is a calendar that describes the cyclical nature of the seasons and the natural world. It is a way of organizing the year into eight festivals called sabbats that are celebrated by many (not all!) modern Witches, Pagans, Wiccans, Druids, and other nature-based spiritual traditions. Some of the names and traditions are ancient, and some are from much more recent history. All are adopted from different cultures, but none of these festivals are considered closed practices.
The 8 Sabbats
The eight sabbats of the Wheel of the Year are divided into two categories: the solstices and equinoxes, and the cross-quarter days. The solstices and equinoxes mark the four points in the year where the sun’s path in the sky appears to stand still, and the cross-quarter days mark the midpoints between them.
The eight sabbats are considered by many to be sacred or holy festivals and are celebrated as such by practitioners. Each sabbat has its own themes, symbols, traditions and lore. Below I’ve included a *very basic* overview of each sabbat; there is a TON of free, reliable information available should you wish to dig in deeper and learn more.
The first sabbat of the Wheel of the Year is Imbolc, which falls on February 2nd or thereabouts in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and is associated with the awakening of the earth after winter, the return of the light, and the goddess Brigid. Traditions include lighting candles, making corn dollies, and performing rituals for purification and new beginnings. (IHM-bulk)
The spring equinox, also known as Ostara, falls on or around March 20th and marks the official beginning of spring. It is a time of balance between light and dark, as the days and nights are of equal length. Traditions include decorating eggs, planting seeds, and celebrating the renewal of life and fertility. (UH-stah-ruh)
Beltane, also known as May Day, falls on or around May 1st and marks the midpoint between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. It is a time of fertility, passion, and abundance, and is associated with the god and goddess coming together in a sacred union. Traditions include dancing around the Maypole, lighting bonfires, and making flower crowns. (BEL-ten)
The summer solstice, also known as Litha, falls on or around June 21st and marks the official beginning of summer. It is the longest day of the year and a time of maximum light and energy. Traditions include staying up all night, watching the sunrise, and making offerings to the sun and fire. (LY-the)
Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas, falls on or around August 1st and marks the midpoint between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox. It is a time of harvest, gratitude, and sacrifice, and is associated with the god Lugh. Traditions include making bread, weaving corn dolls, and performing rituals for abundance and protection. (LOO-neh-seh)
The autumn equinox, also known as Mabon, falls on or around September 21st and marks the official beginning of fall. It is a time of balance between light and dark, as the days and nights are of equal length once again. Traditions include making apple cider, decorating with autumn leaves, and performing rituals for thanksgiving and introspection. (MAY-bun or MAH-bun)
Samhain, also known as Halloween or All Hallows Eve falls on or around October 31st and marks the midpoint between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It is a time of death and rebirth, when the veil between the worlds is thin and the ancestors are honored. Traditions include carving pumpkins, wearing costumes, and performing rituals for divination and communication with the dead. (SOW-ehn)
The winter solstice, also known as Yule, falls on or around December 21st and marks the official beginning of winter. It is the longest night of the year and a time of darkness and introspection. Traditions include decorating evergreen trees, lighting candles, and performing rituals for renewal and rebirth. (YOOL)
Now that you have a simple overview of the Wheel of the Year and how the different sabbats are celebrated, you can decide which traditions you want to observe. Even if you’re not “out of the broom closet” you can still celebrate and nobody will suspect you’re a witch! *wink wink*
Want to read more beginner-friendly articles for new witches? Try these: An Easy Guide to Rose Quartz Moon Water Why Are These Crystals So Magickal? Meeting Our Guides & Loved Ones Dollar Store Witchcraft for Witches on a Budget