We think of the year as a wheel or circle. In every year there is a cycle from light to dark and back to light: of growth, reproduction, dying off, and rebirth again. Any day of the year can be the first day of the rest of your life. And when you come around to the same point a year later, you can see how the intervening cycle of days has changed you, and how you have changed from what you were.
Many witches see Samhain, the festival popularly known as Halloween, as the start of a new year. Some see Yule, the Winter Solstice as the start of the year because this is when the Sun starts to return after diminishing through the Fall and Winter. I have chosen to start this exploration of the Sabbats, or Holy Days of the witches, at Imbolic, the time when buds and flowers first appear; I can't pretend this is more or less correct than any other day on the circle, but for me it feels like a time of beginnings...
|Imbolic, Imbolg, Brigantia, Candlemas
It can be a time for getting in touch with the wonder and excitement of childhood. At this time, many dig out the seed catalogues and start dreaming of the garden they hope to grow this year...whether that is the garden in their backyard or balcony, an internal garden...the place inside that offers refuge and inspiration, or a creative project that has nothing at all to do with plants.
|Ostara, Vernal Equinox
(the day the Sun enters Aries)
On this day light and dark are of equal length. It is a time of balance, so many pagans turn their thoughts to the things within them selves that they wish to balance: male and female, logic and intuition, will and surrender, acceptance and motivation to change. It is a time to celebrate growing things and to ask for blessings for the projects we launch after a winter of planning.
Looking around at Nature's exuberant abundance, most pagans turn their thoughts to love magic at this time...pulling love in, expanding their capacity to love, and learning to love themselves. It is a time of union, and rites may involve physical union or work for greater harmony among the parts of a whole.
|Midsummer, Summer Solstice
(the day the Sun enters Leo)
This is the time when many witches start collecting their herbs for the year. We celebrate the power of the Sun and our own power. We celebrate seeing the projects we launched in the Spring gather momentum and grow without our constant vigilance. We push our limits and expand them.
This is a time to express our gratitude for the harvest that is starting...to acknowledge the riches the year is bringing us and pray for continued abundance. We start to see the rewards of the projects we began in the Spring, and work to maximise them. The days are starting to get shorter, and we look ahead to the winter.
|Autumn Equinox, Mabon
(the day the Sun enters Libra)
As we watch the smoke of autumn bonfires rise, this is a time to again express gratitude for the harvest, often mixed with prayers for the Winter that we must now acknowledge is on its way. It is a time to gather seeds and put them away for the next Spring. We also gather the roots of those herbs whose potency is underground. It is again a time of balance, but one where we are looking ahead to a time of darkness, rest, and gestation.
|Samhain, Hallowmas, All Hallow's Eve
This is a time for looking back at one's roots and seeing how one has grown. It is a time for seeking guidance, either by contacting one's ancestors and spirit teachers or through divination. We are entering a cold time when we may be restricted indoors, and many people do some psychic and physical cleaning to make this experience more palatable. It is a time to drink deeply of the wisdom of the nurturing darkness.
|Midwinter's Night, Yule, Winter Solstice
(the day the Sun enters Capricorn)
It is a time to look without fear into the dark and reap its wisdom before it is dissipated by the coming light; and it is a time to celebrate this returning light with love and renewed hope. It is a time to share the gifts of the previous year and to open the way for more in the year to come by sharing love, light, and nourishment with those less fortunate.
[ Return to the Dance ]