|13 Wiccan Principles|
|Book of Shadows|
~*~ Samhain ~ October 31st ~*~
Samhain, pronounced sow-en and called Halloween today, is the ending of the Celtic year. The Celtic new year actually begins at sunset on October 31. This ritual is known as Ancestor Night or Feast of the Dead. Because the veil between the worlds is thinnest on this night, it was and is considered an excellent time for divinations. Feasts are made in remembrance of dead ancestors and as an affirmation of continuing life. A time for settling problems, throwing out old ideas and influences. This is either celebrated October 31, or the first Full Moon in Scorpio.
The following are a few suggestions for activities that can be incorporated into the Sabbat ritual or done during the course of the day (and night).
Drink apple cider warmed and spiced with cinnamon to honor the dead.
Make a spirit candle. This is a white candle anointed with patchouli oil. Say:.
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~*~ Yule The Winter Solstice ~ December 21st ~*~
Winter Solstice or Yule,occurs about December 21. This is the time of death and rebirth of the Sun God. The days are shortest, the Sun at its lowest point. The Full Moon after Yule is considered the most powerful of the whole year. This ritual is a light festival, with as many candles as possible on or near the altar in welcome of the Sun Child.
Also known as: Winter Solstice, Alban Arthan, Feill Fionnain, Yuletide, Midwinter, Sun Return, and Fionn's Day
Symbols: Evergreens, Wreath, Yule Log, Holly, Spinning Wheel
Deities: Newborn Gods; Triple Goddess; Virgin Goddesses
Herbs: Holly, mistletoe, ivy, cedar, bay, juniper, rosemary, frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, and pine. Offerings can be apples, oranges, nutmegs, lemons, pinecones, oak leaves, and/or whole cinnamon sticks.
Ancient Meaning: Yule is a time of the greatest darkness and is the shortest day of the year. Earlier peoples noticed such phenomena and supplicated the forces of nature to lengthen the days and shorten the nights. Wiccans sometimes celebrate Yule just before dawn, then watch the Sun rise as a fitting finale to their efforts.
How Ancient Pagans Celebrated: After the Norse brought Yule into prominence it nearly replaced Samhain as the date of the New Year, and many modern Celtic covens still honor Yule this way. The Nordic-influenced Celts celebrated Yule with many of the trappings we associate with modern Christmas observances; decorated evergreen trees, wreaths, holly, mistletoe, feasting, and dancing.
Modern Meaning: Yule is the remnant of early rituals celebrated to hurry the end of winter and the bounty of spring, when food was once again readily available. To cotemporary Wiccans it is a reminder that the ultimate product of death is rebirth.
For modern Witches, Yule (from the Anglo-Saxon 'Yula', meaning 'wheel' of the year) is usually celebrated on the actual Winter Solstice, which may vary by a few days, though it usually occurs on or around December 21st. It is a Lesser Sabbat or Lower Holiday in the modern Pagan calendar, one of the four quarter-days of the year, but a very important one. Pagan customs are still enthusiastically followed. Once, the Yule log had been the center of the celebration. It was lighted on the eve of the solstice (it should light on the first try) and must be kept burning for twelve hours, for good luck. It should be made of ash. Later, the Yule log was replaced by the Yule tree but, instead of burning it, burning candles were placed on it.
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~*~ Imbolc ~ February 2nd ~*~
Imbolc,the first Full Moon in Aquarius, is a time of cleansing and newborn lambs. The name, Imbolc, comes from the word 'oimelc' or sheep's milk. It is a festival of the Maiden in preparation for growing and renewal.
Also known as: Candlemas, Imbolg, Bride's Day, Oimelc, and Brid's Day
Symbols: Candles, Brides, Grain Dolly, Burrowing Animals, Ewes
Deities: Virgin or Child Goddesses, Gods as Young Men or Boys
Herbs: Basil, Bay, Benzoin, and celandine may be burned; Angelica, myrrh, yellow and white flowers may be used as altar decorations.
Imbolc is THE Sabbat which honors the Goddess as the waiting bride of the returning sun God. Before the Nordic influence, it was also the Sabbat in which the Celts saw the sun as being born anew. In Ireland it was, and still is, a special day to honor the Goddess Brid in her guise of bride. The modern Irish know this as St. Briget's Day, St. Briget being a vaguely disguise and Christianized version of the Pagan Goddess.
Celts would often dress grain dollies, representations made from dried sheaves from the previous harvest, as brides, and set them in a place of honor within their homes. They were usually placed in cradles called Bride's Beds, and nuts, symbols of male fertility, were tossed in with them.
This is also a Sabbat where candles are lit in profusion, often within a wreath, another symbol of the Wheel of the Year. These are symbolic of the heat and light of the returning sun.
At Imbolc the deities are still youthful and not yet joined as one through sacred marriage. They are innocent and fun-loving, and are waiting just as anxiously for spring as we are.
Activities: Here are a few suggestions for Imbolc activities, some of which can be incorporated into the Sabbat celebration or simply as something to make the day more special, especially for children.
Burn the Yule greens to send winter on its way.
Make the Bride's Bed using the Corn or Wheat Doll made the previous Lughnasadh. Dress the doll in white or blue with a necklace that represents the seasons. Lay it in a long basket adorned with ribbons; light white candles on either side of the basket, and say:
Place three ears of corn on the door as a symbol of the Triple Goddess and leave until Ostara.
Light a white candle and burn sandalwood incense.
Cleanse the area where you do card readings or scrying with a censor burning rosemary or vervain, and say:
Cleanse the altar and equipment, do a self-purification rite with the elemental tools representing earth (salt) for body, air (incense) for thoughts; fire (candle flame) for will; and water (water) for emotions.
Make dream pillows for everyone in the family.
Create a Solar Cross from palm fronds, make enough to place one in each room of the house. Place a red pillar-style candle center to the front door; with palm crosses in hand, light the candle and open the door and say:
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~*~ Ostara The Spring Equinox ~ March 21st ~*~
Spring Equinox or Ostara,around March 21, is when light and darkness are in balance but the light is growing stronger. Ostara was not originally a part of the Celtic year, and all of its associations were given to Beltaine until recent times. Because it was named for the Teutonic Goddess of Spring and New Life, Eostre, it is assumed that it was brought to prominence in the Celtic world by the Saxons.
Symbols: Egg, Rabbit, Equilateral Cross, Butterfly
Herbs: celandine, cinquefoil, jasmine, rue, tansy, and violets may be burned; acorn, crocus, daffodil, dogwood, honeysuckle, iris, lily, and strawberry may be decorations.
Modern Celtic Pagan practice has adopted Ostara whole-heartedly, and different Celtic traditions have different ways of observing this Sabbat. Primarily it is a night of balance in which night and day are equal, with the forces of light gaining power over the darkness. One tradition honors the God in his guise as a warrior on this date, while another views it as a time of the courtship between the God and Goddess, a relationship to be consummated at Beltaine.
Here are a few suggestions for activities that may be part of the Sabbat celebration or something to do during the day:
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~*~ Beltane ~ May 1st ~*~
Beltane,is May 1, or the first Full Moon in Taurus. Other names for it are May Day or Lady Day. It is primarily a fertility festival with nature enchantments and offerings to wildlings and Elementals. The powers of elves and faeries 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.
Also known as: May Day, Bealtaine, Beltane, Bhealtainn, Bealtinne, Festival of Tana
Symbols: May Pole, Egg, Baskets, Flowers, Butterchurn
Deities: Flower Goddesses, Divine Couples, Deities of the Hunt
The first of May has been celebrated in song and verse for longer than human history has recorded the date. It is a time to celebrate new life in all its forms, and the time when the Goddess and the God are united in sacred marriage, their relationship consummated, an act which symbolically fertilizes the animals and crops for the coming year.
Here are some Beltaine activities that could be included at the Sabbat or during the day:
~*~ Litha The Summer Solstice ~ June 21st ~*~
Summer Solstice or Litha, about June 21, is when the hours of daylight are longest. The Sun is at the highest before beginning its slide into darkness. Traditionally, herbs gathered on this day are said to be extremely powerful. On this night elves and fairies abound in great numbers.
Also known as: Alban Heruin (Druid), Alban Hefin (Caledonii), Summer Solstice, Midsummer, Midsummer Night, Midsummer Night's Eve, Gathering Day, and Feil-Sheathain (Pecti-Wita ~ July 5)
Midsummer is the time when the sun reaches the peak of its power, the earth is green and holds the promise of a bountiful harvest. The Mother Goddess is viewed as heavily pregnant, and the God is at the apex of his manhood and is honored in his guise as the supreme sun.
The following are some suggestions for Litha activities, some of which you may want to incorporate into the Sabbat, while others would be more suitable during the day.
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~*~ Lughnassadh ~ August 1st ~*~
Lughnassadh is August 1or the first Full Moon in Leo. This is a preharvest festival, the turning point in Mother Earth's year. The last herbs are gathered. It is a celebration in honor of the god Lugh's wedding to Mother Earth.
Also known as: Lammas, August Eve, The Festival of Bread, Elembiuos, Lunasa, Cornucopia
Lughnassadh (Loo-NAHS-ah) is named for the Irish sun God, Lugh, and is usually looked upon as the first of the three Pagan harvest festivals.
The following are a few suggestions for activities that may be incorporated into the Sabbat ritual or engaged in during the day.
~*~ Mabon The Autumnal Equinox ~ September 21st ~*~
Autumn Equinox or Mabon,about September 21, was a time of rest after labor, completion of the harvest. Again the hours of day and night are in balance, with the darkness increasing. All preparations for the dark of the year and the year's ending were made, thus bringing us back to Samhain.
Also known as: Fall or Autumn Equinox, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, Alban Elved (Druid), Alban Elfed (Caledonii), Winter Finding (Teutonic)
Date: Fall Equinox, usually about September 21-23
Symbols: Apples, Wine, Vines, Garlands, Gourd, Cornucopia, Burial Cairns
Deities: Wine Gods, Harvest Deities, Aging Deities
Colors: Brown, Orange, Russet, Maroon, Fall Colors
Herbs: benzoin, marigold, myrrh, sage, and thistles may be burned; acorns, asters, ferns, honeysuckle, milkweed, mums, oak leaves, pine, and roses may be used as decorations.
Mabon (MAY-bone or MAH-bawn) is named for the Welsh God and it is seen as the second of the three harvests, and particularly as a celebration of the vine harvests and of wine. It is also associated with apples as symbols os life renewed.
Here are a few suggestions for Mabon activities that can be incorporated into the Sabbat or done during the day.
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~*~ Esbat Rituals ~*~
Esbats are rites held for the purpose of communing with the Moon's energies and are regarded as the time for most magickal workings. As opposed to the Sabbats, which are fire or sun festivals, Esbats are dedicated to the Moon in her various phases. These are considered the 'working' celebrations, the time in which to attract, banish, invoke protection, or to perform any other magickal workings. Most Sabbat festivals are held in order to celebrate the changing of the seasons, the gathering of the harvest, etc. The Esbats are held in honor of the Goddess. The Lunar Year contains 13 Full Moons.
But there are only 12 months you say? That's because the 13th Moon is called the Blue Moon, this occurs when four full moons fall within the same season (as regular seasons only have 3 full moons, the fourth full moon between solstice and equinox, or vice versa, is the Blue Moon). Obviously this must happen once a year, and always at a different time due to the inaccuracies of the modern calendar. The Celts originally set their year to correspond with the 13 moons but with the coming of the Romans and their method of calendar keeping this tradition was lost. Their 13th Moon was called Ruis or Elder. The Blue Moon is considered the 'goal moon', at this time it is customary to set specific goals for yourself and to review your accomplishments and failures since the last one.
The other 12 Moons all have special meanings as well...
January is the time to conserve energy by working on personal problems that involve no one else. It is also a time for protection rites and reversing spells. During this month the energy flow is sluggish and below the surface.
February is the time for loving the self, accepting responsibility for past errors, forgiving yourself, and making future plans. At this time the energy flow is working toward the surface; good for purification, growth, and healing.
March is the time for new beginnings, breaking illusions, and seeing the truth in your life however much it may hurt. The energy flow breaks into the open, a good time for growing, prospering, and exploring. Light and Dark are in balance now.
April is the time for working on your temper, emotional flare-ups, and selfishness. The energy is flowing into creating and producing; a good time for change, self-confidence issues, taking advantage of opportunities, and realizing self-reliance.
May is the time for strengthening the connections with supernatural protectors and beings around you. The energy is in full flow making this a good time for intuition, propagating, and connecting with faeries and nature spirits.
June is the time for decision making, taking responsibility for present happenings, working on personal inconsistencies, and for strengthening and rewarding yourself for your positive traits. The energy is in full, but restive, flow, the Earth tides are turning making this a good time for protection, strengthening, and prevention spells.
July is the time for dream-work, divination, and meditation on spiritual goals and plans. The energy is slower and more relaxed, proper for success and prosperity spells. This month is the time to start preparing for the colder and darker months ahead.
August is the time for harvesting, gathering, and appreciating. The energy flow is slowing more and now is the time of vitality, health, and friendships.
September is the time for organizing and straightening up physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual clutter. The energy flow is resting and Light and Dark are in balance.
October is the time for inner cleansing. Meditate on the laws of Karma and thoughts of reincarnation. This is the time of letting go, justice, balance, and inner harmony.
November is the month of transformation. It is time to prepare for the coming winter and a time to strengthen communication with the god or goddess closest to you. The energy flow is taking root and preparing to flow once more.
December is the time of Spiritual Paths. The Earth tides are turning and it is time to reach out to friends and family, the lonely, and the needy. This is the month of death and renewal. Spells should be aimed at endurance and provision.