The Sabbats

WHAT ARE THE

8 SABBATS

The eight sabbats are holidays celebrated by witches the world over from all different practices. These days are the pillars of the circle of life which is a neverending cycle of nature. This is often represented by placing the sabbats around the wheel of the year.

The wheel of the year is a type of calendar that is split into eight sections. The sabbats divide the year as we know it into eight equal parts and mark the beginning of each season as well as their mid-points. Each of the sabbats falls into one of two categories.

Known as the lesser sabbats or sun sabbats Yule, Ostara, Litha, and Mabon are the holidays that represent the beginning of each season. These are more commonly known as solstices and equinoxes. 

The greater sabbats, earth festivals, or moon sabbats are Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain. These holidays mark the midpoint of each season and always fall on a specific day, unlike the other four which can shift depending on the year.

The sabbats are drawn from Western European pagan traditions that pre-date Christianity. They are days of celebration and festivities to honor the gods and the earth and ourselves. Continue reading below to take a closer look at each sabbat.

JUMP TO A SABBAT TO LEARN MORE

YULE

(December 20-23)

Yule takes place on the winter solstice, and is the shortest day and the longest night.

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IMBOLC

(February 1-2)

Imbolc is the halfway point of the cold, wintery season. Time for some rebirth!

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OSTARA

(March 19-21)

Ostara marks the first day of spring, so keep it bright and cheery.

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BELTANE

(April 30-May 1)

Beltane is a time to cast aside worry and let yourself be free to have fun. 

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LITHA

(June 20-22)

Litha marks the first day of summer and is a time full of light and brightness.

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LAMMAS

(August 1-2)

Lammas is the midpoint between summer and autumn and is a festival of the summer.

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MABON

(September 21-24)

Mabon is the autumn equinox and is a time of balance, harvest and abundance.

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SAMHAIN

(October 31-November 1)

Samhain marks the night when the veil between worlds is thinnest. 

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YULE

Falling on or around December 21st, Yule takes place on the winter solstice. It is the shortest day and longest night of the year, plunging the world into darkness. However, it is a time of joy as it is the starting point for light to enter the world again.

In some beliefs, Yule is the time of year when the sun god is reborn to return the light to us. It also marks the exchange of power from the Holly King to the Oak King, a representation of the cyclical nature of the seasons that has no end.

During this cold time of the year, action gives way to reflection. Yule is a time of thought. It should be spent reminiscing on the last year and telling tales of all the things that have happened. Lost family members are honored at this time of year and given a place to join in the festivities, as they are always with us.

One of the most important aspects of Yule is the Yule log, which is burnt to represent the light that can be found in the darkness. The log is traditionally burnt throughout the night to remind us that we can persevere through anything, no matter how dark. A piece of the Yule log is often saved to start the next year’s fire to represent the cycle of all things in nature.

THEMES OF YULE

• Introspection
• Hope After Darkness
• Rebirth
• Transformation 

SYMBOLS OF YULE

• Bells
• Evergreen Tree
• Gifts
• Holly
• Ivy
• Mistletoe
• Poinsettia
• Wreath
• Yule Log

COLORS OF YULE

• Gold
• Green
• Red
• Silver
• White

FOOD & HERBS OF YULE

• Apple Cider
• Cinnamon
• Cooked Apples
• Egg Nog
• Gingerbread
• Nuts
• Pine
• Roast Beef
• Rosemary
• Sage
• Wine
• Wintergreen

THINGS TO DO ON YULE

• Burn the Yule Log
• Decorate the Tree
• Go Caroling
• Tell Stories
• Wrap Presents

SPELL WORKINGS FOR YULE

• Happiness
Hope
Love
Peace
Strengthening Bonds

IMBOLC

Also known as Candlemas, Imbolc falls on February 2nd and marks the halfway point of the winter season. Imbolc means “in the belly” and corresponds with the time that sheep would typically become pregnant. This concept is woven throughout the sabbat as a time of rebirth, hope, and fertility.

Imbolc is often the time when the goddess Brigid is honored as the maiden. She is associated with the fertility of the land. Celebrations at this time of year may include the making and burning of a sun wheel to symbolize the continuity of life.

This sabbat is the perfect time to take up some spring cleaning. Imbolc is a wonderful time to clear clutter and start fresh for the fast-approaching spring. Blessings are bestowed upon crops and animals and even the tools used in your practice. Everything should be rejuvenated at Imbolc.

As well as cleaning out physical clutter, Imbolc is a time of clearing the mind. This sabbat offers the perfect energy to let go of the old so that you can let in the new. The time for looking to the past is gone and you should turn toward the future, allowing room for any new opportunities that present themselves.

THEMES OF IMBOLC

• A Fresh Start
• Conception
• Continuity
• Creativity
• Inspiration
• Renewal

SYMBOLS OF IMBOLC

• Brigid’s Cross
• Sheep
• Snowflakes
• Sun Wheel
• White Flowers

COLORS OF IMBOLC

• Blue
• Brown
• Green
• Pink
• Red
• White
• Yellow

FOOD & HERBS OF IMBOLC

• Bay
• Blackberry
• Bread
• Cake
• Honey
• Lavender
• Milk
• Oats
• Rosemary

THINGS TO DO ON IMBOLC

• Bake Bread or Cake
• Clean
• Light Candles
• Make a Brigid Cross
• Plant Seeds

SPELL WORKINGS FOR IMBOLC

• Blessing
Cleansing
Fertility
Luck
Protection
Wishing

OSTARA

Ostara falls on the first day of spring, on or around March 21st every year. As an equinox, it is a time of perfect balance between the light and the dark. The sabbat was named for the goddess Eostre and is a time of great fertility. The hopes that began to form at Imbolc are now coming to fruition.

The hare and eggs are the two main symbols of Ostara. The hare represents fertility and abundance. Eggs are a symbol of great potential and the beginnings of life. They are often associated with the whole universe, encompassing everything in perfect balance.

During Ostara, the day and night are of equal length. The cycle is still in its waxing phase and from this point onward the days will begin to get longer than the nights. Nature is really beginning to bloom, emerging from the winter to bring life to the world once again.

From Ostara came the Christian tradition of Easter. The hare was transformed into the easter bunny who leaves eggs for children to find. Like Ostara, Easter is a day of rebirth. It is perhaps the most obvious example of a Christian holiday that’s based on a pagan tradition.

THEMES OF OSTARA

• Abundance
• Balance
• Cycles
• Fertility
• New Life

SYMBOLS OF OSTARA

• Butterflies
• Eggs
• Hare
• Seeds
• Wildflowers

COLORS OF OSTARA

• Green
• Pink
• White
• Yellow

FOOD & HERBS OF OSTARA

• Acorns
• Chocolate
• Daffodil
• Eggs
• Fresh Fruit
• Honey
• Honeysuckle
• Hot Cross Buns
• Rose

THINGS TO DO ON OSTARA

• Color Eggs
• Plant Seeds
• Start Something New
• Walk in Nature

SPELL WORKINGS FOR OSTARA

• Balance
Fertility
Growth
Renewal
Sexuality

BELTANE

Celebrated on May 1st, Beltane is the midpoint between spring and summer. This sabbat is full of life and passion. Light reigns supreme on the earth and everyone is embracing it. Beltane is a time to cast aside worry and let yourself be free to have fun.

Beltane is a time of great fertility when the world is bursting with life. Love and sexuality are heavily connected to this sabbat It is a common time of year to engage in handfasting ceremonies. During a handfasting, vows are exchanged and the hands of the two people are bound together to symbolize their commitment to one another.

One widely practiced tradition of Beltane is the bonfire. All other fires are put out as people celebrate. Jumping the fire is a way of bringing blessings or a way for couples to pledge their love to each other. Sending animals through the smoke is thought to protect them. At the end of the night, everyone takes a bit of the flame to relight their own fires.

The maypole is a recognizable symbol of Beltane. It is decorated with greenery and ribbons and erected so that everyone can dance around it. Homes are also decorated with greens found in the forest by couples that wander into the trees to express their passion.

THEMES OF BELTANE

• Fertility
• Life
• Love
• Passion
• Sexuality

SYMBOLS OF BELTANE

• Bonfires
• Fire
• Flowers
• Garland
• The Maypole

COLORS OF BELTANE

• Green
• Red
• White

FOOD & HERBS OF BELTANE

• Bread
• Clover
• Dairy
• Hawthorn
• Honeysuckle
• Mint
• Oatmeal
• Rose
• Strawberries
• Wine

THINGS TO DO ON BELTANE

• Make A Bonfire
• Dancing
• Enjoy Pleasure
• Handfasting
• Make Flower Crowns
• Work Toward Goals

SPELL WORKINGS FOR BELTANE

• Creativity
Fertility
Love
Prosperity
Protection
Sex

LITHA

Litha, or Midsummer, is the first day of summer. Held on or around June 21st each year, it is the longest day of the year and is full of light. Litha is a time to pursue work and fun with the added time of longer days. But you shouldn’t forget that it marks the end of the days growing longer.

This sabbat marks the time when the goddess is fully pregnant with the sun god, or when the sun god descends until his rebirth at Yule. It is the day when the Oak King returns power to his twin brother the Holly King to continue the cycle of nature.

Bonfires are a large part of Litha. People often stay up the entire night before Litha to witness the sunrise and welcome the longest day of the year. The bonfire is a representation of the strength of the sun at this time of year. Oak is traditionally used for the Litha bonfire.

Litha is a time of joy and celebration. It is the perfect time to look at all you have achieved in the first half of the year. Revel in the light and warmth that the sun offers because from this point on it will give way to the power of the moon.

THEMES OF LITHA

• Abundance
• Celebration
• Fulfillment
• Light
• Joy

SYMBOLS OF LITHA

• Fire
• Flowers
• Seashells
• The Sun

COLORS OF LITHA

• Blue
• Gold
• Green
• Orange
• Red
• Yellow

FOOD & HERBS OF LITHA

• Ale
• Anise
• Apples
• Honey
• Ice Cream
• Lavender
• Lemons
• Mead
• Mistletoe
• Rose
• Summer Fruit
• Vervain
• Whipped Cream
• Wine

THINGS TO DO ON LITHA

• Bonfires
• Handfasting
• Stay up All Night to Watch the Sunrise

SPELL WORKINGS FOR LITHA

• Happiness
Health
• Love
Luck
Protection
Relationships

LAMMAS

Lammas (often known as Lughnasadh) is celebrated on August 1st, it is the midpoint between summer and autumn. Lammas is the final festival of the summer season and a time to make way for the work that must be done through autumn to prepare for the winter.

Lughnasadh is a name derived from the Celtic god Lugh. The holiday was originally said to be established by Lugh to honor his mother Tailtiu. Bonfires, feasting, and dancing are a traditional way to celebrate this sabbat.

Most importantly, Lammas is the mark of the first harvest of the year. This harvest is usually made up of grains and is extremely important to those that farm such crops. The first fruits of the season are offered to gods and goddesses to show gratitude for what they give and ensure blessings for the following year.

The last sheaf of grain to be cut is often times kept in the home until next year’s harvest. It will eventually be returned to the earth to pass the blessings of the gods from one harvest to the next. Sometimes it isn’t cut at all and simply left in the field to carry that power into the next harvest.

THEMES OF LAMMAS

• Abundance
• Change
• Harvest
• Prosperity

SYMBOLS OF LAMMAS

• Cauldron
• Corn
• Cormucopias
• Scythe
• Sunflowers

COLORS OF LAMMAS

• Bronze
• Green
• Gold
• Orange
• Yellow

FOOD & HERBS OF LAMMAS

• Apples
• Calendula
• Corn
• Berries
• Bread
• Grains
• Honey
• Mint
• Nuts
• Poppy
• Potatoes
• Rosemary

THINGS TO DO ON LAMMAS

• Bake Bread
• Bonfires
• Dancing
• Handfasting
• Feast

SPELL WORKINGS FOR LAMMAS

• Generosity
Luck
Prosperity

MABON

Mabon falls on the autumn equinox on or around September 21st each year. It is again a time of balance. The night and day are equal lengths and we are falling now into the darker half of the year. The nights will begin to draw on longer than the days from here on out.

As the second harvest of the year, Mabon is a time to celebrate all that is given to us. It is typically a harvest of fruits and vegetables. A great feast is held during this time to show gratitude for all of the blessings we have received throughout the year.

This sabbat is the perfect time to look back on the hopes and plans made at the beginning of the year and see how they have come to pass. It’s when projects are being wrapped up and rest can be had from all of the work put into gaining a fruitful harvest. All should enjoy themselves before the cold of winter starts to set in.

Mabon is a festival of giving thanks above all else. You should reflect upon what you have been given and have achieved. It’s also a good time to plant the seeds of ideas for projects to be taken up in the new year, giving you something to look forward to through the dark winter.

THEMES OF MABON

• Balance
• Beauty
• Fruitfulness
• Gratitude
• Harvest
• Rest

SYMBOLS OF MABON

• Apples
• Corn
• Cornucopia
• Fallen Leaves
• Gourds
• Pine Cones
• Pomegranates

COLORS OF MABON

• Brown
• Gold
• Green
• Orange
• Red
• Yellow

FOOD & HERBS OF MABON

• Acorn
• Apples
• Bread
• Carrots
• Ceda
• Cider
• Cinnamon
• Corn
• Grains
• Nuts
• Pine
• Potatoes
• Sage
• Squash

THINGS TO DO ON MABON

• Bake Cakes
• Clear Out Clutter
• Thanksgiving Feast
• Walk Through Nature

SPELL WORKINGS FOR MABON

• Balance
Confidence
Prosperity
Protection
Reflection

SAMHAIN

Samhain falls on October 31st, the same day as Halloween. During this sabbat, the veil that separates the worlds is at its thinnest. It is a day to honor those that we have lost. Samhain marks the final harvest of the year, a harvest of nuts and berries, in preparation for the coming winter.

At the Samhain feast, it is not uncommon to set an extra place for your ancestors. Talk about your loved ones that have passed on, honor their memory, and offer them food. This is their night to join in on the festivities with you.

Just as our ancestors can pass into our world, so can other beings. It is smart not to travel alone at night during this time of the year or risk being drawn in by them. Samhain is when the Wild Hunt is at its height. Going out on your own could very well end with an encounter with the souls of the dead.

Samhain is considered the witch’s new year and the renewing of the cycle of the wheel of the year. It is a time to reflect on and let go of everything from the past year and finally rest from the work of the harvest. The winter is soon to begin.

THEMES OF SAMHAIN

• Ancestors
• Death
• Introspection
• Lifting of the Veil
• Rebirth

SYMBOLS OF SAMHAIN

• Acorns
• Apples
• Bat
• Black Cat
• Cauldron
• Jack-O-Lantern
• Pumpkins
• Scarecrows

COLORS OF SAMHAIN

• Black
• Orange
• Purple

FOOD & HERBS OF SAMHAIN

• Almond
• Apples
• Cider
• Cinnamon
• Clove
• Ginger
• Nuts
• Potatoes
• Pumpkin
• Rosemary
• Sage
• Squash
• Tarragon

THINGS TO DO ON SAMHAIN

• Bonfire
• Carve Jack-O-Lanterns
• Feast
• Go Trick or Treating
• Honor Ancestors
• Play Tricks

SPELL WORKINGS FOR SAMHAIN

• Banishing
Fairy Magic
Protection
Release
Sex
Spirit Contact

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