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Pagan Pathway Gathering

SABBATS AND ESBATS
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ON THIS PAGE WE ARE GOING TO COVER THE BASICS OF THE SABBATS AND ESBATS. PLEASE REMEMBER THERE WILL BE SLIGHT DIFFERENCES IN HOW THE DIFFERENT PAGAN PATHS OBSERVE THEM.

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THERE ARE 8 MAIN SABBATS. THE SABBATS REVOLVE AROUND THE SUN, SEASONS AND THE HARVEST TIMES.
 
The wheel of the year starts out with....
 
YULE(Winter Solstice)- Falls on Dec. 21st or 22nd or 23rd depending on the year. Whichever day Winter Solstice falls on that year. It is the longest night of the year. In the Northern hemisphere, the winter solstice has been celebrated for millenia. The Norse peoples viewed it as a time for much feasting, merrymaking, and, if the Icelandic sagas are to be believed, a time of sacrifice as well. Traditional customs such as the Yule log, the decorated tree, and wassailing can all be traced back to Norse origins.The Celts of the British Isles celebrated this midwinter holiday as well. Although little is known about the specifics of what they did, many traditions persist. According to the writings of Julius Caesar, this is the time of year in which Druid priests sacrificed a white bull and gathered mistletoe in celebration. Four thousand years ago, the Ancient Egyptians took the time to celebrate the daily rebirth of Horus - the god of the Sun. Each year, this cycle of birth, death and rebirth took place, and they began to realize that every year after a period of cold and darkness, the Sun did indeed return.In some traditions of Wicca and Paganism, the Yule celebration comes from the Celtic legend of the battle between the young Oak King and the Holly King. The Oak King, representing the light of the new year, tries each year to usurp the old Holly King, who is the symbol of darkness. Re-enactment of the battle is popular in some Wiccan rituals.
 
IMBOLC/OIMELC -  Is on Feb. 2nd. It is the 1st of the 3 spring festivals, when the earth starts to reawaken. Spring and the planting season are right around the corner.The ancient Egyptians celebrated this time of year as the Feast of Nut, whose birthday falls on February 2 (Gregorian calendar). According to the Book of the Dead, Nut was seen as a mother-figure to the sun god Ra, who at sunrise was known as Khepera and took the form of a scarab beetle.When Ireland converted to Christianity, it was hard to convince people to get rid of their old gods, so the church allowed them to worship the goddess Brighid as a saint -- thus the creation of St. Brigid's Day. Today, there are many churches around the world which bear her name. In modern Wicca and Paganism, Brighid is viewed as the maiden aspect of the maiden/mother/crone cycle. She walks the earth on the eve of her day, and before going to bed each member of the household should leave a piece of clothing outside for Brighid to bless. Smoor your fire as the last thing you do that night, and rake the ashes smooth. When you get up in the morning, look for a mark on the ashes, a sign that Brighid has passed that way in the night or morning. The clothes are brought inside, and now have powers of healing and protection thanks to Brighid.
 
OSTARA-  Falls on Mar. 21,22 or 23 rd depending what day the Spring Equinox falls on. It 2nd of the 3 spring festivals. The word Ostara is just one of the names applied to the celebration of the spring equinox on March 21. The Venerable Bede said the origin of the word is actually from Eostre, a Germanic goddess of spring. Of course, it's also the same time as the Christian Easter celebration, and in the Jewish faith, Passover takes place as well. Despite its word origins, the Pagan Germans and Celts didn't celebrate the spring equinox, so Ostara is one of the "new" Pagan and Wiccan holidays. Spring equinox is a time for fertility and sowing seeds, and so nature's fertility goes a little crazy. In medieval societies in Europe, the March hare was viewed as a major fertility symbol -- this is a species of rabbit that is nocturnal most of the year, but in March when mating season begins, there are bunnies everywhere all day long.
 
BELTAINE- Is May 1st. Is the 3rd of the 3 spring festivals. Beltane has been celebrated for centuries among agricultural societies -- it's the beginning of May, the sign that summer is just around the corner. This fire festival has its roots in fertility rituals that can be traced back to Greco-Roman religions. The Celts honored the fertility of the gods with gifts and offerings. Cattle were driven through the smoke of the balefires, and blessed with health and fertility for the coming year. In Ireland, the fires of Tara were the first ones lit every year at Beltane, and all other fires were lit with a flame from Tara.  Today's Pagans and Wiccans celebrate Beltane much like their ancestors did. A Beltane ritual usually involves lots of fertility symbols, including the obviously-phallic Maypole dance.. The Maypole is a tall pole decorated with flowers and hanging ribbons, which are woven into intricate pattern by a group of dancers. Weaving in and out, the ribbons are eventually knotted together by the time the dancers reach the end. Beltane is a time for planting and sowing of seeds -- again, the fertility theme appears. The buds and flowers of early May bring to mind the endless cycle of birth, growth, death and rebirth that we see in the earth. May 6 is the day of Eyvind Kelve in Norse celebrations. Eyvind Kelve was a pagan martyr who was tortured and drowned on the orders of King Olaf Tryggvason for refusing to give up his pagan beliefs. A week later, Norwegians celebrate the Festival of the Midnight Sun, which pays tribute to the Norse sun goddess. This festival marks the beginning of ten straight weeks without darkness.
 
LITHA/MIDSUMMER (Summer Solstice)- Falls on either June 21st or 22nd depending on the Summer Solstice. Summer solstice celebrations have been held throughout history. While some cultures dedicated this time of year to the Divine, others saw it as a chance to welcome the balance between the light of the sun and the darkness which would eventually arrive.  On this date – usually around June 21 or 22 – the sun reaches its zenith in the sky. It is the longest day of the year, and the point at which the sun seems to just hang there without moving – in fact, the word “solstice” is from the Latin word solstitium, which literally translates to “sun stands still.” Midsummer was celebrated with hilltop bonfires and that it was a time to honor the space between earth and the heavens.In some traditions, Litha is a time at which there is a battle between light and dark. The Oak King is seen as the ruler of the year between winter solstice and summer solstice, and the Holly King from summer to winter. At each solstice they battle for power, and while the Oak King may be in charge of things at the beginning of June, by the end of Midsummer he is defeated by the Holly King.This is a time of year of brightness and warmth. Crops are growing in their fields with the heat of the sun, but may require water to keep them alive. The power of the sun at Midsummer is at its most potent, and the earth is fertile with the bounty of growing life.
 
LAMMAS/LUGHNASADH- Is on Aug. 1. August 1 is known in many Pagan traditions as Lammas, and is a celebration of the early harvest. However, in some paths, it's a day to honor Lugh, the Celtic god of craftsmanship.
Lammas is the first of three harvest Sabbats, and celebrates the crops of late summer and early autumn.
 In some traditions, it's the day to honor Lugh, the Celtic craftsman god.This holiday can be celebrated either as a way to honor the god Lugh, or as a celebration of the harvest.Grain has held a place of importance in civilization back nearly to the beginning of time. Grain became associated with the cycle of death and rebirth. In early Ireland, it was a bad idea to harvest your grain any time before Lammas -- it meant that the previous year's harvest had run out early, and that was a serious failing in agricultural communities. However, on August 1, the first sheafs of grain were cut by the farmer, and by nightfall his wife had made the first loaves of bread of the season. The word Lammas derives from the Old English phrase hlaf-maesse, which translates to loaf mass.In some Wiccan and modern Pagan traditions, Lammas is also a day of honoring Lugh the Celtic craftsman God, Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-NAS-ah). In our modern world, it's often easy to forget the trials and tribulations our ancestors had to endure. For us, if we need a loaf of bread, we simply drive over to the local grocery store and buy a few bags of prepackaged bread. If we run out, it's no big deal, we just go and get more. When our ancestors lived, hundreds and thousands of years ago, the harvesting and processing of grain was crucial. If crops were left in the fields too long, or the bread not baked in time, families could starve. Taking care of one's crops meant the difference between life and death. By celebrating Lammas as a Harvest Holiday, we honor our ancestors and the hard work they must have had to do in order to survive. This is a good time to give thanks for the abundance we have in our lives, and to be grateful for the food on our tables. Lammas is a time of transformation, of rebirth and new beginnings.
 
MABON- Falls on Sept. 21st or 22nd depending on day the Fall Equinox is on. It is second of the three harvest Sabbats has been celebrated around the world.Mabon is a time when the earth is dying a little each day, and as we welcome the harvest, we also realize that the long nights of winter aren't far off.  At the time when there is an equal amount of light and dark, we harvest our crops and prepare for winter, all the while giving thanks for that which we have. The harvest is a time of thanks, and also a time of balance -- after all, there are equal hours of daylight and darkness. While we celebrate the gifts of the earth, we also accept that the soil is dying. We have food to eat, but the crops are brown and going dormant. Warmth is behind us, cold lies ahead.For contemporary Druids, this is the celebration of Alban Elued, which is a time of balance between the light and the dark. Many Asatru groups honor the fall equinox as Winter Nights, a festival sacred to Freyr. For most Wiccans and NeoPagans, this is a time of community and kinship. It's not uncommon to find a Pagan Pride Day celebration tied in with Mabon. Often, PPD organizers include a food drive as part of the festivities, to celebrate the bounty of the harvest and to share with the less fortunate. If you choose to celebrate Mabon, give thanks for the things you have, and take time to reflect on the balance within your own life, honoring both the darkness and the light.
 
SAMHAIN (Halloween)-  Is on Oct. 31st the same night as Halloween. However, this Sabbat has roots that go back thousands of years. Samhain is known as the witch's new year. It is a time to think about the endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth. It's a good time to contact the spirit world with a seance, because it's the time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest.Celebrations begin on the eve of the 31st, Samhain actually refers to the daylight portion of the holiday, on November 1st. Sunset on Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The old year has passed, the harvest has been gathered, cattle and sheep have been brought in from the fields, and the leaves have fallen from the trees. The earth slowly begins to die around us. This is a good time for us to look at wrapping up the old and preparing for the new in our lives. For some of us, Samhain is when we honor our ancestors who came before us. This is the perfect night to celebrate their memory.
 

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THE ESBATS REVOLVE AROUND THE CYCLES OF THE MOON
In addition to the 8 Sabbats observed every year, most modern Wiccans and Pagans celebrate a regular Esbat, in which magic is performed and the Gods and Goddesses of the tradition are honored. Most covens and groups meet at least once a month, and time this ceremony so it coincides with the full moon. This is usually the time for initiation ceremonies or healing magic to be done, as opposed to a Sabbat (holiday) celebration. The word Esbat is of French origin, from s'esbattre, which loosely translates to "frolic joyfully." In addition to frolicking, this is a time to commune with the gods of your tradition. In some groups, the Esbat rite is followed by a Cakes and Ale ceremony.
 
 The phase of the moon effects many aspects of our life. Magick is no exception. Most witches use the standard phases (full, new, waxing, waning, dark); however, these can be expanded for more advanced students, including new moon, cresent, first quarter, gibbous, full, disseminating, last quarter, dark moon, and moon void of course.
In general, the moon phase is symbolic of what magick should be done. For example, if you were beginning a project, you would start at the beginning of the moon cycle, known as the new moon. The moon "grows" from new to full, to dark. Therefore, your project will "grow" with the moon.
Generally, new moon to full moon is for beginning things, full moon is the peak of magickal power, and full moon to dark moon is used for banishings and ridding things out of your life.
 
New Moon Magick
Sun and moon energies are combined in this phase to give strength to new projects. Therefore, now is a good time to begin things. It is also a time to give thanks for workings (both long term and short term)that have been successful. Workings done at the full and waning moons have most likely taken grip by now. Offerings of milk and honey, or water laced with fertilise for the plants outside (during the growing seasons), is appropriate. If in season of sleep, then set out food for the wild animals and faerie folk. Goddesses associated with the new moon are Diana, Astarte, Artemis, and (from my tradition) Ana.
 
Crescent Moon Magick
The crescent faces West, home of the Calliech and the gates of death and rebirth. The crescent is the symbol of the Goddess, a ladle of love, manifestation, and abundance. It is the Holy cup of Her hand, containing the mysteries to be showered upon Her children. In the mundane world, you should be gathering information and ideas. Use small rituals and workings to help your mundane work move along smoothly. Goddesses such as Aphroditie, Themis, the Calliech, or Tiamat will help you.
 
First Quarter (Waxing) Moon
This is a time of building up. Most Witches see this time as a time of building up. If you see aspects of your life lagging behind, put forth a little effort and you'll get caught up. Silver Ravenwolf says for this time: "If extra magickal guns may be needed, now is the time to use them."
 
Gibbous Moon Magick
The Gibbous moon is ten and a half to fourteen days after the new moon.
This is a time to make any necessary changes. If a working appears to have stalled, don't panic. Often a gestation period is needed where no chande is immediatly visible. You may wish to relax a bit and begin planning any working you choose to do with Full Moon energy.
 
Full Moon Magick
The Full Moon is a time of all-purpose magick. Prophecy and protection are very good things to work for here. Totems like the raven are called to bestow their gifts of divination. Divining now is especially effective, as our psychic powers are heightened at this time. Goddesses such as Arianrhod, Danu, Isis, Ashera and Selene are called as well as the Sisters of the Wyrrd, the Norns, and other Goddesses and Gods of fate. The Full Moon is also the time of legends -- reading them, studying them, or even making your own -- your creativity will be very active now. Power of course, is generated, regeneratd and used by the working Witch. Any working that needs a major punch can be done now. Your chances of success is very great.
 
Last Quarter(Waning) Moon
Banishing work starts now. If you wish to get rid of anything, such as bad habits, illnesses, or nevativity, now is the time to banish them. This is the time of the Goddesses Bast, Kore, Ceres, Demeter, or other Earth Mothers.
 
Dark Moon
Cursing (if necessary,) chaos, bringing justice. Goddesses here are Kali, the Morrigan, the Calliech, Lilith, and Hecate. Dealing with attackers is best begun during this phase.
 
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FULL MOON NAMES
Each Full Moon has a different meaning and magickal purpose. The Full Moon is also a traditional time for divinations of all kinds, as the power of the Moon aids in such work.
The FULL MOON is a good time for magick of all kinds, for the full moon brings great power to all magick.
 
January ~ Wolf Moon: Plan a ritual of protection around your home and family.
 
February ~ Storm Moon: Plan a ritual to ask the Old Ones for help in planning your future.
 
March ~ Chaste Moon: Plan a ritual to help fulfill your wishes is appropriate.
April ~ Seed Moon: Plan a ritual to physically plant your seeds of desire in Mother Earth.
 
May ~ Hare Moon: Plan a ritual to reaffirm your goals.
June ~ Dyad Moon: Plan a ritual to balance your spiritual and physical desires.
 
July ~ Mead Moon: Plan a ritual to decide what you will do once your goals have been met.
August ~ Wort Moon: Plan a ritual to preserve what you already have.
 
September ~ Barley Moon: Plan a ritual of Thanksgiving for all the Old Ones have given you.
October ~ Blood Moon: Plan a ritual to remember those who have passed from this world, and be sure to make an offering to them.
 
November ~ Snow Moon: Plan for a ritual to work on ridding yourself of negative thoughts and vibrations.
 
December ~ Oak Moon: Plan for a ritual to help you remain steadfast in your convictions.
 
The NEW MOON is useful for starting new ventures.