When most people think of Witchcraft or Wicca, especially those who are not practitioners, they think of spells and magick. While those are important parts of "The Craft," many would claim that more important are its religious aspects.
All major religions have sets of holidays. Christianity has Christmas and Easter. Judaism has Yom Kippur and Chanukkah. The generic term for the Pagan holidays is "sabbat," and in The Sabbats, author Edain McCoy describes each of the eight Wiccan holidays, including their lore and ways to celebrate them for Witch covens, Pagan families, and solitary Wiccans. You will learn songs, recipes, rituals, games, and more so that the holidays become a living, breathing part of your spiritual life.
The first Sabbat is called Samhain. It takes place on October 31 of each year. It has many meanings including the end of the final harvest; a chance to commune with and remember dead ancestors; and a celebration of the eternal cycle of reincarnation. The second Sabbat, known as Yule, takes place on the Winter Solstice around December 22. On this day the God (who died at Samhain) is reborn of the Virgin Goddess. This is a representation of the Sun starting to go higher in the skies after this day.
The third Sabbat is Imbolg, a day set aside to honor the Goddess who was slowly turning the Wheel of the Year back to spring. Ostara, the fourth Sabbat, occurs on the Spring Equinox around March 22. It is a celebration in honor of the Goddess of Spring. Beltaine takes place on the first of May, and is a joyous, wild holiday. It marks the end of the planting cycle and is known for the practice of fertility rites in order to encourage the crops to grow. Symbolic of the fertility rite, of course, is the maypole.
Midsummer, the Sabbat of the Summer Solstice around June 22, marks the longest day of the year and the height of the God's (and the sun's) power. Since many herbs are collected at this time, this section shares how to dry herbs and how over fifty of them can be used for magical purposes. The seventh Sabbat is Lugnhasadah. It is the first harvest, so the feast of Lughnasadh is one of the most important Sabbats. The eighth Sabbat is Mabon on the Autumn Equinox around September 22. After this festival, the days begin to get shorter.
But learning about the festivals of the Wheel of the year is just the beginning. You will also learn rituals for each holiday that can be used whether you are a solitary or working with a coven. You'll also learn recipes for each holiday and crafts that stress the spiritual significance of the day. The book also includes an outline for ritual construction, the elements of rituals, and a glossary with definitions of over 200 terms. A resource and merchant guide will help you find the items you need for celebration of any of the Sabbats.
This description is just an overview of some of the information you will find in this book. It is simply a must for all Pagans, Witches, Wiccans, and magical people.
Living in the Midwest, Ostara comes for us at one of those "in between" times. It falls in between the frigid cold of winter and the scorching, oppressive heat of summer. It's the calm both before and after the storm. But it is also a real blah time of year. The weather is often still downright chilly, and snow is still quite a possibility. (In... read this article