3: Getting Started
of Celebration - The 8 Sabbats
of Gods and Goddesses
October 31 or first full Moon in Scorpio. Ancestor night.
Feast of the Dead. Halloween.
Pronounced “sow-en” or “sow-un”. This is the last day of the Pagan year. The new year begins
This is the day when the veil between this world and the
spirit world is thinnest. Communication with the dead is easiest and spirits are
most common. Also an excellent
night for divination. Feasts and parties are held in remembrance of those who
have died. This is a time for resolving problems.
Ways of celebrating Samhain can be the traditional giving
of candy to trick-or-treaters, divining, or placing out cookies and cakes for
the spirits. Leave doors and windows open as it is thought to allow the dead to
pass through the house without getting confused and lost inside.
Samhain (pronounced SOW-EN) literally
means "summer's end." Today, Samhain falls on October 31st and most know it as
Halloween. Halloween, from "hallowed eve" (meaning "sacred night") is one of the
most important and sacred holidays of the pagan year. Traditionally, Samhain
begins at sundown on October 31st and runs through a set of 2 days,: Oct 31st
and November 1st. The days between Samhain and Yule are considered the "Time
which is no time." Depending on your traditions, the new year can begin at
Samhain or at Yule. This time between the worlds has been considered very
magickal and dangerous. it is a time when the veil that separates the world of
the living and the world of the dead is at its thinnest. It is for this reason
that many consider this to be a time that does not exist on our earthly realm.
Samhain is also called the "Feast of the Dead." During this
time, the dead can return to visit their loved ones and the gates to faery
kingdoms are opened. It is traditional to leave cakes, honey, milk and cider
outside for the fey. If they are not given gifts of food, they will play tricks
on those who are not generous. most pagans set a place at the dinner table for
their dead ancestor.
Samhain is also known as the "Last Harvest." Originally
celebrated when the Sun reached 15 degrees Scorpio, Samhain was the last day
that crops were harvested. Animals were slaughtered on this day giving the name
of the full moon in October the "blood moon" and much of the harvest and meat
was dried and preserved and stored away for the coming winter months. Samhain is
a time of feasting and of celebrating the harvest and the gifts of the earth.
Samhain is also a time for divination. it is easier to
commune with spirits, both human and non-human and it is a very powerful time
for divination, especially for divining the outcome of the winter months to
The tradition of trick-or-treating originated in and is
unique to the United States. Children dress in costume and go from door to door
asking for treats. This tradition may stem from an ancient tradition of
traveling door-to-door asking donations of food for the Halloween town feast. It
may also come from the tradition of leaving sweets on the porch for the faery
folk to prevent them from doing harm during the year.
Even jack-o-lanterns come from old Irish traditions. The word
jack-o-lantern comes from the old Irish tale "Jack of the Lantern." As the story
goes, there was an evil old man named Jack who, upon death, was neither allowed
into heaven or hell and was cursed to roam the earth with only a candle in a
turnip to light his way through the night. Irish children carved and carried
lanterns of turnips, a symbol of the harvest, over the moor sides on Samhain
night. Pumpkins were not used until settlers arrived in America and discovered
squashes along with other harvest symbols such as corn and turkey.
Most importantly, Samhain is a time to spend with family,
both living and deceased. It is a time to think about our own mortality. Altars
are set up as shrines to the dead and are decorated with skulls, skeletons and
other symbols of death flanking pictures and belongings of our deceased and
candles. It is also traditional to light a special candle for the new year and
allow it to burn throughout the night.
The Real Origins of Halloween 3.5.1
December 21 or Winter Solstice. Alban Arthuan. Festival of
The first day of winter and the longest day of the year.
This day is celebrated as the death and birth of the Sun God - the Divine
Child. The full moon after Yule is considered the most powerful of the whole
year. Yule is the celebration of the death of the Holly king and the rebirth and
renewed reign of the Oak king.
We celebrate Yule nearly exactly as you would Christmas. When the
pagans of old were taken over by Christian rule, the Christians found it
impossible to convert the pagans. They eventually allowed the pagan peoples to
keep their holidays as long as they did them in the name of their Lord, Jesus
Christ. This is why Christians celebrate the birth of their lord on this night,
even though (even stated in the bible for those bible thumpers out there) Christ
was born in the spring with the lambs. The Yule log, made of oak, is burned as
sacrifice of the old dead Holly king. This day is a light festival, with as many lights on the tree
and altar as possible to celebrate the coming of the new child. Mistletoe is
hung because in the ancient days couples would play out their trial marriages on
this day. ceremonies were held beneath Oak trees strung with garlands of
Yule is known to Pagans as the "Time of
Great Darkness." The nights grow long and the days grow short and the Sun before
Yule seems to wither and die. Yule marks the coldest, darkest and harshest part
of the year. Yule is always celebrated on the Winter Solstice. The Christian
holiday Christmas was adapted from the ancient pagan tradition of celebrating
the coming of the newborn Sun/Son to light the world. In the Pagan traditions he
is born unto the Mother Goddess and in the Christian religions he is born to the
"The first written record for this
holiday's occurrence on December 25th was in 354 AD in Rome when one scholar
wrote: 'It was customary for Pagans to celebrate the birth of the Sun...when the
doctors of the church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this
festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be
solemnized on that day.'" (From "You Call it Christmas, We Call it Yule" by Peg
Aloi - Witches' Voice writer)
Pagans celebrate Yule by blessing their
crop plants and animals. A common Yule practice is Wassailing. Apples from the
fall harvest are made into a cider known as wassail. To ensure the fertility of
their apple trees for the coming years, bits of cider-soaked bread were placed
in the branches of the trees and libations of cider were poured over their
roots. Later in history, guns were fired up through the branches to ward off
evil spirits. In the same way, cider was often poured on livestock to ensure
their fertility and good health for the next year.
Kissing under the mistletoe also stems from ancient Celtic
traditions. The Winter Solstice was a time for marriage ceremonies. There was
feasting and games and couples who wished to marry would come together at this
time. Mistletoe was considered a very sacred plant and was thought to grow
between the worlds symbolically because it grew on trees and not out of the
ground. It was considered especially lucky when mistletoe grew on oaks because
oaks have antibiotic properties which prevent fungi from growing on them.
Mistletoe on oak was a symbol of harmony in unity and became an important symbol
for marriage. Garlands of mistletoe were strung between trees and couples would
dance or pass under the boughs and kiss, thus sealing their marriage for 1 year
and 1 day. After this time if they no longer wished to be married, they could go
their separate ways. This began the modern tradition of kissing under the
Holly is used in Yule decorations to symbolize the Holly King
who dies at Yule to make way for the Oak King. The Yule log stems from this
tradition. Some say that the log should be oak, some say ash and others say
holly. Burning the Yule log symbolizes the sacrificial death of the Holly King
and the reign of the Oak King over the second half of the year. The Yule log is
decorated with paper decorations and plants such as holly, mistletoe, and
evergreen sprigs. Red ribbons and tinsel are tied to the top of the log
before it is burned in the fire. The Yule log must be lit on the first try and
must remain burning for 12 hours for good luck. a piece of the log is saved to
use to light the next year's fire.
There are many ideas on where Christmas trees originally came
from. Some say that the practice originated in ancient Egypt. Others say that it
stems from ancient tree-worshiping practices. Today many Pagans refuse to cut
down trees and use fake trees instead. Those who still cut down trees every year
say that you must cut your own instead of buying one and afterward, the tree
should be burned.
During this night, the longest night of the year, Pagans
light as many candles as can be found both to symbolically wait out the death of
the Lord and to celebrate the coming of new light. At no other time of the year
is light more sacred. Many believe that it is taboo to extinguish any flame or
to travel at Yuletide.
Feasting has always been a Yule tradition. These meals
celebrate the harvest that was gathered in the autumn and to celebrate the
passing of winter. It is the time when the days begin to grow longer as the Lord
grows stronger and climbs further and further up the sky. Tables, altars, and
Yule trees are covered in lights and candles. As many lights as possible lie
strewn about in anticipation of the birth of the new child Sun King from the
womb of the Mother.
Wiccan Yule Carols
Songs of Yuletide Joy for Pagans
February 1 or the first full moon in Aquarius. Brigantia,
The time of cleansing and newborn lambs. The name is from
“oimelc” or “sheep’s milk”. The word has also been know to mean "in the belly." Festival of the maiden, in preparation of
growth and renewal. Time of spring cleansing.
Festival of the goddess Brigit, whose breath gave life to the dead.
March 21. Ostara, Aeostar, Easter. Spring Equinox.
The first day of spring. Time when light and dark are in
perfect balance, yet the light is growing stronger. Sowing time in the North.
Ways of celebrating are dying beautiful eggs and leaving
them in the forests and the gardens for the spirits and little people. Leave
dyed eggs in the fields to promote fertility of crops and abundance. You can
also celebrate by allowing the children to find the eggs and then going back and
leaving the most beautifully dyed eggs for the nature spirits. This is also
another Pagan holiday turned Christian. One must wonder, after all, what dyed
eggs and fertility bunnies have to do with Christ’s resurrection. This is also
a time for lovers to get together. Celebration often involves lovemaking.
May 1 or first full moon in Taurus. May Day. Lady Day.
A fertility festival with nature enchantments. Powers of
elves and fairies are growing and will peak at the Summer Solstice. A time of
great magic, it is good for divination and for establishing a woodland or
Ways of celebrating are building shrines to nature spirits.
This is the time to honor the house guardians. Leave small gifts of honey cakes,
wine and sweets for the little people.
June 22. Alban Heruin.
The first day of Summer. This is a time of dedication to
your religion. The sun casts three rays to light the world.
Celebration includes dedication ceremonies, giving of thanks and the lighting of yellow candles.
August 1 or the first Full Moon of Leo. Lunasa.
This is the turning point of the year. The waning God and
Celebration includes harvest festivals and spell work for
good fortune and abundance.
September 21, Alban Elved. First day of autumn.
The balance of light and dark. Time of long rest after
labor and completion of the harvest. A time of thanksgiving.
Celebration includes quiet feasting, and meditation and
reincarnation in preparation for Samhain.
Click here to
learn the rituals for each holiday.
Esbats are the full and new moons of every month. Certain
spell work is done during different phases of the moon.
-Spells for invoking or drawing things toward yourself are
done on the Waxing (getting larger) moon.
-Spells for banishing or repelling things away from you are
done on the Waning (getting smaller) moon.
-The full moon is the most powerful moon. Most spells are
done during the full moon. Spell work is often for banishing unwanted influences,
protection magic, and divination. Planning, releasing and working backwards in
time are done on the full moon as well.
renewal and new beginnings are done during the new moon, as well as personal
growth, healing, and the blessing of a new project or venture.
-A blue moon is a month that contains more than one full
There are thirteen full moons during the month:
January - Wolf Moon
February - Storm Moon
March - Chaste Moon
April - Seed Moon
May - Hare Moon
June - Dyad (pair) Moon
July - Mead Moon
August - Wyrt (green plant) Moon
September - Barley Moon
October - Blood Moon
November - Snow Moon
December - Oak Moon
(variable) - Blue Moon
The pentacle, or pentagram, is the most revered and most
popular sign of the craft. It is similar to the Cross or Crucifix of the
Christian religions. This symbol has nothing to do with the devil or with evil.
Devil worshippers use this symbol inverted as a symbol of Satan, but it has
nothing to do with the devil in our religion. Devil worshippers use this symbol
because it was once a popular Christian symbol used to signify the five wounds
of Christ. It was abandoned early in history but can still be found in much of
the art and architecture of old churches and monasteries. This, for its
protection and Christian meaning, was the symbol carried on sir Gawain's shield.
In witchcraft the pentagram and pentacle represent the five
elements and are symbols not only of the religion, but also as a sigil of
protection and unification. The elements are Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. This is not to
be confused with the Holy Spirit of the Christian religion. The spirit is the
energy vibration attributed to each and every thing. People have them as well as
animals, stones, trees, planets, moons, stars, even the universe. It is
often used for protection and is included on most amulets and talismans. It can be
drawn in certain ways to promote specific results in spell work.
The banishing (getting rid of something - i.e.: negativity,
evil, etc.) pentagram is drawn starting at the bottom
left-hand point going up to the top, down to the bottom right-hand corner and so
on. This pentacle is drawn this way in all rituals involving banishing. It is
also drawn over doors and windows to prevent evil from entering a space.
The invoking (bringing something toward you - i.e.: money,
luck, etc.) pentagram is drawn starting at the top corner,
down to the bottom left hand corner, up to the top right hand corner and so on.
The invoking pentacle is drawn in this way when you want to draw something
toward you or to gain something. This pentacle heightens power and aids in
invocative spell work.
||The pentacle is also representative of the five points on
the human body. The circle is considered feminine and is indicative of the
womb and the points represent the male member. Sometimes the inverted
pentacle is used to signify the God and the upright pentacle is used to
represent the goddess. This method is not often used, however, as it has
very evil connotations in other religions. In many other pagan religions,
the pentacle was the symbol of the earth or the earth-womb and is often used
to signify the earth. It is also used to represent the God and Goddess at
each point. The top three points represent the aspects of the goddess:
Maiden, Mother and Crone. The bottom two are the aspects of the god: Oak
King - light, and the Holly King - dark. It also represents the 5 stages of
life: birth, Maiden, Mother, Crone, death. The Wiccan kiss, or the five-fold
kiss is used in ritual and is represented by the pentacle: feet, knees,
womb, heart and lips. See more on the pentacle
Suzanne Egbert States: "The meaning of the pentacle as worn by
Pagans is rooted in the beliefs of the Greek Pythagoreans, for whom the
pentagram embodied perfect balance and wisdom; inserting the star in the circle
adds the symbol of eternity and unity."
All - Gods and Goddesses
Witches do not worship any single God or Goddess. Witches believe in the balance and equality of all things. The All is sometimes referred to as the Wiccan deity. The All is just that. It represents
everything of everything. It is all that is and is not. The All is divided into two “categories” which are masculine and feminine. All gods are of the masculine division and all Goddesses are of the
feminine division. Think of it as the yin and the yang. Dark an light, good an
evil, male and female. Though there are two parts, they are always together,
always the same and yet different, and always co-existing in harmony.
The God and Goddess do not really
play a part in my religion as I choose to work with spirits and elements. It is
hard and rather unnerving for me to envision gods who look and act like people
(which seems also highly unlikely to me). If you choose to incorporate them into
your religion then you will wish to know the following:
The God: Lord of the underworld (not hell), the
sun, life itself, passion, male aspects. Fire and Air elementals. He is
worshipped in rituals for passion, fertility, meditation and all other fire and
The Goddess: Mate and Mother of the
lord. (yes, it sounds strange, doesn’t it?) She gives birth to the new lord in
the winter and when the male aspect grows older in the spring, becomes her
lover. She is motherhood, femininity, water, earth, the moon, the night,
love and caring, nurturing, and also a warrioress and fierce protector.
of Gods and G
-by Silver Ravenwolf
Greek; Goddess of passionate, sexual love. Aphrodite will assist you in pulling
loving energy toward yourself.
Queen of the Witches, daughter of Diana. Aradia is an extremely powerful entity
and a protectress of Witches in general.
Welsh; Goddess of the stars and reincarnation. Call on Arianrhod to help with
past life memories and difficulties as well as for contacting the Star People.
Goddess of the Moon.
Fertility Goddess. Whether you wish to bear children or have a magnificent
garden, Astarte will assist in your desire.
Warrior Goddess and Protectress and Goddess of wisdom. Someone giving you a rough time at work? Call
on Athena to help you.
Atlas: holds the world up on his shoulders: symbol
Atropos: Goddess of Death
Goddess of Protection and Cats. Bast is great for vehicle travel as well as
walking down a dark alley. Call on her essence in the form of a giant panther to
see you through to your destination.
Warrior Goddess and Protectress. Brigid is also a Triple Goddess. She is strong
and wise. Call on her to help protect your children in a rough situation.
Goddess of the Harvest.
Moon and Harvest Goddess, also associated with the Dark Mother aspect of the
Earth Mother archetype. Excellent Goddess where birthing or small children are
involved. Goddess of the harvest
Moon Goddess and Goddess of the Hunt. Diana is many faceted. She is a seductress
(as she enchanted her brother Lucifer to beget Aradia in the form of a cat) as
well as a mother figure for witches.
feminine spirits of the trees.
Goddess of Spring and Birth. For beautiful flower, babies and all bounties of
Goddess of Fate.
Scandinavian; Moon Goddess and wife/lover of Odin. Also commander of the
Gaia: mother earth; goddess of the earth
Hades: God of the underworld
Egyptian; Protectress of Women in business. A Hathor’s Mirror is very
important for the Witch. Hathor was cunning as well as beautiful.
Goddess as in Crone or Dark Mother.
Goddess of marriage and childbirth. If handfasting or some type of commitment is the
issue, Hera is the Goddess to seek. Just remember that she has a vindictive
Goddess of home and hearth. Building a house, remodeling or apartment hunting.
Safety in the home and the family unit.
Sumerian; Goddess representation of the Mother.
represents the Complete Goddess or the Triple Goddess connotation in one being.
Creative/Destructive Goddess. Protectress of abused women. Kali-Ma should be
called if a woman is in fear of physical danger. Her power is truly awesome.
Adam’s first wife and said to be turned into a demoness; however, if ou have
ever read any of Zecharia Sitchin’s work, you may change your mind. In my
opinion, Lilith was a Star Woman bred with Adam. This would make her a goddess
of Higher Intelligence o a representation of the Star People.
Goddess of Justice and Divine Order. Maat is the true balance of any situation.
She plays no favorites and will dispense justice to all parties involved. Be
sure your own slate is clean in the situation before you call her.
Goddess of Water and magic. Morgan was said to be married to Merlin. It was from
him that she learned her magic. She was also doubled with the Lady of the Lake.
Goddesses of Inspiration who vary in number depending upon the pantheon used.
Goddess of Surprises, Sisters and Midwives.
the three sisters of the Wyrd. Responsible for weaving fate - past, present and
Sky Mother. Often seen depicted in a circular fashion cradling the stars.
Goddess of the Underworld as well as Harvest. Daughter of Demeter.
Goddess of the Moon and Solutions. Appeal to Selene to bring a logical answer to
women warriors who carried the souls of men slain in battle to heaven.
Goddess of Love and Romance.
Goddess of Fire.
Achilles: Great warrior
consort of Aphrodite. Also another name for “Lord.” In Phoenician his
counterpart is Astarte. A vegetation god. Roman counterpart is Venus.
Egyptian; guardian of Isis. Jackal-headed God of Protection, death and the
underworld. Call on him to protect both home and person.
and Roman; twin brother of Artemis. God of the Sun, Light and the Arts.
Babylonian; his mate is Tiamat.
Celtic; Horned God and consort of the Lady. Also Kernunnos. Lord of the wild,
spirit, animals and plants; nature in general.
Cronus: god of time
Erebus: personification of darkness
Eros: Greek; God
of Romance and passionate love.
Hephestus: blacksmith of the Greek gods
Head of a Falcon and body of a man. God of the all-seeing eye and healing.
God of Marriage and Commitment. His counterpart is Dionysus.
Italian; Soulmate and Brother of Diana. Father of Aradia. God of the Sun and
Sun God and bringer of Light. A soldier’s God.
Neptune: Poseidon: god of the sea
Nyx: god of night
Scandinavian; counterpart of Freya. This is the God who hung on the Tree of
Yggdrasil to obtain second sight. His familiars are the Raven and the Wolf. In
his youth he is depicted as a terrible God, in his old age as a God of Wisdom
and psychic sight.
counterpart of Isis. Over-all God form including vegetation and after-life.
Pan: Greek; God
of Nature and the woods, laughter and passion. Also music and personal abandon.
God of the Sea. His familiars are dolphins and horses.
Expert craftsman and designer. God of creative enterprise with the hands.
consort of Kali. God of the universal cycle of birth-death-rebirth. Shiva can be
both kind and terrible.
Scandinavian; God of Sky and Thunder. A kindly God of the common people,
including farmers and sailors.
God of Reincarnation. Also a Moon God and favorable to science and wisdom.
Uranus: god of the sky
Zeus: supreme ruler and father of the gods
There are many kinds of witches and many different beliefs on the
Craft name. Some will tell you that you must be given your name by an
accomplished witch after a year and a day of study. I believe, as do others,
that you only need to choose a name that you like. It should be a name that you
feel comfortable with. A Craft name can be changed at any time (because you
change as well) and many witches will change their names a number of times
before they settle on one for life. You do not have to choose a craft
name, but many witches choose one for their working. It is a symbol of rebirth
and using a craft name allows you to step out of your "real" self so
that the pressures of daily life can be left behind you when you are performing
magic and rituals. There is also a numerological method of
determining if your name is right for you. Though I do not use this method, many
will swear by it. Begin by adding the digits of your birth date:
May 10, 1980 = 5+1+0+1+9+8+0=24=2+4= 6
in the above case, your astrological
number would be 6. Then you would take your name and refer it to a numerological
chart as follows:
Take your craft name and determine
the number of each letter. Then add them together as you did your birth date.
1+4+2+5+9+1+2+7+6+9+9+5 = 60 = 6+0 = 6
If both of the numbers from your name
and your birth date match, then your name is said to be right for you.
Moondrip's Guide to Magickal Names
- go ahead, have a laugh