The sabbats are the festive events celebrating the cycle of the sun. Intended to be filled with merriment and joy, these days acknowledge the turning of the Wheel of the Year. During these celebrations, our connections to Orb and Sky are strongest, serving as gateways to outwardly unite our powers with those of Nature.
As the sun traverses its annual path, the solstices and equinoxes mark the transitions from one season to the next. These are the Quarter Days; the days we observe either the balance or the zeniths of day and night as the pendulum sun swings from one end of its cycle to the other.
The Cross Quarter Days are observed at the apex of each season and have an agricultural origin. They recognize and celebrate the four stages of Nature's growth cycle: seeding, sprouting, maturing, and harvesting. This corresponds to the cycle of all life, that being conception, birth, maturation, and death.
Yule - Winter Solstice
Earth; Black, blue, silver, white
Sky's journey to distant lands has taken him far away, but now he starts the voyage home. Preparations are beginning for the rebirth of Orb, and her well-being will depend upon Sky's return.
The night has reached its peak over the day, indicating the winter season has begun. It may still be getting colder, but there is no reason to fear the dark, since the light of the sun will once again start growing.
Despite the darkness, this is a time of celebration. We use festive lights and decorations to bring joy to our homes. We share the good fortunes of the past year with loved ones and strangers alike. A transition from the wisdom of the old to the innocence of the new is occurring as we look forward to the start of a new year.
Imbolc - Festival of Renewal
31 January - 1 February
Earth-Air; Blue, purple, white
Orb is reborn as the Maiden, so innocent and full of curiosity. She sees the growing light, and eagerly awaits the returning Sky so they can be united once again.
There is an awakening happening, as the seeds of Nature begin stirring below the top layer of frozen ground. The grass and the trees, the wild animals, all know that winter is passing and the first thaw will come soon.
Fires are lit to keep ourselves warm, fending off the cold that surrounds us, as well as to rid ourselves of bad habits and outdated ideas. We are using this sheltered time to make plans and set goals for the coming season, when we can finally get out and about.
Ostara - Spring Equinox
Air; Blue, green, yellow
Sky has reached the edge of the homeland, and bringing the increasing light with him, he becomes the Oak Sire. He is shining down on Orb, no longer a child but not yet an adult, as she blossoms under the growing warmth.
With the start of spring, day and night are balanced and equal, as the sun is neither here nor far. The cold is giving way to the increasing warmth; plant seeds are bursting at the seams to begin sprouting and the animals are emerging from hibernation or migrating between homes.
While the air is fresh, we celebrate the spring by casting wishes of abundance and success for the coming season. We are putting our plans into motion, knowing that our intentions must be intertwined with our actions if we are to reach our goals.
Beltane - Festival of Flowers
30 April - 1 May
Air-Fire; Green, pink, red
Orb matures into the Mother, and as Sky continues to nurture her, they become fully bonded. With their mating, the fertility of the growing season is assured. Together as proud parents, they watch over the flowers and crops, the animals and livestock.
The days keep getting longer and warmer, leading also to a warming of the heart. There is love in the air as we are able to spend more time with those we care about most.
We welcome back the sun and honor the union of Orb and Sky. Maypoles are erected; the ribbons weave together, showing how Orb and Sky, as well as all things in Nature, are intertwined. While there is much fun and frolicking, we remain mindful of the work ahead.
Litha - Summer Solstice
Fire; Gold, red, silver, yellow
Sky sets off for a new adventure to faraway lands, knowing he has done all he can to bring happiness and nourishment to Orb. Now it is up to her to watch over the splendor and bounty of the lands in her domain.
Summer begins with the sun burning at its peak, and the day reaches the height of its dominance over the night. These long days give plenty of hours to complete chores and tasks, with time left over for fun or relaxation.
We learn lessons of service and contribution; that we must work and be willing to give before we can receive. Only through this give and take can we ultimately reach our goals.
Lammas - Festival of Harvest
31 July - 1 August
Fire-Water; Blue, orange, red, yellow
With the growing season nearing its end, Orb becomes the Crone, the old lady wise with experience. The days may still be warm, but Sky continues to move away. Nonetheless, Orb presses on with her duties.
The days are waning and there is abundance all around as the harvest begins. Hard work lies ahead, and everyone must play a part in collecting Nature's bounty.
We celebrate the first harvest by breaking bread, giving nourishment to those who are nearing their end and those who may be moving on. Our own goals are within sight, but we must continue our efforts until they are fully achieved.
Mabon - Autumn Equinox
Water; Brown, orange
Sky passes beyond the boundary of the homeland, moving ever further away. He is now the Holly Sire, leaving darkness in his wake. Orb begins to wane, growing weaker with the diminishing light and warmth. She is not sad or lonely though, knowing that she has lived a full and wonderful life.
Once more day and night are equal, bringing the return of balance as autumn begins. The day has been losing ground though, and as the harvest continues, the warmth of the past season gives way to cooler weather.
Even though the light may be fading, we must remember to keep working and preparing for the coming cold. We are reminded at this time of year that while things may be temporary, they are also cyclical and will eventually return.
Samhain - Festival of Night
31 October - 1 November
Water-Earth; Black, orange, purple
Orb bids a final farewell as she passes from this life. She is greeted and embraced by her ancestors, who come to guide her to a place of rest. Without the presence of Orb or Sky, the lands become quiet and barren.
A deep slumber is falling upon Nature, now that the days are getting shorter and the harvest is coming to an end. Where there once was abundant life, now death and decay is found. This is not a time of grief however, since death is always followed by rebirth.
With the veil between the mundane and ethereal worlds at its thinnest, we use this opportunity to honor and commune with our ancestors. We are also able to tap into unseen energies, making spells and divination especially powerful. It is smart to wrap up loose ends, such as completing projects and paying debts, since the cold is falling upon us and the year is quickly coming to an end.