Holiday Information


SAMHAIN, OCTOBER 31, NOVEMBER EVE

Samhain means "Summer's End". Now nights lengthen, winter begins, and we work with the positive aspects of the dark tides. In the increasing starlight and moonlight, we hone our divinatory and psychic skills. Many Craft traditions, and the anchient Celts, consider this New Year's Eve. It is a time to think about the coming year, and changes we want to make in our lives. It is also the one night when the veil that separates our world from the next is its thinnest, allowing the dead to return to the world of the living, to be welcomed and feasted by their kin. The Christian religion adopted this theme as "All Saints Day" or "All Hallows Day". The alternative date of November 6 ("Martinmas" or "Old Hallows") is sometimes employed by Covens.

Modern Witches usually celebrate Samhain on the first full moon on or after October 31st.

Song of Samhain


I am the hallow tide of all souls passing
I am the bright releaser of all pain
I am the quickener of the fallen seed case
I am the glance of snow, the strike of rain
I am the hollow of the winter twilight
I am the hearth fire and the welcome bread
I am the curtained awning of the pillow
I am unending wisdom's garden thread.

YULE, DECEMBER 21, WINTER SOLSTICE


Yule means "wheel", for now the wheel of the year has reached a turning point, with the longest night of the year. This is the seedpoint of the solar year, mid-winter, time of the greatest darkness when we seek within ourselves to comprehend our true nature. In virtually all Pagan religions, this is the night the Great Mother gives birth to the baby Sun God, because from this day forward, the days begin to lengthen and light is waxing. The Christian religion adopted this theme as the birthday of Jesus, calling it "Christmas". The alternative fixed calendar date, December 25th, called "Old Yule" by some Covens, occurs because before various calendar changes, that was the date of the Solstice.

CANDLEMAS, FEBRUARY 1 or 2


Also called Imbolg, Brigid's Day, Feast of Torches, Lupercalia

Candlemas is a celebration of fertility and light, with the sun waxing its way towards spring. It is a time before the Lord and Lady have joined as one, the Lord is still a child from his birthing at Yuletide. He is growing strong as the year moves towards the greener months. The Goddess is his waiting bride-to-be, still youthful as well.

This is a time for purification, after the long winter months, when we are beginning to be renewed by the sun. Candles should be lit in profusion to signify the returning of the lighter, warmer days of the year, the return of the Sun God. It is also a time for resting and renewing oneself in preparation for the coming Spring. The altar can be bare, except for candles, to signify resting, and to help clear your mind so that you may be fresh for the new season of magick.

White clothes can be worn to celebrate the running lighter days. Foods to eat include dairy products, spiced wines, raisins, or anything like that which is symbolic of the sun.

The Celts dressed up sheaths of grain as brides, and set them in places of honor about their houses in little cradles. Nuts were placed with them to symbolize the fertility of the God.

A quote from Robert Myers regarding the more recent history of Candlemas:
"It is fairly certain that the ceremony with candles is a carryover from the Anchient Roman world. The Feast of Lights (Candlemas) was a holiday of long standing, celebrated on February 1, when lighted torches were carried in procession in a springtime rebirth ritual. According to mythology, Proserpina had been abducted into the underworld by Pluto. The goddess Ceres, her mother, and the candle-bearing celebrants searched for her in the winter darkness, bringing the reviving light of Spring. The old symbolism of the candles and the emergent light was justifiably taken over by the Christian Church. The scred light symbolized the Christ child, who was a light of revelation to the Gentiles..."

OSTARA (around March 21st):

The Spring Solstice, marks the first day of true Spring. It is a time of the awakening of the Earth (The Goddess in her terrestrial aspect), as the sun grows in warmth and power. Pagan rituals of Spring, such as coloring eggs, have survived to this time by being transferred to Easter celebrartions.

BELTANE(April 30th):

At this festival, the young God ventures into manhood. He and the Goddess, his mother and lover, join and produce the bounty of nature. This is nature symbolism. In Wiccan thought, the Goddess and God are united, one--twin halves of a whole. They are dual reflections of the power behind the universe that can never be truly separated. May Day is a time of flowers, maypoles (once an openly sexual symbol), and chains of clover, even among those who don't practive Wicca.

Song of Beltane

I am the calm, I am the quickening
I am the intoxication and the force,
I am the silence, I am the singer
I am the stallion galloping to its source
I am the bright pavillion and the feasting
I am the wedding couple and the bed
I am the morning chorus and the heartbeat
I am the goal to which all paths are led.

MIDSUMMER (June 21st):

This is the point at which the powers of nature (created by the union of the Sun and the Earth) are at their peak. Wiccans gather to celebrate and to practice magick. Huge bonfires may be lit in honor of the Sun.

LUGHNASADH (August 1st):

The beginning of harvest. The God weakens as the first grains and fruits are cut. Lughnasadh is a ritual of Thanksgiving. The American holiday of Thanksgiving is an echo of Pagan European harvest festivals. If the Pilgrims had planted their crops on time, Thanksgiving would more closely correspond to the date of Lughnasadh.

Song of Lughnassadh


I am the sovereign splendor of creation
I am the fountain and the courts of bliss
I am the bright surrender of the willpower
I am the watchful guardian and the kiss
I am the many-colored landcape
I am the transmigration of the geese
I am the burnished glory of the breastplate
I am the harbor where all strivings cease

MABON (September 21st):

The 2nd harvest. The God prepares to leave His life behind Him as the last fruits are gathered to nourish the people of the Earth. The warmth is lessoning day by day.

Sources for the above summary and also for further reading:
"A Victorian Grimoire", by Patricia Tolesco
"Celtic Myth and Magic", By Edain McCoy
"Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner