Southern Hemisphere Date: Dec 20-23
Northern Hemisphere Date: June 21
Litha (the Summer Solstice) marks the longest day of the year. During the summer solstice it is the time of the first harvest and the celebration of this bounty.
In times gone by this Sabbat was celebrated with large bonfires, they were burned to promote purification, fertility, and love. To leap over the bonfire was to assure a good crop and to encourage these qualities in themselves. This Sabbat glorifies the Sun God and the Sun, fire plays a very prominent role in this festival. The element of Fire is the most easily seen and felt element of transformation.
Litha comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase Aerra Litha, which means “before Midsummer.” At this time the Goddess is fully pregnant and the Sun God is at the height of his power. Litha is the traditional time for gathering magical and medicinal plants to dry and store for winter use. In Wales, Midsummer is called Gathering Day. Midsummer Night’s Eve has traditionally been a day to perform love and healing magic. This is also a perfect time to communicate with fairies, forest sprites and pixies.
June was said to be the luckiest month to be married in, and is the time of the mead moon, or honey moon. One tradition was for newlyweds to drink mead daily for a month after their wedding, which is why the post wedding holiday was named the honeymoon. Even though the days begin to grow shorter after the Summer Solstice, the time of greatest abundance is still to come. The promises of the Goddess and God are still to be fulfilled.
Most cultures of the Northern Hemisphere mark Midsummer in some ritualised manner, and people past and present acknowledge the rising of the sun on this day. At Stonehenge, the heelstone marks the midsummer sunrise as seen from the centre of the stone circle.
This is a good time for protection magic, empowerment magic, male rituals and becoming in tune with nature spirits. It is a time of bravery, strength and overcoming.
Division: Minor Sabbat
Other Names: Summer Solstice, Midsummer, Alban Hefin, Sun Blessing, Gathering Day, Whit Sunday, Feill-Sheathain, Whitsuntide, Vestalia, Thing-tide, St. John’s Day.
Associated Holiday: Feast of John the Baptist
Associated Deities: Mother Earth, Father Sun and the fairy people
Associated Herbs: Rose, lavender, St John’s Wort, chamomile
Associated Stones: Emerald, jade, Amethyst, opal, quartz, lapis lazuli, malachite, tiger’s eye and diamonds.
Symbols of Litha: Fire, The Sun, Sunflowers love amulets Blades, Mistletoe, Seashells, Oak Trees, Balefires, Sun Wheels and Fairies.
Foods of Litha: Garden fresh fruits and vegetables such as lemons and oranges.
Drinks of Litha: Wine, Lemonade, Meade, Ales, Herbal Teas and fresh fruit juice of any kind
Incense of Litha: Frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, lemon, pine, jasmine, rose, lotus, or wysteria.
Ritual Oils: Heliotrope, Cinnamon, Sandalwood, Lavender, Orange, All Mint Oils, Lemon, Saffron
Colors: of Litha: White, red, maize yellow or golden yellow, green, blue and tan.
Taboos: Giving Away Fire, Sleeping Away from Home, Neglecting Animals.
Plants: Oak, Mistletoe, Frankincense, Lemon, Sandalwood, Heliotrope, Copal, Saffron, Galangal, Laurel, Ylang-Ylang
Activities: All kinds of magic, Create protective amulets, dry herbs
Animals: Robin/Wren, Summer Birds, Horses, Cattle
Mythical Creatures: Satyrs, fairies, Firebird, Dragon, Thunderbird, Manticore
Celebration of: The Goddess is pregnant with the God.
* Put a ring of flowers around your cauldron
* Hang a bundle of fresh herbs out to dry
* Litha is a time for healing of all kinds, and protection rituals
* Make a Wicker Man and burn him in your bonfire.
* Decorate your altar with Rose flowers
* Leave out milk and honey as an offering to the Fae folk
* Make a charm to hang around your neck with a seashell
* Have an outdoor breakfast picnic to welcome the Solstice
* Stay up and watch the sun come up on the longest day of the year, or watch the sun come down
* Take a picture of the sun at sunrise and sunset
* Try a fire divination, stare into the coals of your bonfire as it settles or look for forms in the leaping flames
* Create a ritual to bring healing and love to Mother Earth
* Make protection amulets for friends and family, dispose of last years Litha bonfire
* Light a white candle and place it in front of a mirror. Say your own Litha prayer over it, and then let it burn out
* Burn your remnants of your Yule Tree in the bonfire to burn away bad luck.
* Jump the balefire or cauldron
* Hang a bundle of fresh herbs out to dry and use them to spice up a Litha feast of cooked summer vegetables
* Offer a gift of lavender to the Gods in a bonfire.
* Make staffs, dream pillows or a witches’ ladder
* Go bird watching. Take a guide book, so you will know what you are looking at. The birds may bless you with a feather.
Learn why the Solstices are so important to Witches, and Wiccans. In this book we look into the two annual solstice celebrations: the Midwinter Solstice or Yule, and the Midsummer Solstice or Litha.
Learn more about Litha:
The Litha Altar
Make a Gods’ Eye
Ostara (March 21)
As Spring reaches its midpoint, night and day stand in perfect balance, with light on the increase. The young Sun God now celebrates a hierogamy (sacred marriage) with the young Maiden Goddess, who conceives. In nine months, she will again become the Great Mother. It is a time of great fertility, new growth, and newborn animals.
The next full moon (a time of increased births) is called the Ostara and is sacred to Eostre the Saxon Lunar Goddess of fertility.
The theme of the conception of the Goddess was adapted as the Feast of the Annunciation, occurring on the alternative fixed calendar date of March 25 Old Lady Day, the earlier date of the equinox. Lady Day may also refer to other goddesses (such as Venus and Aphrodite), many of whom have festivals celebrated at this time.
Leafy green vegetables, dairy foods, nuts such as pumpkin, sunflower and pine, flower dishes and sprouts.
Herbs and Flowers:
Daffodil, jonquils, woodruff, violet, gorse, olive, peony, iris, narcissus and all spring flowers.
Jasmine, rose, strawberry, floral of any type.
- Planting seeds or starting a Magickal Herb Garden.
- Taking a long walk in nature with no intent other than reflecting on the Magick of nature and our Great Mother and her bounty.
Make your own Ostara Oil!
•1 part almond oil
•1 part violet oil
•1 part elder oil
•1 part patchouli oil
•1 part lavender oil
Mix in bottle. Anoint on altar and candles.
Beltane time – southern hemisphere
Many Wiccans and Pagans celebrate Beltane. It is one of eight solar Sabbats. This holiday incorporates traditions from the Gaelic Bealtaine, such as the bonfire, but it bears more relation to the Germanic May Day festival, both in its significance (focusing on fertility) and its rituals (such as May pole dancing).
In the northern hemisphere, Beltane is celebrated much earlier to correspond to their seasons. Some traditions celebrate this holiday on May 1 or May Day, whiles others begin their celebration the eve before or April 30th.
Beltane has long been celebrated with feasts and rituals. The name means fire of Bel; Belinos being one name for the Sun God, whose coronation feast we now celebrate. As summer begins, weather becomes warmer, and the plant world blossoms, an exuberant mood prevails. In old Celtic traditions it was a time of unabashed sexuality and promiscuity where marriages of a year and a day could be undertaken but it is rarely observed in that manner in modern times.
In the old Celtic times, young people would spend the entire night in the woods “A-Maying,” and then dance around the phallic Maypole the next morning. Older married couples were allowed to remove their wedding rings (and the restrictions they imply) for this one night. May morning is a magickal time for wild water (dew, flowing streams, and springs) which is collected and used to bathe in for beauty, or to drink for health.
The May pole was a focal point of the old English village rituals. Many people would rise at the first light of dawn to go outdoors and gather flowers and branches to decorate their homes. Women traditionally would braid flowers into their hair. Men and women alike would decorate their bodies. Beltane marks the return of vitality, of passion.
Ancient Pagan traditions say that Beltane marks the emergence of the young God into manhood. Stirred by the energies at work in nature, he desires the Goddess. They fall in love, lie among the grasses and blossoms, and unite. The Goddess becomes pregnant of the God. To celebrate, a wedding feast, for the God and Goddess must be prepared. Let Them guide you!
Breads and cereals are popular. Try oatmeal cakes or cookies sweetened with a dab of honey. Dairy foods are again appropriate; just make a lovely wedding feast and you are sure to enjoy yourself!
An early morning walk through a local park or forest could be fun for everyone. Gather up some plants or flowers to display in your home. Mom and daughter could braid their hair, and weave in a few tender blossoms.
Bwc school of witchcraft
To learn more about Beltane, grab a copy of our School Notes on Beltane
Learn More on Beltane
Pagan Festival Etiquette
It’s no secret that Pagans love a good festival. At certain times of the year, there are public events all over the world for Wiccans, Heathens, Druids, and other Pagans to attend.
It can be a little intimidating to attend a festival for the first time. Here are a few basic guidelines you should follow when you attend a public event. Let’s look at some Dos and Don’ts for going to a festival.
What is NOT COOL
- Do NOT take pictures of someone without their permission. Many Pagans are still in the broom closet, and that’s their choice. If you want to take a photo of a friend, make sure there’s no one in the background who can be identified, unless you’ve checked to make sure it’s okay first.
- Don’t touch other people’s stuff. Most people are very particular about the handling of their magical tools. To pick up someone’s wand or athame and gush about how nice it is… well, it’s a HUGE breach of protocol. This rule also applies to drums and other musical instruments – many drums are consecrated as magical tools by their owners. Ask permission before touching anything.
- Don’t argue with vendors about the worth of their merchandise. Believe me, there’s nothing worse than knowing a person spent literally weeks crafting a beautiful object, and then seeing someone haggle because they don’t think it’s worth it. It’s one thing if you’re short on cash, but don’t ever tell an artisan that their time and skill is valueless.
- Don’t be late. Unfortunately, the notion of Pagan Standard Time has become more and more of an issue — the idea that all Pagans show up twenty minutes late. That’s unacceptable if you’re attending a scheduled workshop or class. When a presenter is in the middle of a session and half the group saunters in late, it’s practically a guarantee that the organizers won’t get that person back next year.
- Don’t throw anything into a ritual fire unless you are specifically told it’s okay to do so. It’s not a place for you to toss your trash, and certain herbs can cause allergic reaction in some people. If there’s something you’d like to add to a fire, ask one of the fire handlers if it’s okay to do it.
- Don’t complain about a lack of volunteer personnel. Volunteers are just that — volunteers! If an event is short of them, then it’s because not enough people were willing to donate their time and energy. Instead of complaining, offer to help out with future events.
- Don’t interrupt people who want privacy. It’s not uncommon to see someone meditating, alone, at a huge festival. If you stumble across such a person, don’t bother them. Respect their need for solitude.
- Don’t show up intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. If an event is held in a public place, you could find yourself ejected for disruptive behavior. Remember, you’re entitled to have a good time, but you’re not entitled to ruin everyone else’s fun.
- Don’t disregard personal hygiene. A number of readers have commented that a gallon of patchouli oil is no substitute for a shower and a bit of deodorant. If you’re at a multi-day campout, in particular, try to be considerate and wash up regularly.
What you CAN do at a Pagan Festival
- Bring your own supplies. If you know ahead of time you’re going to be attending a workshop or class, bring your own craft supplies, magical tools, divination materials or notebook/pencil when possible.
- Be respectful of presenters. If you’re attending a seminar or lecture, bear in mind that the presenters often are giving their time as a donation — or that the organizers had to shell out a good amount of money to book them — and many drive long distances to come share their knowledge with you. Don’t monopolize their time, and don’t talk during their class. Save the chit-chat for afterwards.
- Make a donation. Nearly every Pagan festival is put on by non-profit groups, which means they have to pay for the site rental, food, entertainment, and presenters all out of donations. If you have a chance to toss a few dollars in a pot, do so.
- Bring enough food for yourself. No one wants to have to go around begging the last three days of a campout because they’ve run short. The bigger problem is that other people will have enough for themselves, but if they share with you, then THEY run short. Plan ahead and bring a little more than you think you’ll need.
- Pay attention to rules regarding nudity. Some events are clothing-optional, and if they are, they’ll say so. However, just as many festivals take place in locations that forbid nudity, such as public parks or beaches. Also, in many cases organizers don’t want any nudity because they’re trying to promote a “family friendly” atmosphere. While there’s nothing wrong with nudity, not everyone wants their child to see total strangers naked.
- Be respectful of others’ beliefs. You may be pretty certain that your version of Wicca is the best one, but you don’t have to belittle the beliefs of other paths in the process. That includes being respectful of non-Pagan paths such as Christianity.
- Do practice safe sex. If you’re going to hook up with someone you met at a festival, please do so responsibly.
- If you bring your children, please keep an eye on them. It may be difficult and you may have to miss a couple of workshops, but they’re your kids. If you can’t watch them at the event, find a sitter.
- If you’re asked to do something by a festival or event coordinator, please do it. These people are volunteers, and if one of them asks you to help out in the kids’ area (assuming your kids are present and enjoying the festivities too) for an hour, or carry a bag of trash to a dumpster, help out and take care of it. It will free them up to do what they’re supposed to be doing – coordinating.
Division: Minor Sabbat
Other Names: Madron, Autumn Equinox, Harvest Home, Pagan Thanksgiving, Fall Equinox, Second Harvest, Festival of Dionysus, Wine Harvest, Alban Elfed, Cornucopia
Southern Hemisphere Date: March 20-23
Northern Hemisphere Date: September 21
Associated Holiday: Thanksgiving (Second Harvest)
Associated Deities: Mabon, Madron, Persephone, Demeter.
Associated Herbs: Marigold, Sunflowers, Hibiscus, Rose petals, Myrrh.
Associated Stones: Sapphire, lapis lazuli, Amber, Clear quartz, Tigers Eye, Citrine, and yellow agates.
Symbols of Mabon: wine, gourds, pine cones, acorns, grains, corn, apples, pomegranates, vines such as ivy, dried seeds, and horns of plenty.
Foods of Mabon: Breads, nuts, apples, pomegranates, and vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and onions.
Drinks of Mabon: Wine, Ale and Cider
Incense of Mabon: Autumn Blend-benzoin, myrrh, and sage.
Ritual Oils: Apple Blossom, Hay/Straw, Black Pepper, Patchouly
Colors: of Mabon: Red, orange, russet, maroon, brown, and gold.
Taboos: Passing Burial Sites and not honoring the dead.
Plants: Vines, Ivy, Hazel, Cedar, Hops, Tabacco
Animals: Dogs, Wolves, Stags, Birds of Prey (especially the Blackbird, Owl and Eagle), Salmon and Goat
Mythical Creatures: Gnomes, Sphinx, Minotaurs, and Cyclops
Celebration of: The God now sleeps within the womb of the Goddess.
Mabon (MAY-bon), one of the Lesser Sabbats, is the second harvest festival and is held on the autumn equinox to celebrate the last fruits of the year. Like the Spring Equinox, it is a time of balance between dark and light. At this time we are moving from light to darkness, from warmth to cold, we are gathering the harvest of summer to prepare for the winter months.
This is the second of the three harvest festivals, the ripe grain is being reaped from the fields. Vegetable season is ending and the fall fruits, such as apples, are ready to pick. This is a time to celebrate with feasts and thanksgiving.
An equinox is an astronomical point, and due to the fact that the earth wobbles on its axis slightly, the date may vary by a few days, depending on the year. The autumnal equinox occurs when the sun crosses the equator on its journey southward, during this time we experience a day and a night that are of equal duration. Up until Mabon, the hours of daylight have been greater than the hours from dusk to dawn. But from now on, the reverse takes place.
The Sabbat of Mabon is named for the Child of Light and the son of the Great Mother, Modron. Mabon, the son of Modron, was stolen from his mother only three nights after his birth at the beginning of time. The Great Mother grieved for her son and the world became dark and cold. During her mourning plants withered and died, and the animals, fat from the summer fruits, slept in their caves to protect themselves from the coming winter.
Mabon is eventually found, with the help of the wisdom and memory of the Oldest Animals – the Blackbird, the Stag, the Owl, the Eagle and the Salmon. The battle to release the Child of Light is not an easy one, and will take months to complete. Ever since Mabon was stolen, the seasons of cold and darkness prevail in sync with the grieving Mother Earth, feeling the loss of Her child. Because Modron’s child is imprisoned deep within the earth, the plants and animals of earth slow down and move inward. Mabon is eventually found, although he will not be released until Yule, when the days again begin to grow longer. At Yule, Mabon is reborn as the Child of Promise and the Son of Light.
The Druids call this celebration, Mea’n Fo’mhair, and honor the The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees. Offerings of ciders, wines, herbs and fertilizer are appropriate at this time. Wiccans celebrate the aging Goddess as she passes from Mother to Crone, and her consort the God as he prepares for death and re-birth.
Mabon is a time of celebration and balance, it is a time to finish the old and to ready ourselves for a period of rest, relaxation, and reflection.
* Celebrate this festival with a feast shared with family or Coven members.
* Private Meditation on the meanings of Mabon.
* Take a walk outside and enjoy the cooling weather.
* Eat a meal of fruits and vegetables of the season.
* Arrange baskets of fresh fruit for friends or family
* Fill a bowl with fruits and leave it as an offering to the gods
* Make a protection charm of hazelnuts strung on red thread
* Hang dried ears of corn on the front door, doorposts, or outside light fixture.
* Fill a basket with pine cones, colorful dried leaves, wheat, acorns, and fallen pine branches and leave it by your door
* Serve a Mabon meal, wine with some sort of soup with carrots, onions, potatoes, radishes, and/or corn
* Collect milkweed pods to decorate at Yuletide and attract the fairies.
* Make wine
* It is a good time to walk the forests, gathering dried plants for use as altar decorations or herbal magic.
* Go to an Autumn Festival.
* Make a witch’s broom.
* Make magic Apple Dolls
* Gather autumn leaves in bright colors.
Division: Major Sabbat
Other Names: Lammas, Lughnasad, Lugnassad, Lunasa, Lughnasa, Festival of Green Corn, First Harvest, Ceresalia, August Eve, Elembiuos, Feast of Cardenas
Southern Hemisphere Date: Feb 2
Northern Hemisphere Date: August 1
Associated Holiday: First Harvest
Associated Deities: Ceres, Demeter, the Corn Mother, Lugh, the Green Man
Associated Herbs: All herbs and grains
Associated Stones: Carnelian, Yellow Diamonds, Aventurine, Peridot, Citrine, and Sardonyx, golden topaz, opal, citrine and ametrine.
Symbols of Lughnasadh: Sickles and scythes, Weapons, Armors, Corn dolls, Grapes, and Wine
Foods of Lughnasadh: Corn, Potatoes, homemade bread, nuts, rice, apples, berry pies, barley cakes, roasted lamb, Grains, acorns, oats, crab apples, squash, turnips and Berries.
Drinks of Lughnasadh: Elderberry Wine, Mead, Ale, Meadowsweet Tea, and Cider
Incense of Lughnasadh: Aloes, Rose, Sandalwood.
Ritual Oils: Eucalyptus, Corn, Safflower
Colors: of Lughnasadh: Red, orange, gold, and yellow. Also green, citrine and gray.
Taboos: Not Sharing Food
Plants: Corn, Rice, Wheat, Ginseng, Rye
Activities: Share a feast with family or covern members, plant seeds, and bake bread
Animals: Roosters, Calves, and Pigs (sows in particular)
Mythical Creatures: Griffins, Basilisks, Centaurs, and Phoenix
Celebration of: A Festival of not only life and bounty, but of harvest and death, the complete cycle of life. Feast dedicated to Earth Mother. Give thanks for what you have.
Lughnassad (LOO-nus-uh), also called Lammas, is known as one of the Greater Sabbats, it marks the beginning of the fall harvest. This is the festival of Lugh, a Celtic God of Light, Fire and God of crafts and skills. As fall approaches and the hours of sunlight begin to shrink, the God begins to lose his strength. At this time the Goddess is already pregnant with the God, who will be reborn again at Yule.
In Lughnassad we celebrate the fruits of the Sun Gods and Mother Earth’s bounty. Their labours are everywhere, in the vegetables, plums, onions, garlic and especially herbs which now will be at their most potent and which will be used in our magical practices.
Lughnassad is also known as the Feast of Bread, because baking is traditional on this day. The name Lammas, comes from an old English festival, the loaf mass, which was held on this date. Wiccans often hold feasts in honour of the holiday because everything is so plentiful at this time of the year.
It is a time not only to think about the fruits of the Sun God and Mother Earth, but also about our own personal harvest. A time when we think about what has happened in our lives and let go of anger, injustice, hates, and past regrets, enabling us to move forward to plant our own new seeds.
* Bake a loaf of bread
* Place an ash leaf under your pillow for prophetic dreams
* Decorate sheaves of grain with flowers or ribbons
* Leave offerings of bread to the Fairy Folk.
* Leave offerings of bread or wine for the pregnant goddess, and the Sun God.
* Share a feast with family or coven members
* Eat a meal of fruits and vegetables of the season.
* Private Meditation on the meanings of the season.
* If you have a spring or well in your area, bless it and decorate it with flowers.
* Float flowers at a local creek or pond
* Plant the the seeds from the fruits consumed during the feast.
* Celebrate the first harvest by eating a meal with foods of the season, such as grain and corn.
* Bless your garden, vegetables, fruits, and grains.
* Gather the tools of your trade and bless them in order to bring a richer harvest next year.
* Sacrifice bad habits and unwanted things from your life by throwing symbols of them into the Sabbat fire.
* Harvest fruits from your garden
* Play a game such as rhibo (a Welsh game) which is traditionally played at Lammas. Three pairs of people face each other and hold hands. A person is then laid across the hands and tossed into the air in much the same way grain is winnowed. For little ones use a blanet with two adults holding the corners. Be sure to be careful not to “toss” anyone too high!!!
* Begin gathering and drying herbs, flowers, grains or seeds for spellworking in the next year.