General Information about the Sabbats
There are 8 Sabbats that are celebrated by Wicca and many Pagans in the year. They start with Yule and end with Samhain. Samhain is considered the end of the year or by some the New Year eve. Others say that the New Year begins with Yule and that the time between Samhain and Yule is the dark time. The Sabbats are divided into the Greater Sabbats and the Lesser Sabbats. The Greater Sabbats are Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. The Lesser Sabbats are Yule, Ostara, Litha and Mabon. In other words, Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox. Pagan Paths, other than Wicca, may use different names for these4 Sabbats or not celebrate them at all. They may celebrate on different dates and what they celebrate may be different from what Wiccans celebrate. This is the beauty of the diversity of Paganism.
Let me first talk about where the Wicca Sabbats come from. Wicca was first established by a British man named Gerald Gardner and thus when he talked about the Sabbats he was talking about when they occur and is celebrated in the British Isles. Thus, the original meanings and dates celebrated for those Sabbats were in relationship to the weather in the British Isles. This doesn’t mean that you can’t adjust your celebration to your area, this is just the background information about them and why we tend to talk about them in certain ways that may not actually match up to your weather and traditions.
So, is it important to celebrate the Sabbats on the dates that we have listed in our witchy calendars? No. It is generally accepted that there is a five-day window when you can celebrate each Sabbat. Also, some of the Sabbats have alternate days that correspond with astrological significance that we might celebrate them on. This is because the Greater Sabbats are ancient and the Ancients didn’t have calendars like what we have now. They determined the dates for their celebrations by the stars and planets. There are also those that celebrate according to the actual seasonal growing cycle of their area; this because each Sabbat relates to the growing cycle of the earth. This is also why the Northern Hemisphere celebrates on certain calendar dates or times of the year each Sabbat and the Southern Hemisphere celebrates these same Sabbats at totally different times of the calendar year because the Southern Hemisphere’s seasons are opposite to the Northern Hemisphere’s seasons.
So, it is perfectly acceptable for you to celebrate your Sabbats according to your area’s weather and your traditions. It is difficult to celebrate a holiday that you don’t understand or believe in. Yes, it’s a good idea to understand where the Sabbats came from and their original meanings in Wicca, but that shouldn’t stifle your inner self. The Sabbats should have a personal meaning to you. And when they have a personal meaning to you so do the Deities that you attach to each Sabbat.
Wicca isn’t about following the leader blindly. It’s about a personal spiritual experience and you can’t do that if you don’t make each part of it personal. Yes, you can borrow from any culture you wish, but that is your choice, thus personal, and that is what is important.
If you choose to join a coven then you are choosing to follow their traditions. But again that is your choice. But as a solitary practitioner you are choosing to make your own choices. You might start out following the traditions of your teacher or mentor. That is fine, you have to start somewhere. But as you grow in your practice, you might find that you wish to follow a different tradition and that is fine too. Follow your heart and meditate on it and you can’t go wrong.
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