pagan solar holidays Phases of the Moon

Pagan Holidays
celebrating the Wheel of the Year

There are many flavors of modern day Paganism.
All Pagans don't celebrate the same holidays
but the eight Wiccan Sabbats are a lovely model
for anyone who wants to live his or her life attuned to the cycles of Nature.

Yule / Winter Solstice on or near December 21st
Here in the northern hemisphere, nights get longer and days get shorter until the day of the Winter Solstice when the cycle reverses. The word Yule comes from the Norse Jul meaning wheel. On this darkest of nights, the Goddess becomes the Great Mother and once again gives birth to the Sun God. This is a fire festival so celebrate with a Yule log in the fireplace, candles on the table and lights on the tree. Evergreens, holly, ivy and mistletoe, symbols of fertility and everlasting life, remind us that the cold darkness of winter will eventually give way to the warmth & new growth of spring.

Imbolc / Imbolg / Candlemas - February 2nd
Imbolc means, literally, 'in the belly' (of the Mother) and in the womb of Mother Earth new life is truly stirring. The young Sun God is growing and his strength is beginning to be noticeable. If you look closely, you may notice a snowdrop or a crocus pushing its way out of the still-cold earth. This is traditionally a day of purification, of sweeping out the old to make room for the new... both physically and emotionally. Celebrate by lighting LOTS of candles to encourage the young Sun; if you like to make them yourself, this is an auspicious day to do it. As nuts and seeds symbolize new beginnings, enjoy some sesame cookies or nutbread while visualizing yourself co-creating a loving, joyous & prosperous future.

Ostara - Spring Equinox - on or near March 21st
Named for Eostre the Teutonic Goddess of New Life, Ostara is the first day of Spring. Light and darkness are in balance, but the light is growing stronger as days continue to grow longer. The Young Sun God continues to mature and grow; small tender leaves appear on the trees, young buds are swelling and, here in New York, cheerful white and yellow daffodils are already in full bloom. The Life Energies are building quickly now and the very air seems to vibrate with promise. Celebrate by coloring eggs, an ancient symbol of fertility.

Beltaine / Beltane / May Day - May 1
From the Irish Gaelic Bealtaine meaning Bel-fire (the fire of Bel, Celtic God of light) Beltaine is primarily a fertility festival; the Land represented by the Goddess is now ripe and fertile and the Sun God expresses His Love for Her. Celebrate by establishing a woodland or garden shrine and gathering flowers to adorn your living space... and yourself!

Midsummer / Summer Solstice - on or near June 21st
Midsummer is the longest day of the year. It's not harvest time yet, but Mother Nature is impressively lush. The veil between the Faerie realm and our world is thin so don't be surprised if you catch a glimpse of an otherworldly someone on Midsummer's Eve! Celebrate with a bonfire and if you're into herb magick, any plants gathered at this time are particularly powerful. Or just stroll through a park or woodland area and bask in the glory of our natural world.

Lughnasadh / Lammas - August 1
Even though Lughnasadh occurs at the warmest time of the year, it marks the time at which days become noticeably shorter and so is considered the starting point of the autumn quarter of the year. The autumn season contains three harvests, and Lughnasadh is the first of these, the time when the first corn harvest is cut. The name is derived from Lugh (pronounced 'loo'), a Celtic deity of light and wisdom. At Lughnasadh, bread from the first harvest was eaten in thanks. Baking, sharing & eating bread is a wonderful way to celebrate this holiday and if you can, attend a Renaissance Faire, Medieval Festival or Highland Games competition. The jousting matches and caber & sheaf tosses were no doubt inspired by that aggressive war god Lugh :-)

Mabon / Autumn Equinox - on or near September 21
Mabon is the time of the second harvest, when fruits are ready for collection. The land is showing clear signs of the journey towards winter - leaves are beginning to turn and birds are gathering for migration. Mabon is a time to consider which aspects of your life you wish to preserve and which you would prefer to discard. This is the Pagan Thanksgiving, a time to appreciate and enjoy the fruits of your labors. Commemmorate Mabon by making wine, feasting with friends, planting bulbs to bloom in the spring and put out feeders to help those brave birds who don't migrate get through the long winter ahead.

Samhain, All Hallow's Eve, Hallowe'en - October 31
This is the Last Harvest and New Year's Eve to the ancient Celts. Being "between years," it is considered a very magical time, a day when the veil separating the the physical plane and spiritual realms is most permeable. This is a good day to practice divination: scrying, Tarot readings and Rune casting are all particularly effective. The practice of donning costumes... especially scary ones... grew out of the ancient fear of evil spirits passing through the veil along with the benevolent ones and pumpkin carving evolved from the practice of painting hideous faces on gourds to keep "gouls and goblins" away from the home. Samhain is also a day for honoring our ancestors and one of my favorite rituals is the Dumb Supper... laying an extra place at the dinner table for those who have passed over to the Summerlands.

As we contemplate the Wheel of the Year, we come to recognize our own part in the eternal cycle of Life. Here are some excellent books on celebrating Pagan style to help you create your own holiday traditions.

Pagan Holiday Books

Celebrate the Earth: A Year of Holidays in the Pagan Tradition
by Laurie Cabot
A practical guide to earth-centered seasonal celebration with a Celtic Pagan flavor. Beginning at Samhain and progressing through the magickal year, Ms Cabot covers the origins of the holidays and suggestions for personal and group celebration including sample rituals, preparation, garb, herbcraft, spellcraft, magical stones, traditional recipes & crafts.
The Pagan Book of Days: A Guide to the Festivals, Traditions, and Sacred Days of the Year
by Nigel Pennick
This fascinating book is like an ancient cultural and religious almanac combining Celtic, Roman, Egyptian and other traditions. There's literally something to celebrate every day!
Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life
by Pauline Campanelli
12 chapters... one for each month of the year... containing lore, crafts, recipes, magic, and ritual for celebrating the seasons and cycles of life.

Candlemas: Feast of Flames
by Amber K & Azrael Arynn K
A lovely introduction to Imbolg and the Goddess Brigid, with rituals, crafts, and recipes to make this holiday a memorable and meaningful one. There's also a nice big section on making your own candles.
Ostara: Customs, Spells & Rituals for the Rites of Spring
by Edain McCoy
History, legends, lore, spells, rituals, crafts and recipes to inspire your Ostara celebrations & welcome Springtide.

Beltane: Springtime Rituals, Lore and Celebration
by Raven Grimassi
Some spells and rituals, fairy & flower lore and lots of fascinating folk history tracing the origins of the Green Man & Jack-in-the-Green, the May Queen & King, the Hobby Horse and t he Mummers. Some creative craft projects and recipes too: learn to make pentacle hair braids, a May Pole centerpiece and quick-and-easy May Wine.
Sabbat Entertaining
by Willow Polson
Craft projects, seasonal recipes, decorating ideas, & lots of folklore & activities surrounding the Wiccan Sabbats for all ages.

Celebrating the Great Mother
A Handbook of Earth-Honoring Activities for Parents and Children
by Cait Johnson & Maura D. Shaw
Cait and Maura lead you through a year of earth-centered festivals, describing projects, special meals and ways to create family traditions that honor the mystery and sacredness of the circle of seasons. And though the activities in this book are all child-friendly, adults (like me!) love them too :-) Some of my favorites are the home-made rainstick, dream pillow and turnip spirit guide.

The Sabbats: A Witch's Approach to Living the Old Ways
by Edain McCoy
History of the eight witches' Sabbats as celebrated around the world plus lots of practical suggestions on adapting these ancient rites for modern day Pagans celebrations. Includes both solitary and group rituals, with recipes, crafts, and foods, plant, and symbol correspondences for each Sabbat.

Eight Sabbats for Witches
by Stewart Farrar & Janet Farrar
This book of rituals presents detailed celebrations for each of the eight Sabbats based on the Farrars own Book of Shadows. There are also well researched sections on mythology and lore, plus additional rituals for casting a Circle, the Great Rite, Handfasting, and Requiem.

Gardner Tradition: Spells, Rituals and Sabbats
by Robin B. May
I haven't read this one yet but it looks interesting: a book specifically about the Wiccan tradition originated in the 40's and 50's by Gerald Gardner. Celtic in origin, encompassing rituals as practiced in the south of England, Gardnerian Wicca incorporates within its rituals and philosophy ideas first published by Charles Leland (Aradia - Gospel of the Witches).

Halloween: Customs, Recipes & Spells
by Silver RavenWolf
A nice introduction to Samhain past and present that combines scholarship with creativity and sense of fun. It explores the popular holiday of Halloween as well as the more serious and spiritual side of Samhain as Pagan Sabbat. History and lore, spells, rituals, craft ideas and one of the best collection of Samhain recipes I've seen.

The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween: Celebrating the Dark Half of the Year
by Jean Markale & Jon Graham
Jean is a Celtic scholar so if you would like some fascinating insights into how the ancients Celts celebrated this feasting and merrymaking festival, this is the book for you.

The Pagan Book of Halloween
by Gerina Dunwich
Subtitled a Complete Guide to the Magic, Incantations, Recipes, Spells, and Lore, this book is just that. There is plenty of Samhain lore... symbols, rituals, foods, and superstitions... but this mainly a book of practical magic to help you celebrate in Pagan style with rituals, spells, herbs, omens, divinations, recipes and craft ideas.

by Anna Franklin & Paul Mason
Learn about the deity for whom Lammas aka Lughnasad is named as well as Odin, Adonis, and Dionysos, other sacrificial gods whose rites occurred around this time of year. There are also plenty of recipes and spells and inspiration for crafts and games. Since Lugh was a warrior god, Rennaisance Faires & Medieval Festivals with jousting tournaments and Highland Games are especially appropriate at this time of year. This is a wonderful treasure trove of information on perhaps the most obscure of Pagan holidays.

Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth
by Dorothy Morrisson
Explore the Pagan & regional roots to many of our contemporary rituals & celebrations. Includes homemade crafts & gift ideas. seasonal recipes, and a December calendar listing traditions & rituals for every day of the month.

Celebrate the Solstice: Honoring the Earth's Seasonal Rhythms Through Festival and Ceremony
by Richard W. Heinberg
Two books in one. A history of Solstice celebration including Stonehenge, ancient Chinese, Mayan & Native American rites... followed by suggestions on creating your own personal seasonal rituals.

The Wiccan Book of Days: Legend and Lore for Every Day of the Year
by Gerina Dunwich
Each month listing begins with a brief history of the month itself, birthstone, flowers, and astrological signs. Each day has a magickal tidbit such as God/dess observance days, festivals, birthdays, or history. The illustrations are beautiful and give the book an almost "medieval" feeling.

Wiccacraft for Families
by Margie McArthur An excellent reference book for any Pagan,Wiccan or Nature Religion family packed with seasonal recipes, crafts, ritual ideas & lore. Create your own family traditions!

Witch Crafts: 101 Projects for Creative Pagans
by Willow Polson
Learn to make beautiful holiday gifts for your friends & family... or yourself! This book features projects for all ages & skill levels and is beautifully illustrated.

The Magical Household: Empower Your Home With Love, Protection, Health and Happiness
by Scott Cunningham A wonderful little book to help make your home a haven of sacred space and magick, for the holidays or any time.

CDs ~ Pagan Music ~ Goddess Songs ~ Ritual Chants

A Circle Is Cast
by Libana

Chants: Ritual Music
by Reclaiming and Friends (Starhawk)

Goddess Chant
by Shawna Carol

Ancient Mother
by Robert Gass & On Wings Of Song

She Changes
by Moving Breath

Travelling the Sacred Sound Current
Divine Chants & Sacred Tones for Healing & Meditation
by Crystal Voices

Circle Round and Sing
Songs for Family Celebrations in the Pagan Traditions
by Anne Hill

The Best of Pagan Song
by Various Artists

Holiday Gift Ideas & Magickal Tools

Pagan and Cat inspired jewelry
There's also a section on crystal healing & gemstone magic.

Magickal Light Candle Luminaries
Some of the most beautiful votive candle holders I have ever seen, online or off. Designs include Gods and Goddesses; Totem Animals; Fantasy Creatures; Celestial Moons, Stars and Suns; Pagan, Spiritual & Magickal symbols and Celtic and Gothic inspired artwork and some just-for-fun things too. I am addicted to these candle holders :-)

Pagan Greeting Cards
cards for Yule & all the Sabbats... handfastings & other rites of passage
featuring Gods & Goddesses, faeries, Celtic knotwork, animal Totems, zodiac signs & more

T-Shirt King
Celtic, fantasy & tribal designs

Save up to 80% on candles, holders & unique holiday gift sets

Mystical Posters & Art Prints
beautiful pictures of faeries and angels - framing available

Abundant Earth
environmentally sensitive products for those who care about the Earth
home & garden ornaments, hemp products, meditation tools, wildlife feeders, ecosystem games & toys

The Gift Tree
elegant gift baskets featuring gourmet chocolate, fruit, flowers, wine, bonsai trees & more

All Wine Baskets
the best wine, champagne & gourmet cheeses with same day delivery available

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