The 8 Pagan Sabbats

Eight sabbats, or seasonal celebrations, form the foundation of many modern pagan traditions. While there's a rich history behind each one, every sabbat is observed by connecting to nature in some way. From Samhain to Beltane, the annual cycle of seasons known as the Wheel of the Year has been influenced by folklore, history, and magic. 

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Pumpkins And Candles
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The fields are bare, the leaves have fallen from the trees, and the skies are going gray and cold. It is the time of year when the earth has died and gone dormant. Annually on October 31, the sabbat called Samhain presents pagans with the opportunity to once more celebrate the cycle of death and rebirth.

In many pagan and Wiccan traditions, Samhain marks a chance to reconnect with our ancestors and honor those who've died. This is the period when the veil between the earthly world and the spirit realm is thin, allowing pagans to make contact with the dead. 

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Yule, the Winter Solstice

Yule Dinner
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For people of nearly any religious background, the winter solstice is a time to gather with loved ones. Pagans and Wiccans celebrate the solstice as the Yule season, which focuses on rebirth and renewal as the sun makes its way back to the earth.

Focus on this time of new beginnings with your magical workings. Welcome light and warmth into your home and embrace the fallow season of the earth.

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Forge Fire
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Observed during the frigid month of February, Imbolc reminds pagans that spring will come soon. During Imbolc, some people focus on the Celtic goddess Brighid, especially as a deity of fire and fertility. Others concentrate on the cycles of the season and agricultural markers.

Imbolc is a time to harness the magical energy related to the feminine aspects of the goddess, of new beginnings, and of fire. It's also a good season to focus on divination and increasing your own magical gifts and abilities. 

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Ostara, the Spring Equinox

Ostara Altar
Decorate your altar with symbols of the season. Patti Wigington

Ostara is the time of the vernal equinox. Rituals usually observe the coming of spring and the fertility of the land. Pay attention to agricultural changes, such as the ground becoming warmer, and look for the plants to slowly surface from the ground. 

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Beltane Festival
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April's showers have greened the earth, and few celebrations represent the land's fertility as Beltane does. Observed May 1, festivities typically begin the evening before on the last night of April.

Beltane is a celebration that has a long (and sometimes scandalous) history. It's a time when the Earth mother opens up to the fertility god, and their union brings about healthy livestock, strong crops, and new life all around. The magic of the season reflects this. 

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Litha, the Summer Solstice

Stonehenge Litha
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Also called Litha, this summer solstice honors the longest day of the year. Take advantage of the extra hours of daylight and spend as much time as you can outdoors. There are many ways to celebrate Litha, but most focus on the power of the sun. It's the time of year when the crops are growing heartily and the earth has warmed up. Pagans can spend afternoons enjoying the outdoors and reconnecting to nature. 

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Grain Field
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At the height of summer, the gardens and fields are full of flowers and crops, and the harvest is approaching. Take a moment to relax in the heat and reflect on the upcoming abundance of the fall months. At Lammas, sometimes called Lughnasadh, it's time to reap what has been sown throughout the past few months and recognize that the bright summer days will soon come to an end.

Typically the focus is on the early harvest aspect or the celebration of the Celtic god Lugh. It's the season when the first grains are ready to be harvested and threshed, when the apples and grapes are ripe for the plucking, and pagans are grateful for the food we have on our tables. 

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Mabon, the Autumn Equinox

Woman Laying in Autumn Leaves
FilippoBacci / Vetta / Getty Images

During the autumn equinox, the harvest is winding down. The fields are nearly empty because the crops have been plucked and stored for the coming winter. Mabon is the mid-harvest festival, and it is when pagans take a few moments to honor the changing seasons and celebrate the second harvest.

Many pagans and Wiccan spend the equinox giving thanks for what they have, whether it is abundant crops or other blessings. While pagans celebrate the gifts of the earth during this time, they also accept that the soil is dying. They may have food to eat, but the crops are brown and withering up. Warmth has now past, and cold lies ahead during this seasonal shift when there's an equal amount of day and night.

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Your Citation
Wigington, Patti. "The 8 Pagan Sabbats." Learn Religions, Feb. 8, 2021, Wigington, Patti. (2021, February 8). The 8 Pagan Sabbats. Retrieved from Wigington, Patti. "The 8 Pagan Sabbats." Learn Religions. (accessed March 29, 2023).

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