Samhain – Hallowe’en
31 October; The Witch’s New Year
Samhain is the Witches’ New Year. It is a time when the veils between the worlds are thin. This allows us to communicate with our loved ones who have passed on and our ancestors. We invite them to take part in our celebrations. Witches gather to celebrate the final harvest with family and friends. We leave out offerings of food for our passed on kin.
Today, we see this custom carried on as the giving of treats to children dressed as spirits. To a Witch, this is a powerful magickal time, and not the fearsome time that some other groups would have us believe. It is a time to release the incorrectness in our lives and project for a future of balance, harmony, joy and health. Witches and their children often dress in clothing and costumes to project out these wishes and spells.
For Witches, this is also a time of thanks as we remember all those in the past who fought to win the rights we have today. Many of them paid the ultimate price. We include those who were tortured and killed under the inaccurate definition and description applied to Witches and Witchcraft during the Burning Times. In remembering, we share the knowledge gained from the past and ensure that truth and wisdom will prevail in the future.
Yule – Winter Solstice
This is the longest night of the year. Pagans gather to celebrate the rebirth of the Sun in the sky and draw its fertilizing energy back to the Mother Earth. It is on this night that we look forward to the promise of the coming Spring. The name Yule has been adopted by Western religions for Yuletide or the period of Christmas.
On Imbolc, we become aware that the Sun’s energy is slowly growing stronger. The Earth Mother is slowly awakening under the Sun’s revitalizing energy. At this time, we call to the Mother to accept this energy and use it to bless us and renew the Earth. We call to the young Sun God to empower him and draw his fertilizing energy back into the Mother.
Ostara – Vernal Equinox
The day and night are now equal. As the light takes over the dark we celebrate the fertility of the Earth and the growing of the young Sun God’s energy. In symbolic ritual, the young God is armed with the tools necessary to conquer the darkness as he rides out across the sky. We give thanks for the upcoming light half of the year.
We celebrate the marriage of the God and Goddess. We share in the fertility and growth that it brings into the Earth. We move into a time of community. We open our hearts to other seekers on the path. We also project for growth, belonging, and blessings for all who seek the old ways and all who respect the Witches path.
At this time, we celebrate the Sun at his peak of power. We draw his energy into the Mother Earth for continued growth. We give thanks for the fertility and growth of things both in and around us. We prepare for the subtle changes that start as the Sun’s power begins to wane.
This is the first of the three harvest festivals, the Grain Harvest. We give thanks for the crops and for the fertility of the Earth. We honour the weakening Sun God and give thanks for the seeds and the plants that went through the death process (harvest) in order to be reborn next season.
Mabon – Thanksgiving
Mabon is the Witches’ Thanksgiving. It is the second Harvest Festival of the Witches’ calendar, and it celebrates and gives thanks for the bountiful harvest of fruit, squash, grains, and vegetables.
Witches meet and share celebration feasts with family and friends. Though joyous, this is also a serious time. At Mabon, Witches of many traditions prepare for the season of sleep, the dark time of fall and winter. Witches call to the animal spirits for guidance and insight as we enter this time of inner searching. We prepare to meet our true inner self and grow and further our journey toward self-enlightenment. We undertake this journey so that when we return to the coming cycle of light, the seasons of spring and summer, we can do so in a more peaceful, harmonious and balanced state. Our energies can then touch the community around us and help to promote peace and harmony within it.
Witches often look to mythology for the insights that its symbolism offers. Celtic mythology tells us the story of Mabon Ap Modron (son of Modron) in the Mabinogion. Mabon is stolen from his mother Modron when he is only 3 days old. While Modron grieves for her loss, Mabon, the bright child of promise is hidden or locked away (depending on the version of the myth that you read) in a castle for many years. His rescue becomes a quest for one of Arthur’s knights. Kai, Arthur’s adopted brother, and Gwrhyr, the translator of animal languages, set out to find and rescue Mabon. In their journey, they must seek out many ancient animals, each older and wiser than the one before. They visit a Blackbird, a Stag, an Owl, an Eagle, and a Salmon. Each of these animals symbolizes a part of the journey and the lessons that we must each take and learn until finally, we can emerge from our own self quest transformed after having embraced our own inner child. Our own journey, much like the victorious end of our myth story when Kai and Gwrhyr return to Arthur with the young Mabon after the struggle to set him free, culminates when we emerge from our season of inner searching, into the season of light. We then come into a time when we can share this gained knowledge with others in our community.
The freeing of “Mabon”, our intuition, wisdom and inner child occurs with the aid of “Gwrhyr” our own inner spirit voices and “Kai, the Steward of Sovereignty”, the knowledge of our own personal connection to the energies around us, enabling us to return the “child of promise” our higher self back into the arms of “Modron, the Mother”, the sovereign land that sustains us, so that we may comfort her “grief” the disharmony and destruction of the world with the return of the “young Mabon”, a wiser and stronger and more connected child.