There are eight Sabbats. Four of them are Greater Sabbats: Samhain (SOW-wen), Imbolc (IM-bolk), Beltane (BEL-tayne), and Lughnassad (LOO-nus-uh), also called Lammas. There are also four Lesser Sabbats: Yule, Ostara (oh-STAR-ah), Summer Solstice and Mabon (MAY-bon).
Samhain (October 31)
Samhain is the end of the agricultural year and the beginning of the Celtic year. Celebrations to honor the dead are held on this night. This is also the night when the veil between the living and dead is said to be at its thinnest. Therefore, communication with spirits, divination and scrying are best undertaken during this time.
On a personal level this is a time to rest and reflect on life and your goals. It is the time to get rid of negativity that may stand in the way of future progress.
Symbols and Colors: Pomegranates, apples, pumpkins, cauldron, corn stalks, photos of ancestors, black altar cloth and black or red candles.
Yule (Winter Solstice, around December 21)
Yule is the longest night and the shortest day of the year. It is seen as the rebirth of the Sun God. Fires are lit to welcome the Sun's returning light. A yule log is sometimes burned on this night, with a portion of the log saved each year to light the next years log, symbolizing the rebirth of the Sun God.
On a personal level Yule is a time to begin thinking about what you hope to accomplish in the months to come.
Symbols and Colors: Yule log, cauldron, mistletoe, Yule tree, poinsettia plants, evergreens, red altar clothes and red or green candles.
Imbolc (February 2)
Imbolc is the festival of lights and the celebration of the renewed fertility of Earth. It is celebrated with fires and lit candles. It's a traditional time for covens to initiate new members or for others to do self-dedications.
On a personal level Imbolc is a time to prepare for what you want to accomplish in the months ahead.
Symbols and Colors: Bridget's cross, crown of candles, white flowers, seeds, white, silver or pink altar cloths and white candles.
Ostara (Spring Equinox, around March 21)
Ostara is the Spring Equinox and is the first day of spring. Fertility abounds. It is a time for beginnings. There is balance between the masculine and feminine forces in nature.
On a personal level it is a time to physically and symbolically plant the seeds of what you desire.
Symbols and Colors: eggs, seeds, lilac altar cloth and scented candle.
Beltane (April 30)
Beltane is mainly a fire and fertility festival. The major symbols of this holiday are the Maypole and the cauldron. The Maypole is a phallic symbol, which has seven colored ribbons, tied to it. As the people dance around the Maypole they weave the ribbons around it.
On a personal level this is the time to actively pursue your goals.
Symbols and Colors: Maypole, cauldron, candles, crown of flowers, green altar cloth and candles.
Midsummer (Summer Solstice, around June 21)
Midsummer is the longest day and shortest night. In the past bonfires were a way of celebrating and promoting purification, fertility and love. It is said that one custom of our ancestors was jumping over the fire during this holiday. It was believed that the higher one jumped, the higher the crops would grow.
On a personal level it is a time to nurture goals and efforts.
Symbols and Colors: floating candles, bonfires, a wheel tied with colored ribbons, bright yellow altar cloth and candles.
Lughnasadh (August 1)
Lughnasadh is also known as Lammas. Corn is a big part of rituals at this time. It is the beginning of the harvest and it is a tradition to break bread on this day.
On a personal level, as with the harvest, the fruits of your efforts should start to be evident and you should continue working toward them.
Symbols and Colors: corn, bread, baked goods, brooms, gold colored altar cloth and candles.
Mabon (Autumnal Equinox, around September 21)
Mabon is the second harvest. It is a time to give thanks for all we have and also a time to make sure we keep all that we have gained.
On a personal level give thanks for all you've accomplished and ask for the ability to hold on to it.
Symbols and Colors: corn baba, apples, cornucopias, cauldron, orange-red altar cloth and orange or red candles.