The first step in learning more about and experiencing the Sabbats is to begin collecting information about each of the Sabbats as they occur. Look in books or on the internet and explore how differently people celebrate the same Sabbat. If you have the opportunity to attend an open celebration, go!
There is no replacement for actual experience of the energy of the Sabbat. This is not an experience that is contemplative in nature (although a pathworking or meditation may be incorporated into the ritual). This is a time to “feel” the change in seasons, the cycles of the solstices and equinoxes and move in the direct flow of that energy.
Write down all that you discover with the intent that as time progresses you will be open to new ways of celebrating using what resonated with you most as the foundation you build upon.
As you begin to attune to the energies of the Wheel and craft your own ways of marking the turning of the seasons, you can look back on the things that worked, those that did not offer any deeper insight and form your own foundation of practice. Most importantly, by recording your experiences during the time of that Sabbat, you can begin to connect more deeply to your own personal rhythms throughout the year.
NOTE: Today marks the celebration of Lughnasadh (Lammas) in the Northern Hemisphere (and Imbolc in the Southern Hemisphere) so there will be ample written material and events that you may be able to attend.
Read the Lammas articles I have written for WitchVox here:
(Painting Credit: Walter Crane- The Masque of the Four Seasons)
Can You Feel It?
This exercise is one that will be ongoing. The goal is to develop a sense of awareness as the seasons change and then apply that energy to deepening your celebration and connections to the Sabbats. We recently celebrated Lammas and the first harvest. Although this would by mundane standards be considered Late Summer, can you feel the stream of cooler air that is the undercurrent for even the most hot and humid of days? This was not there a month ago! Have you noticed that the flowers are beginning to pale in their vibrancy and there may even be some brown leaves forming on still very green trees? There is a specific smell to the Fall and the a certain feeling of internal body clock that begins to slow us down as we sleep a little deeper and become tired more easily. All in cycle with the slowing of life and growth as winter sets in and for some animals hibernation begins.
Now if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you would be experiencing the reverse. The cold that has permeated is woven with gentle currents of warmer air and the freshness of Spring is already carried on the cold winds. You have celebrated Imbolc and the burgeoning light offering up thanks for the hearth fires of winter’s care and Brighid’s blessing of young animals, flowing milk and hope! Anticipation hangs deep in you and the desire to be out of doors makes you restless as you can almost taste the early summer air approaching.
These ways of opening ourselves to the cycles of the seasons, attuning to the astronomical events of equinox and solstice and aligning more fully with the Natural World. The more you pause to take note of these subtle changes the more expansive your sensorial vocabulary will become in knowing precisely where you are in the cycle, devoid of calendar and contrived seasonal parameters. If you have a camera, take pictures of what you notice. Keep a journal, dedicate a weekly contemplative practice to a walking meditation or outdoor being fully present.
A word to the wise…. Once you begin this process and establish those subtle lines of communication, it will never leave you in terms of being “awake and aware” of the world around you. You may leave the Wiccan Path for another spiritual journey. You may immerse yourself in technology, city and nothing constructed of the natural world, but there will always be the undercurrent of your natural self that “knows” the way of the seasons and the Sabbats. It will inform you even when you do not desire its knowledge and it will glow within you like a touchstone unlocking all the mysteries of your own sense of being. Enjoy!
A Pathworking of the Season
This pathworking will take you on a journey through the energy of the Sabbats as the Great Wheel Turns. This is yet another way of experiencing them with not all in the traditional format or way that is commonly celebrated.
How to use this pathworking: Take a first read through just to familiarize yourself with the points of transition. I have them separated for the sake of your identification of the Sabbats; but the intent is for them to flow one to the other as you read through them in contemplative space. Be sure to set aside adequate time to fully engage with the pathworking, preferably in a space that is not too noisy and where you will not be disturbed. A handy trick with a pathworking such as this is to actually record yourself reading it through (slowly speaking in calm voice) and then play it back as you sit meditating.
Enjoy your journey!
A Pathworking of the Seasons
Crafting Your Own Celebrations
There are as many ways to celebrate the Sabbats as there are those to celebrate them. My first suggestion is always that if you have access to a public/open ritual- go. Even if you are a Solitary Practitioner, this is an excellent way to experience first hand the way in which a group celebration is crafted and enjoy community as well.
There are several books available, some which are Sabbat specific that offer a complete picture of the energy, intent and suggestions for creating your own ritual. When I first began as a Solitary Witch, Scott Cunningham’s book- WICCA: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner was my source of inspiration. I followed the rituals outlined and from those experiences learned alternate ways to make them more relevant and personal to what my intent was. The other book that I often referred to was Laurie Cabot’s- Celebrate the Earth: A Year of Holidays in the Pagan Tradition.
A very simple way to begin a celebration tradition is to start with food. This is something that naturally connects you to the land from which you have gathered your ingredients (whether grocery store or garden) and the people you share it with. Crafts such as creating a cron dolly for Imbolc or Yule wreath for the Winter Solstice can serve as both seasonal decoration and have deeper meaning. Altars are a wonderful way of setting up a space of celebration for the Sabbat and a simple ritual of lighting candles, enjoying a meal lovingly prepared with Seasonal foods and offering up gratitude that is in keeping wit the Spirit of the celebration can be very powerful ways to connect. As the seasons turn I’ll be offering bonus posts with ideas to incorporate into your celebration.
Remember that the celebration and devotion you offer up to the Path and the Gods and Goddesses you work with is within you. Everything else is simply icing on the cake.
More Sabbat Reading:
Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth by Dorothy Morrison
Imbolc: Creating New Pagan Family Traditions by Jodi Lee
Ostara: Customs, Spells and Rituals for Celebration of the Season by Edain McCoy
Beltane by Raven Grimassi
Midsummer: Magical Celebrations of the Summer Solstice by Anna Franklin
Lammas: Celebrating the Fruits of teh First Summer Harvest by Anna Franklin
Autumn Equinox: The Enchantment of the Mabon by Ellen Dugan
A Witch’s Halloween: The Complete Guide to Magick, Incantation, Recipes and Spells by Gerina Dunwich