Category Archives: Sabbats

Litha – June 21st

Litha is the Summer Solstice. It occurs on or about the 21st of June, when the Sun enters zero degrees Cancer, thereby marking MidSummer. On this longest day of the year, the Sun God is at the peak of his power. Like Samhain, Litha is a day when the boundaries between the worlds are thin, when mortals have strange experiences, and when otherworlders travel in our plane.

Litha is also the traditional time of year to harvest your herbs and flowers, especially St. John’s wort, either to hang in your home as protection or to tie onto the wicker man as a symbol of a wish that you want carried into the next world. Ideally, you should cut your herbs with a scythe or boline, by moonlight, and chant the appropriate purpose for which each plant will be used. Leave an offering for the rest of the plant, don’t harvest more than a third of the plant – the rest will remain healthy and vigorous.

Beltane was the festival of union between the God and Goddess, and so it was seen as unlucky to marry in May. But often as a result of the Beltane festivities, many young maidens found they weren’t maidens any more, and indeed were on their way to becoming mothers! Because of this, June became a popular month for marriage. The Full moon in June is called the ‘Honey Moon’, because it as this time that honey is harvested from bee hives. The night after marriage thus became the ‘Honeymoon’.

Made from Honey, Mead is the traditional drink for Summer Solstice, and an excellent recipe for making mead can be found here.

If you don’t want to make mead, here is a simpler recipe for

Honey Apple iced tea:
4 black tea bags

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 cups unsweetened apple juice
  • 3 cups boiling water
  • lemon slicesMakes 6 to 8 servings
    In a 2 quart pot, brew tea bags in boiling water. Remove bags, add
    honey and apple juice. Stir well. Pour over ice.

Beltane – May 1st

“The May-pole”

The May-pole is up,
Now give me the cup;
I’ll drink to the garlands around it:
But first unto those
Whose hands did compose
The glory of flowers that crown’d it.

A health to my girls,
Whose husbands may Earls
Or Lords be, (granting my Wishes)
And when that ye wed
To the bridal bed,
Then multiply all, like fishes.

Robert Herrick (1591 – 1674)

“Beltane” meaning “bright fire” is also known as May Eve, May Day and Walpurgis Night. It is the midpoint between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice.

  • Beltane herbs: Almond, Belladonna, Clover, Frankincense, Hawthorn
  • Beltane colors: Red, white, green, dark yellow, all the colors of the rainbow!
  • Beltane offerings: sacred wood and dried herbs burned in Beltane fires
  • Beltane is a time to honor Artemis/Diana,Pan, Bel, Creiddylad.

It is the celebration of the glory of spring at its height – a festival of sensuality and fertility. The God and Goddess are represented by the May King and Queen, and the tradition of dancing ’round the maypole represents their unity – the pole being the God and the ribbons the Goddess, wrapped around him.

Some covens choose this sabbat to go Skyclad, so make sure you check and are comfortable with the dress (or undress) code before attending!

It is also traditional to perform the Great Rite to bless your land on May’s Eve.

Beltane is a fun festival, usually associated with lots of singing and dancing, fire jumping and raucous behavior – it was seen as a brief respite from toil when winter was now only a memory and the summer and harvests were but a few months away. It is the last of the Spring fertility festivals and the most joyous.

Beltane Recipes

One of the traditional meats that was served at Beltane feasts in the lands of the ancient Celts was most likely pork.
In fact sheep are still the predominant livestock in Ireland of today. Apples are also a popular fruit of Beltane.
So I hope that you enjoy the recipe below.

Pork Tenderloin with Potatoes and Apples

3 whole, boneless fresh pork tenderloins, about 1 3/4 lbs.
Salt to taste, if desired
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tbsp. corn, peanut or vegetable oil
1 tsp. dried or chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 onion, about 1/4 lb., peeled and cut in half crosswise
8 red, waxy potatoes, about 1 lb.
2 Golden Delicious apples
1/4 c. fresh or canned chicken broth
2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Sprinkle the tenderloins with salt and pepper. Put the corn oil in a pan large enough to hold the whole tenderloins in one layer. Sprinkle with rosemary and turn the pork in the mixture to coat it all over. Place on top of the stove. Arrange the onion, cut side down, around the pork. Heat the pork, turning to make certain the pieces do not stick. Cook until the pieces are lightly browned all over. Place them in the oven.
3. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and put them in a saucepan with water to cover and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes.
4. Peel, core and quarter the apples as the potatoes cook.
5. Drain the potatoes and arrange them around the meat. Turn the pork and continue baking for total of 30 minutes.
6. At the end of that time, scatter the apple quarters around the meat and return the pan to the oven. Continue baking 15 minutes.
7. Remove the meat to a warm serving platter. Add the broth to the pan. Stir and bring to a boil about 5 minutes; remove from heat. Cut the pork into crosswise pieces and serve with the potatoes, apples and the sauce spooned over. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley. Yield: 4 to 6 servings. courtesy of

Another great idea for dinner on Beltane is mead. But since it is alcoholic it is not always acceptable to everyone and is off limits to kids. So why not try a non-alcoholic mead?

Soft (non-alcoholic) Mead
4 cups spring water
1 cup honey
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 lemon, sliced
1 orange, sliced

Bring the water, honey, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon to a boil in a non-metallic pan. Stir until honey is dissolved; heaviness should disappear from bottom of the pan. Use wooden spoon to skim off skin that forms at top of brew. Add lemon and orange slices, squeezing as they are placed in the pan. Cool completely; strain. Store in bottle in refrigerator. courtesy of

Ostara – The return of Spring and New Life!

OSTARA (pronounced O-STAR-ah, also known as Lady Day or Alban Eiler) is one of the Lesser Sabbats, and is usually celebrated on the Vernal or Spring Equinox around March 21. Other names by which this Sabbat may be known are Oestara, Eostre’s Day, Rite of Eostre, Alban Eilir, Festival of the Trees, and Lady Day. The Christian holiday of Easter is very near this same time, and is determined as the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox. The theme of the conception of the Goddess was adapted as the Feast of the Annunciation, occurring on the alternative fixed calendar date of March 25 – Old Lady Day, the earlier date of the equinox. Lady Day may also refer to other goddesses (such as Venusand Aphrodite), many of whom have festivals celebrated at this time.

The ancient Saxons celebrated the return of spring with an uproarious festival commemorating their goddess of offspring and of springtime, Eostre (aka Eastre and Ostara). Second-century Christian missionaries encountered the tribes of the north with their pagan celebrations and attempted to convert them to Christianity. As it happened, the pagan festival of Eastre occurred at the same time of year as the Christian observance of the Resurrection of Christ. It made sense to the christian church, therefore, to alter the festival itself, to make it a Christian celebration as converts were slowly won over. The early name, Eastre, was eventually changed to its modern spelling, Easter.

In the Pagan Wheel of the Year, this is the time when the great Mother Goddess, again a virgin at Candlemas, welcomes the young Sun God unto her and conceives a child of this divine union. The child will be born nine months later, at Yule, the Winter Solstice.
The Great Rite, symbolic of the sexual union between God and Goddess began to be enacted on Ostara. The positive effect of this rite, a form of sympathetic magic helped to bring fertility to the land and people and the animals.

Easter Eggs

In ancient times the return of the birds meant an important protein source had returned. The ability to find eggs in the fields and forest often meant the difference between health and hunger in the lean days before the harvest.

The festival of the Thesmophoria – sometimes called the Eleusinian Mysteries – lasted between three and ten days. Each day of the festival had a different name and included specific rituals.

A highlight of the festival was a procession from Athens to Eleusis which was led by a crowd of children known as ephebi. The ephebi assisted in carrying the hiera (sacred objects) including an egg (Easter eggs), and in pulling a statue of Dionysus as a boy (Iacchos). The children also assisted in the ceremonial cleansing of the initiates (candidates of the mystery religion) in the sea.

Upon arriving at Eleusis the women organized the first day of the celebration (anodos) by building temporary shelters and electing the leaders of the camp. On the second day (nesteia) they initiated the Greater Mysteries which, according to myth, produced the cult’s magical requests (a fertile harvest). Such mysteries included a parody of the abduction and rape of Persephone, and the positioning of the female devotees upon the ground weeping (in the role of Demeter for her daughter), and fasting for the return of Persephone (the return of spring). The setting upon the ground and fasting was also intended to mystically transfer the “energies” of the women into the ground, and thus into the fall seeds. Not suprisingly, the festival was held during the time of the fall planting, so as to nearly guarantee a positive response to the cult’s magic.

On the fifth day of the festival the participants drank a special grain mixture called kykeon (a symbol of Persephone) and ate Easter (Ostara) eggs in an attempt to assimilate the spirit of the goddess. The idea was to produce an incarnated blessing of fertility, both of the crops and of children.

Instructions for an Ostara Egg Hunt

  • Make natural egg dyes from herbs.Color hard boiled eggs and add symbols for the Fertility God, the Goddess, the Sun God, unity, fire, water, agriculture, prosperity and growth, strength and wisdom, spring, love and affection, and protection.
  • Consecrate the eggs:In the name of the Goddess of Spring, (name); and the ever-returning God of the Sun, (name); By the powers of the four elements — earth, air, fire, and water; I do consecrate these eggs of Ostara..Point the athame at the eggs, make the sign of the pentagram, and see the energy flow through the blade into the eggs, and say:

    New life lies within as new life shall enter the soil. Let those who seek this life find it and consume it, for all life feeds on life.
    The eggs may be hidden and an Ostara Egg Hunt commences.


    Key actions to keep in mind during this time in the Wheel of the Year include openings and new beginnings. Spellwork for improving communication and group interaction are recommended, as well as fertility and abundance. Ostara is a good time to start putting those plans and preparations you made at Imbolc into action. Start working towards physically manifesting your plans now. The most common colors associated with Ostara are lemon yellow, pale green and pale pink. Other appropriate colors include grass green, all pastels, Robin’s egg blue, violet, and white.

    Stones to use during the Ostara celebration include aquamarine, rose quartz, and moonstone. Animals associated with Ostara are rabbits and snakes. Mythical beasts associated with Ostara include unicorns, merpeople, and pegasus. Plants and herbs associated with Ostara are crocus flowers, daffodils, jasmine, Irish moss, snowdrops, and ginger.

    For Ostara incense, you could make a blend from any of the following scents or simply choose one… jasmine, frankincense, myrrh, dragon’s blood, cinnamon, nutmeg, aloes wood, benzoin, musk, African violet, sage, strawberry, lotus, violet flowers, orange peel, or rose petals.


    Foods in tune with this sabbat include eggs, egg salad, hard-boiled eggs, honey cakes, first fruits of the season, fish, cakes, biscuits, cheeses, honey and ham. You may also include foods made of seeds, such as sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds, as well as pine nuts. Sprouts are equally appropriate, as are leafy, green vegetables.

    Herbs & Flowers

    Daffodil, Jonquils, Woodruff, Violet, Gorse, Olive, Peony, Iris, Narcissus and all spring flowers.

    Special Activities

  • Planting seeds or starting a Magickal Herb Garden.
  • Taking a long walk in nature with no intent other than reflecting on the Magick of nature and our Great Mother and her bounty.
  • Make hot cross buns to honor the union of the earth and the sun for Spring. Slash the “X” with the bolline and bless the cakes.
  • Toss crushed eggshells into the garden and say:For fairy, for flowers, for herbs in the bowers, The shells pass fertility with springtime flowers.
  • Wear green clothing.
  • Eat an egg you have empowered with a quality you desire.


Imbolc – February 2nd

Groundhog day approaches, and we will be halfway through the winter as we await Spring’s impending return! This ancient festival, Celtic in origin, is considered one of the greater sabbats. This celebration marks the early signs of spring and the lengthening of days. The lighting of fire and candles represent the return of the sun. We honor the Goddess as the waiting bride of the returning sun God. Other names for this time are: St. Bridget’s Day, Candlemas, Candlelaria, the Snowdrop Festival, the Festival of Lights or the Feast of the Virgin. During this celebration we honor the goddess Brigid.

  • Imbolc herbs: Angelica, Basil, Bay, Benzoin, Blackberry
  • Imbolc colors: White, pale yellow and silver
  • Imbolc offerings: Beer
  • Imbolc is a time to honor Bast, Brighid,Cerridwen.

To celebrate Imbolc you should set your alter with white candles. Decorate with holly, nuts fruit and a small bowl of wheat berries. Place three ears of corn on the door as a symbol of the Triple Goddess and leave until Ostara. Cleanse the area where you do reading with a censor burning rosemary or vervain, and say:

“By the power of this smoke I wash away the negative influences that this
place be cleansed for the Lady and her babe.”

Cleanse the alter and tools. Do a self-purification rite with the elemental tools representing earth (salt) for body, air (incense) for thoughts, fire (candle flame) for will, and water (water) for emotions.

Leave a ribbon outside before going to bed for Brigid to bless. This is an excellent time for divination.

Here is a simple ritual for Imbolc:

After casting your circle, say a blessing such as:

Blessed be the earth, and all who dwell upon it.
We give thanks for the season now departing from us.
For the blessings it has bestowed upon us,
And upon those with whom we share this world.
Blessed be the new season.
We pray that it will be a time filled with peace,
With abundance, with prosperity,
With wisdom,
With love.
Blessed be all who share this feast.
Let us now prepare for the time ahead
By opening our hearts, and our minds, and our spirits.
Blessed be.

Thank your Deities, say goodbye to the darkness of winter and welcome the coming of the sun and new life. Lay your wand or crystal point on the bowl of wheat and acknowledge and welcome the cycle of death and birth and the continuous turning of the wheel. Sing, chant, make music or meditate at this point, whatever method you choose to bring your psychic ability to a higher level. When ready, use your diving tools for your enlightenment. When you feel
your ritual is complete, thank your Deities again for all you have and close with the cakes and wine ceremony.

Now, on to the feast! Traditional winter foods such as ham, root vegetables, fresh crusty breads and winter fruits like apples and pears should be served. Food should be plentiful! Mead, ale, spiced wine would all be appropriate

Imbolc Recipes
By Patrick McCleary


3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 tbsp. milk or unsweetened/plain soy milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 cups chopped cabbage or kale
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1/4 cup chopped onions
2 tbsp. margarine or butter, for frying

Cook potatoes in a pot of boiling water until tender (at least 20 minutes); drain, reserving water.
Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add chopped cabbage to the reserved potato water. Cook 6-8 minutes or until tender.
Mash potates with a hand masher. Add milk, salt and pepper and beat until fluffy.

Imbolc Feast Lamb Stew

2- 1/2 lb. lamb neck chops
1 tbs. lamb fat
4 medium onions
1 tbs. butter/margarine
4 medium carrots
2 1/2 cups water
4 medium potatoes
1 tbs. parsley, chopped
1 tsp. each salt & pepper
1 tbs. chives, chopped

Don’t let the butcher trim the fat off of the lamb chops. Shred some of the excess fat and cook it down in a large pot or Dutch-oven. Peel the onions, carrots, and potatoes. Cut the onions and carrots into quarters, and put all the vegetables aside. Cut the meat into eight pieces, and trim away the rest of the excess fat. The bones need not be removed. Place the meat in the hot fat and brown. Repeat with the onions and carrots. Add water, salt, and pepper carefully. Put whole potatoes on top. Cover pot and simmer gently until meat is cooked, approx. 2 hours. Remove from heat. Pour off the cooking liquid into a separate sauce pan, allow to cool for a few minutes, skim off grease, and reheat. Add butter, chives, and parsley to the reheated liquid in the sauce pan. Pour heated liquid back over the stew. Serve hot. Makes 4-6 servings.

Baked Custard


4 eggs
3 C. milk
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350.
Combine all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor, and blend for about 15 seconds, or until well mixed.
Pour custard mix into ramekins or custard cups.
Place the ramekins into a baking dish, and fill the dish with hot water up to a depth of about 3/4″.
Bake the custards for one hour.

Samhain – October 31st

At Samhain, the Sun God, having died at Mabon (September 23) and having returned to the womb of the Great Mother, grows strong and awaits his rebirth at Yule. This begins the time of the greatest darkness, the time of the Crone, the ancient Queen of Death. In the natural world, life is decaying into death, returning nutrients to the soil that will bring life again in spring.

  • Samhain herbs: Acorn/Oak, Apple, Corn, Dittany of Crete, Hazel, Nightshade, Fumitory,mugwort, Allspice, Sage, Gourds, Catnip, Apple trees.
  • Samhain colors: Orange, black and brown.
  • Samhain offerings: Apples, pumpkin pie, beets, turnips, hazelnuts, corn, gingerbread, pomegrantates, cider, herbal teas, pork dishes.
  • Samhain is a time to honorHecate/Carmenta, Anubis, Isis, Nephthys, Osiris,Hel, Arawn, Don, Merlin, Morrigan, Idunna,Winter_King, Cailliach.

The celebration of Samhain (pronounced in proper Gaelic: “sow-in”) came from the Celtic peoples many centuries ago. This yearly festival was adopted by the Roman invaders, who helped to propagate it throughout the rest of the world (and at that time, the Roman Empire was the world). The word “Halloween” itself actually comes from a contraction of All Hallows Eve, or All Saint’s Day (November 1), which is a Catholic day of observance in honour of saints.

It’s a time which is thought to be when the division between the living and the dead was at its thinnest. Samhain was considered to be a gateway not only from the land of the dead to the land of the living, but also between Summer and Fall/Winter. For the Druids, this was the last gasp of summer (it was also the Celtic New Year), so therefore they made sure it went out with a bang before they had to button down for the winter ahead.

According to Irish folklore, there once lived a man named Jack who was known for being a drunk and a prankster. One night Jack tricked the devil into climbing a tree, and quickly carved an image of a cross on the trunk, trapping the devil. Jack then made him promise that, in exchange for letting him out of the tree, the Devil would never tempt him to sin again. He reluctantly agreed, but was able to exact his revenge upon Jack’s death. Because of his mischevious ways in life, Jack was barred from entering heaven and because of his earlier trick, he was also barred from hell. So he was doomed to wander the earth until the end of time, with only a single ember (carried in a hollowed out turnip) to warm him and light his way.

Ritual of Samhain

This ritual comes from the neo celtic tradition, Inis Glas Thoir and was written by John Gibson

Items needed:

Cauldron & heatproof base
Bi/le image
Salt for Mana/nnan
Grain for Danu
Honey for Bi/le
Milk & bread for the land spirits
Milk jug
Libation bowl
White pillar candle
Birch scented oil
Incense burner & incense
Votive candles & candle holders
Images of ancestors & dead
Ritual feast
Plates for deities & ancestors
Suitable music
Tarot & other divinatory tools
Two or three people to perform the ritual

The altar table is set at the head of the dining table, with the altar cloth, the Cauldron of Hospitality and the image of Bi/le. When all are assembled, the Cauldron is lit.

R1: Three cauldrons that are in every fort: the cauldron of motion, the cauldron of warmth, the cauldron of guests. Tonight we welcome you into our home, and light the cauldron of hospitality, which contains all these three. (lights cauldron) We are come to
celebrate the new year and to remember those who have gone into the Otherworlds before us.

R2: Tonight we call upon the spirits of this place, of the Duwamish, of Seattle, of the land all around us to be at peace with us, and to walk lightly among us. We call upon the spirits of rivers, oceans, mountains, and forests to be at peace with us and to walk
lightly among us. We call upon the land spirits to accept our offerings on this, the night of the new year. (Each person pours out milk and breaks bread into the libation bowl. Each person says:) May the land spirits bless us in this new year.

R3: On this night, the ancestors walk abroad. The gates between the worlds are open wide. We call upon our ancestors, those known and unknown, to come among us and celebrate our reunion on this night of Samhain. We call upon our loved ones who have passed into the
House of Donn to come and feast with us tonight. We call upon the Mighty Dead to assemble here and be remembered.

R2: Mana/nnan, a thiarna, Lord of Mists, Gatekeeper, you who lead the dead from the House of Donn into the Plain of Delight, be with us this night and guide the Mighty Dead through the gates to join us in our rite. (Each person tastes salt.)

R1: Danu, mo bandia, Mother of Gods, Mother of Rivers, you who embrace the dead as they leave our world for the House of Donn, be with us this night and support the Mighty Dead
as they join with us in our rite. (Each person tastes grain.)

R3: Bi/le, a thiarna, Tree of Life, Lord of Death, you who rule the dead on the Plain of Delight, be with us this night and guard the Mighty Dead as they join us in our rite.
(Each person tastes honey.)

Recipes for Samhain – Fruits and vegetables
By Patrick McCleary

There are a few fruits and vegetables that are traditional for Samhain, besides pumpkin that is. A few of these are squash, and apples. Nuts are also traditional for this time of the year. It is the time of the last harvest and so those things that we associate with late fall are the foods we will be wanting to prepare. So here are a few recipes for you to enjoy:

Apple nut Stuffing in Acorn Squash

  • 2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 6 slices of white bread, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp. dried poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. each rosemary and thyme
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 4 dried apple rings, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp. pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp. slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup warmed milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsps. butter

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.Prepare squash, set aside.
3.In a medium bowl, toss together bread and spices, set aside.
4.In a medium saute pan, heat 1 tsp. butter until melted. Add chopped apple rings and nuts. Saute until apple is slightly softened and nuts are golden in color.
5.Add apple and nut mixture to bread mixture.
6.Add warmed milk and salt and pepper to taste.
7.Dot squash halves with butter.
8.Scoop stuffing into hollow squash halves
9.Put squash halves on a baking sheet, brush lightly with butter, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
10.Squash will be ready when soft and fragrant
Clear Sight Carrots

  • 3 cups sliced carrots
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Boil or steam the carrots until tender. Drain. Add the butter, brown sugar, ginger, and cinnamon; stir until the carrots are well-coated.

Samhain Pumpkin Bread

Personally I have never been a fan of pumpkin flavored anything, but since this the most prevalent food of this season, I figured I would give it another try. So I went to the store and bought a small pie pumpkin. A small one that weighed like two pounds or so. I then chopped the pumpkin in half and gave a half to each of the kids for them to scrape out the seeds and the strings, which I had to help them with. I then baked each half for about an hour at 350 degrees. Then, when cool, the kids got their half back to scrape out the flesh of the pumpkin from within the shell. The recipe we used for pumpkin bread is as follows:

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups of pumpkin puree, packed

1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.
2. Add the eggs and mix well.
3. Combine dry ingredients and stir into creamed mixture just until moistened.
4. Stir in prepared pumpkin.
5. Pour into two greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pans.
6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until bread tests done.

Now that I have baked this bread, I must say that my palette has truly changed. I actually enjoyed the pumpkin and am planning on buying a larger pumpkin this week to make more of this fantastic bread. I must tell you that the two pound pumpkin only yielded me about 3 cups of usable pumpkin puree, so if you are planning on making more than a couple of loafs you will want either more pumpkins or a larger one.


Mabon – September 21st

As the summer draws to a close, we are once again brought to the time of Mabon. The second harvest ritual of the year, Mabon is also the Autumnal equinox, and one of the times of the year when day equals night. In times of old the farmers would harvest by moonlight to avoid the insufferable heat of the day, hence the phrase “harvest moon”. This is also around the time of year when livestock was slaughtered so meats were plentiful. Of course the colors of this sabbat are in correspondence with nature, warm colors, gold tones, rich warm reds, yellows and oranges.

  • Mabon herbs: Acorn/Oak Benzoin, Fern, Grains, Honeysuckle, Marigold, Milkweed, Myrrh, Passionflower, Rose, Sage, Solomon’s Seal, Thistle, Vegetables
  • Mabon colors: Gold, rich, red, yellow, orange
  • Mabon offerings: Grains, meats fruits of the harvest
  • Mabon is a time to honor Apollo,Demeter/Ceres, Dionysus/Bacchus, Hathor, Thor,Gabriel, Gaia/Tellus.

This ritual is one in which we will give thanks to the Gods for the bountiful harvest of this year, but also evaluate the year that has past and decide what you will “harvest” and keep with you, and what it is best to give back to the earth. It is a time to seek out that balance and mirror nature, work towards an equilibrium in your life, shed those things that are weighing you down. In a Mabon ritual you may expect to find homage to a dying God who knows his time with us will soon draw to a temporary close, dying at Samhain to be reborn of the Goddess at Yule. You may also see depictions of the Goddess becoming her crone aspect and leaving the earth for the winter such as enactments of the Goddess Persephone going down to spend the next few months in the underworld. Themes that dominate and those of storing and preparing for the winter and lean times, reflection and then relaxation and preparations to enjoy another winter by the hearth. Mabon is also a time for feasting, friends and family, a time of abundance and plenty. And, of course we must keep in mind the aspects of festival and celebration of nature, and remember to be free and love the earth and all that surrounds us.

Lughnasadh – August 1st

August 1st marks the Celtic holiday of Lughnasadh (pronounced loo-na-sa), also known as Lammas, which is the beginning of the grain harvest.

In days past, candidates for king would go to the Fayre of Tailtiu. Tailtiu was the queen of the Fir Bolg (an ancient celtic race) , the daughter of Mag Mor and the foster mother of Lugh. She died of exhaustion after the labor of clearing the lands of Ireland for cultivation, and in commemoration, Lugh held a festival for her. Two weeks prior to festival day, it was customary to climb a hill and survey the land before harvest. The festival then commenced, and lasted for four weeks � two weeks past the actual day.

The last chaff of wheat or grain to be cut was kept and crafted into a corn doll, symbolizing Lugh. At Lughnasadh, she is called the Corn Mother. In the spring, she becomes Corn Bride, the Maiden Goddess Bride.

It was Lugh who invented draughts (checkers), ballplay and horsemanship and these sacred games were important in the celebration of the festival, as they were used to show off strength and skill. In addition, this festival was used to gather news, settle arguments and arrange marriages and alliances. Mighty feasting and drinking were the underlying theme of this wonderful festival.

It is prophesied that, as long as the custom shall be maintained, there will be corn and milk in every house, peace and fine weather for the feast.

This is the season when everything seems at its richest = trees crops and long warm days. These are called the “dog days” of Summer, because Sirius (The Dog Star) rises and sets with the sun between mid-July and September.

The word “Lammas” comes from “loaf mass” which celebrates the bread made from the first grain to be harvested. It is in honor of the Corn Mother that we now eat fresh bread and cakes.

Yule – December 21st

Winter Solstice, the return of the sun, was truly a cause for celebration among our ancestors. Yule begins on Mother Night. At the Yule the Goddess shows her Life-in-Death aspect. In this season she is the White Lady Queen of the cold darkness yet this is her moment of giving birth to the child of promise who brings back light and warmth to her kingdom.



Most Christmas traditions are rooted deep in ancient Yule rituals, many coming from the Vikings. During the Winter Solstice the Vikings honored their Asa Gods with religious rituals and feasting. A wild boar was sacrificed to Frey, the God of fertility and farming, to assure a good growing season in the coming year. They then feasted on the boar and this is the origin of today’s Christmas ham. During the twelve day festival a giant Sun wheel was set on fire and rolled down a hill to entice the sun to return. This could possibly be the source of the Christmas wreath.

Another ancient tradition is the Yule log, a large oak log decorated with sprigs of fir, holly or yew. This was carved with runes asking the Gods to protect them from misfortune. To make your own Yule log use a piece of apple, birch or oak. Begin by drilling holes for the three candles of the Triple Goddess; red to symbolize the bloodshed of birth, white for the innocence of new life and green symbolizing the growth process. Be sure to trim the bottom of the log to steady it. Decorate with greens, wild rose hips and winter berries. To insure good fortune and prosperity anoint with a sprinkle of apple cider and dust with corn meal before lighting the candles. Be sure to return the wood chips and sawdust to the sleeping earth. A piece of the log should be saved to protect the home during the coming year and to light next year’s fire.

The Yule tree was often adorned with symbols representing the sun, moon and stars. These, along with pieces of food, small statues of the Gods and carved runes were used to entice the tree spirits to come back in the spring. Gifts were also hung on the tree as offerings to the Gods.

Our pagan ancestors would dress someone to represent Old Man Winter, wrapped in a hooded fur coat with a long white beard. It is believed that he represented Odin and he traveled on Sleiphir, Odin’s great white horse. Old Man Winter was welcomed into homes and invited to join the festivities. When the Vikings conquered Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries, he was introduced there and became Father Christmas.

Ancient myths surround the mistletoe. It was believed to resurrect the dead. This was based on the legend about the resurrection of Balder, God of Light and Goodness, who was killed by a mistletoe arrow but resurrected when the tears of his mother Frigga turned the red mistletoe berries white. Mistletoe was considered magical and thought to have great healing powers.

The Yule Goat is one of the oldest Christmas symbols. Its origin is the legend of the protective, good natured Thunder God Thor who rode in the sky in a wagon pulled by two magical goats. They would visit the homes and bring happiness and protection at this very special time of the year. An old custom was for young people to dress up in goat skins and go from house to house to sing and perform simple plays. They were rewarded with food and drink.
What Yule celebration would be complete without a steaming cup Wassail to warm the chill of night while encircling the bonfires? ‘Waes Hale’, good health! This spicy holiday drink is more of an event than mere refreshment. An important ritual for the benefit of the apple harvest as well as the health of the local economy this tradition is still practiced in many areas. Gathering in the apple orchard on the ‘twelfth night’ townsfolk would drink large amounts of wassail with great mirth, merriment and dancing around the bonfires in order to honor the orchard and ensure good yields.

Here is one recipe for wassail:

Heat a large container of ale or beer, about 3 or 4 pints. Add:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup mixed spice (cinnamon sticks and whole cloves are also excellent)
2 or 3 small sweet apples, cut up
1 1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 1/4 cup orange juice
the juice of 2 lemons
Place over a slow flame; then, before it begins to boil, take off the heat and whip up some cream. Let this float on top of the brew like foam.
Put in a suitably large bowl (the more ornate the better)

Now go out to a tree or trees with a few friends (these don’t have to be apple trees, since all can benefit from a well-intentioned blessing, but it is traditional to wassail fruit-bearing trees). Wet the roots liberally with the brew. Pass the rest around and when everyone is thoroughly warmed up sing a wassailing song, for example:

Here’s to thee, old apple tree.
Whence thou may’st bud and whence thou may’st blow,
And whence thou may’st bear apples now.
Hats full, caps full, bushel, bushel sacks full, and my pockets full too!

Lift your glasses to the tree and shout “Wassail!” as loud as you can.

Magical associations
apples – love, health, peace
pineapple – healing, money, protection & love lemons – love, happiness & purification
cinnamon – love, psychic awareness & money
sugar – love

A simple Wiccan ritual:
The celebration begins before dawn to culminate into the sun’s birth with a toast of apple juice or wine made to the holly king

Winter day of longest night
Step aside now for the light
Thank you for the things you’ve brought
That only darkness could have wrought

Then name the gifts of darkness such as regeneration, peace, dreams, organization, quietude, etc.
Use a white altar cloth and decorate with evergreens, poinsettias, rosemary, holly, mistletoe and ivy. To insure good luck and prosperity anoint a bayberry candle with oil and roll it in dried chamomile. Burn Yule incense (a mixture of chamomile, ginger, pine and sage). Meditate in the darkness and then welcome the birth of the sun by lighting the candle and singing chants and carols.
End the ritual at dawn with a toast of orange juice or mimosa to the sun!

O Newborn Sun of love and light
Rise quickly now, rise high and bright
Gain power in the sky above
I grant to you my support and love

This is an especially magical time when divination of the events of the coming year is also a prominent feature. Rune or Tarot readings can be especially significant at this time as can dreams or visions seen in meditation. Winter Solstice is also an excellent time for banishing rituals to eliminate disease, bad habits and addictions.

While we all enjoy exchanging gifts and feasting with our friends and family at this time of year perhaps we should extend this beautiful custom to include the other living creatures who share this earth with us. Put up bird feeders and keep them stocked with seed. You can make decorative wild bird treats by rolling pinecones in peanut butter and bird seed. This is also a wonderful time to donate funds, time or items to environmental organizations. Meditate for world peace.

Yule Recipes

By Patrick McCleary

Gingerbread Stars

One of the most traditional dishes at this time of the year is gingerbread. My kids and I absolutely love the rich taste of the ginger and molasses. So this past weekend we decided to make some gingerbread.

We had originally planned on making a gingerbread house, but we have had to many failures at that project. So we settled on making shapes instead. Following is the recipe that we used. Hope that you all enjoy as much as we have.


3 cups flour
1 1/1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg

Sift the dry ingredients together in medium mixing bowl
Beat butter and sugar together in large bowl with electric mixer
Add molasses and egg and beat well
Gradually beat in flour mixture
Press dough into thick flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap
Refrigerate for four hours or overnight
Roll dough to 1/4 thickness on lightly floured surface
Cut into shapes
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes at 300 degrees
Cool on baking sheet for 1 to 2 minutes
Remove wire racks and cool completely

Yule Ham with a bit of Rum

Ham is the most traditional dish for this holiday season. And while a ham is easy to cook, the glaze for it is sometimes tougher to make. Here is a recipe that I have used on several occasions to fantastic reviews.

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbsp mustard
2 to 3 Tbsp Dark Rum

In a medium size saucepan whisk together and heat to just before boiling these ingredients. Pour over a fully cooked ham and bake for ten to fifteen minutes more. Now don’t worry about the alcoholic content the cooking should cook out the alcohol. If you are still antsy then you can let the glaze simmer for about five minutes.

Yule Duck on the Grill
This brings me to the other animal that I choose to cook at this season. The duck. While tasty it is very greasy. You can boil it the same way as the ham to get rid of the grease, just be sure not to use the water from boiling the ham.

The last duck I cooked was on the BBQ grill. I arranged coals around a drip pan in the center of the grill. And after dipping the duck in boiling water, I dried it off and placed in on the grill on a low heat and let it slowly cook. I didn’t add anything else to the duck, but I enjoy the taste of the duck alone without any additions.

But you can make an orange glaze for the duck. Here is a recipe from
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 Tbsp brandy

Combine orange juice, marmalade, honey, sugar and brandy in small saucepan and simmer over low heat for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Spoon glaze over ducks and return to oven for 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Watch to prevent scorching. Remove duck to platter and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.