Pagan can mean a lot of things. Pagans can be Wiccan, but not all pagans are Wiccan. We pagans have adopted a wheel of the year tradition that was somewhat practiced in ancient times only with four major holidays, not 8 as in the modern era. Each pagan tradition has its own version of the holidays. We are going to be discussing the Pagan holidays in general terms. The wheel starts with Yule in December, continues with Imbolc in February, followed by the vernal equinox, also called Ostara in March or April. In the summer time, we have Beltane in May, Litha for summer solstice. Then there are other harvest festivals such as Lammas/Lughnasadah, and the autumn equinox Mabon, Samhain is the last holiday of the year, or New Year’s Eve, when the veil between the worlds is thinnest. For Wiccans, Pagans, and witchcraft practitioners, the wheel of the year begins October 30th, and ends the next year on October 31st.
Samhain is the third, and last Harvest of the year. This is the beginning of winter, the end of the summer. On Samhain October 31st, the veil between the worlds thins, making communication with the spirit realms possible. Many try to communicate with their ancestors. Samhain celebrates the Dark Mysteries, a time to feast with your beloved dead. After Samhain, we have Yule, a celebration of the sun’s rebirth. Yule coincides with Christmas. Some Pagans keep a Yule tree. Yule celebrates the fact that the sun comes back on the 21st, winter solstice, but it is slow in rising again until Imbolc, which beings on February 1st at sundown. Imbolc ends on February 2nd. The name Imbolc refers to being “in the belly of the Mother” where seeds are planted, because that is when spring begins. Imbolc is a time of year to light candles right after sunset. Candlemas, or February 2nd, is the day to make and bless candles for the liturgical year.
Ostara is linked to Easter. At this point during the year, light is increasing, which eventually brings balance to the dark. Ostara’s official day to celebrate is March 24th. Marriages are celebrated around this time. The holiday that follows Ostara is May Day, or May 1st. Dancing around the maypole is a pagan tradition that continues in modern times. Eggs are a huge Beltaine symbol since it is a holiday about fertility, be it in the body, or the mind. Then comes Litha, which is in June on the 20th-22nd, celebrating the longest day of the year, with life emerging for the summer, and the other harvest festivals which are Lughnasadh/Lammas, and Mabon. Lughnasadh is on July 31st to August 1st. This celebrates the first harvest of the year, and the beginning of the end of the summer. The last holiday to celebrate during the year is Mabon, on September 21st, the Autumn Equinox, which divides the dark and the light evenly. We can celebrate individually or at gatherings.
Sabbat was taken from the Hebrew word “Shabbath,” which meant “to rest, “ usually on the 7th day of the week. Not all traditions celebrate all the Sabbats, as not everything related to Sabbats is related to the Devil or demons. Modern pagans worship the ancient Deities, not the Devil. Modern Pagans are not devil-worshippers, although those do exist. Modern witchcraft is hardly about the devil worship ancient Pagans were accused of when they were persecuted for being “witches” only because they had herbal knowledge. Many people were burnt at the stake for no good reason other than disagreeing with the church. Modern Paganism is a nature religion based on the Goddess, not devil worship.