Category Archives: Sabbat

Samhain

 

Probably the most recognizable of the Wiccan Sabbats, or Sabbaths, Samhain, (pronounced “sow-win”) is considered the most important Sabbats of the Wiccan Wheel of the year. It is one of the two spirit nights each year, the other being Beltane. At Samhain, the laws of time and space are suspended and the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is lifted. It is at Samhain that we communicate with ancestors and departed loved ones as it is the easiest time to do so. At this time of the year, the recently departed make their journey to the Summerlands to meet old family and friends while waiting to be joined by those they left behind.

It is a time to reflect on the past and consider the future. To put away the old and prepare to welcome the new. Most commonly celebrated around October 31st, to coincide with the end of the harvest, in the Southern Hemisphere it is commonly celebrated around May 31st, to coincide with the end of the harvest there.

Most modern people recognize Samhain as Halloween. Known more formally as all Hallows eve, Halloween absorbed the practice of honoring the dead from Samhain and then evolved it into a remembrance of those Saints canonized in the past year.

Samhain is celebrated with many different rituals, some of which provide unique challenges for those not living in or near rural areas. The most common is pumpkin carving, but many today would be surprised to learn that originally turnips were carved and lighted in celebration. The next most common is the bonfire or even two bonfires. This is to awaken the spirits and to attract them. It is customary for Wiccans to leap over the fire to help with the attraction.

Samhain is also a time for Fairies or Elementals. This is when they play pranks on the unsuspecting. In order to distract them from these pranks, they were offered treats. Sound familiar? Think “Trick or Treat.”

A great Treat Recipe are Fairy Cakes

While intended to be left in your garden for the elementals, they are also a great treat for your little ones, and even big ones, as well.

½ cup wine, red or white depending on your taste

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 egg

2/3 cup of flour1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch of salt

½ cup honey

Mix egg and wine in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix flour cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt. Then stir this mix into the egg and wine mix. Let this stand for about 30 minutes. While waiting, mix the honey and nutmeg in another bowl, until well blended. Set this aside for later.

Heat about ½ inch of cooking oil, I use vegetable but whatever type you like to use will work, in a frying pan. Make sure it is hot, about 325 – 350 degrees (a good trick is to put a single popcorn kernel in the oil and then cover the pan. When the kernel pops, the oil is at the right temperature) Drop your cake batter, one large spoonful at a time, into the batter and fry until golden on one side. Turn over and fry until golden. Remove the cakes and place on a paper towel to drain. Then, just dip them into the honey mix and enjoy. 

Mabon, the Fall Festival of the Harvest and the Approach of Winter

 

 

Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, is fast approaching. Usually occurring around September 21st, it is a day where both light and dark are of equal length. It tells us winter is almost here. It is a time when the Goddess descends into the underworld, from which she will be reborn at Yule.

This is also the time we celebrate the farewell of the Harvest Lord, slain on Lugnasadh in celebration of the first harvest in August. The Harvest Lord is often represented as a strawman, whose body is burned in sacrifice and then scattered over the earth. The Harvest Queen is made from the very last sheaf of harvested wheat, made into a wheat woman, and then dressed in a frock with colored ribbons indicating Spring. In some places, the last sheaf of wheat is called The Maiden and is traditionally cut down by the youngest female participating in the ceremony. The Maiden, or Harvest Queen, is then placed on the top of the pole from which hang many ribbons, much like a May Pole.

Mabon is the middle of the Harvest period, and as such, it is a time to reflect on the past as well as the future—to plan the future based upon what is learned from the past.

A historical connection to Mabon is the First Thanksgiving in America. This is believed to be the festival brought over by the Pilgrims and celebrated in the New World. It is also believed, by some, to be the time when Jesus celebrated the Feast of Kyriat. This is when he fed thousands with five loaves of bread and two fishes. Early Christian Priests, in attempting to assist in the conversion of Pagans to Christianity, tied these two festivals together.

Traditional Mabon meals align well with modern tastes. A simple roast with vegetables is a great meal to enjoy when celebrating the event. I have a favorite crock pot or slow cooker recipe that I use.

Mabon Crock Pot Roast

Ingredients

4 pound pot roast 1 package of Onion Soup Mix 1/2 cup flour 1 can whole mushrooms (or two cups of fresh sliced mushrooms) 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 3 tablespoons olive oil

Mix all of the ingredients, except the oil, in a bowl ensuring they are mixed well.

Using a heavy duty pan, large enough to hold the roast, get it smoking hot on the stove top. Roll the roast in flour, covering all sides lightly. Brown the roast on all sides in 3 tablespoons oil. Place in crock pot along with the other ingredients. Put the lid on the crock pot and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

You can add your favorite vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, turnips, etc., before placing the roast inside. Make sure the vegetables are cut into serving size pieces before you put them in the crock pot. Serves four.

LUGHNASADH

 

Sabbats, or Sabbaths, are as important to Wiccans as they are to any faith. Each of the eight Wiccan Sabbats have a special meaning based upon the time of year.

Lughnasadh is the celebration of the first harvest of the year. Traditionally, it happens at the end of July, or the first part of August. It is a time to give thanks for the fruits, grains, corn and vegetables that have become ripe for harvesting and for who have begun to drop their seeds for future crops.   In ancient times, all grain was called corn whether it was wheat, barley or any other grain. It also starts the celebration of the coming end of summer and the transitioning of the Sun God, Litha, into old age.

Another part of Lughasadh refers to the Celtic God, Lugh. Sometimes referred to as the Wicker Man, the Green Man, or even the Corn man, Lugh is sacrificed each year through the harvesting of grain for the good of all the people.

Lughnasadh happens, in the modern calendar on July 31 and August 1. However, in the agrarian calendar, it happens whenever the grains in the fields become ready for harvesting. Because of the great importance of this harvest for surviving the winter months, the celebration of this became a celebration of life defeating death.

As Christianity began to take hold, the celebration was renamed Lammas, or Loaf Mass. It’s purpose has not changed; the celebration of the first harvest and the triumph of continuing life over death. Of course, the sacrifices of Lugh or a symbolic Lugh are no longer a part of the public ceremony. Yet the Wicker Man is often sacrificed symbolically by those still practicing the Old Religion.

Traditional foods used to celebrate Lughnasadh are apples, grains, bread, berries and similar foods. An appropriate meal for this Sabbat, the 5th of the Wiccan year, would be anything made from one of the traditional foods. A good example is Beef Barley Soup, one of my favorite dishes. Recipe:

BEEF BARLEY SOUP

2 Quarts of water

Beef Soup bone with meat still on

½ cup of celery tops, chopped

1 TBSP of salt

½ Tsp of fresh cracked pepper

½ cup of uncooked barley

3 cups coarsely chopped cabbage

1 cup sliced celery (no more than ¼ inch thick)

2 cups sliced parsnips (no more than ¼ inch thick)

2 cups thinly sliced onions

1 12oz can plain tomato paste

 

Directions:

Place water, soup bone and celery tops in a large pot (at least 4 quarts).

Bring to a boil and cover, leaving a gap between the cover and the pot for steam to escape.

Reduce to simmer for about 2 hours.

Remove the bone and cut up the meat into small pieces.

Return meat to the pot and stir in the barley. Cook for 30 minutes uncovered.

Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for another 30 minutes or until all of the vegetables are tender.

 

Serve with fresh baked hard, crusty bread

IMBOLC – The Coming of Spring

 

There are 8 Sabbat’s, or Sabbaths, in the Wiccan Year. Imbolc, pronounced “Im-Bolk” is the 3rd of the year.

Imbolc occurs around February 2nd and is essentially the half way mark between the Winter Solstice (Yule) and the Spring Equinox (Ostara). It celebrates the transition of the Crone of Winter into the Maiden of Spring. This holiday has been celebrated not only throughout antiquity by many different cultures, but also today in many different forms. In Wiccan custom iut celebrates the Celtic Goddess, Brigid, of fire, fertility, midwifery and the young. ‘Imbolc’ literally means “in the belly” in the old Irish language. “In the belly” is a reference to birth with Spring symbolizing the rebirth of the land and all of nature. Brigid is often refered to as the Goddess of fertility and as such is closely connected with Imbolc.

When Christianity was expanding in Ireland in the 5th Century CE, attempts to convert the Celts and other tribes to Christianity often faced conflict with these ancient traditions. Through a process called syncretism the Church simply combined the ancient beliefs and traditions with another Irish Saint, Saint Brigid of Kildare. This allowed both rituals to be observed without conflict. Many Christian Churches now celebrate Saint Brigid’s day on February 1st. It is customary at this time of year to make a Saint Brigid’s cross out of straw or reeds. The display of these symbols is very common in Ireland today.

saint_brigids_cross

Imbolc is an observation of the ending of winter. Wiccans use fire and other means of light to extend the day. There is also the use of seeds and buds of trees and flowers to suggest the development of new life and birth. Food is an important part of the festival with seeds or other foods that are nearing the end of their storage life being used in the creation of foods. A simple but tasty recipe for scones would be appropriate on this day.  It would be very easy to picture Clio baking these in her kitchen as John and Roger waited hungrily nearby.

IMBOLC SCONES

1 cup raw potato’s, peeled and diced

2 cups flour

1 tbsp yeast

¼ tsp of salt & pepper each

1 tbsp of flax seed (or other seed such as sunflower)

3 tbsp softened but not melted butter

3 tbsp milk Boil and mash the potato’s then set aside to cool. Add salt and pepper, seed and yeast with the flour. Then blend in the butter. Add the potato’s and the milk, 1 tbsp at a time, until a soft and manageable dough is formed. Put the dough on a floured surface and roll out until about ½ inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or a floured glass, cut into circles of about 3 inches. Place of a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-23 minutes. Serve warm with butter.

In modern times Imbolc is most closely associated with Groundhog’s Day. The intent is the same, celebrate the beginning of the end of winter and look forward to the warm fertile months of Spring.