~ The Sabbats Major and Minor ~
MAJOR SABBATS &
By Corresponding Colors
The Celtic pagan year was based on thirteen
lunar months which were named after trees and plants.
According to the Brehon Law of Ireland, these trees
corresponded to the Ogam alphabet and had three
categories: chieftains, peasants and shrubs. The rank-
ings were based on the symbolic importance of each
to the Druids. The tree alphabet will be discussed
fully in the chapter on the Ogam Alphabet.
The Celtic new year began on November 1, after
Samhain. This month was called Beith or Birch.
Following this were: Luis or Rowan for December;
Fearn or Alder for January; Saille or Willow for Feb-
ruary; Nuin or Ash for March; Huathe or Hawthorn
for April; Duir or Oak for May; Tinne or Holly for
June; Cell or Hazel for July; Muin or Vine for August;
Gort or Ivy for September; and Ngetal or Reed for
October. The thirteenth month was Ruis or Elder.
This was a very short period to wrap up the year.
Celebration of the solstices and equinoxes is done
on a particular day when the Sun changes into par-
ticular signs. These are listed on astrological calen-
dars and vary from year to year. The remaining six
pagan holy days are honored by many on specific
days also. However, there are two ways to determine
these remaining holy days: one, on a definite date;
two, on the closest Full Moon. I will list both options
at the beginning of each festival ritual.
The ancient pagan world counted nights rather
than days. All their festivals were celebrated on the
Eve, or night before. Their day began at sundown.
Samhain, pronounced sow-en and called Hallo-
ween today, was the ending of the Celtic year, The
new year actually began with sunset on October 31.
The ritual was known as Ancestor Night or Feast of
the Dead. Because the veil between the worlds is
thinnest on this night, it was and is considered an
excellent time for divinations. Feasts are made in
remembrance of dead ancestors and as an affirma-
tion of continuing life. A time for settling problems,
throwing out old ideas and influences. This is either
celebrated October 31, or the first Full Moon in
Winter Solstice occurs
about December 21. This
is the time of death and rebirth of the Sun God. The
days are shortest, the Sun at its lowest point. The Full
Moon after Yule is considered the most powerful of
the whole year. This ritual is a light festival, with as
many candles as possible on or near the altar in welcome
of the Sun Child.
Imbolc, February 1 or the
first Full Moon in
Aquarius, is a time of cleansing and newborn lambs.
The name Imbole comes from the word 'oimelc' or
sheep's milk. It is a festival of the Maiden in prepara-
tion for growth and renewal.
Spring Equinox, about
March 21, is when light
and darkness are in balance but the light is growing
Beltane is May 1 or the first Full Moon in Taurus.
Other names for it are May Day or Lady Day. It is
primarily a fertility festival with nature enchantments
and offerings to wildlings and Elementals. The powers
of elves and fairies are growing and will reach their
height at Summer Solstice. A time of great magic, it is
good for all divinations and for establishing a wood-
land or garden shrine. The house guardians should be
honored at this time.
Summer Solstice, about June 21, is when the
hours of daylight are longest. The Sun is at the highest
before beginning its slide into darkness. Traditionally,
herbs gathered on this day are extremely powerful.
On this night elves and fairies abound in great
Lughnassadh is August 1
or the first Full Moon in
Leo. It is a preharvest festival, the turning point in
Mother Earth's year. The last herbs are gathered. It is
a celebration in honor of the god Lugh's wedding to
Autumn Equinox, about September
21, was a
time of rest after labor, completion of the harvest.
Again the hours of day and night are in balance, with
the darkness increasing. All preparations for the dark
of the year and the year's ending were made, thus
bringing us back to Samhain.
Excerpt From D.J. Conway
Celtic Magic, We really recommend you check out
D.J. Conway's Book for more information and as well as some of his other