For some years I've been interested in and followed the Pagan 'Wheel of the Year' or Sabbats. The year is broken up into 8 celebrations, one at the Winter and Summer Solstice, one at the Spring and Autumn Equinox and 4 in between those. The Pagan New Year beginning on Samhain. I don't follow a religion, but this wheel and it's connection to mother earth and nature really resonates with me. I'm no expert, and not a part of a group. I have read around the area myself and chosen what's best for myself and my family, concentrating on learning about and honouring nature.
Wheel of the year by Angela Hennessy (filling in as 2021 passes)
Celebrating the Sabbats is a way of marking and celebrating the passing of time and seasons. Stopping, pausing and soaking in all that the season has, and honouring that. It began when many years ago we started to take a walk on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. We would head out to a hill, and watch the sun set on the shortest day of the year. This has become a well loved family tradition (in all weathers), and a welcome pause before the crazyness of a Western Christmas here in the UK.
This year as a family we decided to look into it further, and are trying to celebrate most of the Sabbats. It has been even more important to make a pause, be present, and thankful for all we have.
We have found wonderful folklore and stories about our ancestors, often connected with the seasons, weather, food and mother earth. Honouring the plants, animals and trees that are in season at the time.
This year at Imbolc we found out about the goddess Brighid her ancient connection to the land of Brigantia which was once where we live, and her connection to Catholic Ireland. We joined an Imbolc storytelling session by Dawn from DD Storyteller. Took a walk to find some willow to make Brigid's Cross, which also involed litter picking around a favourite walking route. Enjoying the signs of Spring we spotted along the way.
Made and ate a wonderful Imbolc Supper, made paper Brigid's Cross (which we wrote our hopes for the year on), and read stories by the fire.
I also recorded a story for my Instagram followers, which you can find here.
Brigids Cross illustration by Angela Hennessy
It was a wonderful way of finding out new things, being out in nature, and celebrating this often hard period of the year.
We also celebrated Ostara, the Spring Equinox. Carving wooden charms from Cherry Wood in the shape of rabbits, we took a walk to find Blackthorn blossom (on a route that we will now visit every Sabbat), and ate a tasty Ostara meal.
It's almost Beltane/May Day (1st May) and we have begun making plans for our celebrations. Learning about very old English traditions of the Maypole and Morris Dancing, the Green Man, and old stories like that of Bloduewedd 'Flower- face'. Over the years we have added to our own family traditions, and the Sabbats will be here to stay. I'll post more about Beltane and will be recording another story next time.