A Year of Pagan Sabbat Rituals

Samhain to Ostara

As the Wheel of the Year turns and the eight NeoPagan Sabbats pass by, many people like to celebrate with special ceremonies and rituals. Learn about the different Sabbats, what they mean, and how you can celebrate with your group or as a solitary practitioner.

Samhain

  • Celebrate the Harvest's End. Samhain falls on October 31, and is known as the Witch's New Year. You can celebrate it as the end of the harvest, and honor the return of the King of Winter.
  • Rite to Honor Animals. Man's relationship with animals has evolved over thousands of years. Where once they were only a source of food, now they are our companions. Take a moment to honor the animal spirits in a ritual for Samhain.
  • Honoring the Ancestors. For many Wiccans and Pagans, the honoring of the ancestors is a key part of their spirituality. This ceremony can be held by itself or as part of a group of Samhain rituals.
  • Hold a Seance. Samhain is the night when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest... why not take advantage by contacting the spirit world? Learn what to plan on -- and what to avoid -- when holding a seance of your own.
  • Host a Dumb Supper. In many Pagan and Wiccan traditions, Samhain is celebrated with a Dumb Supper, or a Feast with the Dead. This is a solemn and sober occasion, and includes place settings for relatives and friends who have crossed over in the past year, as well as a chance to tell them what you never got to say.
  • Celebrating the Goddess and God. In some Wiccan traditions, people choose to honor the God and Goddess, rather than focusing on the harvest aspect of the holiday. If this is something you'd like to do, this ritual welcomes the Goddess in her persona as Crone, and the Horned God of the wild autumn hunt.
  • Celebrating Life and Death. Samhain is known as the witch's new year. It is a time to think about the endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth. With this ritual, you can celebrate all three aspects either with a group or as a solitary.

Yule, the Winter Solstice

  • Family Yule Log Ritual. If your family enjoys celebration around the winter solstice, this Yule Log ceremony is a simple one you can perform with or without kids. Welcome the sun back into your lives as you burn your Yule Log.
  • Hold a Goddess Ritual (Group Ceremony). At the winter solstice, some Wiccan groups celebrate with a goddess rite -- saying goodbye to the old, and welcoming the new. This ritual is designed for a group of four or more people.
  • Hold a Goddess Ritual (for Solitaries). If you're a solitary practitioner, but still wish to hold a goddess-themed ritual for the winter solstice, this rite can be done by a single person.
  • Welcome Back the Sun. The winter solstice is a festival of the sun, so why not celebrate by honoring its return? This simple ritual can be performed by one person or a group.
  • Winter Full Moon Ceremony. This ceremony is designed for a group of at least four people, and can be held during any of the chilly winter months. Celebrate the Mourning Moon in November, the Long Nights Moon in December, or January's Cold Moon. Although this ceremony is designed for a group, it could easily be adapted for a solitary practitioner.

    Imbolc

    Ostara, the Spring Equinox

    • Spring Ritual for Solitaries. If you're celebrating alone, this simple candle ritual will get you in tune with the Divine at the spring equinox.
    • The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Chocolate Rabbit. This kid-focused rite uses all kinds of yummy Easter candy to welcome in the colors of Spring. It's pretty goofy, so if you have no room for silly in your spirituality, you might want to skip this one. On the other hand, if you accept that the Universe has a sense of humor, this is a blast to do with a bunch of little kids.
    • A Rebirthing Ritual. Celebrate the arrival of spring with a ceremonial rebirthing, in this ritual which is adaptable for either solitaries or groups.

    Beltane

    • Beltane Bonfire Ritual. This fire festival is a traditional time of lustiness and fertility. Celebrate the holiday with a big fire and a joyful courtship between the May Queen and the God of the Forest.
    • Maypole Dance. The custom of dancing around a Maypole has been around for centuries. It's pretty easy to set up your own, so why not work this fun and phallic tradition into your Beltane celebration?
    • Family Abundance Rite. Some parents may not be comfortable with the phallic fertility images so often found at Beltane. If you're looking for a way to celebrate this Sabbat with kids that focuses more on abundance and less on sexuality, try this simple planting ceremony instead.
    • Celebrating the Sacred Feminine. This goddess-focused ritual honors the energy of the sacred feminine, as well as celebrating your female ancestors and friends. It's a great way to celebrate Mother's Day!

    Litha, the Summer Solstice

    • Hold a Midsummer Night's Fire Ritual. Although this particular Midsummer ritual isn't ancient, it is inspired by the traditions and legends of the Celts of the British Isles. Take advantage of the long hours of daylight to celebrate Litha, or Alban Heruin, and honor the solstice outdoors under the skies. If you're interested in Celtic lore, or wish to honor the Triple Goddess, this might be the perfect ritual for you.
    • Celebrate Fathers. With the summer solstice being a time to honor the fertility of the God, and coming on the heels of Father's Day, why not take a little time to do a dad-friendly ritual? Honor the fathers, stepfathers, brothers, grandpas, sons, and all the other men in your life at Litha with this simple ceremony.
    • Midsummer Sun Celebration: Litha is a time to celebrate the warmth and power of the sun. It’s a great time of year to get outside, enjoy the extra hours of daylight, and celebrate the season with family and friends. You can do this ritual as a group or adapt it to perform as a solitary practitioner.
    • Hold a Backyard Barbecue Ritual: Litha is a perfect time to celebrate by having friends and family over for a cookout. Why not take advantage of this get-together and turn it into a fun celebration of the summer solstice? After all, if summer is about having fun with the people you love, a Litha backyard barbecue is the perfect way to mark the season!
    • Tool Recharging Ritual: Take advantage of the sun's power and energy to recharge your magical tools and other spiritual items.

    Lammas or Lughnasadh

    • Hold a Lammas Harvest Ritual. Lammas is the first of three harvest Sabbats, and celebrates the crops of late summer and early autumn. If you wish to honor the Harvest Mother aspect of the Goddess and celebrate the cycle of life and rebirth, hold this Lammas rite either with a group or as a solitary practitioner.
    • Honoring Lugh of the Many Skills. August 1 is known in many Pagan traditions as Lammas, and is a celebration of the early harvest. However, in some paths, it's a day to honor Lugh, the Celtic god of craftsmanship. Celebrate your own talents and skills on Lughnasadh by honoring Lugh with a rite that can be held for a group or a solitary practitioner.
    • Lammas Bread Sacrifice Ritual. One aspect of this harvest celebration is the sacrifice of the grain god. This ritual uses both Lammas bread and straw images of the practitioner, and encourages us to think about the sacrifices we will make in the coming seasons.

    Mabon, the Autumn Equinox

    • Welcoming the Dark Mother. Mabon is a time when the earth is dying a little each day, and as we welcome the harvest, we also realize that the long nights of winter aren't far off. Honor the darker aspects of the Goddess as the autumn equinox arrives.
    • Apple Harvest Rite. This rite is designed with solitary Wiccans and Pagans in mind, and uses the apple and its five-pointed star as the focus. Honor the ancient gods at Mabon with this harvest ritual.
    • Autumn's Full Moon: Group Ceremony. This ritual can be held during any of the Autumn full moon cycles. Celebrate the Corn Moon in August, the Harvest Moon in September, and October's Blood Moon. Although this ceremony is designed for a group, it could easily be adapted for a solitary practitioner.