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Eight Sabbats of Witchcraft | Secret Societies

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Wicca

Eight Sabbats of Witchcraft

on Mar 15, 2013 in Wicca

Eight Sabbats of Witchcraft

Eight Sabbats of Witchcraft

Eight Sabbats of Witchcraft

Halloween. Sly does it. Tiptoe catspaw. Slide and creep. But

why? What for? How? Who? When! Where did it all begin? ‘You

don’t know, do you?’ asks Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud climbing

out under the pile of leaves under the Halloween Tree. ‘You don’t

REALLY know!’ –Ray Bradbury from ‘The Halloween Tree’

Samhain. All Hallows. All Hallow’s Eve. Hallow E’en.

Halloween. The most magical night of the year. Exactly opposite

 

EIGHT SABBATS OF WITCHCRAFT
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3
Beltane on the wheel of the year, Halloween is Beltane’s dark twin. A
night of glowing jack-o-lanterns, bobbing for apples, tricks or
treats, and dressing in costume. A night of ghost stories and
seances, tarot card readings and scrying with mirrors. A night of
power, when the veil that separates our world from the Otherworld is
at its thinnest. A ‘spirit night’, as they say in Wales.
All Hallow’s Eve is the eve of All Hallow’s Day (November 1st).
And for once, even popular tradition remembers that the Eve is more
important than the Day itself, the traditional celebration focusing on
October 31st, beginning at sundown. And this seems only fitting for
the great Celtic New Year‘s festival. Not that the holiday was Celtic
only. In fact, it is startling how many ancient and unconnected
cultures (the Egyptians and pre-Spanish Mexicans, for example)
celebrated this as a festival of the dead. But the majority of our
modern traditions can be traced to the British Isles.
The Celts called it Samhain, which means ‘summer’s end’,
according to their ancient two-fold division of the year, when summer
ran from Beltane to Samhain and winter ran from Samhain to Beltane.
(Some modern Covens echo this structure by letting the High Priest
‘rule’ the Coven beginning on Samhain, with rulership returned to the
High Priestess at Beltane.) According to the later four-fold division
of the year, Samhain is seen as ‘autumn’s end’ and the beginning of
winter. Samhain is pronounced (depending on where you’re from) as
‘sow-in’ (in Ireland), or ‘sow-een’ (in Wales), or ‘sav-en’ (in
Scotland), or (inevitably) ‘sam-hane’ (in the U.S., where we don’t
speak Gaelic).

Initium

Initium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not only is Samhain the end of autumn; it is also, more
importantly, the end of the old year and the beginning of the new.
Celtic New Year’s Eve, when the new year begins with the onset of the
dark phase of the year, just as the new day begins at sundown. There
are many representations of Celtic gods with two faces, and it surely
must have been one of them who held sway over Samhain. Like his Greek
counterpart Janus, he would straddle the threshold, one face turned
toward the past in commemoration of those who died during the last
year, and one face gazing hopefully toward the future, mystic eyes
attempting to pierce the veil and divine what the coming year holds.
These two themes, celebrating the dead and divining the future, are
inexorably intertwined in Samhain, as they are likely to be in any New
Year’s celebration.
As a feast of the dead, it was believed the dead could, if they
wished, return to the land of the living for this one night, to
celebrate with their family, tribe, or clan. And so the great burial
EIGHT SABBATS OF WITCHCRAFT
Get any book for free on: www.Abika.com

Cover of "The Halloween Tree"

Cover of The Halloween Tree

4
mounds of Ireland (sidh mounds) were opened up, with lighted torches
lining the walls, so the dead could find their way. Extra places were
set at the table and food set out for any who had died that year. And
there are many stories that tell of Irish heroes making raids on the
Underworld while the gates of faery stood open, though all must return
to their appointed places by cock-crow.
As a feast of divination, this was the night par excellence for
peering into the future. The reason for this has to do with the
Celtic view of time. In a culture that uses a linear concept of time,
like our modern one, New Year’s Eve is simply a milestone on a very
long road that stretches in a straight line from birth to death.
Thus, the New Year’s festival is a part of time. The ancient Celtic
view of time, however, is cyclical. And in this framework, New Year’s
Eve represents a point outside of time, when the natural order of the
universe dissolves back into primordial chaos, preparatory to reestablishing
itself in a new order. Thus, Samhain is a night that
exists outside of time and hence it may be used to view any other
point in time. At no other holiday is a tarot card reading, crystal
reading, or tea-leaf reading so likely to succeed.
The Christian religion, with its emphasis on the ‘historical’
Christ and his act of redemption 2000 years ago, is forced into a
linear view of time, where ‘seeing the future’ is an illogical
proposition. In fact, from the Christian perspective, any attempt to
do so is seen as inherently evil. This did not keep the medieval
Church from co-opting Samhain’s other motif, commemoration of the
dead. To the Church, however, it could never be a feast for all the
dead, but only the blessed dead, all those hallowed (made holy) by
obedience to God – thus,

Alfablot at boulder with flash

Alfablot at boulder with flash (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All Hallow’s, or Hallowmas, later All Saints
and All Souls.
There are so many types of divination that are traditional to
Hallowstide, it is possible to mention only a few. Girls were told to
place hazel nuts along the front of the firegrate, each one to
symbolize one of her suitors. She could then divine her future
husband by chanting, ‘If you love me, pop and fly; if you hate me,
burn and die.’ Several methods used the apple, that most popular of
Halloween fruits. You should slice an apple through the equator (to
reveal the five-pointed star within) and then eat it by candlelight
before a mirror. Your future spouse will then appear over your
shoulder. Or, peel an apple, making sure the peeling comes off in one
long strand, reciting, ‘I pare this apple round and round again; / My
sweetheart’s name to flourish on the plain: / I fling the unbroken
paring o’er my head, / My sweetheart’s letter on the ground to read.’
Or, you might set a snail to crawl through the ashes of your hearth.
EIGHT SABBATS OF WITCHCRAFT


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