Pagan worship, especially witchcraft, is based on four grand holidays that follow the natural order of life for fruits of the earth from birth to growth to death. These four festivals and four other minor ones are meant to mimic the natural flow of life on Earth like mating seasons, planting and harvesting seasons, as well as the cycles of the suns. The four major holidays are:
- Nos Gwyl Fair (Candlemas)
- Nos Galon-Mai (Beltaine/May Eve)
- Nos Gwyl Awst (Lammas)
- Nos Galon Gaeof (Samhain better known as Halloween)
The four lesser celebrations are known as:
- Gwyl Canol Gaeaf (Yule represented by the Winter Solstice)
- Gwyl Canol Gwenwynol (celebrating the Spring Equniox)
- Gwyl Canol Haf (celebrating Midsummer Day)
- Gwyl Canol Hydref (celebrating the Fall Equinox)
These eight festivals make up the holidays that the majority of pagan religions celebrate. Those of us who follow the Welsh Faerie path use these celebrations, or Sabbats, as a way to celebrate the divine Earth and our individual Gods and Goddesses. Providing offerings of love, spirituality, and dedication. In return we believe that our deities will offer us a deeper understanding of their true nature.
As we celebrate these festivals we also follow in the footsteps of our Pict, Celtic, and Welsh witch ancestors who had a strong affinity for rituals, songs, and artwork that followed certain patterns. They were an immensely proud, passionate people who we choose to emulate. We also celebrate that rich heritage during Sabbats not only with song and artwork but with the Triscele, the Celtic equivalent of Yin and Yang.
These Sabbats have a deep impact on our everyday lives helping us to overcome everyday struggles and keep a strong connection with the natural world around us. While other religions such as Christianity focus on what happens after death, pagan faiths especially Celtic Witchcraft focus on the importance of life. That is another reason that pagan Sabbats so closely follow the life cycles and seasons of the natural world.
Celebrating life is not the only thing that celebrates Celtic Witchcraft celebrations from the holidays of other faiths of course. While other religions hold celebrations to simply honor certain events or people pagan Sabbats have two goals. The first is to also celebrate and honor a higher power as well as the life around them; the second goal is to help renew the world.
The goddess of the Earth is renewed by each of the seasons the Earth passes through, she is deeply ingrained in those cycles. Except for those cycles to continue and for her to be renewed by them, the goddess needs her creations to participate. Unlike other deities that simply leave people to their everyday suffering, pagan gods and goddesses need us as badly as we need them. So we must act in concert with each other.
That is where the art, music, and ritual of witchcraft Sabbats come into play; they mirror the divine powers of nature. Helping humans to act as partners to their gods and goddesses in ways that people of other faiths could never imagine. Those other faiths may have artwork in their temples, Muslims create beautiful mosques for example, it doesn’t have the same rich meaning.
The art and music of other faiths, like the Judeo-Christian religions, is for their followers. The beautiful artwork of their temples encourages people to enter while the music helps many feel connected to each other. None of that helps them connect with their gods nor do their gods need those rewards. It causes a disconnect not only between followers and their gods but with their heritage as well.
They feel no real connection with the centuries of ritual faith that they are drawing upon. Modern Celtic witches because of their rich and involved Sabbats have are able to feel a link with their Celtic heritage. Feeling the immense amount of history that infuses all of the rituals they perform. The most important piece of this being the power of 3. 3 is incorporated in nearly every Sabbat ritual and represents a whole host of divine ideals.
That divine importance of 3 is best represented by the Triscele, the Celtic version of the Yin and Yang symbol. The Triscele is made of 3 spiral lines moving in the same direction that are enclosed in a circle. It is the symbol for the three stages of life (birth, growth, and death), the three faces of the Goddess (Maid, Mother, and Crone), the divine trinity of love, knowledge and power, the list is nearly endless.
Those who have come to follow Faerie Celtic witchcraft have a deep respect for the divine nature of 3. Observing its power and influence over every aspect of life, its another key part of witchcraft Sabbats. Venerating the divine nature of 3 is also how witches renew their connection with the Earth, Sun, and Goddess. Helping the Goddess continue her cycle through her three different phases the Maid, Mother and Crone and all of her creations through the the three phases of life birth, growth, and death.
On the surface all of this ritual and symbolism makes witch holidays seem more complicated than they actually are. When you dive deeper into witch Sabbats you’ll find that they are fun festive celebrations that are incredibly welcoming. So we encourage you to find a local coven and ask if you can observe their next Sabbat celebration to learn even more about the holidays witches celebrate.