Book Review: Llewellyn’s 2017 Sabbats Almanac

Llewellyn's 2017 Sabbat AlmanacThe Llewellyn’s Sabbats Almanac was started in 2009 and is published annually. The book is divided into eight sections, one for each Sabbat, starting at Samhain 2016 and ending with Mabon 2017. There are seven articles within each Sabbat’s section that repeat: an introduction, Cosmic Sway, the Old Ways, Feasts and Treats, Crafty Crafts, All One Family, and a ritual. This is consistent throughout all the Sabbats Almanac books, though occasionally the features are swapped out. For example, for the 2018 Almanac, All One Family has been taken out, and a plant feature has replaced it. Even though it’s rather late for this review, I marked more pages in this edition than the 2016 and 2018 volumes combined, so it’s still well worth picking up. Each section is about 30 pages long; I read each after the previous Sabbat has ended to get new ideas to add to my own coven’s celebration.

Aside from the Cosmic Sway section, which discusses particular cosmic timing, this Sabbats Almanac can be read any time. Because the Cosmic Sway section has essentially ‘expired’ by now, I’m leaving it out of the review, though I will say that I found the articles really useful at the time. The recipes in Feasts and Treats usually use meat in some way; there are multiple recipes provided, but since I’m vegetarian I don’t think I’ve ever used a recipe from a Sabbats Almanac. The Old Ways sections are always brief (about 3 pages) and go into Polish, Slavic, Russian, and Lithuanian traditions. I always really enjoy this section, but writing that under each Sabbat heading would be repetitious. Below are the highlights of each section, organized by Sabbat.

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Eight Beltane Season Celebration Ideas

The Beltane season is upon us! Whether you celebrate on May Day Eve (April 30th) or May Day (May 1st) the light half of the year has officially begun. Beltane is generally treated as a fertility festival with a heavy emphasis on sexuality. That’s not my interest in this Sabbat, however. In fact, fertility in the traditional sense is about the last thing that this Pagan couple wants. Additionally, I wanted to come up with a list that works for families with kids and LGBTQ folks who (must) feel excluded from traditionally hetero/Wiccan celebrations, especially Beltane. Witchcraft and paganism is for everyone folks, not just heterosexuals. I know a lot of people celebrate Beltane without the kids, as well, but we try to include them in some type of seasonal activity for every Sabbat.

Regardless of how you choose to observe the Sabbats, below are eight ideas for Beltane celebrations to add to your seasonal activities, be they solitary, in pairs, with kids, in a coven, or conducted from inside the “broom closet.” Remember that Beltane is a season and not just one day; these activities can be done any time in the six weeks between Beltane and Midsummer.

1. Ancestor Work: When you think of ancestor work you are probably going to think of Samhain. However, in the southern hemisphere, Beltane is Samhain. The veil is just as thin on Beltane as it is on Samhain, and each kicks off their respective halves of the year (Beltane for light and Samhain for dark). Because of this you can still communicate with the departed, ask for their blessing, or give them an offering. It’s a nice time to check in and update your ancestors on how you’ve been doing over the last six months. One way to do this is to write them a letter, address the envelope with their name(s), and then burn it in your cauldron or a fire safe container. Offerings to the deceased are traditionally burned as burning items releases it into the ether.

2. Aromatherapy: When you live in a place where the seasons don’t change much, using seasonal fragrances can make it feel like the Wheel of the Year is still turning. We aren’t super strict about it, but generally lavender is a spring/Imbolc scent whereas patchouli is used in the fall/Samhain season. Some suggested scents for Beltane include gardenia, honeysuckle, jasmine, lilac, lily, rose, and any other floral that you enjoy.

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