Eight Imbolc Season Celebration Ideas

Imbolc should be my favorite Sabbat because I work with Brigid, the goddess honored on Imbolc, but I have dropped the ball several times. Last year, for example, we moved right before Imbolc, and everything we owned was boxed up, including a box of handmade candles that we blessed (I hope Brigid forgives me for that mess).

Below are ideas for solitaries, pairs, families, and covens, as well as many that would work with multiple configurations. Some require a little preparation or shopping, so I wanted to post them early enough that you can incorporate them into your Imbolc preparation. Remember, though, Imbolc is a six week long season and not just one day.

Note: If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere you will be celebrating Lughnasadh.

1: Altar Decoration: White and red are traditional colors associated with Brigid, who is said to have drank the milk of a white, red-eared cow. You can also decorate your altar with a solar theme, since Brigid is a sun goddess. Animals associated with Brigid include the cow, boar/pig, and fox.

2. Brigid’s Cross: The first craft that one of my witch friends and I ever did together was make Brigid’s Crosses, so this craft will always be extra special to me. It’s a relatively simple craft to complete and can be made as inexpensively as you like; I use green pine needles that I find on the ground. They should be hung over doors for protection all year, then burned on the next Imbolc after your new ones have been made. Directions can also be found easily online (this website is one example).

3. Candles: Brigid is associated with candles, so this is a perfect time of year to make candles, bless candles, or prepare spell candles. A candle blessing that I wrote for Brigid will be posted very soon. Red, orange, and yellow are colors associated with the sun, so they are ideal to work with. Tealights can have sigils scratched into their surface easily with a toothpick, and larger candles can be decorated solo or by a coven. Stock up on yearly chime candles, and bless them all on Imbolc. If you’re feeling crafty, Imbolc is a perfect time to learn how to make your own candles.

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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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Yule by Dorothy Morrison (Llewellyn’s Holiday Series)

Yule a Celebration of Light and Warmth by Dorthy MorrisonLlewellyn’s Holidays Series was published in the late 90s and was eventually replaced by the Sabbat Essentials Series. The Holidays Series was what I had as a baby witch, and I decided to start collecting them a while back. This was partially out of nostalgia and partially in the hopes of supplementing some of the weaker Sabbat Essentials books. “Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth” by Dorothy Morrison is the second book that I read in the Holiday Series, and it’s excellent. This book’s Sabbat Essentials counterpart is “Yule” by Susan Pesznecker, which is also great.

While the information in many of the Holiday books is outdated, there is still a lot of good information in them. In fact, some of the Holiday books are better than their more contemporary Essentials Series counterparts. One of the quirks of the Holiday series is that some books are titled the Christian or secular name of the holiday, which is a little odd. I think it was done so that you could read the books in public and/or give them to muggles, but it’s not consistent throughout the series. Thankfully “Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth” by Dorothy Morrison is not one of those.

Morrison’s “Yule” was first published in 2000 and I have a first edition, 11th printing from 2011. I absolutely love the cover, it’s so festive and pretty. A few more notable differences between the Holiday Series and the Sabbat Essentials Series are that the Holidays Series does not have consistent covers/spines (though they are all the same size), or a uniform chapter structure, and that the Holiday Series books are much larger in size than the Essentials Series books.

“Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth” is divided into four sections with a whopping twenty total chapters; in the interest of economy I will be review each of the four sections, rather than each sub-section, which would be tedious.

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Eight Yule Season Celebration Ideas

Yule Season Celebration Ideas

While Samhain is the New Year for Wiccans, Yule is the New Year in the Druid tradition. My partner is Druid, and the solar new year works well for me, so we celebrate Yule as the last Sabbat in the Wheel of the Year. Below you will find a list of ideas for solitaries, partners, covens, and witch families that I hope will add a little variety to your Yule celebrations. Remember that Yule is a six week long season, not just one day! Please feel free to post suggestions in the comments, and have a beautiful Yuletide, friends.

1. DIY Garlands: Decking the halls with garlands is a fun way to decorate for the Yule season without spending a lot of money. Garlands that are made with food items can be placed outside after Yule as offerings, as well as for animals. Outdoor food offerings in winter are just as important as outdoor water offerings are in summer (I’m looking at my fellow Floridian witches). Make garlands out of cranberries, popcorn, or anything else that strikes your fancy. Garlands made from fresh ingredients should be checked for mold, but shouldn’t attract critters unless you make a chocolate bonbon garland.

2. Enchanted Ornaments: There’s a craft that I’ve been wanting to do for years that I never get around to, and it’s making witchy ornaments. This year, it’s finally happening. Specifically, I got clear plastic ball ornaments (because I will drop them) and before our coven’s Yule ritual we are going to fill them with various herbs and crystals with specific correspondences. These would make awesome coven gifts, too, and could be tailored to the recipients by addings names, symbols, or sigils with paint markers. These fillable ornaments are widely available online, and are available in many sizes as well. My directions for this craft will be up on the website early next week, too.

3. Handmade Snow Globes: A fun Yule craft is making your own snow globes; this craft can be done with witchlings too, provided they are old enough and/or responsible enough. All you need are jars, fillers (small plastic toys, tumbled crystals, or anything that’s small and won’t dissolve in water), glitter or fake snow, aquarium glue or E6000, and water. Using waterproof glue, affix items to the inside of the lid of the jar – that will be the bottom of your snow globe – to form a scene, and let dry completely. Add glitter, fake snow, snowflake confetti, or whatever you want floating around, to the bottom of the jar, and fill partially with water. Test with the lid to see how much water your items displace, then glue the lid to the jar with waterproof glue and let dry. Once it’s dry, flip the jar over, and you have a beautiful, handmade snowglobe. You can even write the year on it and make it an annual tradition in your household.

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Eight More Samhain Season Celebration Ideas

It’s that time in the Wheel of the Year again, Samhain, an easy favorite amongst witches. Last year I posted my list of Eight Samhain Sabbat Celebration Ideas and this year I’m back with eight more. There are ideas for solitaries, pairs, families, and covens, as well as many that would work with multiple configurations. Some require a little preparation or shopping, so I wanted to post them early enough that you can incorporate them into your Samhain preparation. Remember, though, Samhain is a six week long season and not just one day! I must confess that the season gets cut off Thanksgiving week for me, so I start my Samhain celebration a bit early.

1. Pagan Pumpkins: I saw the pumpkin craft idea pictured above (by Terri Foss) about a year ago, and instantly I wanted to make one of my own. You can easily reproduce this craft with a natural or artificial white pumpkin, and a fine-tipped permanent marker. Decoration ideas include sigils, astrological symbols, moons and stars (like above), pentacles, or other Samhain-themed art. Black pumpkins are available at craft stores and can be decorated with a silver marker, which would also look great. If you use an artificial pumpkin this could end up part of your permanent Samhain decoration stash. This would be a really cool way to decorate a LED candle, too.

2. Tarot Reading: I recommended doing divination last year, but I found the tarot spread to the left (click to view larger) that utilizes the theme of ‘as above, so below’. This is especially important on Samhain when the veil between worlds thins. The website, Fox and Feather Tarot, is defunct, but they have an Etsy store. If you’re looking for a more involved tarot reading to do on Samhain this one works well.

A variation of this tarot spread that I would use is: 1. Release, 2. Embrace, 3. Weaknesses, 4. Strengths, 5. Path Forward. You could do this as a general advice reading, or for something more specific.

3. Homemade Treats: There’s nothing quite as special as handmade treats, with candied apples being particularly fun for the sabbat. I’ve seen people make very creepy candied apples with grape Jolly Ranchers or food coloring, but caramel also works. A simple candied apple recipe can be found here. Just be sure to use a candy thermometer since molten sugar will seriously burn you. Making candy is for badasses only! I would not let even the most responsible child near this activity, so involve little goblins at your own rick. For an extra Samhain bump, set one non-candied apple outside as an offering.

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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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Muggle-Friendly Holiday Cards for Witches and Pagans

Yule is one of the Sabbats that blends almost seamlessly with its Christian holiday equivalent: Christmas. Christians have appropriated so many pagan things from Yule, but left them so relatively unchanged that even your Catholic mother-in-law won’t suspect a thing. The noticeable exceptions to this rule are the date (Yule is the 21st, four days before Christmas) and holiday cards.

This year I really wanted to send out Yule cards, so I went on a quest. My first stop was Barnes & Noble. There I found an amazing selection of cards, one of which had a great image of the Holly King (I mean, SANTA CLAUS) on the cover. Unfortunately, on the inside it erroneously declared: “Merry Christmas!” Whut? Why is the Holly King celebrating Christmas? I digress … I then turned to the internet for help; here’s what I found.

Winner! The Yuletide Blessings card from Amber Lotus Publishing. A set of 12 is available on their website for $13.99 (I paid more than that on Amazon, but it ships free, so do your research). Inside it reads, “Warm wishes for this Winter Solstice.” They have a lot of other cards which means that I will be able to buy Yule cards from them for years before I have to find a replacement. Amber Lotus has cards for many different denominations as well and they range from serious to humorous. I think the card I selected works even if you’re in the broom closet, but they have some good, vaguely-pagan holidays cards that are even less suspect than this one.

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Eight Samhain Season Celebration Ideas

Samhain's Magic Circle Print by Poison Apple Print Shop

Samhain (also known as Halloween) is often a favorite in the pagan community with many witches using it to mark the end of the year. You may choose to celebrate Samhain on October 30th, 31st, or on the closest New Moon. The veil between the material and ethereal worlds thinning on a New Moon is too beautiful for many to pass up.

Regardless of when you choose to observe the Sabbat, below are eight ideas for Samhain celebrations to add to your ritual or observance, be it solitary, in pairs, in a coven, or conducted from inside the “broom closet.” Eight More Samhain Ideas can be found here! Please feel free to post suggestions in the comments, have a beautiful Samhain, and blessed be.

1. Ancestor Work: One of the biggest aspects of Samhain’s energy is the increased ability to communicate with ancestors who have passed to the other side. Bringing photos of ancestors to the ritual or to your altar is a beautiful was to observe this connection. You can also tell stories about ancestors, research your own lineage, or send them messages. One of the best ways to send messages to the other side, in my opinion, is to write what you want to say on a piece of parchment paper (remember to address it) and burn it in your cauldron, thus sending it to the other side. In the Chinese tradition, burning Joss paper (also called Hell Money) is a way to send literal currency into the afterlife.

2. Candles: No witch is a stranger to burning candles, as they are an integral part of so many sabbats, rituals, and spells. Fitting colors and their correspondences for Samhain would be: black (banishing negative energy and acknowledging the dark half of the year, death, etc.), orange (heightened creativity and energy), purple (increased psychic awareness, can be used in conjunction with divination), and silver (you can substitute with white; representing lunar energy). For those who have issues with smoke, LED candle are just as effective.

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