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December 21 - Longest Night Fire Ceremony

December is named for the Roman goddess Decima, one of the three fates. The word Yule comes from the Germanic jol, which means midwinter, and is celebrated on the shortest day of the year. The old tradition was to have a vigil at a bonfire to make sure the sun did indeed rise again. This primeval custom evolved to become a storytelling evening and while it may well to be too cold to sit outside in snow and sleet, congregating around a blazing hearth fire, dining and talking deep into the night is important for your community to truly know each other, impart wisdom and speak to hopes and dreams. Greet the new sun with stronger connections and a shared vision for the coming solar year.

What you need:

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Sabbat of Samhain – October 31st All Hallow’s Eve

Halloween stems from the grand tradition of the Celtic New Year. What started as a folk festival celebrated by small groups in rural areas has come to be the second largest holiday of today. There are multitudinous reasonsincluding modern marketingbut I think it satisfies a basic human need, to let your “wild side” out, to be free and more connected with the ancient ways. This is the time when the veil between worlds is thinnest and you can commune with the other side, with elders and the spirit world. It is important to honor the ancestors during this major sabbat and acknowledge what transpired in the passing year as well as set intentions for the coming year.

This is the ideal time to invite your circle; the ideal number for your gathering is thirteen. Gather powdered incense, salt, a loaf of bread, goblets for wine and three candles to represent the triple goddess for altar offerings. Ideally on an outdoor stone altar, pour the powdered incense into a pentagram star shape. Let go of old sorrows, angers and anything not befitting of new beginnings in this New Year. Bring only your best to this auspicious occasion.

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Autumnal Equinox Ritual: Macon, September 21

Establish one room in your house as the temple. Ideally, it is the room in which you normally keep an altar or sacred shrine. In any case, you should create an altar in the center of the space. Place four small tables in the four corners of the directions and place four evenly spaced candlesticks between the tables. Place a loaf of freshly baked bread (bread you have made with your own hands is best) in the east, a bowl of apples in the south, a bottle of wine in the west, and a sheaf of wheat or a bundle of dried corn in the north. Upon the main altar, place a candle, a plate of sweet cakes and a goblet. Light incense and place it in front of the cakes. Before your ritual, take some time for contemplation. Think about what you have achieved during this busy year:

What have you done?

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Lammas Day, August 2 – Harvesting Happiness

This major sabbat denotes the high point of the year; the crops are in their fullness, weather is warm and the countryside is bursting forth with the beauty of life. Pagans know we have the heavens above to thank for this and the gods of nature must be acknowledged for their generosity with a gathering of the tribe and a feast, ideally in the great outdoors. Ask invitees to bring harvest- themed offerings for the altar: gourds, pumpkins, bundles of wheat stalks and corn, or fresh pickings from their garden, and food to share in thanksgiving made from the same, like pies, tomato salads, cucumber pickles, green beans, corn pudding, watermelon, lemon cakes, berry cucumber, apple cider and beer brewed from wheat, hops and barley. This celebration of the reaping from summer season should reflect what you have grown with your own hands. Fill your cauldron or a big beautiful colored glass bowl half-full with freshly-drawn water. Get packets of tiny votive candles for floating in the water. At the feast table, make sure to have a place- setting for the godly guest Lugh who watched over the plantings to ensure this bounty. Place loaves of Lammas bread by his plate.

When all guests have arrived, everyone should add a food offering to the plate of the god and light a candle to float in the cauldron. Cut a slice of Lammas bread for Lugh and begin the ceremony with this prayer of thanks:

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Imbolc Invocation: Calling Forth the Guardians

Candlemas, also known as Imbolc, is the highest point between the winter solstice and spring equinox. This festival anticipates the coming of spring with banquets and blessings. Tradition holds that milk must be served, and modern pagans have expanded that to butter cookies, ice cream, cheeses and any related foods. It is an important time to welcome new members of your spiritual circle and new witches into a coven. Candlemas is a heartwarming occasion, but it is still a wintry time, so kindling for the hearth or bonfire should include cedar, pine, juniper and holly along with wreaths of the same to mark the four directions alongside white candles in glass votives. Strong incense such as cedar, nag champa or frankincense will bless the space. The circle leader shall begin the ritual by lighting incense from the fire and begin by facing each direction, saying:

Welcome Guardians of the East, bringing your fresh winds and breath of life. Come to the circle of Imbolc.

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Sabbat of Imbolc: A February Festival

Although February is the shortest calendar month, it holds many rich festivals from several cultures. Celtic Pagans celebrate Imbolc, or Brigid’s Day, as the first sign of spring in the Wheel of the Year. 

Imbolc translates to “in the milk,” which reflects the lambing and calving season that begins around this time. The idea of purification also runs through February festivals such as Purim, Candlemas and Lupercalia. Take the opportunity to start “spring cleaning” a bit earlier than you usually do to help chase away the winter blues. And of course, February holds Valentine’s Day, a now-secular celebration of affection and friendship.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

These holiday dates are drawn from various Slavic traditions. Some are reconstructed holidays from reconstructionist pagan traditions. Some are continuously celebrated in their countries of origin. Many of the holidays that have been continuously celebrated down to the modern day are also celebrated by Christians. 

 October

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