Most witches, Wiccans, and Pagans follow the Eight Great Celtic Sabat model (although there are thousands of other traditions. Read The Grandmother of Time by Z. Budapest and The Pagan Book of Days by Nigel Pennick for more information). The benefit about following the natural world is the major holidays are nicely spaced throughout the year. Getting bummed after Yule? Imbolc is right around the corner. We are constantly celebrating life and the Earth and our faith.
Yet, I have found that try as I may to celebrate every holiday, I have noticed a pattern about how I approach the Wheel of the Year:
Yule: Christmas (a very important day in my family) is a few days away and since that’s such a high stress holiday I am too wiped to stay up with the Goddess as she births the God.
Imbolc: Very informal celebration. This year I had my friends over for mead.
Ostara: I always seem to forget about it.
Beltane: One of my favorites, but it always falls on finals or reading days. I do make an effort to do some sort of ritual, though.
Litha: I go to a local farm festival with my mom every year and go home for a late night ritual. One of the best days of the year.
Lammas: So. Much. Baking. Always a laid back holiday.
Mabon: I adore Mabon. Never miss it.
Samhain: I celebrate it, but I always seem burnt out due to a variety of reasons.
I do not treat them all with the same amount of pomp and circumstance. I mean, it’s not practical for me. I have school, work, family, friends, boyfriend, extra curricular activities, taking care of myself, etc. The prep time is not always there.
What ultimately drives celebratory worship is the connection to particular times of the year. For me, I feel at home in summer and fall holidays. They speak to my soul in such an empowering way, which is what matters the most about sabat celebrations. That connection is key because that is what allows the worshiper to benefit spiritually from the ritual.
On Monday I did a spell for a very specific need regarding my emotions. Basically I was asking for help. Wake up yesterday morning and my heart was killing me. No kidding, but admittedly a bit of hyperbole. I had a massive amount of chest pain. Doctor made two calls: either a sudden cartilage growth or a case of anxiety. She took me through treatment options for both, but I knew which one it was. Am researching alternative anxiety treatment therapies as we speak (I’m not comfortable with traditional medication) to pair with a therapist. I wanted to share this because even if you do something small on a whim, it makes a ripple in our life with the possibility to change everything. Sunday I was unhappy and miserable and now I feel… lighter. Better. So if you have the courage to be different, to live a different life, do it.
Here was my original plan for the day: get up, go to work, grocery store over lunch, come home at 4:30, make a special dinner, Lammas ritual, stargazing, bed. How my day actually turned out: get, up, go to work, market closed, out of work late, quick dinner, stop by my mom’s church to help with a charity drive, home. Don’t think I have time for my ritual or stargazing. But you know what? It’s okay. Because I gave back, I ate wonderful food, I got a chance to post here. Yes, I am upset I din’t get to do my Lammas ritual but honestly it’s a holiday about thankfulness. And I am thankful for what filled my day. Thanks Goddess. Thanks God. Thanks life.
For us Northern Hemispherers, it’s almost Lammas (Lughnasadh), the first of the harvest holidays. In the United States this means that from next week until Thanksgiving, it is the season of remembering the bounty of this year and being grateful for what everyone has. But sometimes, the change of the seasons to the colder months isn’t as welcome for some people who are going through a rough time. It’s the perfect time of year to do something to help your community.
Can-a-Week: Buy a can (or some other nonperishable food item) at the grocery store each week and put it aside to be taken to a local food bank. It’s easy and after a couple of weeks bless the lot and take them in. Considering doing this throughout the year. If you grow a garden, consider also donating some fresh produce, which will be distributed immediately.
Bundle Up: If you know how to knit or crochet, make scarves, hats, and mittens for kids. Talk to some teachers at you local elementary school and have them distribute the warm things to needy children in their classroom.
Trash Collection: Help out Mother Earth. Buy heavy-duty trash bags and gloves. Round up a group of friends and take to the streets, picking up all the trash you see (public areas only you don’t want to trespass). If your area has a recycling system, separate the recyclables from the trash. Best way to get volunteers? Off them hot apple cider, yum!
Give Some Green: If you’re too busy to offer some time, donate money to a charity. I prefer local ones because you get to actually see the results in you community, but it’s preferable to choose a cause close to you heart. If you want to go seasonal, UNICEF Trick-or-Treat boxes (children’s rights) are fantastic and many twenty-somethings have at least one friend participating in Movmber (men’s cancer research). Circle Sanctuary also does quite a bit of charity work, so if you want to donate to a Pagan group consider one of their projects.
Look Inward: EVERYONE has special skills and knowledge they can use to help the community. So put them to good use. Know a million card games? Hang out and entertain seniors at a hospice or nursing home. Been taking 8+ years of dance or instrument lessons? Offer to teach kids for free. Good gardener? Start a community garden.