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What is a Fluffy Bunny?

Wicca 101 - Beliefs and Practices

Sabbats / The Wheel of the Year
The Wheel of the Year is our calendar. It is comprised of eight holidays known as Sabbats, starting with Samhain on Nov 1. The wheel imagery is invoked because we view time as cyclical, not linear - the world lives and dies and lives again.

There are many, many different views of the Sabbats depending upon Tradition and personal gods. The most common associations concern the life-cycle of the God. At Samhain he dies. At Yule he is born. Fertility returns to the Goddess through the spring just as the young God matures, so that by Beltaine they unite and the Goddess is pregnant once more. The God then proceeds into old age, giving of himself at harvest as we approach Samhain once more.

The Sabbats are divided into two groups: the Major Sabbats, also known as the Cross-Quarter Days, and the Minor Sabbats, which are also known as the Quarter Days and correspond to the equinoxes and solstices:

Sabbat Approximate Date
Samhain Major Sabbat November 1
Yule Minor Sabbat December 21
Imbolc Major Sabbat February 1
Eostara Minor Sabbat March 21
Beltaine Major Sabbat May 1
Litha Minor Sabbat June 21
Lughnassadh Major Sabbat August 1
Mabon Minor Sabbat September 21


What happens at a Wiccan ceremony?
There are of course different ceremonies for different purposes, and there is substantial difference in practices between various Traditions, covens and individuals. The following outline is a very generic template, intended to give a general concept of overall practices.

First, the participants are purified. This may be as lengthy as a ritual bath (done in private) or as a simple as a sprinkling of water, a fumigation of incense, and/or an anointing with oil. Some meditate to clear their minds.

Second, there may be a challenge made to those entering the ritual circle. The most common is an affirmation that each person enters "in perfect love and perfect trust".

Third, someone walks the perimeter of the circle clockwise a number of times, frequently carrying representatives of the four elements. This denotes the sacred space of the ritual.[More]

Fourth, the quarters are called. Each cardinal point - east, south, west, and north - is addressed, and powers associated with each direction are invited to bear witness or guard over the ritual.

The details of the main body of the ritual now begins. This can involve singing, dancing, chanting, drumming, magic work, and the reading of poetry or other work dedicated to a god or goddess. Activities are often dictated by the purpose of the ritual. For example, candles are frequently lit during Imbolc festivals to celebrate the returning light of the sun.

Afterward, "cakes and ale" are shared. I use quotation marks because the foodstuffs involved are just as likely as not to be neither cake nor ale. Cakes may be cookies or bread, and ale can be anything from ale or wine to apple juice.

Finally, the quarters are once more called, releasing the Watchers. The circle is walked counterclockwise and declared open, ending the ritual.

What is skyclad?
Skyclad is another word for nude. Some Wiccans worship exclusively skyclad, approaching the god and goddess without shame or pretension, symbolically stripping away the unnecessary distractions of life. Some covens are clothing optional, others are always clothed. No one should ever feel pressured or shamed into worshipping skyclad - not only is it unethical, it's largely missing the point. A few Traditions require it, so if you're not comfortable with the practice, those Traditions should simply be avoided.

© Catherine Noble Beyer, 2002 - 2011   *     Awards