Samhain: Pronounced sowen
The Wiccan New Year.
Samhain is usually celebrated on October 31st, although some traditions choose instead to celebrate November 1st. During Samhain the veil between the worlds is thinner than at any other time, allowing for ancestors to visit with greater ease. It is a time for honouring the dead, celebrating the last harvest and signalling the end of the year. This festival has since become the vastly commercialised Halloween, but this enables those "in the broom closet" to blend in with their decorations and can mean some bargain supplies such as candles in the sales.
Traditions for Samhain include:
Imbolic is derived from the Gaelic word "oimelc" which means "ewes milk". Herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or their wombs are swollen. It is a time to celebrate life. Imbolic is the festival of the Maiden, it is the time she to prepares for growth and renewal.
Beltane has long been celebrated with feasts and rituals. Beltane means fire of Bel. Belinos is one name for the Sun God, who we celebrate the coronation of. As summer begins, weather becomes warmer, and plants begin to thrive.
Lughnasadh means the funeral games of Lugh (pronounced Loo), referring to Lugh, the Irish sun god. However, the funeral is not his own, but the funeral games he hosts in honor of his foster-mother Tailte.
As Spring reaches its midpoint, night and day stand in perfect balance, with light on the increase. The young Sun God now celebrates a hierogamy (sacred marriage) with the young Maiden Goddess, who conceives. In nine months, she will again become the Great Mother. It is a time of great fertility, new growth, and newborn animals.
On this longest day of the year, light and life are abundant. At mid-summer, the Sun God has reached the moment of his greatest strength. Seated on his greenwood throne, he is also lord of the forests, and his face is seen in church architecture peering from countless foliate masks.
Mabon, (pronounced mah-bon, ) is the Autumn Equinox. The Autumn Equinox divides the day and night equally, and we pay our respects to the past season and the approaching new one. Wiccans celebrate the aging Goddess as she passes from Mother to Crone, and her consort the God as he prepares for death and re-birth.