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Rebel Rede

Modern Sabbats

Last month on June 21st we celebrated the summer solstice, the longest day of sunlight in the year. There are many traditions, symbols, and meanings associated with each sabbat within the wheel of the year, and Litha (aka Midsummer or the summer solstice) is no different. While Litha is considered a lesser sabbat it is still a time of great celebration for many witches and Pagans. Litha falls during the summer, which for many means it is the perfect time for a family sabbat celebration. Kids are out of school and many parents starting to plan out their family vacations. In the ancient times the summer season was a time of rest and fun. Summer meant the harvest was planted and steadily growing. In modern times the season holds much of the same meaning. We may not literally plant all of our food during the spring, but summer time is still traditionally a time of days off and lots of fun in the sun. We hold many of the same sabbat traditions and symbolism as our ancestors, but we might not always have such a nature-based focus this modern age.

Not only to we live in a modern era that is somewhat removed from nature thanks to a dependency on technology and electronics. In addition to these modern distractions, what many Pagans forget is the seasons are not the same for everyone. The weather and plants associated with each season varies depending on where you live. While I do think the nature-based focus and symbolism of each sabbat is very important, I try to also focus on the spiritual and emotional meanings of the sabbats. The nature based meanings of sabbats are not always the same for everyone. For example many Pagans love Yule because it means the days are about to get lighter and warmer-it means spring is approaching. I do not hold Yule in that same positive light though because I live in a desert. For those of us who live in an area that does not have traditional seasons spring might not be a good thing. For me Yule means the days are going to be getting lighter and warmer which means the scorching hot weather of spring and summer are on the way. It means gone are the beautiful days of cool comfortable winter weather. This is probably not the opinion of someone who lives in a cold snow filled region though.

Just because I do not get excited for the end of winter, as Yule symbolizes, does not mean that Yule is not special or important to me. This holds true for all of the sabbats, including last month’s summer solstice. Summer solstice for me may have included temperatures well above a hundred degrees (Fahrenheit), but that is not what I chose to focus on. For me the summer solstice was less about the celebration of the sun (it tends to be our enemy here in the desert) and more about the celebration of my friends, magick, and the Divine. The summer solstice whether un-comfortably hot or not, is still a time for Pagans and witches to get together with other like-minded friends and family. I got to have my first summer solstice with my new coven and that was really special for me. I also got to go to attend a solstice party with my co-workers, and the party was put on by one of my non-Pagan co-workers. My co-workers know I am Pagan and they thought it would be a fun new thing to do (to host a Solstice party and celebration). This was a huge deal in my eyes because it means Paganism and witchcraft is being more accepted in the general population! While it is very important to connect to nature during the wheel of the year, it is also important to find our own modern meanings in the sabbats. What do the sabbats mean to you? Do you think the sabbats mean something different to us then they did to our ancestors?