I picked the first one because I loved the colors in it. The second one I found informative. You may have to copy, paste and enlarge the second on to read all the information, sorry about that. It is worth reading though
The fields are bare, the leaves have fallen from the trees, and the skies are going gray and cold. It is the time of year when the earth has died and gone dormant. Every year on October 31 (or May 1, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere) the Sabbat we call Samhain presents us with the opportunity to once more celebrate the cycle of death and rebirth. For many Pagan and Wiccan traditions, Samhain is a time to reconnect with our ancestors, and honor those who have died. This is the time when the veil between our world and the spirit realm is thin, so it’s the perfect time of year to make contact with the dead. All About SamhainMore »
Sabbats (or Witches’ Sabbaths) are the eight festivals celebrated by Wiccans andNeopagans, spaced at approximately even intervals throughout the annual cycle of the Earth’s seasons (the “Wheel of the Year”).
The word “sabbat” itself comes from the witches’ sabbaths attested to in Early Modernwitch trials. Most of the names of the individual Sabbats derive from historical Celtic and Germanic Pagan festivals, although some non-traditional names Litha and Mabon, which have become popular in North American Wicca, were introduced by Aidan Kelly in the 1970s.
Four of the Sabbats fall on the solstices and equinoxes, and are also known as “quarter days” or “Lesser Sabbats”. The other four fall (approximately) midway between these and are commonly known as “cross-quarter days”, “fire festivals” or “Greater Sabbats”. The quarter days are also referred to as “Sun Sabbats” (as they are based on the astronomical position of the sun), and cross-quarter days are sometimes called “Moon Sabbats”, and may be observed on the full moon closest to the traditional festival date (or the second full moon after the preceding Sun Sabbat). The ritual observances of the full moon within Wicca and other Wiccan-influenced forms of Neopaganism are known as Esbats. Traditionally, the Sabbats are times of celebration, while “magical work” is done at the Esbats.
There are two Sabbats nicknamed “Fire Festival” because traditionally a large fire or fires are part of the ritual.
One is in the first quarter of the Wheel of the Year which is Beltane.
The second come in the fourth quarter in the Wheel of the Year which is Samhain (pronounced sow-en)
Beltane is a time to welcome Mother Earth’s waking up and Samhain is a time to bid her a peaceful slumber. On Beltane we honor life and welcome the awaking of spring. On Samhain we honor our ancestors and welcome the time to rest and rejuvinate over the cold months.
On Beltane I and many pagans have two fires with a path for people to pass through the cleansing fires to bring them protection and a good harvest for what they sow in the spring.
On Samhain I and many pagans have a small fire for each ancestor they are honoring and then take the coals of the smaller fires to light a larger one so the ancestors that have crossed into the spirit plain during the last year can reunite with others in the Summerlands. (Many of us do this on a smaller scale which will be in another post .)
Samhain is also the Sabbat that closes the past year with Yule welcoming the new one. Whether you are celbrating Beltane and the return of warmer days or Samhain and getting ready for colder days; May the Gods and Goddesses bless you and yours.
It’s the dog days of summer, the gardens are full of goodies, the fields are full of grain, and the harvest is approaching. Take a moment to relax in the heat, and reflect on the upcoming abundance of the fall months. At Lammas, sometimes called Lughnasadh, it’s time to begin reaping what we have sown throughout the past few months, and recognize that the bright summer days will soon come to an end.
Lammas History: Welcoming the Harvest
The Beginning of the Harvest:
At Lammas, also called Lughnasadh, the hot days of August are upon us, much of the earth is dry and parched, but we still know that the bright reds and yellows of the harvest season are just around the corner. Apples are beginning to ripen in the trees, our summer vegetables have been picked, corn is tall and green, waiting for us to come gather the bounty of the crop fields.
Now is the time to begin reaping what we have sown, and gathering up the first harvests of grain, wheat, oats, and more.
This holiday can be celebrated either as a way to honor the god Lugh, or as a celebration of the harvest.
Celebrating Grain in Ancient Cultures:
Grain has held a place of importance in civilization back nearly to the beginning of time. Grain became associated with the cycle of death and rebirth. The Sumerian god Tammuz was slain and his lover Ishtar grieved so heartily that nature stopped producing. Ishtar mourned Tammuz, and followed him to the Underworld to bring him back, similar to the story of Demeter and Persephone.
In Greek legend, the grain god was Adonis. Twogoddesses, Aphrodite and Persephone, battled for his love. To end the fighting, Zeus ordered Adonis to spend six months with Persephone in the Underworld, and the rest with Aphrodite.
A Feast of Bread:
In early Ireland, it was a bad idea to harvest your grain any time before Lammas — it meant that the previous year’s harvest had run out early, and that was a serious failing in agricultural communities.
However, on August 1, the first sheaves of grain were cut by the farmer, and by nightfall his wife had made the first loaves of bread of the season.
The word Lammas derives from the Old English phrase hlaf-maesse, which translates to loaf mass. In early Christian times, the first loaves of the season were blessed by the Church.
Honoring Lugh, the Skillful God:
In some Wiccan and modern Pagan traditions, Lammas is also a day of honoring Lugh, the Celtic craftsman god. He is a god of many skills, and was honored in various aspects by societies both in the British Isles and in Europe. Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-NAS-ah) is still celebrated in many parts of the world today. Lugh’s influence appears in the names of several European towns.
Honoring the Past:
In our modern world, it’s often easy to forget the trials and tribulations our ancestors had to endure. For us, if we need a loaf of bread, we simply drive over to the local grocery store and buy a few bags of prepackaged bread. If we run out, it’s no big deal, we just go and get more. When our ancestors lived, hundreds and thousands of years ago, the harvesting and processing of grain was crucial. If crops were left in the fields too long, or the bread not baked in time, families could starve. Taking care of one’s crops meant the difference between life and death.
By celebrating Lammas as a harvest holiday, we honor our ancestors and the hard work they must have had to do in order to survive. This is a good time to give thanks for the abundance we have in our lives, and to be grateful for the food on our tables. Lammas is a time of transformation, of rebirth and new beginnings.
Symbols of the Season
The Wheel of the Year has turned once more, and you may feel like decorating your house accordingly. While you probably can’t find too many items marked as “Lammas decor” in your local discount store, there are a number of items you can use as decoration for this harvest holiday.
Crafts, Song and Celebration
Because of its association with Lugh, the skilled god, Lammas (Lughnasadh) is also a time to celebrate talents and craftsmanship. It’s a traditional time of year for craft festivals, and for skilled artisans to peddle their wares. In medieval Europe, guilds would arrange for their members to set up booths around a village green, festooned with bright ribbons and fall colors. Perhaps this is why so many modern Renaissance Festivals begin around this time of year!
Sickles and scythes, as well as other symbols of harvesting
Dried grains — sheafs of wheat, bowls of oats, etc.
Corn dolls — you can make these easily using dried husks
Early fall vegetables, such as squashes and pumpkins
Late summer fruits, like apples, plums and peaches
Lugh is also known in some traditions as the patron of bards and magicians. Now is a great time of year to work on honing your own talents. Learn a new craft, or get better at an old one. Put on a play, write a story or poem, take up a musical instrument, or sing a song. Whatever you choose to do, this is the right season for rebirth and renewal, so set August 1 as the day to share your new skill with your friends and family.
I apologize to my friends, brothers and sisters Down Under for not having the time to give you some good posts to read for Yule/Winter Solstice. Because of many things happening in my life the past month I did not have the time to do the research as I have on past holidays. But I did not want this holiday to go by without posting a little something for you. I will do better for the next Sabbat I promise. I also know I am posting this after the holiday has come and gone for which I am sorry for also.
The following link has many interesting and informative links on it. I am sure you will find something you like, at least I hope you do.