Monday, February 9, 2015

My New Gothic/Shadow Sabbats

One of the difficult things about being a pagan goth, at least for me, is celebrating the Sabbats in the traditional manner.  I have no problem with late summer and fall harvest festivals, like Lammas (aka Lughnassagh),  the Autumn Equinox (Mabon), or Samhain/Hallowe'en, or with deep winter celebrations like the Winter Solstice (Yule).  But somehow, I just cannot get excited about rituals involving standing out in the sun for any period of time, let alone being HAPPY about it!  So Sabbats such as Imbolc/Candlemas, the Spring Equinox (Ostara), Beltane/May Day, and especially the Summer Solstice (Litha) can be a real problem for me.  However, I have found a few "darker" ways to get around this dilemma.

Frankly, a couple of these Sabbats have absolutely NO meaning for me.  Beltane (May Day) was originally a fertility festival, which is fine if you are trying to have children, grow crops or a garden, raise animals, or "birth" something in your life.  And although I've always enjoyed rituals for Lammas, the August festival of "first fruits", again, there isn't any real meaning for that in my life.  So I decided to remove these from my calendar entirely, unless and until I can find some good reason to celebrate them.  However, I added the Mexican Days of the Dead in November ("Dias de los Muertos") because four days of celebrating and honoring the dead just seem SO appropriate, especially right after Samhain!

I have already replaced Imbolc with the Celebration of the Eternal Maidens/Youths I described in my previous post. Here is my projected list of 'new and improved' Sabbats:

February 1 or 2: Imbolc  "Celebration of the Eternal Maidens/Youths"

March/April:  Ostara (Spring Equinox)  "Celebration of Coming Forth by Day"

June:  Litha  "Welcoming the Waning Year"  (the day after the Summer Solstice)

September:  Mabon (Autumn Equinox)  "Into the Darkness"

October 31: Samhain/Hallowe'en  "Final Harvest: Honoring the Dead"
                    (similar to Samhain and Hallowe'en combined)

November 1-3:  "Days of the Dead  (Dias de los Muertos)"

December: Yule  "Winter Solstice: Night of Shadows"

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term "coming forth by day", the generic name of the so-called Egyptian Books of the Dead was "The Book of Going Forth by Day".  They were individual collections of various prayers, formulas, spells and information written for the dead to help them get past all the dangers of the Underworld so they could reach the Hall of Judgment in safety, and then telling them what declarations to make to the gods so they would hopefully be admitted into their version of the Afterlife. Each "book" (which might be written on papyrus scrolls, on the inside of the coffin, or even on the tomb walls) was specifically geared toward the individual who purchased it, so they are all somewhat different.  In creating this particular celebration (which is still a work in progress), I changed the word 'going' to 'coming' because I am building it around the idea of the dead 'coming' to us instead of us 'going' to them.  Well, it makes sense to ME, anyway...

So, what holidays do YOU really celebrate, and how do you celebrate them? 


  1. I like the idea of replacing holidays with holidays. I try to tweak holidays to meet my needs. I think, like you, in the case with Beltane, I would focus on the fertility of my spirit or creativity... Bringing forth creative life? Something like that. Of course, I adore Candlemas. I usually have a brunch with some sort of weather predicting game through cookie selection. One year I had groundhogs dressed in scarves and in Hawaiian shirts, another year I have sun and snowflake cookies. Guests make their predictions through which cookies they eat.

    And maybe because I'm experiencing a commute in freezing rain or maybe because I physically had be in direct sunlight for extended periods of time because of my meds but I think I love Sun holidays :)

    1. I seriously want to know how you made cookies that looked like groundhogs in scarves and shirts! That sounds like fun, and thanks so much for sharing your ideas.

      And it's okay if you love Sun holidays, I'll still like you! ;-)

  2. The days I tend to observe, if you want to call it that are totally off the typical pagan calendar and are more attuned to my local. I don't even know why I hold these days in particular, but I do. Here they are:

    January 17: It's around this date that I first notice the lengthening daylight. I love the long nights of winter but not the cold.

    February 14: Vampire's Day Soiree

    February 24: Because during this last week in the month it's turning into spring and March is approaching.

    June 7: Although not officially, it's summer and will be for a long time. I always sit on the cemetery wall on this night and watch the bats and fireflies.

    July 17: The days are beginning to grow shorter.

    September 18: Still summer, but changes are definitely coming. Usually, I go outside in the evening and listen to the sounds of the katydids while I still can. Soon their mating calls will be extinguished by the cold.

    October 31-November 2. Halloween and Dia de los muertos. I tend to lump these three days/nights together. I usually get a horror movie for Halloween or at least watch an episode of Dark Shadows as well as go out to enjoy the festivities. It's also a time that I embrace the feeling that the veil between the worlds is thinnest. I might cast a circle for a bit of magick at this time as well.

    December 21: Yule. I acknowledge it but that's about all.

    There you have it!

    1. Thanks very much for sharing these! Those days make sense, and not all of them are that much off the traditional pagan days. Autumn Equinox/Mabon is usually somewhere between September 18-21, Hallowe'en/Dias de los Muertos are on the exact days as yours, and Yule is traditionally somewhere between December 19-22.

      I just heard about the Vampire's Day Soiree, that sounds like fun! Perhaps I should include it in my own list, although I don't know too many people here who would want to celebrate it with me. But if not, I can have it by myself.

    2. Just one point, Lucretia. Vampire's Day Soiree is a blog celebration and happens at Holly's Horrorland ( ). All you've got to do is sign up to participate and post something vampire on your blog that day.

    3. Oh... Hmmm, well, I just may have to make up my own variation, then! :-)

  3. I really like your changes to make them more personal! I am celebrating sabbats for the first time this year, in the future i may change them more.

    1. Thanks! It's always good to go traditional when you're doing them for the first time, just so you know how it feels to you. Then you have a better idea of what you'd like to keep, and what you'd like to do that's different. Have fun! :-)

  4. Oh, I'm so boring ... traditional Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving in this household. Of course Hallowe'en is the really big one! I've got a list of books to read on pagan holidays though - maybe add a few more to our list of festivities now that we're out here. :)

    1. Silly, you're not boring!! If traditional holidays work for you, great! Why not celebrate them? And you certainly don't have to be Christian to celebrate Christmas; Santa Claus takes care of that quite easily! ;-)

      We love Thanksgiving because it's all about getting together with family and friends, and thankfulness for one's blessings (NOT just about gift giving!), so we celebrate that as well. I didn't include it in my list because it's not a pagan holiday.

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