The Hallowed Nights
The Four Hallowed nights are the cornerstone to my worship. They follow the track of the seasons, and mark the rising and falling tides of the year with reverence. The Hallowed Nights are times when the veil between our world and the Underworld are thin, a time when portals or rifts are common at dusk and dawn, and arcane workings are most powerful.
Worship on the Four Hallowed Nights also have common components, which are: Casting the Circle, the Sacrament, and the Invocation. I avoid using these Sabbats as times for the working of magic, as these are religious observances with deep meaning. This does not mean workings are forbidden though, if necessity dictates. I am going to outline all three of these components further below for easy reference.
When the sun sets on October 31st, the Great Feast of Samhain is upon us.
The great tide of darkness begins… The spirits of the dead and other Lesser Powers cross easily to our side of the veil and roam the lands above until dawn. They have been gathering at the gates throughout the previous year. This night also marks when The Great God Lugh has completed his long journey to the Underworld to await rebirth, which began the previous Lughnasadh when he spilled his blood into the fields. The Crone Goddess, Morrígan presides over this holiday and welcomes him to her dark realm with open arms. We set an extra place at our tables with a portion for the visiting dead and the fires are lit in the homes and covensteads of the faithful to celebrate the renewal that we know must come after death… The Fae are also said to track about on this night, and the Dark Rade can be a danger to those unprepared, or alone.
When the sun sets on December 25th, the Great Feast of Old Yule is upon us.
This is the time when the Sun God Lugh is reborn, returning from the depths of the Underworld, and reunites with Danu, The Mother, to end her grief. His rebirth heralds the return of light and warmth. The days will begin to lengthen and the nights will become shorter. Darkness has been defeated and begins to ebb. Fires are lit in the homes and covensteads of the faithful to celebrate the defeat of darkness, and the return of our Lord Lugh.
When the sun sets on April 30th, the Great Feast of Old Beltain is upon us.
The fertility and Power of the Goddess Bridgit pulses forth and fills all of her children with longing for each other. The fields are planted and the livestock are turned into the fields. The lithe and seductive body of Bridgit, can be glimpsed in the leafy folds of vegetation in the wild places, inciting the animals with lust and the fires of procreation. On this night love and the erotic mysteries preside over all. The predations and trickery of the Fae are ever a danger on Beltain night, and our ancestors always left offerings out to stave off their dangers. Fires are lit in the homes and covensteads of the faithful to celebrate love, life, and the pleasures of the flesh.
When the sun sets on August 1st, the Great Feast of Lughnasadh is upon us.
We celebrate its sacrificial themes. The full bounty of the Mother Danu has been reaped, and what is given demands something in return. Preparations for the long and cold winter ahead are being completed. Offerings are made to the Crone Goddess Morrígan and the Horned God Cernunnos, and charms are prepared to protect against the dangers of the coming darkness. To ensure plenty will come again, our Sun God Lugh sacrifices his life, plunging himself upon his spear Areadbhar to feed the fields with his blood. His life-giving spirit loses its power and begins its long journey on the low road to the Underworld, which is a return to the Womb of the Mother. Fires are lit in the homes and covensteads of the faithful and he is mourned.
When the sun sets on the night of the full moon, Esbat is upon us.
The nights of the full moon are also sacred to the faithful and are times when we gather to celebrate, for the moon is symbolic of our three Great Goddesses: Mother, Maiden, and Crone. We call these nights of worship Esbat. Usually they are nights of relaxation, magical workings, and other craft endeavors. (7)