Certain witchcraft traditions are also used in Wicca. They share a lot of ancient magical rituals and occasions that pay tribute to mother Earth or Gaia, the Moon, the Goddess and the God. The drawing down of the Moon, for example, is still being practiced by witches. This ritual has been traced from 30 BCE, perhaps earlier.
Witchcraft and other Pagan traditions involve spellwork, incantations and dialogues, ceremonies, concoction of potions or baking and preparation of special food, wearing of special attire, and the use of especially fashioned tools.
Beliefs, Rituals, Practices and Celebrations
Among the most remarkable things about witchcraft are its meaningful celebrations and rituals. The followers of witchcraft traditions honor special days of the seasons and significant natural phenomena such as solstices and equinoxes. They are addressed by
their ancient names below.
The Four Greater Sabbats
Samhain, which is observed on the 31st of October, the time of the Third Harvest.
Imbolc, Candlemas or Brighid's Day, celebrated on the first day of February, a time of Quickening and Cleansing.
Beltane or Beltene, which occurs every first day of May, also called May Day and the festival of Spring and Fertility.
Lughnassadh or Lammas, which happens on the first of August, is celebrated in honor of the sun god Lugh. It is also called the Feast of Bread, the Bread Harvest, the First Harvest, and Sabbat of First Fruits.
The Four Lesser Sabbats
Yule or the Winter Solstice, which occurs on December 21. It is also called the festival of Saturn or Saturnalia by the ancient Romans.
Ostara or the Spring Equinox, on March 21st to 23rd, when the Goddess of Spring is venerated.
Litha or the Summer Solstice, wa fire festival celebrated on the 21st of June or up to the 23rd of June. This is the Midsummer's Eve.
Mabon or the Autumn Equinox, which occurs on the 21st of September, is also known as Cornucopia or Festival of the Vine.
Esbats are celebrated during the Full and New Moons. During Esbats, witches fill the hours with chanting or devising healing spells.
The different phases of the moon bestow different magical properties during rituals. A waxing moon, which is the period from new moon to full moon, is ideal for high activity and ceremonies that call for blessings on a new venture or increased creativity. It is also for strengthening rituals for any aspect of life, such as joy, health and prosperity.
A waning moon, the time from full moon to new moon, is a time for weakening harmful energies. This is a period when witches sit in quiet meditation and release accumulated negativities. It is also the perfect time for receiving instead of asking or giving blessings.
I hope you enjoyed reading my article on Witchcraft traditions, as well as my other pages on Witchcraft as much as I enjoyed writing and sharing them with you. Aren't you glad we live in a time when we can choose to follow what we believe in? Sadly, innocent men and women long ago paid the price of death for practicing the benevolent craft.
In parting, I leave you with the thoughts of a holy and wise woman who had been called a witch some seven centuries ago:
Everything is sacred, this the forest creatures know.
The earth, the seas, the clouds agree
The heart running over with love does see.
It is strange then that a priest would venture
To take from us this divine knowing
And give himself the power thus,
To make holy what already was.
- Catherine, 14th century mystic saint of Siena
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*Verse is revised by JB from the translated writings by St. Catherine of Siena.