What are the Sabbats? These are celebrations scattered throughout the year which marks the movement of nature. Four of the Sabbats are solstices and equinoxes, collectively known as the "Lesser Sabbats" and the other four are "cross-quarter days", mostly are fire festivals and are called the Greater Sabbats. Since the Sabbats are closely tied to the Pagan Festivals of ancient Europe, what is the importance of celebrating this in the Philippines.
Most of the practitioners in the Philippines would scoff at the idea of celebrating the Sabbats in a country where the idea of celebrating Winter is totally absurd. However, even though we have different seasons in the Philippines, the energies that rises and ebbs around these times are similar all throughout the world. Here are some similarities that I observed between the Sabbats and some celebrations and festivals here in our country.
The celebration of the solstices and the equinoxes is global. As everything in nature is connected in a web, everything in this world affects everything. When it is winter in the northern hemisphere where our country is located, we can still feel the cool breeze blowing, even though there is no snow. The energies around this time also slows down, as it should be during Winter. When the celebration of the Spring Equinox comes ( around the Easter here in our country), we can also feel the power of life bursting through from the earth into the fields.
The Greater Sabbats can also be celebrated since they are not really seasonal. One could celebrate the feast of Imbolc, the Candlemas, and honor the Goddess Brighid. A similar celebration is also happening around this time in the city of Iloilo where people celebrate the Feast of the "Nuestra Señora dela Candelaria", the Our Lady of Candles. The celebration also consists of doing lighted processions around the cathedral, similar to what the Pagans in the old days does with their torches.
The celebration of Beltane, the First of May is also a fire festival. It is a celebration honoring the union of the Goddess and the God and bringing fertility to the land. During May, I notice the increase in the blooming of flowers, probably a sign from the Gods that fertility indeed is flowing. In the Philippines, the celebration of Beltane also signals the start of the "Flores de Mayo", a month long "celebration" of Mary, the Queen of Flowers. During this time, kids all over our barangay struggle to pick flowers, bring it to the chapel and lay it on the feel of Mary, which again mirrors the celebration of Beltane, where bouquets of flowers are being offered to the Goddess.
August 1 marks the celebration of Lughnasadh, in the Catholic Faith, they also have the celebration of the feast of St. Peter in Chains, which was removed from the modern Roman calendar. This day was called Lammas Day or Loaf Mass Day in thanksgiving for the wheat harvest used for bread that becomes the Eucharist.
And finally, there is Samhain, the Hallow's Eve. This is the celebration of honoring the ancestors. It is also called the "Witches New Year". In the Philippines, we celebrate Halloween, where it's that time of the year when we are too eager to watch "horror themed" shows, "psychic" and "Witches" on TV eager to be interviewed. Some Pinoys also start to visit their dead relatives in cemeteries around this time to avoid the rush during the "Araw ng mga Patay". The celebration still centers around honoring those who came to pass.
The celebration of the Sabbats is a very important part of my Pagan Life. If I am not able to celebrate with my friends in Arcana, I make sure to celebrate it in my own simple way- I do my rites alone. Some practitioners may just celebrate the Greater Sabbats and forget the Lesser Sabbats. For me, they are of equal importance. The Wheel of the Year has Eight Sabbats that should be celebrated, not four. The Lesser Sabbats gives us the opportunity to observe the turning of the Wheel and connect to nature. The Greater Sabbats connects us to the Gods, the Earth and our Ancestors.
Photocredit to: SkjaldmaerPyrography - DeviantArt