The Atheopagan Sabbaths

A Pagan ritual

Yule

Brightening

High Spring

May Day

Midsummer

Summer’s End (or Dimming)

Harvest

Hallows

A Yule candle crown in snow

The Winter Solstice, around the 20th of December (in the Northern Hemisphere, and in June in the Southern) is the shortest day of the year and the beginning of the Atheopagan “Wheel of the Year”. It is when we celebrate community and family, give thanks for our gifts and community. Traditions include erecting and decorating a Yule tree, creating and burning a Yule log, feasting and singing Yule carols.

Brightening Focus (or altar)

Brightening is the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal (Spring) Equinox, and depending on where a given Atheopagan lives, it may be celebrated as the beginning of Spring. It is sometimes called by other names by Atheopagans. Brightening is the time when the beginning of the returning of the light is noticeable, and a good time for planning and making preparations for the year’s efforts.

High Spring is the Vernal Equinox (around the 20th of March each year), when the days (at the equator) are equal in length. It is a time to celebrate childhood and children, and is often observed with traditions like coloring eggs, playing children’s games and the like.

May Day, roughly the midpoint between the Vernal Equinox and the Summer Solstice, is a time for celebrating young adulthood, the arrival of summer, and sexuality. It is the official beginning of Summer in the Atheopagan calendar. Traditions include dancing around a Maypole, drinking May wine, enjoying sweets and fruits, and other pleasures.

Midsummer, or the Summer Solstice, around June 20, is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (it is celebrated in December in the Southern Hemisphere). The Midsummer holiday is a time reflecting the robust comforts of mature adulthood, and as it is between the times of planting and of harvesting in the agricultural cycle, it is a time for relaxing, creating works of beauty, and enjoying the company of friends.

Summer’s End, or Dimming, is the midpoint between Midsummer and the Harvest, and falls in the first week in August in the Northern Hemisphere. At this time of year we begin to notice the fading light and shortening days. It is a time to celebrate early middle age, work, effort, craft and technology, and is the first festival of harvest: the grain harvest. Bread and beer are traditional at Summer’s End.

The Earth’s bounty

Harvest, the Autumnal Equinox, falls around the 20th of September in the Northern Hemisphere each year. Like High Spring, it is a point in the year when the days are of equal length with the nights at the equator. Vegetables and produce are abundant at this time and it is a time for feasting, gratitude, celebration of elders and appreciation for what has been harvested over the past year.

Hallows, the midpoint between Harvest and Yule (roughly during the first week in November) is the Sabbath of loss and remembrance. Here we acknowledge death, mourn and say our thanks to our departed loved ones, and gird ourselves for the arrival of the dark, fallow time of Winter.

Note that Atheopagans are encouraged to modify the meanings and observances of these holidays depending on what is happening in the natural world where they are. They may therefore have different names for some of the Sabbaths and celebrate them differently than is described here.

Those who live in the Southern Hemisphere, of course, celebrate this calendar offset by six months: for them, Yule is in June, Brightening is in August, High Spring is in September, May Day is in November, Midsummer is in December, Dimming is in February, Harvest in March and Hallows in May.

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