A Year of Ritual: Sabbats & Esbats for Solitaries & Covens


It's easy to lose ourselves in the everyday business of life. One way to bring our bodies, minds, and spirits into alignment is through ritual celebrations. A vital part of Wicca and Paganism, ritual strengthens our connection to nature and helps us enter the realm of the Divine.

For Witches and Pagans of all levels, A Year of Ritual provides ready-made rituals for a full year of Sabbats and Esbats. Groups or solitary participants can use these easy-to-follow rituals straight ...

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It's easy to lose ourselves in the everyday business of life. One way to bring our bodies, minds, and spirits into alignment is through ritual celebrations. A vital part of Wicca and Paganism, ritual strengthens our connection to nature and helps us enter the realm of the Divine.

For Witches and Pagans of all levels, A Year of Ritual provides ready-made rituals for a full year of Sabbats and Esbats. Groups or solitary participants can use these easy-to-follow rituals straight from the book. Ideas, words, and directions for each ritual are included along with background information, preparation requirements, and themes. This unique sourcebook also explains basic formats and components for creating your own rituals.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738705835
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2004
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 691,530
  • Product dimensions: 6.98 (w) x 9.84 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Sandra Kynes is an explorer of Celtic history, myth, and magic, and is a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. Her curiosity has taken her to live in New York City, Europe, England and New England. Spiritually, her inquisitiveness has led her to investigate the roots of Pagan belief and study ancient texts such as the Mabinogion. In addition to leading healing circles and women's rituals, she is yoga instructor, massage therapist and Reiki practitioner. Sandra’s writings have been featured in Llewellyn's Magical Almanacs, Spell-a-Day and Witches Calendars under the name Sedwyn. Her books include: Gemstone Feng Shui (2002), A Year of Ritual (2004), Whispers from the Woods (2006), and The Altar: Place of Meditation and Transformation (2007).

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Read an Excerpt

Part I

The Sabbats

The sabbats are a combination of solar and earthly celebrations. The daily cycle of the sun and the seasons of the earth determined the rhythms of activity for our ancestors. They lived close to the land and on an everyday basis observed its subtle changes.

The solar sabbats are called quarter days because they separate the year into four parts. The cross-quarter days are based on agrarian celebrations, which were extremely important to our ancestors who could not rely on food being trucked in from other places if the harvest was poor. For this reason feasting is an important part of a ritual gathering. While we don't have to worry about harvests and can enjoy almost any kind of food any time of year, if possible, try to have only seasonal foods at sabbat feasts to help you tune into the natural energy level for that particular time of year.

Each sabbat marks a changing point in the year that is accompanied by a shift in energy. If we are open to it, these times of transition can have a physical, mental, and spiritual impact on us. In addition, these turning points carry the mythology and symbolism of the Goddess and God.

The Sabbats: Mother Earth and Father Sun

Following are the basic themes and approximate dates for the celebrations, which can shift by a day or two.

Yule, December 21 (Winter Solstice): Marks the longest night of the year, the return of the light, and the (re)birth of the God.

Imbolg, February 2 (Midwinter): The time of quickening. Halfway between Yule and Ostara, the growing light is definitely noticeable. The baby God is growing and the Goddess is once again a maiden.

Ostara, March 21 (Spring Equinox): This is a time of balance when light and dark,
male and female energies are equal. This is the time of courtship between the
Maiden and young Lord.

Beltane, May 1: Fertility in the “lusty month of May.” This marks the sexual union of the Goddess and God. It is a time to feel the vitality of life.

Litha, June 21 (Summer Solstice/Midsummer): The Goddess becomes mother.
This is a turning point for the God as his light begins to wane. We celebrate long days and warm weather.

Lughnasadh, August 1 (Lammas): Time of ripeness. Because the Goddess and God provide for us, this is a time to pause and think about the blessings we receive.

Mabon, September 21 (Autumn Equinox): A day of balance. The time of the major harvest and the time to give thanks for abundance. Pagan Thanksgiving.
This is the God's last sabbat.

Samhain, October 31: The Goddess is alone as crone. The God has descended to the underworld. We prepare for our journey through the dark of the year.
Even though the Goddess changes throughout the year, she is eternal. She is earth.

The God is born and dies each year as the sun passes through its two phases called Big
Sun and Little Sun. The waxing and waning of the God also makes him the king and spirit of vegetation. He sprouts from the earth and is the son of the Goddess. He matures and spreads his seed to earth, becoming her consort. At winter he dies, but will be born of the earth again.

The seasonal cycles and all the mythology that has grown up around the Goddess and God provides a comforting continuity. Allow yourself to step outside your everyday world and experience the awe and wonder of this great drama.


The celebration of Yule is deeply rooted in the cycle of the year and stems from the very ancient practice of honoring the return of the sun after the longest night of the year. A time of transformation, Yule symbolizes the rebirth of the
God to the virgin Goddess. The return of the sun/son brings hope and the promise of ongoing life, the coming warmth, and the reawakening of the earth. While the Celts had established Samhain as the beginning of the new year, tenth-century Nordic Pagans moved the new year to Yule to coincide with the solar year.

If the December full moon occurs before the winter solstice, it is traditionally called the Oak Moon. With its roots deep in Mother Earth and its topmost branches high above the ground, the oak was symbolic of living in both the material and spirit worlds.
Considered sacred by the Druids, trees figure largely in the Yuletide season. Yule marked the succession from the Holly King (king of the waning year) to the Oak King
(king of the waxing year). Holly symbolized death; oak symbolized rebirth.

The use of mistletoe can be traced back to the Druids of Gaul who gathered it from the highest branches of oak trees. Mistletoe is also called “the golden bough” and is considered powerfully magic, especially for fertility. At Yule its white berries are plentiful and symbolize the sacred seed of the God who embodies the spirit of vegetation and the divine spark of life.

At this time of year holly is bright and vital, promising ongoing life. Like holly, evergreen trees were considered sacred because they didn't seem to die each year, and so they represent the eternal aspect of the Goddess. The Great Mother Goddess/Mother
Earth remains constant while the God dies and is reborn each year; endings become beginnings.

With all the sacred trees, holly, and mistletoe brought into the home, it's no accident that Yule is a magical time of year.

Background for This Ritual

Solo practitioners will want to read this just before beginning the ritual. A place has been indicated in the group ritual where this is most appropriate for the Priestess or Priest to read to everyone:

Putting bright lights on Christmas trees and around the house began with the tradition of lighting candles and fires to honor the return of the sun.
The burning Yule log itself represents the new, shining sun. A piece of the
Yule log, which is traditionally oak, is kept from one year to the next providing continuity as the old year finishes and the new one begins; death is followed by rebirth. A common component of the Yule ritual, when done outdoors,
is to jump a bonfire and make a wish for the coming year. Tonight we combine this basic idea with the spiral, which is associated with the Goddess,
winter, and the winter solstice.

The spiral is a fundamental form found in nature. To ancient people, the spiral was a sacred symbol of the Goddess and her transformative powers.
Our ancestors knew about, and we are only rediscovering, the vortex of energy in a spiral that allows us to connect with our deepest selves, the web of life, and the Divine.

At the ancient site of Newgrange in Ireland there is a set of three spirals on the back wall of the inner chamber, sixty-five feet from the entrance. On the winter solstice, as well as the day before and the day after, the rising sun illuminates these spirals.

The spiral is also symbolic of winter hibernation. During the cold months we turn inward for a time of reflection. But the same spiral of energy that leads us downward inside ourselves in winter eventually leads us up toward the light in spring.

• Celebrate the rebirth of the God and the return of light.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Types of Ritual 3
About This Book 4
Part I The Sabbats
The Sabbats: Mother Earth and Father Sun 9
Yule 11
Group Ritual 13
Solo Ritual 17
Imbolg 19
Group Ritual 21
Solo Ritual 25
Ostara 29
Group Ritual 31
Solo Ritual 35
Beltane 39
Group Ritual 41
Solo Ritual 45
Litha 49
Group Ritual 51
Solo Ritual 55
Lughnasadh 59
Group Ritual 61
Solo Ritual 64
Mabon 69
Group Ritual 71
Solo Ritual 76
Samhain 81
Group Ritual 83
Solo Ritual 87
Part II The Esbats
January: Moon of the First Circle 95
Group Ritual 98
Solo Ritual 101
February: Moon of the Seer 105
Group Ritual 107
Solo Ritual 111
March: Moon of the Wind 115
Group Ritual 117
Solo Ritual 121
April: Moon of the Waters 125
Group Ritual 127
Solo Ritual 131
May: Moon of the Faeries 135
Group Ritual 137
Solo Ritual 141
June: Moon of Life 145
Group Ritual 147
Solo Ritual 150
July: Moon of Fire 153
Group Ritual 155
Solo Ritual 159
August: Moon of Delight 163
Group Ritual 165
Solo Ritual 169
September: Moon of the Harvest 173
Group Ritual 175
Solo Ritual 178
October: Moon Before the Dark 181
Group Ritual 185
Solo Ritual 187
November: Moon of Descent 191
Group Ritual 194
Solo Ritual 197
December: Moon of Completion 199
Group Ritual 201
Solo Ritual 205
Appendix A Your Practice 209
Appendix B The Ogham 215
Appendix C Glossary and Pronunciation Guide to Non-English Words 219
Appendix D How to Make a Flower Sachet 223
Appendix E Preparing for Ritual 225
Bibliography 227
Index 229
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great for Solitary Work & Beginners

    I got this book when I first started practicing Wicca and it helped alot! I really liked that you can do the rituals either during group work or solitary and it clearly outlines everything for you.

    This book is a definate recommended book for anyone looking for rituals for any Wiccan Holiday!

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    great resource

    use it for the rituals themselves or mix-n-match w/ other favorite rituals. i think it's great that it includes both group rituals and solitary rituals. also, the group rituals have a craft for everyone to make and enjoy. the members will walk out w/ something from the gathering. and most importantly, the circle casting gets all members involved which is very important to me to raise energy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2004

    Creative, Inspirational

    Ms. Kynes has provided a wonderful resource for those looking to create spirituality in their lives. Her rituals can be used as a guide for individuals or groups who want to celebrate the passage of each phase of the year, as well as to create an atmosphere that allows for divine interaction. Her book encourages all of us to get creative about our spirituality, and to celebrate the wheel of life. An excellent book for those seeking a greater understanding of the nature of the universe.

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