Why these cross-quarter days are significant, whether you are in the Southern or Northern Hemisphere and what you can use the energy of these seasonal turning points for.
Originally a Babylonian word, ‘Sabbat’ was used to designate the quarter-days of the lunar cycle (Full, New, First and Last Quarter) thus occurring about every seven days.
Minor Sabbats (or quarter days) are the two solstices and two equinoxes since they “quarter” the year.
Major Sabbats (or cross-quarter days) bisect the four quarters of the solstices and equinoxes and fall around the mid-point (peak) of each quarter. This makes them power-days due to the climax of nature’s energy before its decline, similar to full moon energy which peaks then wanes.
Why Is This Significant?
For those attuned to cosmic intelligence and the ebb and flow of energy, the cycle of nature emulates the cycle of life. Our souls incarnate into our physical bodies, we live our lives through experience, learn soul lessons and via death we transition back into soul state.
Nature’s cycles are similar; sunrise, daylight, sunset. The new moon waxes to full moon, then wanes to dark moon. All things are flowing and in motion. Nothing is permanent.
In our modern technology driven world, these days Sabbats are mostly calendar reminders to explore what is happening around us in nature and to contemplate how the flow of seasonal energies impact on us; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
It is a time for reflecting on what we have achieved or for projecting what we would still like to achieve. When you connect with nature you instantly connect to the present moment.
How you can consciously engage this energy
Samhain (Winter Night)
Samhain (often pronounced differently due to Gaelic dialects, one way is sow-in with the “ow” sounding like it does in “glow”). The festival’s name is derived from a Celtic word which can be translated as “summer’s end”.
This festival is often bundled into Halloween, All Saints’ Day, Old Hallow’s Eve etc. festivities, which is technically not the same celebration.
• In the Southern Hemisphere Samhain is traditionally celebrated from sunset 30 April to midnight 1 May. (Exact astrological point around around May 4 – 10).
• In the Northern Hemisphere Samhain is traditionally celebrated from sunset 31 October to midnight 1 November. (Exact astrological point around November 5 – 10).
The nights are lengthened and we delve into the dark mysteries, realising darkness comes before light just like our lives begin in the darkness of the womb.
This cross quarter day falls between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice. It is a fire festival and the gateway to the dark half of the year (a.k.a. time of the little Sun), holding the bright half in gestation as the seeds lie in apparent death underground although the forces of growth are always at work invisibly.
The passing into the darkness is the first step in the renewal of life and so this Sabbat marks the transition from the current old solar year to the coming new solar year at the winter solstice. (Not to be confused with the new astrological year that occurs when the Sun enters the Aries point annually).
The Earth’s surface changes appearance at this time, the fertile part of her retreat to the Otherworld to begin the creative work of the new yearly cycle.
All that flowered is dying and seeds fall to the ground to wait for the heat and light to stir life within them again. Plants appear dormant, sap runs slower. Sounds and appearance of wildlife decreases. Just like nature, we are encouraged to discard what we don’t wish to carry from the past into the future
There is stagnation, death and decay. The Fae move to their winter quarters and the veil between our world and the Otherworld is thinner, so communication with ancestral spirits and the Fae realm is easier.
These are all aspects of the same multiform provider and nurturer on whom we all depend, who must, replenish through alternating periods of action and repose, and who touches darkness and death to find the source of true renewal.
The mood is one of remembrance, harvest and reflection. Honour your ancestors, those you have walked the Earth before you. Ask to receive messages from loved ones, retrieve ancient wisdom and for their blessings and protection in the new cycle.
Meditate on what you are ready to release (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually) before the next growing cycle to make room for your next chapter in life. Consider what worked this past solar year and what didn’t and how you want to proceed differently moving forward. Tie up loose ends and bring projects to completion that you want wrap up now.
Costume party? Samhain is a lot less “fright night” than commercial Halloween. Think your outfit thoroughly through. This represents the energy you are choosing to embody in the new solar year, so dress to match your intentions for prosperity, success, beauty, strength etc. Envisage faery splendour, a power animal or just attend as your smiling brilliant self in feel-good finery.
Suggested Plant Allies: mugwort, garlic, sage, thyme, allspice, cypress, elemi, frankincense, basil, yarrow, ylang-ylang, clove, pumpkins, apples, pomegranates.
Suggested Crystal Helpers: all black stones (especially jet and obsidian), dark amethyst, dark blue stones such as lapis and sodalite, smoky quartz and brown jasper.
• In the Southern Hemisphere, Beltaine is traditionally celebrated from sunset on 31 October to midnight on 1 November. (Exact astrological point around November 5 – 10).
• In the Northern Hemisphere, Beltaine is traditionally celebrated from sunset 30 April to midnight 1 May. (Exact astrological point around around May 4 – 10).
The festival’s name is derived from a word meaning balefire because balefires were traditionally lit at dusk for this fire festival as it is the gateway to the light half of the year (a.k.a. time of the Big Sun).
Beltaine is primarily a fertility festival, concerned with the return of full-blown potency evident in the surroundings. The days are long, the Sun is hot and showering us with energy, flowers are in full bloom, seeds come to fruition, fruit is ripening, trees have thick foliage and nights are sultry.
You can feel the bounty and passion of the sights, aromas and sensations of the Earth’s flourishing. The mood is playful, carefree and one of celebration. The Fae are very active, their powers are growing and will reach their height at the summer solstice.
Sun energy descends and Earthly energy peaks. Union (the Great Rite) between Earth and Sky results in unbridled life force. Honour the ways you unite your intellect (head) and intuition (heart) to manifest your desires in physical form. Infuse your aspirations with life force energy, meditate on brining untapped creative potential to a fore. What area of your life needs to be more fertile? What do you need in your life in order to flourish?
Fire of course is purifying in nature, so aside from the celebration of Life and pleasures of the physical senses, you can symbolically raze all negativity from yourself and your space, leaving you inspired and free of stresses to make room for what you now wish to cultivate and see through to fruition.
Ashes from the Beltaine balefire would be scattered over the fields to bless and protect them, modern science has discovered rich nitrogen in ashes which is beneficial for developing crops.
Suggested Plant Allies: primrose, hawthorn, angelica, rosemary, clover, frankincense, ivy, marigold, honeysuckle, passion flower, rose, tuberose, vanilla, orchid, oats
Suggested Crystal Helpers: sapphire, bloodstone, milky quartz, amber, clear quartz, golden tiger’s eye, citrine, topaz