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Gede
October 29th, 2004, 10:16 PM
MM~
The eight Sabbats of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year are divided into the two groups, the Lesser and the Greater Sabbats. Now I am confused...I always thought that the Celtic-derived, pastoral celebrations (Beltaine, Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasad) were the Greater Sabbats as they were seen as ancestral links to the native land practices. The Lesser Sabbats (equinoxes and solstices) were thus named because they were introduced by the invading Anglo-Saxon tribes. Or have I got something wrong because recently I have come across a reverse philosophy. What are your opinions and your reasons for them?

Namaste, Gede...

-Ember
October 30th, 2004, 12:50 AM
When I have heard them refered to as Lesser or Greater, I've always heard Lesser= solstices/equinoxes and Greater= cross-quarters. The main reason I heard is that those are the important sabbats for planetary effects (what really has an effect on people) while the others are more celestial in effect.

shenanigans
October 30th, 2004, 01:46 AM
I've always heard that the greater were the cross-quarter and the lesser the solar.

Seren_
October 30th, 2004, 09:20 AM
MM~
The eight Sabbats of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year are divided into the two groups, the Lesser and the Greater Sabbats. Now I am confused...I always thought that the Celtic-derived, pastoral celebrations (Beltaine, Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasad) were the Greater Sabbats as they were seen as ancestral links to the native land practices. The Lesser Sabbats (equinoxes and solstices) were thus named because they were introduced by the invading Anglo-Saxon tribes. Or have I got something wrong because recently I have come across a reverse philosophy. What are your opinions and your reasons for them?

Namaste, Gede...

Yes, the Greater Sabbats are Beltaine etc, and the solar festivals are the Lesser Sabbats. But there are a variety of ways in which you can interpret them...

Valiente for one believed that both Lesser and Greater Sabbats were celebrated by the druids of old. I believe that this may have been influenced by Ross Nichols, founder of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. Some people even say that Gardner never adopted the Lesser Sabbats until he discussed the idea with Nichols (Nichols being credited with formulating the Wheel of the Year in this version of the story). I've also heard several sources say that the Lesser Sabbats were a later addition by Gardner, but I don't know how true any of this is.

Anyway, the Lesser Sabbats aligned to the solstices/equinoxes could, in theory, be traced back to the pre-Celtic population of Britain - the ones who built Stonehenge and the other monuments that seem to be aligned to the sun. In Gardner and Nichols' time, there was still the popular idea that Stonehenge had been built by the druids, so naturally (to them) the summer solstice was a druid festival.

All this has changed now, and things like Yule are traced back to the Anglo-Saxons...so I guess it depends on what version of history you're looking at, is what I'm trying to say.

ap Dafydd
October 30th, 2004, 03:36 PM
Kevin Danaher the folklorist theorised it this way:

At the time of the megalith builders, astronomical conditions were much better for observing the stars than they are now (much less cloud about). This meant the wealth of astronomical alignments that have been found between the monuments and the stars, moon, and sun. What it also meant was that the earliest significant times would have been the solstices: observable times when the sunrise/set points changed direction. So you have a year divided into two. Then logically you can identify the points when the day is of equal length and divide the year in four at the equinoxes.

Later, the year was divided in four again. But by now, the climate had changed to be similar to the way it is at the moment, with more cloud making it less easy to pinpoint the turning points of the sun. Much easier to count the (roughly) three lunar cycles between the "newest" festivals which (roughly) bracket the four seasons. Thus in Celtic and recent times, Samhain and the others were much more important.

Nothing to do with the Anglo Saxons at all. Some Pagans today pin Saxon names on them but others don't.

gwyn eich byd

Ffred