Cross-Quarter Celtic Festival Ceremonies
Traditions of Ireland and the Celtic Isles
Society for Shamanic Practice
The prestigious international Society for Shamanic Practice (SSP) is at the cutting edge of bridging the gap between medicine people of ancient indigenous and modern cultures in our world today. In 2022, they invited me, Karen, to become a Board Member. Both John and I have presented over the years at the SSP annual Conference both online and this year in person (USA). Now we are privileged to present ceremony online at each of the cross-quarter Celtic Festivals for a one hour heart-warming Circle. These virtual ceremonies are powerful times to connect as a community and celebrate these sacred days. Below are details on how to access these events – a way to deepen your nature-based path of Celtic spirituality.
The Cross-Quarter Celtic Ceremonies
The Celtic Calendar is divided first into four segments – the Quarter Days of Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, Autumn (Fall) Equinox and Winter Solstice, and then into the Cross-Quarter Days of Samhain, Imbolg, Bealtaine and Lughnasadh signalling the beginning of a new season and occurring half-way between the Equinoxes and Solstices. Together, the Quarter Days and Cross-Quarter Days spiral through each year in 8 distinct segments that reflect the natural progression of the seasons.
The Society for Shamanic Practices (SSP) has always celebrated the Solstices and Equinoxes as part of their medicine wheel ceremonies and now you can join SSP too for this new member-benefit of Cross-Quarter Celtic Festival celebrations with international soul sisters and brothers.
Imbolg (Imbolc), celebrating the beginning of Spring
Wednesday 1st February 2023, 10.00pm GMT, 3.00pm MST
Imbolg (also Imbolc) is the the Celtic Festival of Spring and like all Irish indigenous celebrations is a transition, an initiation, a gateway and a celebration. Traditionally, January 31st – February 1st is chosen to gather in community to embrace the energies of Imbolg, although this year a new national holiday to honour Brigid, Goddess and Matron Saint of Ireland on Monday, February 6th ushers in a celebratory week.
The word Imbolg translates as ‘in the belly’ inspired by the swollen bellies of our pregnant animals at this time of the year. Bríde, Brigid in Irish Gaelic, is the great divine female archetype of Spring. From her, shamans with Celtic soul will draw the inspiration to live as caretaker, of self, of community and of the land. Fires in her honour are lit and Wells in her name are visited, cleaned and tasted. In 2023 the time of Imbolg and Bríd is accompanied by a Full Moon (on February 5th), amplifying the natural energies of the festival enormously.
This is a deeply special time to awaken potential and prepare for graceful and full expression of what has been gestating in the belly of your soul through the dark Winter months. We are delighted to offer you a unique opportunity to join us live online from your home for ceremony to lift you into harmony with the rising sap of Spring with some of the many wonderful rituals associated with Bríd, Imbolg and the arrival of Springtime.
Bealtaine (Beltane), celebrating the beginning of Summer
Monday 1st May 2023, 10.00pm GMT, 3.00pm MST
Our Ancestors would have looked to the skies in their observation for a season’s dawning. They also would have looked to the earth, observing the signs of growth and colour. Halfway between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice is the cross quarter time of Bealtaine (pronounced Bee-awl-tan-eh or Beltane as Bell-tayn), the celestial announcement of the Summer season. The communal celebration of Bealtaine is usually May 1st or the first Saturday in May, the very word coming from the Irish Béal-tine meaning ‘Mouth of Fire’. For some was also informed by Bal-Tine, after a Celtic Sun God Bal who dies and resurrects. The sun is the mouth of fire literally – a time of growing illumination of our planet and asks us to embrace the phenomenon, personally and collectively, with celebration, reflection and ultimately synchronous alignment.
Unsurprisingly, Bealtaine is one of the great fire festivals that ask us to be intimate with the energy of the sun, the power of light, heat, but also of transformation and transmutation. We are delighted to offer you a unique opportunity to join us live online from your home for ceremony to lift you into harmony with the rising heat with some of the many wonderful rituals associated with Sovereignty Goddess Ériu and her site of Uisneach at the centre of Ireland – the great Bealtaine sacred site and the arrival of Summertime.
Lughnasadh (Lunasa), celebrating the beginning of Autumn (Fall)
Tuesday 1st August 2023, 10.00pm GMT, 3.00pm MST
When the birdsong calms as the crops grow towards harvest, the earlier sunsets and the soothing personality of late Summer breathes about us. Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-nah-sah) in our seasonal journey, one of the great quarterly feast celebrations that heralds the beginning of Autumn. Midpoint between Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox, the festival is commonly celebrated on August 1st or the three days of the first weekend of August. Named after the Sun God Lugh, our ancestors celebrated this time with a passion. Lughnasadh, like all our native festivals is a call for pause and alignment and that alignment will be easily visible in the joy of the often wild harvest festivals this time of year. Whether we celebrate alone or in community, whether our domain is urban or rural, it is harvest season in all meanings of that phrase. While there is outdoor feasting, dancing and merrymaking after or before the hard labour of cutting crops, there are also ceremonies of gratitude.
Lughnasadh is synonymous with wild and fancy dancing where our endurance and strength is given wholeheartedly to celebrating the bounty in our lives in these still warm and sunny days. We are delighted to offer you a unique opportunity to join us live online from your home for ceremony to lift you into harmony with the autumn season with some of the many wonderful rituals associated with Celtic Sun God Lugh, Lughnasadh and the arrival of Autumntime.
Samhain, celebrating the beginning of Winter
Tuesday 31st October 2023, 10.00pm GMT, 3.00pm MST
If there is a glorious moment where all the energies of the Celtic seasonal festivals end and enter a new cycle, it is at Samhain. Unique energies of Nature that embrace us halfway between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice deliver us into Samhain, (pronounced Sow-whin). While the light in our days has been fading since the Equinox behind us, our Ancestors held the coming of darkness as the setting for new life to begin, we remember their wisdom. Just as they saw dusk as the true beginning of a new day, so Samhain’s delivery of us into darkening days is a delivery into Nature’s New Year. We are born in darkness during the nine months or thereabouts in our mother’s womb. The darkness is where life begins, quietly, beautifully and to the ordinary eye, unseen. The experience of Samhain is a profound festival of renewal, our Ancestors spoke of “the veils between the Worlds being thin”, their eloquent vision of a change in the weave of time and space at this special moment in the year’s turning. Samhain is a portal as much of death as birth, with the wet, decomposing leaves on the ground as the seeds germinate in the dark soil.
Samhain’s guide and guardian at the true beginning of Winter is An Cailleach, The Crone (On-Kal-y-ack), the personification Winter’s expressions as we, like animals and plants, are called to quieten, rest, go within and ease into the contemplative rhythm of hibernation. We are delighted to offer you a unique opportunity to join us live online from your home for ceremony to lift you into harmony with the colder, darker evenings with some of the many wonderful rituals associated with the Crone An Cailleach, Samhain and the Winter season.
Times above are Irish time Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and US Mountain Time (MST). You can check you time zone here
This is a SSP member-only event. If you are not a member yet, consider signing up below with a number of inexpensive options to participate.
When you become a member, you will be able to join the 4 Cross-Quarter Festival celebrations plus access to a range of exclusive educational and inspirational resources, as well as invitations to participate in an international dialogue on contemporary Shamanism while receiving support and connect with international community and much more. Read more here.